Christians do not live in a vacuum. We may wish we did, but the truth is that we live in the world – a world God created, a wonderful world marred by sin and our many wrong choices. We are not unaffected by all that happens around us; we are not immune to sickness, fear, troubles and temptations.
The prophets operated in the real world, being affected by injustice, war and judgment just as everyone else was. But they also lived with one foot firmly in God’s kingdom, with their eyes firmly fixed on an invisible but benevolent God. They proclaimed God’s sovereignty, love, mercy, holiness and judgment in the real, messy, uncomfortable world. Their vision of what life in God’s kingdom, where God rules, may appear hopelessly utopian to us, but its truth has stood the test of time. Nations have come and gone; invincible superpowers lie relegated to the history books. God remains on the throne.
What does this have to do with us? Everything, I would argue. We live in messy, difficult, frightening times, when the whole world seems obsessed with a coronavirus which actually appears little different from many others we have previously faced, despite the rhetoric and prevalence of fear and the measures taken to deal with it. We live under threats and loss of freedoms, dictated to by a government whose motives seem mixed and whose methods ring so many alarm bells that at times the sound feels deafening. More than ever, the courageous example of the prophets, whose lone voices cry out to us from a large proportion of Scripture (over a quarter of the Bible is dedicated to these men), is needed. Their passion for God’s ways, their refusal to ‘buy into‘ the worldview of their time, and their hope in the sovereignty and reality of God provide anchors for every troubled time.
Don’t dismiss the prophets as irrelevant, eccentric and unimportant, but learn from them, as we are urged to learn from all parts of Scripture, and understand that God is still speaking through His prophets to the church and to the world today.