Aloha Friday Message – January 26, 2018 – A Prophet In Deed

1804AFC012618 – A Prophet In Deed

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Deuteronomy 18:18-20 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. 19 Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 20 But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! January is nearly gone. What’s happening to this world? How can we be going through time so quickly; and why is that speed so predictable? Part of it has to do with, I believe, the toilet-paper syndrome. Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end, the faster it goes. Ah, but which “end” are we coming to?

For many of us born in the 40’s, the end is nearer for us than for those of you born in the 70’s and 80’s. Even those among us in the early 90’s are probably already experiencing that time acceleration. When we were children, we couldn’t wait to get older – even counting our age in fractions – “I’m nine-and-a-half plus 13 days.” I find I’m in less of a hurry nowadays, but time is not. It just flies by in a blur. It goes by so fast that some days we can’t even keep track of what has happened, or what is happening, and have only foggy guesses about what’s going to happen.

There are plenty of folks out there, though, who are in the business of telling us what’s going to happen based on what is happening. Quite a few of them work in mainstream media or politics (although sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which lately). Some of these folks think they are prophets of the future and believe they can predict what happens, and they think that is “prophecy.” They believe they are able to prophesy what’s going to happen to us if so-and-so doesn’t stop (or start) doing such-and-such. We sometimes attribute the Gift of Prophecy to horoscopes (God forbid!), or to pundits who blather on in public about every possible outcome. That is a common and unfortunate understanding of what and who a prophet is. Let’s get that straightened out. Here are a bunch of questions about prophets, and yes, these are intended to be punny.

Prophet Humor Was Jimmy Swaggart a prophet or a loss? Do Camp-Meeting Revivalists depend on high-volume prophets? If Jerry Falwell joined weight-watchers, is that a prophet reduction? Could the spaces between the texts on the Dead Sea scrolls be considered prophet margins? Is Jean Dixon a paper prophet? How about Sidney Omar? When Tibetan Lamas levitate, is that a rise in prophets? Is Oral Roberts an example of prophet variability? Are seminaries prophet-making organizations? Were/are Sun Yat Moon and Eric Pepin gross prophets? Atheists are non-prophet centers. Was the Soviet Polit Bureau a non-prophet organization? Was the PTL club a prophet distribution program or a non-prophet organization? Are Seminaries, Monasteries, Nunneries, and Abbeys prophet centers? If you win all of the sports betting pools at work, does that mean you have prophet-ability?

OK, yes, most of those are pretty lame and based on the homophones prophet and profit. But really, what is a prophet and what is a “seer?” Here is a very formal definition gathered from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE):

One common notion is that a prophet is someone who predicts the future, a “seer” as in someone who is clairvoyant, can divine the future through supernatural powers. In this connotation, a person is often already considered a false prophet, a hoaxer, and one whose pronouncements are self-promoting. This is not the biblical meaning of prophet. There are words in the Bible that are translated as “seer,” and the persons associated with that word (usually the Hebrew חֹזֶה (cho-zeh) {kho-zeh’} or רָאָה (ra’ah) {raw-aw’}) are recognized as persons through whom God sends messages. We see this in 1 Samuel 9:9 (In former times in Israel, anyone who went to consult God used to say, “Come, let us go to the seer” for he who is now called prophet was formerly called seer.)

The Old Testament word for prophet is נָבִיא (nabiy’ ) {nah-bee’}. There are some disagreements among scholars about the origin of that word, but one that is well-accepted is that this noun comes from the verb noba` meaning to “bubble up,” “boil over”,” as in “to pour forth an abundance of words,” such as those who speak within divine inspiration. It is by and through the power and inspiration of God that a prophet speaks, and a prophet can’t help but speak when and what God commands any more than a boiling pot can stop bubbling. And that is the key. Those who have Divine Inspiration are True Prophets. The converse is that those whose “inspiration” is self-generated are the False Prophets. How then can we tell the difference? If we look at the verses following Jesus description of wolves in sheep’s clothing, the answer is clear.

In today’s key verse, we have a prophecy about a future prophet who will be a perfect prophet in word and deed. He will speak what God tells him to speak. Jesus is that prophet. In Sunday’s Gospel we will hear in Mark 1:22 22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. In John 5:19 and John 7:16, Jesus confirms that he is a prophet when he says that the words he speaks are not his own, but come from his Father, the one who sent him. This is the primary test of a true prophet – that what s/he says is consistent with what God says. A second test is whether or not the prophecy comes true. Jesus consistently speaks and does what God commands. Those who listen and believe receive the reward of eternal life. Those who refuse to believe are judged by the Word, i.e., the words Jesus spoke on behalf of his Father:

John 12:44-49 44 Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. 47 I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, 49 for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

In just a few verses surrounding today’s Key Verse, we have a snapshot of Jesus’ teaching on a Sabbath in the vicinity of  the synagogue of Capernaum (Mark 1:21-31) combines teaching and miracles of exorcism and  healing. Mention is not made of the content of the teaching but of the effect of astonishment and alarm on the people. Jesus’ teaching with authority, making an absolute claim on the hearer, was in the best  tradition of the ancient prophets, not of the scribes. The narrative continues with events that evening (Mark 1:32-34; see the notes on Matthew 8:14-17) and the next day (Mark 1:35-39). The cleansing in Mark 1:40-45 stands as an isolated story.  [ Notes, New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)] Capernaum Καφαρναούμ (Kapernaoum) {cap-er-nah-oom’} was the place where Jesus set up a residence. The name means “village of comfort.” It was a large and busy city in the region of  Galilee situated on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee (a.k.a. Lake of Gennesaret) near the place where the Jordan flows into the lake.

I urge you to revisit John 3:16-22 so that you can see how Jesus’ prophecy – speaking the Word and Will of God – fits in with his mission. Just for good measure, we should also carefully read (in context) Matthew 10:32-33 and Matthew 10:40-42. We can get some idea of what happens to people who claim to be prophets, but who do not have the word, the will, or the permission of God to speak. Check out Jeremiah 14:14-19, Matthew 7:15-19, and of course all of Matthew 24. Anybody can take a guess at what the future will bring, but only a Prophet can tell us God’s will. Many claim to have that ability to prophesy, but test everything as we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good. What do we use as a test? Please, go up a couple of lines and click on Matthew 7:15-19. The answer is in verse 16a – 16 You will know them by their fruits. If any prophesy is inconsistent with what God himself says or directs, it is FALSE.

Belovéd, do not cling to what is false, but only what is true, and remember that everything Jesus said or did conforms to the definition of a True Prophet because he was Divinely Inspired – Those who have Divine Inspiration are True Prophets. By their fruits you will know them through the deeds that they do in Love. Deeds performed as acts of sacrifice are validations of the words of Love. Jesus’ message is the prophetic Word – spoken on behalf of God and powered by his inspiration – that becomes redemptive by his perfect sacrifice. Jesus’ loving promises are spoken in love, and the deed – the action of, the doing of – speaking those words of promise is the Love of God through Christ Jesus. There is now truer deed, no truer prophet, no truer prophecy that to prophesy as Jesus did: John 15:13 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. This prophecy is Love given in deed and not merely in word. 1 John 3:18 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

Here is how we can know the effectiveness, the efficacy, of that prophecy. We learn of the Love of God and it’s power is that we Love To Love (↔ Music Link) him in word and in deed … and in song! (In Ireland, they have a proverb, “He who sings well prays twice.”)

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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