In those days the word of the Lord was rare; prophesy was not widespread.
I Samuel 3:1b (TANAKH)
Some years ago I was speaking to a group of people about prophesy. We tend to think of prophesy as a type of fortune telling exercise. The seer will look at someone and tell them what the future will hold. The mystery of what is yet to come, revealed.
Many are interested in such exercises. They might read their horoscope, look forward to the message in the fortune cookie, or call a psychic hotline trying to figure out what their lives will hold.
If we think of these things when we think of prophesy we will miss out on its power in the old testament and its power today. Prophesy is about seeing the current situation through the eyes of God’s intention for the world and calling truth to power. This type of social critique does not just tell us that there is a problem but reminds us that if those in power, those that can make a difference, do not do something to alleviate the suffering, the injustice, the disobedience, God will act to make things right.
Are we living in days were the word of the Lord is rare? Were prophesy is not widespread?
There is certainly much god-talk in American society, but god-talk does not a “word of the Lord” make. In fact it seems that real prophetic word, real social commentary, real calling that leads to a repentant people is hard to find these days.
I can honestly say that I have remained silent many times myself when I should have said something, when I should have taken a stand for the common good, when I should have made sure that “the word of the Lord,” was not rare in my community.
We need prophets today, we need to stop the god-talk and get to the god-doing. We need to listen to the voiced of those who are normally not heard.
Maybe the “word of the Lord” is not so rare . . . its just that we are not listening to it, maybe prophesy is widespread, its just that we are not paying attention!