Summary: A call for the followers of Christ to once again speak with a prophetic voice to our society.
Sunday night, December 14, 2003
Text: Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
A. There was always a special relationship between the king and prophet in the land of Israel. The king was responsible for protecting the nation from enemies and for providing justice to all the people. The prophet spoke to the people and to the king and called them to obedience to God’s laws. It was the responsibility of the people to behave morally, and the prophet was there to remind them.
B. We live in a society where restraint is wearing thin.
1. The State of Wisconsin barred the use of God’s names in the singing of Christmas carols, ordering them instead to use some other words in its place.
2. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled that the state’s constitution did not bar gay couples from marriage. Vermont already recognizes homosexual union.
3. Add to it the increasing acceptableness of vulgarity in broadcast and print media, and it is obvious to see where our nation is headed morally.
C. There is a bit of a preoccupation with political machinery in the church world as a means of forcing social change. However, the Biblical pattern is not for the institutions of faith to take over the political arena and force change, but to speak to the society in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit.
Proposition: The Spirit-filled believer speaks as a prophet to society in the hope of restoring God’s blessing to the nation.
Interrogative: How important is the prophetic voice to the nation?
Transition: The prophetic voice communicates God’s laws directly to the people.
I. Proclaims a Vision of God’s Righteousness
a. A righteousness that is set in stone. There is a great deal of symbolism in the fact that the ten commandments were written in stone. They weren’t meant to be flexible statements of morality. They are the unchangeable commands to all people from the living God. They were not only written in stone, but they were written by God’s own hand.
b. Yet, how many of them are considered to be immoral in our society, today? Does it offend the conscience of society when the name of some other god is proclaimed? What about when people use the name of God I a profane way? Is there still some sense of tragedy when people skip attending the house of worship? What about when commerce carries on as usual on the day of rest, requiring employees to work seven day weeks? A person can violate everyone of the commandments call human kind to worship God and such a one may yet be considered to be a good person.
c. And what about the commandments that call people to respect each other? Do children have to honor their parents? Sometimes? Is adultery still immoral? Is theft an absolute wrong? Is murder? Is perjury? Greed? Are these absolute, or is someone held to account depending on who they are and who represents them in court? What about extenuating circumstances?
d. We are a people of God, and what we proclaim is what John the Baptist and Jesus proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
b. A God who answers with signs. It wasn’t enough for a people just to hear the righteousness of God proclaimed. People are by nature hard hearted, and sometimes they need more than be spoken to, they need to be struck. Elijah challenged the false prophets to have their God call down fire. Of course, none came in response to their prayers. Yet, when Elijah prayed, fire came down and burnt up the water soaked sacrifice. That day every priest of Baal in Israel was put to the sword. Jesus preached God’s righteousness on the mountain. When he came down, he healed everyone who came to him. When Paul preached Jesus, a fortune teller taunted him, and so he cursed him with blindness.
c. A prophet unafraid to challenge the morality of rulers. John the Baptist not only called people to repentance, but he cried out against the affair that Herod was having with his sister-in-law. When David covered up his affair with Bathsheba, it was the prophet Nathan who challenged him. When Saul disobeyed God, it was Samuel who called him to account.
d. In recent years, when the rulers of society practiced immorality, it was the media who exposed it. The so-called leaders of the faith piled-on without grace or righteousness, but rather for the purpose of self-glorification. It is the prophets who speak directly to the rulers, those whose behavior is seen by society. When society is inclined to overlook immorality, that is when we speak. Not with self-righteous anger, but with an invitation to repent and receive God’s mercy.