I was reading through Amos recently and started to ask myself… “What’s up with these prophets?! Let me ask you… what words come to mind when you think about the Old Testament prophets? Lighthearted? Playful? No! They’re irritable! In chapter 3, the prophet Micah says, “Should you not know justice, you who hate good and love evil, who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones, who eat my people’s flesh, strip off their skin, break their bones in pieces, chop them up like meat...” Is it just me or does he seem a bit ornery? I mean, can’t one of the prophets write a happy book?
You might even wonder, “So, why should I even read Amos & Micah,” for example? Ok… they’re in the Bible. How awkward would it be to get to heaven and have Obadiah and Haggai walk excitedly up to you and ask, “So, how’d you like our books?” What are you gonna say? Well… they were too whiny for me?!
But, you see, there’s a reason why God chose 17 books of the bible to be the Books of the Prophets. In fact, there’s a reason why we need, perhaps more than any other generation of Christians since Pentecost, to be reading their words. And that reason might have something to do with why they seem a bit cantankerous at times.
Imagine you’re sitting in church on a Sunday morning during worship and the person sitting next to you is singing completely off key. It’s killing you… because you know what the song is supposed to sound like… and you know how far from that its become. Well, the prophets… they knew what it was supposed to sound like… they knew what God’s intention was for the world… and they knew how far from it the world had become.
You see, the prophets were anything but hard of hearing. It was as if they were unable to miss a single note even if they wanted to. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t drown out the sin… they couldn’t ignore the injustices and all the cries of those without hope. We read the prophets and realize that we might not have all that much in common. But what separates us from them isn’t so much the seemingly over-the-top things they said or did at times. But rather, what so often separates them from us is our ability to pretend those cries aren’t there.
Truth is, I refuse to live my life with my ears closed to the cries of the world. And yet, I wonder at times… “God, what can I do right now, right here?” And He says to me through Micah 6:8, “Craig, I’ve already shown you” “He has shown you, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. To do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” I may not be able to fix all the problems around me let alone all the problems in the world. But I can start. I can extend my hand tomorrow or not. I can notice… I can see and feel and hear and pray and serve… I can extend myself. Or, I can avoid and withdraw… and look the other way.
It’s simply a choice.