When we think of prophets, we typically imagine bearded, wild-eyed men in robes, proclaiming the judgment of God long, long ago.
But what about the beardless, hoodie-wearing guy next store? Or the woman campaigning against human trafficking? What about you?
While I suspect none of us will be awakened in the middle of the night with a prophetic call by God, that doesn’t mean ‘prophet’ is an antiquated role of bygone era.
The main job of a Biblical prophet wasn’t to divine the future or even call fire from heaven. In fact, most of the prophecies in the Bible had nothing to do with the distant future (I’m pretty sure prophets like Daniel and Isaiah would be pretty weirded out by some of today’s bizarre interpretations of their oracles).
When it comes right down to it, prophets were first and foremost men and women who proclaimed social and religious reform.
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
The gist of the prophetic message from Samuel to Daniel revolved around these issues:
- Urge social reform: Justice for the economically outcast, powerless, and politically weak.
- Call for purification: Religion so easily becomes mere tradition, lacking genuine spiritual investment. The prophets were all about shaking things up.
- Offer hope of redemption: God is always waiting, always ready, to save us from ourselves.
A prophet is someone God can ‘send’ and someone who will actually ‘go.’ Think about Isaiah 6:8:
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”’
A prophet is also someone who prays. No, I don’t mean praying that the Lions win the Super Bowl or that classes are canceled all week. Biblical prophets prayed for those around them, for their nation and for the repentance and redemption of their people.
Can you work for social reform? Can you spend a bit of time each day praying for the lost and interceding for your nation? When Yeshua says, “Go and make disciples of all the nations,” can you respond “Here I am- send me”?
Then you too can be a ‘prophet.’
Today, we may not receive divine prophetic callings, hear the voice of God imparting a new message or work miracles like Elijah; however, we can still be ‘prophets.’
So no, I don’t recommend you get in character by wearing animal skins, eating grasshoppers or locking yourself in a closet until you get a message from God.
But I do urge you to live as prophets and speak as prophets. Get out there and campaign for social justice, proclaim the truth of God and offer hope of redemption.
Your community needs you, society needs you and—most of all—God needs you.
By the way, if prophets like Elijah and Jeremiah ever do show up in our modern context, I’m pretty sure they won’t wear camel skins and sandals. Just saying.