It is beyond bizarre that I am writing about the prophets. They have always seemed too- heavy-to-grasp. It has been easier to pull out the power verses from these chapters than actually pay attention to what they are saying. But God. He is a real funny One. So, here I am writing about those radical, strange-to-their-culture, weeping-for-their-lost-peeps men and women with awe and reverence. I do not claim to understand any more than a smidgeon of what these visionaries teach, but I will say without hesitation that I believe their words are deeply important for us to hear as women in 2016.
As a backdrop, after God had faithfully delivered His beloved people out of captivity and established them as a nation and after He had shown up in miraculous ways revealing His power, provision, mercy and grace, His people were pretty much ignoring Him. It was not that they did not believe He existed. They simply did not pay any attention to the words of God. So, God sent the prophets to urge His people to turn back to Him, to obey His word. Essentially, God sent the prophets to tell His people to live lives that look like you believe. And the message is the same for us. If we believe in God, our lives should look like we believe. Do they?
I have heard so much of God’s instruction for my life. I have heard His stories, and I know His promises. I can say confidently that I believe in God; but I confess that the actions of my life often look like I do not believe. I have heard the message of ‘love your neighbor as yourself’, but I dismiss the unpopular and drive past the poor. I know the command of having no other gods before Me, but the idols of our culture are so entrenched in my daily rhythms that am often unaware of what I worship. The shape of our bodies, healthy eating, social media, looking the part, acting the part, raising impressive kids, doing church well– all these things greedily vie for our attention. Within seconds of closing my Bible, my God slips to the background my eyes hone in on the worries of the world.
The Israelites were condemned for not keeping the Lord’s commands and offering sacrifices for show. Their behavior was compared to infidelity, prostitution. Are we that different? If you could print out a transcript of your thoughts or if you had a tracker for your footsteps, what would those reveal about who and what you worship? By the things I think about, by where I spend my money, my time, my energy, what does this say about who or what is my god? I sit with God in the morning and then I dance to the beat of the world all day long. The words of the prophets ring so true they make me shudder.
These prophets were wildly unpopular, because their message, if looked at squarely, stings. Like my mom used to say, “The alcohol stings when it hits the hurt because there is an infection that must be cleansed.” So, I have sat with the words of these prophets and asked God to speak their cleansing truth deeply into my wayward heart. This idea of where we have relegated God is deeply important if we want to lives as women of faith. He is not to be King of a closed Bible, King of Sunday church, He is to be King over all our lives. King in our parenting, King of our marriage, King of our friendships, King of our calendars, King of our bank accounts. King of our words. Even King of our thoughts. And if He is King over all that we say and do, our lives will look radically different. We will live lives that look like we believe in a God who is Good. The glorious promise on the flip side of the prophets’ solemn cries was this: there is a wonderful Counselor, an everlasting Father, a Prince of Peace, a Comforter, a Healer, a lover of our souls waiting with arms outstretched to receive us, when we turn to Him and live like we believe. I think it’s worth a shot.
“These sixteen writing prophets provide the help we so badly need if we are to stay alert and knowledgeable regarding the conditions in which we cultivate faithful and obedient lives before God. For the ways of the world – its assumptions, its values, its methods of going about its work are never on the side of God. Never. One of the bad habits that we pick up early in our lives is separating things into secular and sacred. We assume that the secular is what we are in charge of: our jobs, our time, our entertainment, our government, our social relations. The sacred is what God is in charge of: the bible, worship, heaven and hell, church and prayers. We then contrive to set aside a sacred place for God, designed, we say, to honor God but really intended to keep God in his place, leaving us free to have the final say about everything else that goes on. Prophets will have none of this. They contend that everything takes place on sacred ground. God has something to say about every aspect of our lives.”