Where have all the Prophets gone?
When God’s people were in deliberate transgression, God commissioned men to be his spokesmen. The times when Israel needed to hear it was when they were in the middle of their spiritual adultary. Even their priests, who were commissioned to uphold the Word of God for people to observe, were just as guilty. Here’s a sample of what Prophets sounded like:
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being priest to me” (Hosea 4:6)
“They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity. And it shall be like people like priest; I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.” (Hosea 4:8-9)
The motivation of all Old Testament Prophets, was to preach what God told them to preach and it usually included rebuke and a call for repentance. From Moses to John the Baptist, Prophets beat the same drum. Repent. Turn from your sin and come to your God.
But Christians have something greater than a prophet.
Did you know that in the New Covenant, Christians are given the Holy Spirit after they are converted AS A GIFT! (Acts 2:38)? God does this as a guarantee of salvation (2Cor 1:22; Eph. 1:13) and the effect of a God-filled life leads to our transformation. In Romans 8:9 Paul says that we operate under the direction of the Spirit and that anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. So the Spirit is exclusively given to ALL believers and the evidence is an outward change in behavior in accordance to the Word of God.
This is why Jesus said that the least in God’s kingdom is greater than John the Baptist. Now we have the equipping of both the Word of God and the Spirit of God!
One of the best examples of how this new relationship with God equips us is in the life of a deacon named Stephen.
In Acts 6 and 7 Stephen, with the power of the Spirit, effectively withstands the wisdom of the highest representatives of Judaism. After he was falsely accused of blasphemy (something that Jesus said would occur in Matthew 5:11), Stephen rises to the occasion and embodies the nature of the Prophets of old when he ended his sermon with this application:
"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so you do. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced before-hand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it” (Acts 7:51-53)
Stephen’s point was not from a spirit of malice. His last words, as those men stoned him to death were “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (v60).
Some people can relate to the truth of our sinful condition before God. They agree that they are in desperate need of the forgiveness they do not deserve. To them, the good news of forgiveness is the sweetest news they’ve ever known!
Some cannot. Some people hate the message that they are nothing but the embodiment of pure evil (Rom 7:18), and they hate those who spread this message because They spend their lives covering themselves in self-righteousness and convincing themselves of their own virtue instead.
No one can predict who will and who won’t relate, but prophets take the risk. They risk being mocked, persecuted or even killed. But as Jim Elliot so wisely wrote “he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” or as Paul wrote “ I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”(Phil 3:8).
Where have all the Prophets gone? The Church doesn’t need a Prophet because the Church is composed of prophets. We, like Stephen, have a commitment to the rest of the Church and the pursuit of people that can relate to the Gospel we preach. It may cost our lives, but we know that whoever loses their life for Christ sake is the one who will find it (Matt 10:39). With an army of prophets with nothing to lose, not even hell can keep Christ's Church out.
So let us be filled.