Thursday, August 13, 2009

Understanding the prophets and saints

As I've blogged before, I have been very concerned that modern people do not really understand the characteristics or motivations of genuine, truly genuine, prophets and saints. You know what I mean? Many think of prophets and saints as being like "super heroes," with "super powers." That is totally wrong. First of all, the prophets and saints do not have "super powers." All that is done, even the miracles performed by Jesus Christ himself, is the power of God and God alone acting through the Savior, as through the prophets and also the saints.

But many modern people, especially those who fall into error, heresy and occult practices, think of prophets and saints as magicians, seers, "gifted," and of heroic tendency. By heroic I mean the type of secular, fantasy, science fiction type of "heroic," rather than the heroism that yes, indeed, many did exhibit.

So I found a wonderful verse from Jeremia when I first opened the Bible tonight (determined to do at least one useful blog as it has been several days since I've last posted). Jeremia was a prophet, called to God's service at a very young age (a role model, my young readers, reference what I wrote before, that while the average lifespan of most people was not beyond forty years old, at thirty one is able to be considered an "elder," and thus Jeremia is known to have been younger than thirty!) He was born around 650 BC in a priestly family, and he supported the pious King Josia who was trying to reform the Israelites and bring them back to a closer, purer relationship with God. Thus Jeremia had to battle against many false prophets and idolaters who were corrupting the people, destroying the truth of the faith, and also drawing God's growing wrath upon themselves. He lived on in the ruins of Jerusalem after Israel was destroyed by the Babylonians, until he was exiled by those who still clung to the very errors that had alienated God from Israel in the first place, and he probably died as a result of foul play during exile.

This passage gives you insight into what a real prophet or saint feels about a people who have gone astray, violently, profanely astray, from the purity and truth of their relationship with God.

Jeremia 8:18-23
My grief is incurable, my heart within me is faint. Listen! the cry of the daughter of my people, far and wide in the land! Is the Lord no longer in Sion, is her King no longer in her midst? [Why do they provoke me with their idols, with their foreign nonentities?] "The harvest has passed, the summer is at an end, and yet we are not safe!" I am broken by the ruin of the daughter of my people. I am disconsolate; horror has seized me. Is there no balm in Galaad, no physician there? Why grows not new flesh over the wound of the daughter of my people? Oh, that my head were a spring of water, my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night over the slain of the daughter of my people!

Before I comment and explain more about what he is so movingly feeling and saying, let me remind you of one thing, and tell many of you who have not studied this book of the Bible something else. The first thing to remind you is that as an Old Testament prophet, Jeremia had direct conversation with God himself. True prophets are saddened and alarmed by what they learn from God, not puffed up with their own self importance and "calling" or "mission." That is because when one sees through God's eyes, and hears from God's own lips to one's own ears, one realizes how very terribly wrong much of what humans have done has become. One is alarmed and freaked out, not writing books about "what heaven is 'really'" like or bragging about how one is a "seer" who "channels" the "universe" or whatever. When one hears directly from God it's not because it is report card time and God is handing out A+ on people's term papers. It is because things have really gotten out of hand and the people are in danger of their mortality, their health, their well being, their lives, and their very souls and salvation. So Jeremia is sad and in grief because he knows exactly the terrible continual self inflicted fix that the nation AND the individual people are in, and how God's wrath and judgment is inevitable.

The second thing that I want to point out to those who don't know this about the Book of Jeremia is that the famous statement by God about the sanctity of the preborn human being, the fetus, the embryo, is stated herein:

Jeremia 1:5
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

As I have explained before in my blogging and in conversations with people, God states here (and alludes to it elsewhere in the scriptures) that God himself creates the soul of each person before the embryo starts to form in the womb. In other words, God knows each soul, creating it individually and sending it at the moment of conception and implantation in the womb, as it grows its first cells but is not yet formed (the shape of the person to be.) So, yes, that "blob" is a person with a soul. Now, because this scripture is from the statement by God when he first calls Jeremia to serve him as prophet, God goes a step further and tells Jeremia that at that time God dedicated Jeremia's new born soul (dedicates him to serving God) AND appointed him specifically to this great task of being a prophet to the nations. Notice the "to the nations." This means not only that Jeremia dealt with several kingdoms during his time alive, but that God is foretelling to Jeremia that his words of prophecy will live on to "the nations."

So this explains to you the anguish that Jeremia feels as a prophet on behalf of his people, in Jeremia 8-18-23. He compares the people who are ruining themselves and their relationship to God with the image of a daughter crying. At this point Jeremia has already gone through much effort to fight the corruption and the rampant idolatry and worship of pagan gods, and is definitely suffering. No matter how much Jeremia warns the people with the most dire and most stern prophecies of the evil and woe to come, the people defy him, and the King, and others who may have been trying to reform and purify the Israelites.

The first and foremost characteristic of genuine, true prophets is agony and panic over disobedient people, because they know full well the measure of God's disappointment with their faithlessness (and how much it grieves the Holy Spirit of God) AND the wrath to come. Genuine prophets feel grief as a broken heartedness, far worse than being jilted by a lover or betrayal by a family member. This is why he says that his "grief is incurable" and his heart is "faint." It is difficult to describe seeing individuals and an entire nation be not only bent on their own self destruction, but individually hell bent.

Because he has been at work for a long time already at trying to convert the people back to God, he views his prophetic assignment as being like a year with four seasons, and the spring and summer have already passed. "The harvest has passed, the summer is at an end, and yet we are not safe!" By this he means that people have waited too long, have waited too much time, and have not repented, reformed and converted back to God, and the harvest, both good and bad, has passed (normally a time of joy as good things are collected).

Again, Jeremia shows what genuine horror and anguish is within a true prophet of God who sees most clearly through God's eyes and God's voice how far everyone has strayed and the terrible price they will bring upon their own heads. He says "I am broken by the ruin," "I am disconsolate" and "Horror has seized me." True prophets are flabbergasted when people ignore God's very own interventions and warnings.

He then asks, rhetorically, why traditional ways of medicine and healing do not work. He does not mean this literally; he means that nothing that should work to turn the people from their evil deeds seems to work. He alludes to a city, Galaad, that is famous for it's healing balm, asking if they have run out of balm. He asks if there are no doctors to be found. He asks why a wound does not heal the way it normally does on a body, when new flesh grows in the place of the wound and the scar. So he is using three analogies of healing a bodily wound, describing a place where there is no salve (what they used for pills at the time), no doctors, and wounds will not heal, to describe how nothing that the righteous, such as himself, do to warn and convert the people to repentance and change works as it should. Jeremia of course knows the reason: the people have gone too far and have become too arrogant and hard hearted. But he describes with wonderful clarity the topsy turvey situation where God's own direct word to his own people is ignored repeatedly, and their behavior only worsens.

Jeremia then uses the vivid and so sad image where he wishes that his entire head were turned into a stream of water so that he could do nothing but shed tears and weep over the people.

THAT, my friends, is the sign of the inner thoughts and feelings of a genuine, true prophet of God, and of saints that are also of similar assignment.

By the way, notice that God interjects a thought to Jeremia while Jeremia is writing or dictating these words! When Jeremia asks, again, rhetorically, because he knows the answer, if God, as God and King, has left the people, God asks him, rhetorically at the same time, "Why do they provoke me with their idols, with their foreign nonentities?" You are reading here a snapshot, an x-ray, an electrocardiogram of what it is like to be in the head and heart of a true, grieving prophet AND then also witnessing how God interjects conversation and thoughts right in the midst of the prophet's own thoughts!

How can anyone think that they, despite what the Bible states, which is that there are no further prophets being sent by God, and that there is one life, one soul, per person, that they "might" be some reincarnated "foreign entity," "saint," "prophet," etc. when the entire focus of such a person is antagonistic to the instincts, thoughts and feelings of true prophets, which is to frantically herd people back CLOSER to the true God, before disaster befalls them? I am astonished at how antagonistic modern deluded people who think they are "messengers" or "gifted" are to God, thinking that they are super heroes on their own mission. Yeah, for Satan maybe, LOL, since that's the results of false prophets.

My friends, the information and the truth is repeatedly found, no matter what the question or the situation, in the Bible. People did not write things such as Jeremia did to "push a religion," or to be "an expert," since those concepts simply did not exist at the time. Jeremia was dutifully recording all that God told him and all that he tried to do in his assignment as prophet, at the time when the hammer was about to fall on Israel, in punishment, resulting in its destruction and taking of the people in captivity to Babylon. What a time to be a prophet! But see, that is the whole point of being a prophet. A prophet, a true Old Testament prophet, is the last life line, the last chance to repent and convert and return to God. It's not some "gifting" of ESP or whatever so that people can be false prophets who march others away from God and toward their own cults and mistaken beliefs.

I really recommend that you read the Book of Jeremia with this insight because it will give you an entire freshness in your understanding of both God, his patience and his mercy, and how it will run out as judgment becomes the only option, AND what it is actually "like" to be a genuine Old Testament prophet.

In closing, be sure to note Jeremia 9:22-25. Read the whole Book but if you only have time in the near term, read those three passages. In them God states first of all where true glory is found, and how people who find that true glory will receive his mercy and do please him very much. He then warns that he will soon demand a complete accounting. Now, remember, rather than have "rolls of church membership" as we have today, when God alludes to the entire body of the faithful, he calls them the circumcised (even though, of course, women are not circumcised), but it is the visible sign of following the Law and identifying the body of the "church," so to speak, of the time. God warns then that both Israel and the pagan nations are alike because they are "uncircumcised in heart."

This needs to be studied by those who wonder how they can 'believe' yet still find themselves in a lot of trouble when they die and are judged by God. The Israelites were circumcised, but God warns against those who outwardly seem faithful but are "uncircumcised in heart" Jeremia 9:25.

I hope that you have found this helpful, encouraging if you are genuinely seeking to draw closer to the true God, and disquieting if you have taken too much upon your own self in regard to determining what is "enough" or is "right" "quantities" of faith, belief or works. Don't be circumcised in the body, even calling upon the name of Jesus, yet be uncircumcised in the heart, and thus calling upon Jesus with hypocrisy and deliberate falseness.

Young people.... as always I hope this helps to guide to you understanding what is printed there in black and white, but is so misunderstood in these times.