The Prophetic Voice
We continue our journey through Advent, now two candles bear silent witness to our coming Lord. Advent’s purpose is to help us prepare our hearts and minds for the mystery that will unfold for in about three weeks from now.
This morning we turn our attention to the work of the prophets. A prophet in Jesus’ day and age was not a fortune teller who would predict future events in order to persuade people to part with their hard earned money for pipe dreams and the empty promise of get rich quick scams, or to convince God to give us something for nothing by investing in anyone of the many prosperity gospel schemes that attempt to convince us that wealth in this world equates with the amount of God’s blessing as well as the outward and visible sign of one’s faithfulness.
The Biblical history of the life, work, and ministry of the prophets is completely different. The prophet’s primary task was to give voice to God’s word, usually because our society’s acts and values are in conflict with God’s desire for us, and the standards to which we are called.
John the Baptist is considered by many as the final prophet in a line and heritage that traces its roots in Abraham’s encounter with God in the form of the three mysterious visitors under the oaks of Mamre through Moses, and the likes of Elijah and Elisha. The prophetic tradition includes notable figures such as Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
The common thread throughout the prophetic tradition is for the people (including us) to repent. This was the heart of John’s message. “Repent, (literally turn around or change your mind) because the Kingdom of God is at hand.” In this call for repentance, we catch a glimpse of God’s grace and love. The prophetic message is not “repent or something bad will happen,” or “repent, and then God might do something good for us.” No, the prophets’ call to repentance is always a response to God’s gracious presence already in the here and now. Our repentance, our turning around, is not a legalistic transaction but rather a response to the love already given to us. It is through this encounter with the Divine love that we are placed in a position of having God let go of our sins, which is the heart of forgiveness. Only God has the authority and power to let go of our sins. This is the gift we await in this Advent season. John is inviting us to prepare with him the way of the Lod.
So, on this Second Sunday of Advent, let us pause to listen once again to the voice of the prophets. Let us continue the process of repenting knowing that the One who will release us from our sins is coming.