Objective: To recognize what the primary role of biblical
prophets was, how they lived it out, and what messages they have
for us today.
Biblical prophets are often characterized as foretellers
of the future. While that element frequently was part of their message, it
was never the gist of it. Biblical prophets spoke for God. It’s that simple.
One of the reasons we see Scripture as inspired is that words spoken centuries
ago by prophets to people of their own day frequently resonate in ours. Meeting
the prophets can be an eye-opening experience.
A four-week course
When the Prophets Roared for Justice By Virginia Smith. N0298
The primary role of a biblical prophet was quite simple: to serve as a mouthpiece
for God. To these frequently beleaguered persons fell the unenviable task of
being Israel’s conscience, of reminding the straying Israelites of their covenant
obligations, of recalling for a forgetful people the real implications of being
God’s chosen people.
Isaiah: One Prophet or Three? By Lawrence Boadt, C.S.P. N1298
“The Book of Isaiah has greater power than almost any other book
of the Bible because it testifies to the enduring will of God to
save in every age. It is no wonder that the New Testament cites
Isaiah as the prophetic preparation for Jesus Christ more than any
other book in the Old Testament,” Boadt writes. He explains the
stages of development of this magnificent literary and religious
document and its importance and impact in our religious tradition.
Jeremiah: Prophet of Tough Love By Daniel Durken, O.S.B. N0299
“Read and reflect on this prophet of wrath who roars and rages
against the corruption and complacency of his age and every age,”
Durken says. “We who are tempted to use the comforting concept
of God’s unconditional love as a cover-up for the outrages and atrocities
of our times, we need especially to hear and heed his strident statements.”
Ezekiel: Difficult Prophet in Difficult Times By Irene Nowell, O.S.B.
Called by some “the prophet of the Exile” and by others “the father
of modern Judaism,” Ezekiel deserves more respect than he sometimes
gets. That may be due to the apocalyptic writing style of parts
of the book. But life wasn’t easy for Ezekiel. As Nowell points
out, “They [the Chosen People] are in a foreign land. God seems
distant. They need a dramatic message of hope.” It falls to Ezekiel
to provide it.
Readings from the prophets are especially meaningful during Lent. To create
a five-week Lenten experience, add the following issue:
The Bible’s Human Bridges By Virginia Smith. N0799
The Bible’s many historical periods were often linked by larger-than-life
figures who, like bridges, stood with one foot in the era just ending
and the other in the one that lay ahead. Prophets such as Samuel
and Jeremiah acted in that capacity, speaking for God and moving
God’s relationship with his people forward.