The Heavy Work of Prophesy

Jeremiah had the unenviable task of speaking truth to a people convinced of their own wisdom and invincibility. From the beginning of his prophetic ministry, he called people to repentance.

Jeremiah sees visions of destruction and defeat. Attempting to turn people from the darkness of their ways, back to God, he warns of impending disaster if they refuse to change. *But the powerful in Israel do not want to hear about a potential disaster. Instead they listen to prophets promising them peace and military success.

“From prophet to priest
everyone deals falsely.
They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
saying, ‘Peace, peace’,
when there is no peace.”Jeremiah 8:10b-11

The work of prophesy weighs heavily on Jeremiah. He tries to quit, but he cannot keep silent in the face of the coming disaster. He agonizes as he struggles to break through Israel’s national pride and arrogance . . . To keep them from becoming victims of their own foolishness.

Our modern prophets are also met with indifference and denial. Warnings that our actions were leading to catastrophe climate change have been sounding for decades. Instead of uniting and working together, we’ve argued and debated its existence. Meanwhile, oceans rise, permafrost thaws, the Arctic melts, rivers dry up and super fires rage across the planet. In this year of 2022, denial is no longer an option. Our foolishness has brought us to the brink of climate calamity.

Jeremiah spent most of his prophetic years, warning the nation of Israel, of imminent ruin, yet after Israel fell to Babylon, his was the voice “Of a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11b)

God is future oriented. The one who takes our mistakes, our foolishness, our messes and our wilful blindness, then leads us through the awful consequences of our sin and our folly . . . to a place of hope and healing.

God leads, but only when we listen and only when we follow. The real question is, “Will we?”

I hear that question in Howard Thurman’s prayer:

“Thou hast had long experience with Thy children through all the ages of their climb. Out of the wisdom which is Thine wilt Thou deal tenderly with what Thou seest in us, reminding us in all the ways that Thy creative mind can conjure, that if we nourish that which is a sickness we shall corrupt ourselves, that if we nourish within ourselves those things that are false, we shall pervert ourselves, that if we nourish those things that are out of the light, we shall spend our days stumbling through the darkness. Teach us, O God . . . how we may so live that the richness of all the staggering possibilities of life may find its way into the path we take.” Howard Thurman, The Centering Moment, Pg 60

May it be so.


*Stephen Breck Reid writes of  Israel’s denial to face reality as . . “a symptom of a deep and abiding spiritual stupidity and ignorance.” He says, “The people refuse to change course because they fundamentally do not understand that they need to change.” Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 4, pages 52 and 54.

10 thoughts on “The Heavy Work of Prophesy

  1. Shirley, my heart always went out to Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet.” There are many of them today – thousands – and yet their voices get censored, canceled, “un-friended” – the 21st century version of Jeremiah 36:20-26. So, alternative sites have sprung up to get the word out, the 21st century version of Jeremiah 36: 27-32.
    To this day, over 60 million innocent lives have been taken in the name of “freedom,” and the Supreme Court Justices who have defended those lives are sent death threats and crisis pregnancy centers firebombed.
    Children are being taught to violate their bodies in unspeakable ways in the name of “gender fluidity,” spitting in the face of their Creator, often without the knowledge or consent of parents. Parents who express concern are labeled “domestic terrorists.”
    Following demands for defunding the police, violence is increased, people murdered – even beheaded – in the streets, and drug dealers allowed to pour into our nation, unchecked. Deaths from drug overdoses is killing the younger generation in unprecedented numbers.
    I could go on, but it would be too depressing.
    If Jeremiah were here today, I doubt he would be focusing on global warming. Truth is, God could wipe out this planet in seconds with a well-aimed meteor. It’s only a miracle of His mercy that He hasn’t already.
    As Christians, we have one central message – repent and come to Jesus, who died so we could be forgiven, live righteous lives, and live forever with him in eternity.
    This world is going to end. Probably not today, but fact is, we will all die, maybe sooner rather than later. Only human souls last forever. When the Bible says, “For God so loved the world…” it’s talking about people, not the planet.

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    • Thanks for your feedback. This is where I’m coming from. Climate change, leading to an ongoing severe drought in Central America, is forcing people to migrate. Oceans are becoming more acidic decimating species in our food supply. Low elevation Island nations are already being swamped during high tides during part of the year. With rising sea levels some will be under the ocean within decades. People living in coastal regions around the world, often among the world’s poorest, will experience devastation when their communities slide into the Ocean. In Alaska, whole villages have needed to relocate as the ice melts into the sea. Climate Change affects everyone around the world. The poorest of the poor are suffering and will suffer most, unless we act together with other nations. In Genesis, God made us stewards of the creation. That means we have a responsibility to care for the whole of creation. I believe, God will call us to account for the way we have treated the home God gave us . . . How that impacted, not only ourselves, but our neighbors and the rest of the creation God called good.

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      • Love one another? Care for the environment? Can’t we do BOTH??
        Although I bicycle and REcycle as much as I can, I’m not a scientist. My husband, who has degrees in chemical engineering, environmental engineering, and civil engineering, would be a better person to consult. His mantra is, “Show me the data.” Unfortunately, people on both sides of the debate cherry-pick the data they want us to see. Most of the time, they appeal to our emotions instead of facts and logic.
        Speaking of logic, I would tend to give more credibility to the climate change people if they weren’t flying all over the world in their private jets to lecture the rest of us on our lifestyle. While you are walking instead of driving, eating vegan, and whatever other sacrifices you’re making, the fact that some of these people are building ocean-front vacation houses tells me THEY don’t believe what they’re saying. Personally, I see the climate change narrative (which a few decades ago was about the coming ICE age!) as a smoke screen to avoid the fact that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. As I said, salvation through Jesus is and always will be my mantra. In light of eternity, everything else is secondary.

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        • Paul Douglas is a Meteorologist and and Evangelical Christian. I recently saw him MC’ing at the Union Gospel Mission Fund Raiser in Minneapolis. He wrote a book, Caring for Creation: The Evangelical’s Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment. It is a faith based book, on a Christian response to a changing climate. Given his years of study on the subject, I consider him an expert. He can explain this far better than I. https://www.amazon.com/Caring-Creation-Evangelicals-Climate-Environment/dp/0764218654

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          • Looks like a good book. As I implied, I’m pretty sure we can treat the earth responsibly and still live lives that respect life and honor our Creator. Since you didn’t address any of the other problems I brought up, I’m thinking our priorities are different. As my daughter would say, “You do you.” You need to follow your calling, and I’ll follow mine.
            Shirley, I appreciate your posting my comments. Not everyone is willing to have this discussion. Thank you.
            In Christ,
            Annie

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Heavy Work of Prophesy – Shirley Hobson Duncanson | Pastor Michael Moore's Blog

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