These people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord’s instructions. They tell the seers, “Stop seeing visions!” They tell the prophets, “Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your ‘Holy One of Israel.’” [Isaiah 30 9b-11 (NLT)]
Wanted: Prophet. Obedience to God a requirement. Must be willing to work long hours and tolerate loneliness, unpopularity, disparagement and persecution. Abiding faith a plus.
A prophet’s life was not an easy one. Being a prophet was a calling from the Lord and probably an unwelcome one at that. In all probability, rather than pronouncing judgment upon Israel and Judah, Amos would have preferred going back to his sheep and fig trees. Nevertheless, he accepted God’s call. Seen as a traitor and conspirator, he was tortured. Elijah had to flee from the wrath of Jezebel and John the Baptist was beheaded. Micaiah was tossed into prison for predicting the death of Ahab and Israel’s defeat, Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den and Jonah spent some time in the belly of a whale. The king of Aram blamed Elisha for his troubles and wanted him beheaded and rabbinical tradition has it that King Manassah executed Isaiah by having him sawn in half. Jeremiah, tasked with delivering an unpopular and convicting message, ended up depressed and cursed by his own family, beaten, arrested, and dropped into a muddy cistern.
These prophets were unpopular because they fearlessly told the truth instead of what the people wanted to hear. They revealed the people’s sins and warned of their consequences. The prophets weren’t all gloom and doom; woven through their words of warning and judgment were words of hope, renewal and redemption. In spite of that, much of what they said was ignored. Let’s face it—reproach, sacrifice and repentance are never popular messages. Sent to confront rather than comfort, their messages were often unwelcome and ignored. What those who persecuted them failed to realize is that, while they may have temporarily silenced the men’s voices, the truth of their messages didn’t disappear!
Not everything we read in the Bible is going to be comforting and cheerful; it is, however, true. Not everything we hear from the pulpit is going to give us a warm and fuzzy feeling but, if we have a good Bible-based pastor, it needs to be heard. Not everything the Holy Spirit tells us is going to be approving but it will be edifying. Not everything God instructs us to do will be easy but it will be worthwhile. Not everything said by our brothers and sisters in Christ will be appreciated, but it will be honest. God gives warnings so we won’t have to suffer his wrath. Rather than ignoring, persecuting or killing God’s messengers, we’d be better off listening to them and heeding their words.