The Prophets Speak to Us
by Michael Lotti
In this Nativity season, you’ll probably hear how the prophets foretold the birth of Christ. But if that’s all you hear from the prophets, you are missing most of what God wants you to hear.
The prophets weren’t primarily concerned with predicting the future. They had three main messages that people – including us – usually don’t want to hear.
Message #1: I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other gods before me.
The First Commandment seems easy to keep, right? But it’s not.
When we delight in something forbidden by God’s law, we put ourselves before God.
For the Prophet Isaiah, this is idolatry:
“For you said in your mind, ‘I will ascend into heaven; I will place my throne above the stars of heaven. I will sit on a lofty mountain, on the lofty mountains toward the north. I will ascend above the clouds; I will be like the Most High.’” Isaiah 14: 13-14
Only when we forsake our pleasures and securities and completely trust in God do we become true followers of the first commandment.
Message #2: Repent and love your neighbor
“But no one can be completely free from idolatry, then,” you may say. This is true. So is our situation hopeless?
“Now says the Lord your God, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting and wailing and with mourning; rend your heart and not your garments.’ Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate. He is longsuffering and plenteous in mercy…” Joel 2: 12-13.
There’s more. In a famous passage, the Prophet Micah answers, “What really pleases God?”
“He has shown you, O man, what is good. Or what does the Lord seek from you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to be ready to walk with the Lord your God?” Micah 6:7-8
Message #3: Care for the poor
The prophets repeatedly tell us to have a special concern for the poor – and by “poor” they mean anyone who is vulnerable.
The Prophet Malachi warns against an uncaring attitude toward the poor:
“’And I will draw near to you in judgment, a swift witness against…those who exploit wage-earners, those who oppress widows and afflict orphans, those who pervert the justice due foreigners, and those who do not fear Me,” says the Lord Almighty.’” Malachi 3:5-6
So you must always ask yourself: Do I notice the poor and vulnerable around me? Do I actually love them the way God loves me?
These are not easy messages to hear, for they remind us that God’s judgment is upon us. But that’s why God sent the prophets – to wake us up and challenge us to more fully participate in his gracious covenant.
Michael Lotti is a freelance writer. He and his family attend Holy Orthodox Church (OCA) in St. Paul, Minnesota.