Some of the most engaging and thought-provoking introductions to the Old Testament Prophets are found in Eugene H. Peterson's translation of the Bible, The Message. His description of the prophets' purpose and place in salvation history centers on their God-inspired speech. At times incendiary toward the religious establishment and at other junctures supplicating the people to return to a collective, personal & passionate devotion for the Lord, the prophets sought to bring the people back to God. They faced all sorts of seemingly insurmountable odds such as confronting a nation, who like ours, "... are accustomed to 'fitting God' into our lives, or, as we like to say, 'making room for God,'..."

Consequently, the prophets, Peterson continues, "are not 'reasonable,' accommodating themselves to what makes sense to us. They are not diplomatic, tactfully negotiating an agreement that allow us a 'say' in the outcome. What they do is haul us unceremoniously into a reality far too large to be accounted for by our explanations and expectations. They plunge us into mystery, immense and staggering," (Peterson, 962).

The major resource available to the Prophets were words. Just as the Lord God created the universe through the Logos, the Word, the prophets used their Spirit-given, God-saturated words to redirect the people's hearts and minds toward God. Their cry for repentance - on behalf of a broken, miserable and sin-ridden people, would eventually take on flesh as the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came into the world so that the words of the prophets would be vindicated through their fulfillment before the eyes of the generation that witnessed Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

Words are so powerful. . .

They express love, they nurse wounds, they nourish souls and they edify us. Words also transmit indifference, sow the seeds of fear and hate - and they can and do hurt. Words are agents of combustion that cause & effect chain reactions in people, across communities, nations and the world over.

Prayer is to be, as the great Charles H. Spurgeon wrote, "conspicuous" in our everyday life. As it is ordained throughout Scripture, we are to pray at all times, constant and unceasing. The words we utter bring us into conversation with God. However, unlike our interactions with humanity, our thoughts also are unhidden before God. So, the words that spin around in our thoughts, memories, feelings, images and attitudes are as actively a part of our prayer life as are the words we ultimately use to encode our praise, worship, petitions and intercessions.

They are the words that we utter in everyday life. In language, there are no sacred or secular words. That difference, if it exists, is to be found in the imagination. The imagination either propels us into the heavens, or they oppress us into spiritual slavery - iron clad and double ironed - like Marley's Ghost.

It's been said that we are masters of our thoughts and slave to our words. In Christianity, the mastery of our thoughts is quickly vaporized when we acquire the mind of Christ. Likewise, we are emancipated from our words when their master is love and judged before the Mercy Seat.

Peterson argues for Christians to live by the radical and unapologetic standard of the prophets. Their God-inspired words are to bend our will toward love and service and toward the pursuit of radical personal definition in God through Christ.

As we seek to live out our faith, we need to be ever cautious that our religion does not grow lukewarm, inauthentic and fat on the sin-curds of self-interest, power and ecclesial authority (Peterson, 1330). To that end, our lives are to be humbly submitted before God in contrite reflection and unceasing prayer. The standard of our words may, indeed, be the Prophets, but the life we are to embody is that of Jesus - the Word made Flesh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *