Whole Life Whole Bible Day 21
Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NASB)
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:9-10 (NASB)
9 Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,
“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
10 See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.”
20: Standing up and speaking out
From Moses to Malachi, from John the Baptist to John in Revelation, the prophets of the Bible brought God’s words to his people. They were called by God to speak his words, interpreting events, challenging and confronting, predicting and warning, speaking for their own times, speaking for future times, speaking of Christ, speaking of the final day of the Lord.
The very name in which the prophets spoke — ‘Lord’ — is the covenant name of God. On this basis they constantly reminded the people of God’s commands against injustice and idolatry and his calls for social, economic and political righteousness, warning Israel and Judah of the judgment that would come, through foreign conquest and exile.
They challenged the rich and complacent: those who ‘lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on [their] couches… who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land’ (Amos 6:4; 8:4). They challenged the priests and religious leaders: ‘And now, you priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name… I will send a curse on you… But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble’ (Malachi 2:1–2, 8). They challenged kings. Nathan confronted David: ‘I anointed you king over Israel… Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes?’ (2 Samuel 12:7–9). Elijah confronted Ahab: ‘You have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord… I am going to bring disaster on you’ (1 Kings 21:20–21).
But with challenge came consolation, too. So it was that the prophets affirmed God’s promises, looking forward to the day when Jerusalem’s ‘vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch’ (Isaiah 62:1). They also spoke of grace and forgiveness. Through Jeremiah, the Lord says of his people that ‘they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest… For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more’ (31:34).
The prophets make it clear that the Lord acts in judgment and salvation for the sake of his people and for the ultimate blessing of the nations. Their message is of a piece with the rest of scripture—that if we are to enjoy relationship with God, it will not be based on our potential for improving ourselves but only because of his covenant love.
For further reflection and action
In Acts 2:17–18, Peter quoted the prophecy of Joel: ‘In the last days… I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy… Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’ Peter said this was happening on that very day of Pentecost. What role, if any, should prophecy have in the church today?
To what extent are Christians called, like the Old Testament prophets, to challenge religious leaders and political rulers when God’s laws are flouted and when injustice and economic exploitation flourish? How do we recognize that call and support those who take on this role?
Read Isaiah 65:17–25 and Revelation 21:1–4, 22–27, and rejoice that in the end judgment is swallowed up in glory.
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.