Saturday, July 10, 2010

Unpopular prophets

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Amos 7:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "Then Amaziah said to Amos, 'Go you seer! Flee to the land of Judah. There eat bread and there prophesy. But never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary and it is the royal residence.'" Amos 7:12-13

We should probably not find it surprising that Amaziah, King Jeroboam's high priest, reacted to Amos's negative prophecies by telling him to shut up and leave. It is not comfortable to have an outsider come onto your territory and tell you that your country is prey for locusts, in danger of being burned and not plumb with God's standards.

However, the uncomfortable assignment of delivering unpopular pronouncements from God has always been part of a prophet's job description. The Bible is full of examples: Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus.

Like a true prophet, Amos was not intimidated. I'm not a prophet by profession or birth, he told Amaziah. But my message is from the Lord. Then, not backing down an inch, he told the man in plain words what would happen: "Israel shall surely be led away captive" (7:13).

The assignment for modern prophets* is no easier. People in our society who speak against the way we as a people and culture are violating God's standards may well find themselves in similar hot water, banned from speaking publicly, reading or quoting the Bible, and in Canada hauled in front of Human Rights Commissions.

As our society drifts farther and farther away from biblical standards, what we as Christians stand for becomes less and less mainstream and popular. And so we may find ourselves tempted to alter the message to make it more politically correct. For telling it straight will probably mean having to pay the price of being an unpopular prophet. Am I up for that? Are you?

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me be bold and unafraid to tell and uphold Your standards. Amen

MORE: Human Rights Commissions

In Canada we have a powerful system in place to gag people who dare express ideas that don't conform to Canadian society's current norms. Human Rights Commissions are quasi legal bodies active in each province. Most were first formed to help people get fair treatment when they faced things like racial and sexual discrimination at work or in regard to housing. In recent years HRC rulings have frequently come down against Christians who have attempted to uphold biblical morality especially in their positions against homosexuality.

Here, for example, is a case in Alberta from a few years ago, described by Ezra Levant:

"An even more terrifying precedent recently was set in Alberta. The case involved a letter to the editor written by a Christian pastor and published in the Red Deer Advocate newspaper. The letter was a zealous, even rude, expression of the pastor's belief that homosexuality was a sin, and that there was a homosexual political "agenda" that had to be stopped. But instead of joining the debate by writing a letter to the editor, a local teacher complained to the human rights commission.

The commission's one-woman panel--a divorce lawyer with no expertise in constitutional rights -- ruled that "the publication's exposure of homosexuals to hatred and contempt trumps the freedom of speech afforded in the Charter." That was it: Freedom of speech, and of the press, and religion, all of which are called "fundamental freedoms" in our Constitution, now come second to the newly discovered right of a thin-skinned bystander not to be offended.

Read entire...

Jesus told us these kinds of things would happen. Instead of worrying about them, He assures us He will be with us when they do; we can face them with carefree trust: Matthew 10:16-19

16"Stay alert. This is hazardous work I'm assigning you. You're going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don't call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.
 17-20"Don't be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don't be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they've done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don't worry about what you'll say or how you'll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.- Message

*prophet = nabiy
In the modern sense I'm thinking of the prophet as person who delivers God's message as revealed in the Bible (versus someone who foretells the future).

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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