The life of a prophet is not an easy one. All you have to do is read some of the accounts the biblical prophets have given us, and it's pretty easy to say...I'll pass. That's not really the kind of life that I want to live.
Elijah was drawn out into the wilderness and fed by ravens. Yes, birds brought him everything he ingested for quite awhile. Can you think of anything you want to eat out of a bird's mouth, especially a bird that is known to be a scavenger and known to feast on dead things? Do you trust a meal that is brought to you by a creature that looks at the rotting, decaying flesh of an animal long-deceased and thinks to itself, "Yum?"
Ezekiel was called to lie on his side for more than a year. Exclusively. He had to roll over onto his side and stay there until the symbolic time of Israel's and Judah's judgment had passed. And when his time lying on one side was over, he had to roll over and lie on his other side for awhile while everyone watched.
Ezekiel was asked to pack a bag and tunnel out of his own home in the dead of night while everyone watched. Which meant not only that he had to create a scene, but he probably had to invite others to witness his scene because most of the townsfolk would have been in their own homes after dark.
It's one thing to do something crazy for God; it's something else entirely to have to invite others to witness it.
Ezekiel lost his wife and wasn't allowed to cry for her. Hosea had to marry a prostitute who he knew would be unfaithful to him. Isaiah had to live naked in front of the entire community...for years.
Yeah, the life of a prophet is not an easy one. It doesn't sound like fun. We don't read the stories of the biblical prophets and say, you know what, that sounds like fun.
Never mind, of course, that the people of God didn't even listen to the prophets. There are not a lot of stories of prophets where they speak and the people go, "Oh my goodness, you're right! Whatever should we do now?" More often than not, the prophets were pursued, arrested, imprisoned, dismissed, mocked, and worse. Jeremiah was almost executed, placed in a cistern to die, but for the grace of those who knew he was a man of God.
In fact, the most 'successful' prophet in all of Scripture, the one who brought the most change of heart to the people to whom he spoke, was the most reluctant prophet - Jonah. He was sent to the wicked people of Nineveh, and they are the only ones who heard his truth and changed their hearts. And it threw the prophet into a tailspin; he sank into a deep depression when a people actually turned toward God.
It's complicated. Clearly. And there just aren't a lot of us who are going to sign up for this sort of thing. There aren't many of us who fall to our knees at night and pray for the Lord to make us prophets.
And yet, the world needs prophets. Even now.
So we're going to take a few days this week and look at prophets and prophecy and the impact it can have on our world. We'll continue tomorrow by looking at what prophecy actually is - and what it isn't - and then, we'll go on from there.