Bible reading: Micah 3:5-8. God Rules, O.K.?
Communication is such an important part of human life. Animals and birds don’t write letters, send emails, speak on the phone or Skype across the world. They don’t read newspapers or listen to broadcasts and watch TV. Humankind does. It is part of our “created reflection of God Himself”. We are made “in God’s image”, Genesis 1:27.
God communicates, and so do we. God shares His “thoughts, feelings, ideas, by speech, writing, gestures etc.” with us. God is not silent. We don’t need to feel empty like when no letter or call comes from home, when we may wonder what is going on. God is not disinterested in us: He always wants to listen to our ideas and feelings, and He wants to be always involved in helping us live our lives.
Illustration: I wonder which is your favourite method of communication? The ‘Instant-ness’ of email? The personal phone call? The real touch and feel of a letter, enclosing photos? A remote message sent with someone else? Or personal face-to-face encounter?
In Bible times God communicated often through Prophets. Nowhere in the Old Testament is a prophet defined, he is taken for granted. “The holy prophets of long ago” are mentioned in the Christmas story of Luke, 1:70, and the second recorded sermon of the New Testament church (and quoted in the first, on Pentecost) Acts 3:21. The people understood God to speak through a human mouthpiece. Somewhat unusually people called prophets in the Bible include Enoch, Abraham, the Patriarchs generally, Moses, Jude 14, Genesis 20:7, Psalm 105:15, Deuteronomy 18:15 – that is not only the usual Christian’s understanding: Elijah, Jeremiah etc.
The best example of a prophet’s role is Exodus 7:1. God says: “See I have made you (Moses) like God to Pharaoh, and Aaron will be your prophet.” It is explained in Exodus 4:14-16 as Aaron spoke for Moses to Pharaoh, so the prophet speaks to people for God.
(1) The prophet is God’s spokesman. The prophet’s message is (2) primarily to the people of his time, but (3) the revelation is given to him directly from God Himself, (4) can apply carefully in some way today as well.
In the New Testament, 1 Peter 1:10-12 speak of Old Testament prophets seeking to understand what God had shown them especially concerning Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:19-21 tells of the Holy Spirit moving people to speak God’s word – as lights shining in darkness. 2:1 warns of “false prophets” as well as true. One useful, though not infallible test, was and is – [A] the lifestyle of the prophet. ‘The majority of (God’s true) prophets were (5) bitterly unpopular’. They seldom had a long hearing and their messages became blunt and pointed – often with (6) telling unmissable illustration verbally or dramatically acted out in life. (e.g. the plumb line of God against a crooked city; and dressing as a slave or rationing of food, Amos 7:7ff, Isaiah 20:1-6, Jeremiah 12:17-20). Peter warns “Many will follow” the false prophets – people who tell us what we want to hear rather than following the true prophets, telling what God wants us to know and do. [B] Another key test is the prophets’ view of God as “sovereign Lord”. Must God do what the people want? Or what the prophet wants? Or is he allowed to be God and we follow Him? Lifestyle and Lordship are two tests for a godly prophet.
We’re trying to get a picture of a prophet! God’s spokesperson, to his own time and place, with specific illustrated revelation, often unpopular and self-costly.
Affirmed by the prophet’s lifestyle and evident Lordship of the Sovereign God.
One more New Testament clue is in Hebrews 11 – that great chapter on faith. Where do the prophets come in that? It’s almost like reading the small print on a contract or guarantee it is so easily missed. Read Hebrews 11vs32-38. Notice the Not, “the world was not worthy of them”. Be careful here. Don’t think ‘some of God’s prophets were successful, while others were not.’ Some conquered kingdoms, others lived in caves. All were successful since they delivered God’s message. Some were powerful in battle, others were put in prison. All were successful since they delivered God’s message.
My dictionary has 4 definitions of success. Too many Christians go for No.2 when No.1 is the best. No.2 is “the attainment of wealth, fame etc.” glowing reports, great work, major advances for the gospel etc. No.1 is “the favourable outcome of something attempted.” If God has told you to teach, then you’re successful if you faithfully teach even those who become the worst criminals of Christian society! If God has told you to care, you are successful if you lovingly care for even those who later hinder the growth and advance of the gospel. Obedience to God = success for the Christian.
In reading Hebrews 11:32-38 I deliberately missed out 7 words from vs38. The writer says of all who lived and ministered by faith in Jesus Christ, whatever the visible outcome “The world was not worthy of them.”
Christian, this week’s goal (and why not for the rest of your life?) make the world around you embarrassed by your obedience to God. Live a prophetic life!
In conclusion let’s read Micah 3:5-8.
1. God says: ‘There are false prophets among My people’, vs5.
2. Therefore God says: ‘I choose to withhold My message from you’, vs6, 7.
3. But that is not all, it is not the end.
4. God has Micah (in this instance), His true prophet. With three qualities in life and ministry to help fulfil your goal.
5. (a) Power overflowing. “filled with power”, affecting all contact with everyone.
Illustration: exterior light by study, burst into flames, so it is now taped off.
(b) Presence obvious “with the Spirit of the Lord”. Illustration: home in Bahri, lived in by pastor friend, with a family of five children 1-13 years (approx.). That is not like just Brenda and I living there – two older people with no family here.
(c) Preaching obediently “to declare to people and nations their sin”. Stepping away from God – over the line God has drawn and where He said ‘No’!
God communicated then – and He communicates now, through people filled with Himself, who live in His presence, and who speak His word – giving His (God’s) thoughts, feelings and perspective, even if it is unpopular!
‘God Rules’, OK? Our plans are to listen to one prophet almost every week for the next three months, with a break each month when someone else will fill the pulpit.
Please pray that God will help us become the people He wants KIC to be as we receive His ideas and inspiration Sunday night by Sunday night.
God Rules, O.K.?
Khartoum International Church 11th August 2002.