Who is the “prophet” in your life? Reading the history of the kings of Israel these last few weeks has reminded me of the importance of those who speak truth to us on behalf of God. King David had Nathan, a prophet whose courage in speaking the truth caused David to repent and turn wholeheartedly back to God. Elijah was sent to speak during the evil reign of King Ahab. After a season in which God powerfully used him, he was sent to anoint Elisha to carry on the prophetic work. In this week’s chapter of The Story we hear the words of Isaiah foretelling what would happen to Jerusalem. And we get to know King Hezekiah.
I remember first reading and studying Hezekiah’s story some years ago. I was deeply moved by his response to trouble. For such a young man (25 years old when he became king), he had an impressive understanding of who he ultimately was serving – the Lord God Almighty! By the time Sennacherib, King of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah, Hezekiah had been on the throne for fourteen years. So somehow during those years he had had some powerful influencers in his life, don’t you think? But, sad to say, it wasn’t his father Ahaz. According to scripture, Ahaz did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 16:1-2). So who counseled Hezekiah in the ways of the Lord? Who helped him understand the need to trust in the Lord? Who modeled the value of holding fast to the Lord, following him and keeping his commands? (2 Kings 18:5)
The truth is many of us go it alone. Oh, sure, we have family and friends; those we love and trust. But what happens if they disrupt our comfort default settings for behavioral conduct. Do we take offense? Avoid them for a while? Sever the friendship? File for divorce?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: “Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.” Prophets – whose words are found living on the pages of the Bible, as well as those people the Lord has raised up to live among and with us today – speak on behalf of God in order to guide us, encourage us, admonish us, and yes, even rebuke us!
So, I ask again: Who is the “prophet” in your life? I pray you have at least one who loves you dearly!