Having looked at Job, the Psalms and Ecclesiastes, I want us to think about the message of the prophets. I wonder what you make of them? I think we major on the Messianic prophecies, and some that point to the end times, and find the rest rather irrelevant to life in the 21st century.
Of course that doesn’t stop some speakers promoting their theories on what the prophecies mean in understanding current events. It all gets a little confusing when we hear different versions of how many months we will have to suffer during the tribulation and where the Antichrist is growing up even as we speak. Do you remember the excitement when the European Union began to form and it looked like the ten toes of Daniel’s beast, -until the eleventh and twelfth members joined and rather spoilt that theory! And when we look back at earlier “prophecies”, we find that Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were all candidates for the role of Antichrist. Or earlier, in the 1840’s, when believers gathered on mountaintops to await the return of Christ, and even great names like Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther and Isaac Newton made solemn declarations about the fulfillment of prophecy that now sound rather foolish.
Do you remember the excitement around the year 2000, rather similar to what happened in the year 1000, and there are no shortage today of stories about red heifers being secretly bred in Israel, preparations being made for us all to receive the mark of the beast, etc. etc. It is sobering to remember that the Jewish scribes had centuries to study the ancient prophecies about the coming of the Messiah, his birth and life, that seem so clear to us today, but none of them got it right when Jesus came. So it is easy to become sceptical and perhaps be tempted to throw out the baby with the bathwater. We need to look beyond the hype and the fantastic to understand what the prophets have to say to us today.
I think we will find that the prophets of the Old Testament, far from being just prophets of doom, have a message that is quite modern and relevant to us today. They express the feeling that we still have today. For today, let’s read some verses from Habbakuk, (that you probably haven’t read too often) Habbakuk 1:2-4. So many of the complaints we hear from people as a reason for not believing in God we find in the writing of the prophets. We will continue tomorrow.
In our prayers, let’s pray for those who are confused about what is going on in the world today (all of us?) and how we can be people bringing a word of comfort and hope to others, and for Sharon & George, and Vinny.