So I've been reading through the prophets lately.
You, know. Isaiah. Jeremiah. And all those other guys whose names we can't remember or pronounce.
And it's kind of tough because it's all so depressing. God is using these guys to remind a rebellious people of His covenant with them...and the consequences of not obeying that covenant.
And page after page...book after book...prophet after prophet...these people reject that message. I find myself wondering how I would feel if every week my message got totally rejected!
And yet I am starting to see similarities in the voices of the prophets and some of new voices that are emerging from church leadership today.
Take Jeremiah 22 for instance. This chapter records God's message to Judah's king given through the prophet Jeremiah at a point where Jerusalem is about to be besieged and destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army. And in verses 3 & 4 we find this encouragement: "Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people."
Obey me. Love your neighbor. And there is hope and a future and the establishment of my kingdom in this place!
This message reminds me so much of the words I am hearing by such as Shane Claiborne and Francis Chan and Craig Groeschel and many others. Messages that are aimed at the general complacency of modern Christians. Messages that challenge us to uphold the commandment to love our neighbor as our self. Messages that ask if we are truly following Christ or just going through the religious motions.
Later in Jeremiah 22, the Lord's message compares the current king of Judah to a king of the past. He basically says, "Just because you dress like the king and live in the king's house and call yourself the king, doesn't mean I look at you as the king!" And then verse 16 drives it home: "[the king] judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? declares the LORD."
So I pray that we will learn to heed the words of these prophets - modern and ancient. I pray that we will be stirred from our complacency and moved to obey God's commands in a fresh way. I pray that we will join God in his efforts to free the oppressed and love the needy and help the poor...because He did that for us!
And then it will be well.
1 hour ago