Lessons From the Prophets

My friend suggested I write something about all this election craziness. But as I sat down to type, I realized that there isn’t really anything to say that hasn’t already been said, and consequently ignored. So instead, I thought I would share some things I’ve been learning as I wade with students into the prophetic books of the Bible as part of our 10th grade curriculum.

The prophet Amos taught me to be burdened (that’s actually what the name “Amos” means) by the plight of the outsider—the poor, foreigners, orphans, widows—and to step syrian-refoutside my own little world of comfort and relative wealth to care for the physical needs of others. God beckons us beyond a preoccupation with self in order to defend the defenseless.

The prophet who wrote Jonah taught me that God actually cares deeply for my enemies, and that my enemies aren’t necessarily His. This satirical story proclaims that God’s heart is not like mine, but deeper, stronger, softer.

The prophet Isaiah taught me that trusting in a morally corrupt political power is never the way, that God’s holiness demands a holiness in us, that God longs for a day when weapons will be turned into farm tools, when dividing walls will be knocked down to pave the way to God’s mountain on which he’ll sit and eat with all of his children.

The prophet Ezekiel reminds me that sin isn’t always what I think it is. Rather, it is almost always relational—a lack of compassion and concern for the “other.” As Ezekiel 16:49 says, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

As I listen to the prophets I’m reminded of why I love these books. I’m reminded of the Scriptures’ power to shape, to convict, to sharpen, to challenge, to change. I’m reminded that God’s Kingdom is an upside-down kingdom.

And then, Wednesday morning as I opened my computer and turned on the TV, I was reminded that no one reads the prophets anymore.

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