“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
The Old Testament is old. It was not written to us in the 21st Century. It is not relevant to our culture and time. The person who says that is ignorant of what the Old Testament Scriptures reveal about the depravity of man and the holiness and eternal purposes of the God of the Universe.
To say that the laws, principles, moral and spiritual standards God gave the Jewish people have no relevance to our time and culture is to exhibit gross ignorance of both Judaism and Christianity. It is an absurdity. God said to Jeremiah,
“Behold, I put my words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant…You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.” (Jeremiah 1:9b-12)
Jeremiah, like other select individuals, was called by God to deliver His message to His people – both those of faith and those of unbelief. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they were rendered infallible in speaking and writing. Evangelicalism in America today appears to have lost its prophetic voice. The New Testament declares to the Church,
“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy…one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation…One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church…therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy.” (I Corinthians 14:1, 3-4, 39)
Today, as never before, the Church needs those who have been called by God to prophesy to the Church. I’m not talking about professed biblical scholars who foolishly set dates for the rapture of the Invisible Church. The gift of prophecy, as Paul stated, is for the “edification, exhortation and consolation” of the Church – the body of Christ. It is not a ministry to unbelievers. Its focus should be to call the people of God back to God and away from its absorption of our pop culture in worship and practice.
The Old Testament Prophets didn’t simply speak God’s opinion on the nation of Israel. They spoke God’s revealed word of discernment and judgment. They boldly proclaimed,
“My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water…My people are foolish, they know Me not. They are stupid children. And they have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, but to do good they do not know.” (Jeremiah 2:13, 4:22)
How long do you think an emergent church leader would last if he preached like that? The Old Testament Prophets spoke God’s judgment upon His people, the Jews. And in doing so they condemned the heathen around them with whom they had compromised and made alliances. They even prophesied that God would use those pagan nations to punish His chosen people.
Ancient Israel and Judah had forsaken the authoritative rule of the God of their fathers. They had amalgamated themselves with the worship of pagan deities and had sunk to the immoral practices of their heathen neighbors. Today’s emergent church, in many ways, has been invaded by the American pop culture. Emergent churches sought “new measures” for attracting the unsaved and opened their arms to our culture’s ways of marketing. In making alliances with the practices and psychology of our pop culture, the Evangelical Church has become as popular as any social organization. In doing so the traditions, creeds, theology of our Protestant forbearers have been abandoned for a message suited to satisfy the “tickling ears” of the masses. Traditional forms of worship were cast aside for new, emergent forms of liturgy. What’s missing in our Starbuck generation of relationship-building evangelical churches? What’s conspicuously absent is intestinal fortitude for pastors to preach the whole counsel of God. The gift of prophecy both in the Old Testament and the New Testament Church was and is to boldly proclaim the valid implications and applications of authoritative Scripture, whether church attendees like it or not. Until we see that on a broad scale our nation will continue to devolve in ways never resembling the greater generations of our past.
The Old Testament scriptures contain vital history, theological wisdom, divine promises, and unchanging judgments of God upon the sin of His people and those who know Him not. To ignore its truthful teachings is to incur the judgments the Prophets proclaimed. They are as relevant and applicable today as when they were first spoken. Not written to us, they are for our generation and generations to come. And what’s more,
“When He ascended on high, he led captive a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men…He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:8-12)
Where do you hear the voice of God’s prophets for this era of doom and death?