Want To Be A Prophet?
Mr. Donald L. Norbie, a frequent contributor to “Food for the Flock,” serves the Lord in numerous ways, including work among university students.
Suppose Elijah is getting along in years and is thinking of breaking in a young man as a prophet. He thinks of Elisha, an upright, diligent young man of promise. Maybe Elisha, would consider being a prophet.
“Elisha, I’ve noticed you lately and think you may be a suitable replacement for me. I am thinking of retiring. Come with me for a few weeks and see if you like the work. This will give you time to check out living conditions and the climate.
“Try it; see if you like it. Find out if you can raise adequate support. If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to farming.”
Is that the way prophets were raised up of old? Was it like choosing a profession or trade? “Try it and see if you like it?” Was it a tentative arrangement subject to reconsideration? Yet this is the way some approach God’s work today.
The prophet or preacher was to be a spokesman for God, calling the people back to God and His Word. Prediction might be a part of his message but it was not always. He was a man of deep conviction, willing to stand alone if necessary. Watch Elijah stand alone on Mt. Carmel and confront the prophets of Baal in the name of the living God! It is a scene of striking courage and moving drama.
How then did one become such a fearless champion of truth? First of all, it was certainly not a self-chosen mission in life. Many of the prophets were minding their own business and were dragged almost unwillingly, protesting vigorously, into God’s work.
Think of Moses and his attempts to evade God’s call: “Who am I that I should go to Pharoah and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11, NKJ). He protested vigourously until overcome by God’s arguments. It was hardly a self-chosen mission.
Think of Amos: “I was no prophet, nor was I the son of a prophet, but I was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said to me, Go prophesy to my people Israel” (Amos 7:14, 15, NKJ). Being a prophet was too costly for one to choose it for himself.
But each prophet, each servant of the Lord, had heard the clarion call of God to his own heart. In spite of his misgivings and fears he must speak for God. There was a deep conviction that he was predestined for this work for God. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you: before you were born I sanctified you and I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5, NKJ). Reminding us of the Apostle Paul who wrote, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through his grace…” (Gal. 1:15, KKJ). A deep conviction of God’s call was basic to being a prophet for God.
It was no tentative commitment but a life’s calling. Moses left his flock of sheep. Elisha sacrificed the oxen he used for plowing — as if to burn the bridges behind him. There was to be no turning back to his old way of life. He was a man with a mission and followed close behind Elijah. The creature comforts of life were not considered. Witness John the Baptist, a wild-looking man, living in the bleak desert of Judah, a subsistence existence. Hear the rebuke of Elisha to Gehazi, “Is it a time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards…?” (2 Kings 5:26, NKJ). The prophet was gripped by spiritual realities, not material luxuries. His life and message were a rebuke to the crass materialism of their day. Amos with white-hot indignation accused them of saying, “When will the new moon be past that we may sell grain? Making the ephah small and the shekel large, falsifying the balances of deceit” (Amos 8:5, NKJ).
The Church needs prophets (preachers) today as never before. Moral standards are declining and materialism is increasing. The ethics of many church members are little different from the world. Premarital sex, adultery, abortion and divorce are more common. Fearless men of God who will preach against sin and call men and women to repentance and faith are in short supply. Prophets are no more popular today than they were in ancient times. Israel wanted organized religion to soothe the conscience, not prophets to disturb their comfort.
Let us pray that God will raise up prophets, convinced of God’s call, committed for life to serving God, faithful and fearless in their message, unmoved by the allure of materialism. Let us humble ourselves before the Word of God in repentance and feed the prophet rather than stone him. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:38).