With world events being so unpredictable and uncertain, more and more people are looking for comfort, stability, and answers. A recent online picture showed a shelf of Bibles at Wal-Mart almost completely empty. The Word of God was as essential on the shoppers’ lists as the hand sanitizer and Charmin! In times like these, people everywhere want to know, “What is God saying?” Our God, who is never taken by surprise, has already provided a way for His people to hear from Him through the Scriptures and through the prophetic ministry.
It seems there have always been prophets who represented God to His people. Prophets were an essential and respected part of the Israelites’ community, and today we still read the words of Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Malachi, to name a few.
Are there still prophets today? The Bible says that prophets are one of the governmental offices set in the Church by Jesus (Ephesians 4:11-16). In addition, prophecy is listed among the gifts of the Holy Spirit in I Corinthians 12. The bottom line is that the Lord has always wanted to speak to His people, and He has promised not to do anything without revealing it to His prophets (Amos 3:7).
Whatever the Lord God
plans to do,
he tells his servants,
In Matthew chapter 10, Jesus prepares His disciples to go out without Him to be messengers and representatives of the Gospel. He gives them important instructions that we can learn from today if we want to know what it takes to be sent out and to speak on God’s behalf. Because many of the people in the group became apostles and prophets when the Church was born shortly after, we can use the words of Jesus to them as a simple guidline for what it means to be a prophet:
- Prophets are called by the Lord and given authority.
- Prophets’ authority is not just symbolic, but is accompanied by powerful demonstrations of the Holy Spirit.
- Prophets are given specific instructions about who they should preach to and where they should go.
- Prophets are given a specific message to preach.
- Prophets are required to completely be dependant upon the Lord for every provision–made available through the generosity of people.
- Prophets are warned of being in certain danger, of being misunderstood, and mistreated.
Even though they were being sent out by Jesus, the option remained for them to deny the Lord by failing to fully acknowledge Him in the face of persecutors and of those who had good things to offer in exchange for their silence and or compromise of the Message.
Being a mouthpiece for God requires a life that qualifies through absolute loyalty and undivided affections for the Lord. Everyone will not do what it takes to be counted as worthy of the great calling.
Interestingly, the well-known Scripture about our hairs being numbered falls within this commissioning of the first Messengers of the Gospel. They were given assurance of their value to God because they were about to be thrust upon a world that would treat them as the “off-scouring of all things”. He wanted their identity intact and for their confidence in His love to be unshakeable.
As He finishes giving them instructions, Jesus mentions ‘the prophet’s reward’. What is the prophet’s reward? There are many articles and discussions about its meaning, but one thing is clear throughout the Scriptures: to believe the words of God’s ordained prophets is to choose life even when death seems unavoidable and the only option. Here are some examples:
- The Shunamite woman received the Prophet Elijah and as a result her barrenness ended and she gave birth to a long-desired son. Even when the boy died prematurely, he was raised to life again through Elijah’s prayers.
- Pharaoh refused to receive Moses as God’s spokesman, and the result was the death of Egypt as the greatest empire on earth. Even more, the firstborn child died in every family that did not receive the instructions given by Moses
- Jeremiah, who is often called “The Weeping Prophet”, pleaded with King Zedekiah to obey the words of his prophecy, but the king refused and the city was burned down, his sons were killed, and his eyes were gouged out.
- The woman at the well received Jesus as a prophet, and she learned about the Living Water that would fill her life and flow out to give life to those all around.
These are just a few examples that show plainly that there is LIFE in the mouth of God’s prophets. Today, we must learn to honor the prophets God is using to proclaim His heart and the clear message He wants to share with His people. If we listen we can be instructed in the ways of Life regardless of the destruction that is touching every part of the world.