The gift of prophecy

Lamentations 5

Prophecy and prophets are gifts from God. Both remind us that our well being still concerns God today.

Prophets speak on behalf of God to bring to light ways we are not living up to our calling as a holy people.

Think about your work. Do you have standards that guide what you do and that help discern if you’re doing a good job? When it comes to our piety and religious expression, it can be easy to fool ourselves. Surely we aren’t the ones backsliding? We aren’t that co-worker, are we? Well, sometimes, yes.

A prophet’s call, then, is to reveal to us when we are. And, so, prophecy isn’t mere fortune telling. It is future telling. What happens when we continue to not live as holy people? That’s prophecy’s vision.

And that’s the bulk of our conversation when we talk about prophecy. But there’s another side to the discussion we don’t always recognize. At the heart of a prophet’s discourse is covenant. As we read the Old Testament, we are reading with God’s covenant with Israel in mind.

This was a relationship initiated by God with the people. With it came certain expectations. As we often hear, the people had a standard they did not always live up to. But God had commitments to uphold as well. In worship, we often affirm that God is faithful. That is our reminder that God has and will always hold true to covenant commitments.

We can hear that in Lamentations 5. Think of the prophet Jeremiah. He has spoken words of judgment to the people. He has clearly outlined God’s charge against them. There is no mistaking the future Jeremiah has seen. The prophet knows full well the unfaithfulness of Israel.

Thankfully, he knows the loving-kindness of God as well.

So, he prays to God to remember what has happened to the people. Yes, their current plight was something they could’ve avoided. They could have turned back to God. But here they are. So, now, Lord restore us to yourself (Lamentations 5:21). Why would Jeremiah pray such a thing? Because he knew God. God’s judgment was always certain, but so, too, was God’s promise of renewal.

Jeremiah didn’t rejoice at the people’s suffering. They were his people. Theirs was his home, too. He didn’t play the I-told-you-so game. Instead, he prayed remembering, believing and trusting in God’s faithfulness. 

Lord, help us to pray the same way.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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