Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just a Thought: A Call for Weeping Prophets

I'm indebted to my pastor, Steve Jackson, for inspiring this article. His sermon this morning brought the following thoughts to mind.

And, by way of clarification, my use of the word "prophet," in the context of the call for more weeping prophets in our day, refers to a call for forth-telling prophets. It is not a call for foretelling prophet.

I believe the office of the foretelling prophet--akin to the prophets of old (Isaiah, Jeremiah [known as the "weeping prophet], Ezekiel, Daniel, etc.)--is an office that passed out of existence, with the end of the Apostolic Age. Yes, I am a Cessationist. There are no prophets, today, who foretell future events. There are only self-anointed false prophets who make self-serving predictions, most of which do not and will not come to pass. Additionally, the Canon of Scripture is closed. To argue that there are still men and women of God uttering new revelation would be to argue that the Canon of Scripture is incomplete.

On the other hand, I do believe the office of the forth-telling prophet remains to this day. The forth-telling prophet is one who declares the known truth of God--the Scriptures, in the pulpit and/or on the streets. While there is healthy and vigorous debate and disagreement regarding whether or not women should herald the gospel in the open-air, Scripture is clear the forth-telling prophet who stands in one of God's pulpits should be a man and only a man.


And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” ~ Luke 19:41-44

Jesus was making His way down the Mount of Olives, approaching the narrow Kidron Valley, en route to Jerusalem. The occasion is commonly referred to as the Triumphal Entry, which was the beginning of the Passion Week, which culminated with the crucifixion of the God-Man.

As He sat atop the colt and looked at City of Jerusalem, now just a short distance in front of Him, He wept. He wept over the City of the King. He wept because, as the All-Knowing-One, He knew what would befall the great city in about forty year's time. His prophetic words, foretelling the impending destruction of Jerusalem and its glorious Temple, came to pass in 70 A.D. To the smallest detail, Jesus declared utter carnage would decimate the city because they were spiritually blind, intentionally ignorant, and in arrogant denial regarding the coming of the Lord, the Messiah.

Jesus wept over the city and for the people.

There was one aspect of my career in law enforcement about which I never grew accustomed. It never was easy and it never grew easier over time. Sometimes I had to try, often unsuccessfully, to emotionally detach myself from the intense emotion of the situation. The situation, the call to which I am referring: death notifications.

More than once I had to tell young parents that their infant was dead, as a result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). More than once I had to knock on a door late at night to notify just-awakened family members that their loved one was killed by a drunk driver.

I will never forget the call. I will never forget the child. I will never forget the grief of an entire residential street. The toddler couldn't be moved until the coroner arrived. There she lay in her family's driveway, where moments before she was unintentionally killed by her father when he backed over her with his SUV. Imagine, if you can, the inconsolable anguish of the little one's grieving parents--especially her father. I stood with five other deputies, shielding the toddler's body from view, dying on the inside with every glance at the lifeless child.

And then there were the line-of-duty deaths. As a deputy sheriff and department chaplain, I was on scene for no less than ten line-of-duty deaths. In the aftermath of the tragic loss, I would spend days, sometimes weeks, with the mourning family and fellow partners of the fallen hero. The cycles of emotion were exhausting; and the depths of the sorrow was palpable. Unlike other deaths, there was no separating myself from the death of fallen comrades in arms. I was among the grieving.

The weeping I saw and heard in the above situations, the weeping I was brought to in some of these situations was profound.

Jesus wept over the city and the people.

The Greek word translated as "wept" in Luke 19:41 is "klaio" (klah'-yo), which means to sob, i.e. wail aloud -- bewail, or weep. My pastor put it this way. "Jesus, from the deepest portion of His soul, is groaning in a loud voice over what He saw." The same Greek word is used in describing Peter's weeping after hearing the cock crow twice, after he denied Jesus three times.

Jesus did not simply shed a tear over Jerusalem. He did not merely feel a passing sadness or pity about the pending fate of God's people. No. Jesus wept. His chest likely heaved, catching his breath with every few words, as He pronounced judgment upon the city on a hill.

Ezekiel, prophesying the very word of God, said, "Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel" (Ezekiel 33:11)?

Jesus, the Word became flesh, did not delight in what He knew would happen to Jerusalem. While the city and her people deserved what would come their way for their sin against the Triune God, Jesus did not relish in their demise. On the contrary: it grieved Him deeply.

Jesus cried out, with watery eyes, tear-stained cheeks, and words to the effect, "You missed it! I came to you! Those of you entrusted with My Word did not believe Me. I knew you would not believe! You missed it! And now, My beloved people, you will be destroyed! You will be destroyed by the very people who oppress you, now! You have not thrown the yoke off you! Your unbelief cinched it tighter around you!"

Jesus wept over the city and the people.

Where are the weeping prophets, today?

Where are the men of God who weep as they teach the Word of God, who weep as they herald the gospel on the streets?

Where are the weeping prophets, today?

Where are the men of God who grieve over the self-imposed spiritual plight of the lost?

Where are the weeping prophets, today?

I write as one looking in the mirror. Why do I not weep more for the lost? Why do I not weep as Jesus did? I do not weep because I do not love the lost as Jesus did. I do not love the lost enough.

If I am to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29), then that conformity must include a deeper love for and grief over the lost. It must be reflected in my preaching. It must be reflected in my conversation. It must be reflected in the way I distribute tracts and carry the cross. It must be reflected in the way I pray.

Lord, raise up for yourself weeping prophets. Fill the streets not just with biblical preachers, but weeping prophets who rightly herald Your gospel.

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