DID GOD INTEND
THAT THE PROPHETIC MINISTRY
We can look at some of the prophets, and see in their example, the type of callings that God gives. Jeremiah is one we can see as an example. We will see, in his life, what a real prophet is like. Jeremiah will show us how a prophet hears from God. The teaching will show that a true prophet is usually rejected. The nature of prophecy will become abundantly clear as we observe in detail the ministry of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah came from a little town almost four miles from Jerusalem, called Anathoth. It was one of the Levitical cities. There in Anathoth, Jeremiah had diligently studied the Scriptures. Today, some want to hear the Spirit speak prophetic announcements to them. However, if these ones neglect to study the Word of God, they will find God will not speak those announcements to them. If they insult God by ignoring and neglecting His Written Word, then the Lord will not bless them with speaking to them His personal Word.
Jeremiah did study the Word. Therefore, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah:
"Then the word of the Lord came unto me... thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee, thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth, And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth."
Jeremiah was not a volunteer. He was drafted to be God's prophet. All his life, he remained somewhat unwilling. He did not want to begin, and often he wanted to quit. All of God's prophets seem unwilling. To truly understand the nature of the office of prophet, will naturally make one reluctant to accept its responsibilities. Even so, when called of God, there is an inner compulsion that drives one. Note what Jeremiah said in chapter 20:9:
"If I say, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name, then there is in my heart ... a burning fire shut up in my bones, and ... I cannot contain."
Every truly-called prophet of God knows that feeling expressed by Jeremiah. Surely, prophets would rather be doorkeepers for the Lord -- but that inner compulsion put there by the Lord drives them to speak the words that are burning within their beings.
God touched the mouths of both Isaiah and Jeremiah - though for different reasons. Isaiah was touched and cleansed of the wrong things that he had thereto spoken. Jeremiah was touched for empowering. He was filled with a message from God, and empowered to speak it, no matter what opposition he would see as he spoke it. Daniel and Ezekiel had similar experiences. Daniel was touched for strength (Daniel 10:16). Ezekiel was touched for food (Ezekiel 2:8, 3:3).
In the call of every prophet, an eloquence is given, a power is imparted, and a special cleansing is necessarily provided. We live in the age since the righteousness of Jesus has been provided by His crucifixion and resurrection. With this special atonement and justification so easily obtained by us, we are prime candidates to receive a special calling. The great eloquence is provided by the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) sent from heaven to fill and empower us with miraculous gifts. Therefore, with special anointing power to do the work of a prophet, we - the saints of today- are to accept this office - and go forth and fulfill the great commission that God has spoken to us.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations... teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..."
The called prophet of God will face opposition. The religious community is the source of the toughest opposition. The disciples went from town to town. When rejected, they simply shook the dust of the town from their clothes, and went on to the next city. This type of opposition is difficult enough to face. However, when one is attacked and opposed for doing the Godly, Biblical thing - by those in the church - this is appalling and devastating. The prophet who is truly called of God will find that it will be those in the religious community that will oppose the work and calling that God has put on the prophet's life.
Moses expected Pharaoh and the other Egyptians to oppose his work. It was a little harder when the children of Israel began to criticize his ministry. Then when his own family, Aaron and Miriam stood against him... that was the deepest hurt. He was criticized by Aaron and Miriam for marrying an Ethiopian woman. God put leprosy upon them for criticizing the prophet Moses.
Zechariah, a prophet and a priest, was stabbed as he was going into the Holy Place of the Temple. By the location, we know it had to be another priest that killed him. Zechariah's opposition stemmed from the fact that he presented God as the "Lord of Hosts." This means the "Lord of everyone." There are many religious people today who want God to be exclusively theirs. They do not want the sinner saved on the street at midnight last week coming to their church. They would rather he go to a church designed for the former alcoholic, the down-and-outers, and the poor. Many do not want to have a prophet who will win the lost who are weak, sick, poor, or ill mannered. They want a classier congregation. They won't mind encouraging the prophet who goes to the downtown bars to win souls, as long as he doesn't bring the converts to their church. They will support the missionary to the poor in far off countries, but they don't want their church helping the poor in their community with a soup kitchen. This type of opposition was faced by Zechariah. He died for constantly reminding the religious community of his day, that God loves everyone. A true prophet will find that those in the church are the toughest opposition to be found.
John, the apostle of love, had a great ministry. Yet, a man named Diotrephes opposed him. Diotrephes did not want John coming to "his church." John tells us that Diotrephes wanted the "preeminence". Today, much opposition is caused by jealousy, and self-seeking. Many a pastor fears the work of the prophets in a church. Yet, if we are all in the will of God, the ministries should complement, not compete. Too many churches today will reject anyone who assumes a God-given prophetic ministry. They will oppose that one, till they leave. They will seek to "warn" other churches to beware of the prophet of God. There are many Diotrephes - in Christianity today.
Jesus faced the Pharisees and Sadducees in that day. They opposed Jesus, because of His popularity with the crowds. Jesus did not fit their mold, and condemn what they condemned. He did not build their ministry, He built the kingdom of God. He did not assume a "holier than thou" attitude. No - He took the form of a servant. He was therefore hated and schemed against by the religious people of His day. They finally planned the crucifixion. The prophets of today are also hated, feared, and opposed by the religious people of today.
Jeremiah faced much opposition. It will amaze anyone studying his life, the type and amount of opposition that Jeremiah had to face. Jeremiah was raised in a religious community. He had seen other men assume the prophetic ministry. He had observed the way they were treated by the priesthood.
When God called Jeremiah to do the work of a prophet, Jeremiah was understandably reluctant. This is why Jesus said:
"Many are called, but few are chosen."
Many, if not all, saints are called to assume a prophetic ministry in these last days. Few will hear the call. Fewer will answer the call. The opposition is great, the responsibility is immense, and the task is humanly impossible.