21st Century Prophetic Warning
It amazes me how timeless the Bible is! As I read the book of Micah, there is not just a warning and word for the people of his time but a warning and word for us as well!
Will Prophesy for Food!
This is what the LORD says:
“As for the prophets
who lead my people astray,
they proclaim ‘peace’
if they have something to eat,
but prepare to wage war against anyone
who refuses to feed them.” (Micah 3:5)
These men had a job: to proclaim the word of the Lord. They were to listen to what God said to them – whatever God said to them – and proclaim to the people. Instead, they decided to make some money off the process: they would give good words to anyone who would provide a little extra food for them and slander those who refused to live by these new rules!
It doesn’t take much thought to realize that this was so wrong. Yet they persisted in this action. There was a price to pay for abusing the trust they had been given.
Who Turned Off the Lights?
“Therefore night will come over you, without visions,
and darkness, without divination.
The sun will set for the prophets,
and the day will go dark for them.
The seers will be ashamed
and the diviners disgraced.
They will all cover their faces
because there is no answer from God.” (Micah 3:6-7)
Although they had been given a huge responsibility and could only fulfill it by continual revelation from God, their abuses were about to bring darkness to them. They would no longer have the light of revelation or the word from God. No matter what they were going to do, no word from God would come.
Not only was there abuse from the prophets, the priests and leaders also were abusing power. They took bribes and completely ignored justice. They relied on their position and on tradition to protect them.
“We Are Untouchable!”
Hear this, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel,
who despise justice
and distort all that is right;
who build Zion with bloodshed,
and Jerusalem with wickedness.
Her leaders judge for a bribe,
her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
Yet they look for the LORD’s support and say,
“Is not the LORD among us?
No disaster will come upon us.” (Micah 3:9-11)
There was a growing tradition that as long as the temple existed, they could do what they wanted. Not only that, they believed that since the Lord dwelt in the temple, it was indestructible, as was Jerusalem. This reliance on tradition and symbols served to fortify their belief that they could do whatever they pleased.
However, judgment would come and the symbols and traditions on which they relied would be destroyed!
“Therefore because of you,
Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.” (Micah 3:12)
Here’s a Prophet
In the middle of this passage on abuse and judgment, Micah gives his testimony. It is the testimony of one who is full of the Spirit and the gift of prophecy.
But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the LORD,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression,
to Israel his sin. (Micah 3:8)
This is the testimony of a true prophet. Notice these four things that were true not only in Micah’s time but are still true today.
Power. Keep in mind that the work of prophecy is a ministry of word. We tend to underestimate the power of words. Words from God have power to wound and power to heal. God’s words have power to completely turn a life around.
Spirit of God. It is by the Spirit of God that true prophecy takes place. The Spirit reveals the mind of God, as well as the heart and emotions of God. The Spirit reveals specific details that expose the truth about our lives.
Justice and might. A true prophet is concerned about justice. God is righteous and justice is part of the expression of righteousness. God sees – and enables the prophet to see – the injustice done around him. In that prophetic gift is also the effective strength to declare and make right the wrongs.
Expose and declare sin. This is a key prophetic function. Notice that Micah testifies that this declaration is to Jacob and Israel. These are God’s chosen people. While often prophets spoke out against other nations, they reserved their most pointed and powerful words for God’s own people.
What does all this mean to us today?
God still gives prophetic gifts; far more liberally than in Micah’s day. When he poured out his Spirit on Pentecost, prophetic gifts for men and women were included. As you read Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 12-14 you will gain more understanding about the prophetic gift.
There is an intercessory responsibility inherent in these gifts. Prophets listen to the word of God and then declare it to the people. Much care much be taken. There is also a teaching and influencing responsibility with the gift of prophecy.
We must avoid:
Comfort for hire. We cannot declare the word of God motivated by money, approval or popularity.
Dependence on symbols. There are still powerful symbols and traditions that people depend upon. Here are some of them: Church, Titles (Christian, Pastor, Bishop), Ritual, Heritage.
Be Spirit filled. This is the only way to adequately serve God. It is especially true when you have been entrusted to declare God’s word and to teach.
Operate in power. Since we have inadequate power to make any kind of eternal difference, we must be dependent on the power that comes with the infilling of the Spirit.
Be devoted to justice. As we follow Jesus and as we hear from the Spirit of God, we must be responsive to his calls for involvement to insure justice – for the weak and disenfranchised especially.
Fearless to declare sin and righteousness. While this is not done judgmentally it is done boldly. It is filled with mercy and grace. It starts with followers of Jesus and the intent is always full reconciliation with God.
What do we do with this?
There is always a message. There is always a takeaway when we read God’s word. We must always take the warning we read in God’s word seriously. We need to honestly approach every scripture with transparent vulnerability. Today, stop what you are doing and ask God what he has for you. Spend a few minutes silently and reverently before Jesus. Give thanks and make a commitment to always listen and heed all that he gives you.