by Fr Scott Homer
The prophet defined:
In the Bible, the prophet is a spokesperson for God. He is named “prophet” because he speaks prophecy—that is the Word of God. The prophet does not speak his own message. He speaks the message God gave him to speak. So oftentimes the prophet begins to speak by saying, “Thus says the Lord.” And attributing the message to God carries down to our own day. Today preachers still begin homilies with “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Done well, and in accordance with God’s design the preacher serves as prophet. He speaks the Word of God, and not his own because only the Word of God has the power to transform lives and save souls. Of course, the message must be heard and the hearer must act on it.
When God’s word—let’s call it the prophetic word—when the prophetic word is heard and acted upon God’s people find themselves enjoying God’s blessings but the blessing is always related to a positive response to the call.
The prophetic message has three components:
1. A warning is issued
a. John warns the crowd: “You vipers, who warned you of the wrath to come.”
2. Action is called for
a. John calls them to action: “Produce fruit worthy of repentance.”
3. Blessing is promised
a. John promises a future blessing: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
But let’s look at how this works “on the ground” as they say.
The Illustration: Mount Pinatubo, the Philippines, June 15. 1991
· 30,000 people lived on the side of an active volcano, although most did not know it.
· The volcano had not erupted for 500 years and no living soul thought it would erupt during their lifetime.
· Scientists started to see disturbing signs that the volcano would soon erupt
· Warnings were issued: In April of 1991 they began to warn the people living in the danger zone that the volcano was deadly dangerous
· The people were called to action: The people were told that they would have to evacuate their homes and set up new homes in a strange place
· The Promise of Blessing was made: They were promised that if they evacuated that they would escape the terrible disaster the volcanic eruption would cause and they would be able to continue with happy and productive lives.
· On June 15th, 1991 Mount Pinatubo erupted—exploded really—spewing rock and ash across a huge expanse of countryside. The eruption occurred during a tropical storm and the ash combined with the rain and the skies rained down black mud that crushed homes and destroyed livestock, and killed anyone who had not heeded the warning nor taken the action to flee.
· But for tens of thousands, the warning had been heard and despite all the upheaval it meant for their lives, they packed up what they could and they evacuated to a new home.
God’s prophets serve the same function as those scientists and government workers performed in the lives of the people living on the side of Mt. Pinatubo. The prophet warns us that a disaster is on our horizon. The prophet calls each of us to take action by abandoning our old lives and by getting right with God. He calls us to repent—that’s just another word for “turn around,” or “change direction.” The prophet says, ‘the ground you walk on may seem safe enough but underneath it is molten lava. It will not support you any longer. A disaster is coming. So, take action, stop following your own ways and trusting in your own strength. Turn away from your old way of life and turn towards the Lord. Live life his way.‘ Personal power won’t help. You need God power. The Lord is able to fill you with God power (the Holy Spirit). Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps won’t work. The Lord will refine you with holy fire so that you will be pure and holy in his eyes. Through the Lord’s grace and power you will be empowered to survive the disaster. You will know the Lord’s blessing even in the midst of life’s greatest trials. You will know the Lord’s blessing forever. No disaster will be able to pry you out of His hands—none –not even death itself. That is the promise of Jesus’ empty tomb.
I don’t mean to frighten you but it is good to live in the real world, free from delusions and denial. So, I need to tell you (with 100% certainty) a disaster is going to occur in each of your lives. But kids, moms and dads, everybody here listen…don’t be afraid! God sends his prophets to warn us in order to save us, not to cause us fear and worry but to provide us with the way to safety. Tornados happen to some. There are tragic car accidents every day. Some of us will be diagnosed with dread diseases. All of us will face the grave. The warning is given so that we can decide to take action, so that we can join the Lord’s evacuation plan.
God loves you. He does not want you to fall victim, to be overwhelmed and destroyed. He loves you and he wants to save you. He wants to move you out of the danger zone, to relocate your life to the safe place. The Lord’s evacuation plan is simple. In the Philippines people needed to get on board the helicopter and let themselves be carried to safety. We need to get on board with Jesus and allow him to carry us to safety. We need to give him our obedience. We need to acknowledge his ways. We need to confess him as our Lord.
It is really simple to do. It requires only an act of the will, the same sort of willpower that the Philippine person used to get on the helicopter. Determine that the threat is real. (The prophet is telling you the truth!) Acknowledge that the Lord is the only true source of safety. (God is good and he cares about you!) Then turn your life and your will over to Jesus. And when you do that your life is transported to safety…once and for all times. If you are confused about how to do this, if you have questions, please ask a pastor about it. He will help you to take the required action.
It is impossible to calculate the exact number of lives that were saved from Mt. Pinatubo but the number is in the tens of thousands. They were saved because scientists had the courage and determination to warn people, and because they provided an effective exit strategy. But those lives would not have been saved if the people had scoffed, and labeled the workers as “prophets of doom.” Those tens of thousands were saved because they heeded the warning and took action to save themselves. O how I long for the day when all of God’s children will listen to God’s prophets and take action to save themselves from the coming disaster. Amen.