Tag Archives: prophetic speech

A Prophetic Warning

Prophets, Priests, and Politicians

For the most part, prophecy in the Old and New Testaments was not miraculous foretelling of a future event, though that did happen on occasion. Most often prophets simply warned a thoughtless and arrogant people of the inevitable consequences of their evil actions.  Politicians try to please enough people to get elected. Journalists relish scandal. Priests ease troubled consciences. But prophets tell the unpleasant truths even if they must stand against the whole world. Prophets see clearly the difference between good and evil and right and wrong. They know that God sees all and judges in truth and justice. And they cannot refrain from speaking the truth.

During my hike today, along with thoughts of the beauties of nature in the California springtime, I kept returning to a disturbing thought. How long before God’s wrath erupts on our world? Everywhere I look I see corruption, rebellion, despair, greed, envy, dissensions, blasphemy, idolatry, indulgence, violence, and arrogance. Romans 1:18-32 contains a chillingly accurate description of contemporary society. I fear for my contemporaries. I do not feel like Jonah who looked forward to the destruction of Nineveh. I have grandchildren who must live in this world for a long time. And there are many righteous people among the citizens of Sodom. I pray for God’s mercy, but sometimes God’s mercy can be quite severe.

I could never see myself standing on a street corner holding up a sign on which the word “REPENT” is written. It always struck me as a bit kooky. And yet the first words Jesus spoke in the Gospel of Mark are, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). The Gospel of Luke records Jesus as saying to some listeners, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3). Paul observes that in his own day, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). And in Romans 6:23, he says “The wages of sin is death.”

A Word of Prophecy

I have a prophetic word for our world, especially for those to whom we look for leadership:

However cleverly you lie, no matter how many people believe it, or what kind of culture you construct on the basis of these lies, reality and truth will smash your imaginary world to bits. Contrary to the popular postmodern saying, there is only one reality. All others are merely deceptive appearances. Reason, logic, and nature are irresistible and relentless. And the wrath of God will come upon anyone who acts otherwise. Divine wrath does not always fall from heaven like fire. It can also come in the form of God’s will to stand by the laws of logic and of cause and effect. If you rebel against the Creator, if you think human beings can save themselves from themselves, if you think indulging the flesh will bring happiness, and if you follow your imagination into every sort of evil, you will suffer the consequences that inevitably follow. “The wages of sin is death.” That is a divine law written into the fabric of reality.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7-8).

And so, I shall not stand on the corner with my sign crying, “The end is near” or run half naked through the streets like Ezekiel; nevertheless, I say to our generation, “Repent or you will likewise all perish.”

An Open Letter to the World

Dear World:

Everyone agrees that you are messed up and need to change, but this is where the agreement ends. Is the problem the disparity between rich and poor? Do we need freer markets or more regulation? Do we need higher taxes and greater government expenditures or lower taxes and a smaller government? Are racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, and other prejudices the source of your ills? Or, is the problem moral laxity and cultural decadence? Is the greatest problem faced by humanity climate change? War? Corporate greed? Police brutality? Systemic racism? White privilege? Capitalism? Marxism? Socialism?

I have a message for you. But it’s not from me. I received it, and I simply pass it on to you. It’s the message Jesus Christ proclaimed and that his apostles continued to teach. It’s the only message that the Christian church has been given authority to proclaim to you. Apart from this message, I have no advice to give:  You are indeed messed up, and need to change. But the diagnoses and solutions listed above do not get at your most fundamental problem. The root problem is not economic, social, or political. No solution to the real problem will be found from these quarters. Your problem is theological. You have forgotten that the most important issue is how you stand with God, “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18:25). Compared to this question everything else fades into insignificance. And as long as you think that the most important challenges you face are economic, social, and political, you demonstrate that you are not right with God. Indeed you show that whereas the Thessalonians “turned to God from idols” (1 Thess 1:9) you have turned from God to serve idols. For you look to worldly powers and goods rather than to God for your well-being and salvation.

I have a message for you. It’s not a message about how to gain wealth or political power or freedom to do as you please. It’s not a formula for world peace or social justice or psychological health or long life. These things matter only as long as you are alive. And today or tomorrow, sooner or later, you will die. Your nation will die. Your planet will die. Then what? In the end, how you stand with God is all that matters. And if this will be true in the end, it is true now. Your most urgent task is to seek God and make sure you align your life with his will and character.

I have a message for you. It did not originate with me. I received it and embraced it. Now my task is to pass it on to you unchanged: Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:5). If you want to see God and learn how to get right with him, you must look to Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1-4). If you want to hear the voice of God, “listen to him” (Mark 9:7). The “rulers of this age” crucified him (1 Cor 2:6), but God raised Jesus from the dead. In the resurrection, God declared Jesus to be lord and Messiah (Rom 1:4; Acts 2:36). You own him your allegiance, and you will give it sooner or later (Phil 2:10-11). Jesus Christ is the only Savior (Acts 4:12). Trust him and you will set yourself on the path to salvation and eternal life. Reject him and you will continue on the path to destruction of both body and soul. Whatever honor, glory, wealth, and power you gain in this life, unless you gain God’s approval, death, obliquity, obscurity, and nothingness await you.

I have a message for you. I have no authority to command you, but I am under authority to warn you. Stop cursing, hating, worrying, fighting, fretting, shouting, and despairing about the state of the world. Do not blame the stars, fate, chance, your ancestors, or the system. Stop talking about the sins of others, and look in the mirror. You are wholly responsible for that person, and you will answer for their sins and theirs alone. So, the message I have for you is the same as Paul and the other apostles had for the world of their day: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).


Ron Highfield

Next Time: an open letter the the church.