Samantha Hewavitharana is a doctor of medicine with a special interest in theology and matters of the different religions. Before Christmas, we want to focus on spiritual stories, in this article on the Old Testament Prophets.
“The Prophets were not only people who predicted the future; they were also the world’s first “whistle-blowers.” Criticizing kings, elders and society, they were ready to even give their lives for the cause. The rulers on the other hand, hired “false prophets” to deceive the public. Sounds familiar?
This statement is from the blurb of “Meet the Prophets – A Journey through the Lives and the Visions of the Old Testament Prophets”, a new book on Bible-prophecy that, apart from being a complete Bible-study on The Prophets (written for the most part as a novel true to Scripture, with all respective Bible-chapters covered), exhibits astounding similarities between the prophets’ days and now, as far as politics, social injustice and moral decay are concerned.
Sure, we have a more progressive judicial system in most countries of the world today and mankind has made technological advances. But let us focus on politics and society.
The Prophets lived in a time when trade between Israel/Judah and neighbouring countries had begun, and along with the introduction of new goods, came the introduction of new “gods” from abroad, i.e. new ideals (literally idols) including fashion coupled with vanity (e.g. Isaiah 3:16-24), as well as new ways of moral understanding.
The children of Israel, whose ancestors had been rescued from their slavery in Egypt and miraculously crossed the Red Sea, were forgetting about their heritage. Although they still attended congregation, held festive holidays and cried out to the LORD in moments of distress, their relationship with God had obviously become more of a formality.
If the Children of Israel had taken their faith seriously, studied and stayed true to Scripture, they would not have adapted the damaging trends coming from abroad (Babylon, Assyria and even Egypt). In truth, their hearts had turned away from God and they were committing sin without any feelings of guilt, because collective apostasy had led to a change in social norms.
Furthermore, the religious scholars (priests), who were supposed to educate them morally, were not uncommonly involved in illegal and wrongful activities themselves or at least tolerated the sins of their congregation members – in some cases probably out of fear of a decline in service attendance, in others wilfully (“false teachers”). “False prophets” and “false teachers” were hired by corrupt rulers to maintain the population in unawareness.
Their duty was to tell the people what they wanted to hear, instead of leading them on the right path. This way, the rulers could deflect from their own sins and upon inquiry, a “Don’t worry about it, it will all be good”-answer by false prophets kept the people in spiritual blindness. When real prophets tried to warn society about imminent calamities, preventable if the people changed their ways, fake prophets would bring them “fake good news” instead.
The Major and Minor Prophets of the Old Testament criticised society and made divine prophecies regarding their time, but also the end-times. The Book of Daniel is one of the main end-time prophecy books in the Bible that even gives a timeline of the end-times (elaborated in detail in “Meet the Prophets – A journey…”). According to Daniel and the other prophets, the Gospels, the Book of Revelation, and observing society, we now most definitely live in the end-times, the final stretch of history (or one could say His Story – the story of the Almighty, who is in control of each souls’ fate) as we know it.
Jesus said: “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark…” (Matthew 24:38). This refers to the (preliminary) end of the world (before the 1000-year reign of Christ). Not only would the world be caught by surprise as in Noah’s day (but Christians who have studied their Bible should not be, because they should be watching for the “signs of the times”, i.e. the fulfilment of Bible-prophecies), society would be just as sinful.
As we know from Genesis, God caused destruction to the world by the flood, because He could no longer take the wickedness of mankind (who had been corrupted by “fallen angels”) at the time. By “wickedness” promiscuity, sexual immorality, sodomy and murder are meant amongst other things that violate the Ten Commandments.
In the Prophets’ days also, the population, taken as a whole, was becoming increasingly “wicked” (sinful). People would for instance burn alive the babies resulting from short-term sexual relations, labelling the entire process a “ritual” and a “sacrifice” to their idol “Moloch”. Moloch was an imported Canaanite deity, also known as Baal (Jeremiah 32:35). Interestingly, the animal associated with Baal/Moloch is the bull; we all also know the Golden Calf (Exodus), which was literally a worship of gold and riches.
There was a revival of Golden Calf worship in the Prophets’ days. The flourishing of idol-based fertility cults and Golden Calf worship pretty much sums up the mindset of society in those days.
As this corrupted lifestyle was hardly condemned by anyone, all was done in plain sight and people were proud of their idolatry-based sexual freedom and the “right” (the elites allowed it because they were engaged in it themselves) to brutally “get rid” of their babies. This pride and lack of conscience was a consequence of forgetting God, even the Commandment “Thou shalt not kill”. Instead of repenting, they would be offensive towards anyone critical of their views.
The Prophets’ days give us a “taste” of all the things God hates to see. And whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, who was there from the beginning of time and basically only retaught the law of Heavenly Father, should personally not approve of such sins, either.
Another problem was the widespread financial corruption; the greed of the rich came at the expense of the common man. The methods they used to increase their wealth, including properties, went from wrongful evictions to murder. (1 Kings 21, Micah 2:2).
The very few people who did speak out against these crimes (e.g. the whistleblowing prophets) were, at best, scorned by society, otherwise “silenced” (i.e. imprisoned, tortured or even killed). “Meet the Prophets” discusses solely the sixteen “Major and Minor Prophets” of the Bible, but hundreds of such truth-telling prophets were killed before them (e.g. King Ahab and Jezebel’s reign, 1 Kings 18:4).
In today’s apostate world, whistleblowing is not tied to faith and rather based on human knowledge. But the prophets also often occupied government posts (the palace council – as advisors to the king) and were courageous enough to come forward with the truth, against all odds. Similarly, truth nowadays has become “offensive” to the masses, thanks to the mainstream media that have taken on the role of the former false prophets. And whistleblowers still live dangerously.
An interesting fact about divine predictions and – truth-awareness is that God can choose anyone to be a prophet; you do not have to be a priest or a king like Solomon. On the contrary, the LORD is more likely to choose a “nobody” in society, than a celebrity. He only looks into people’s hearts for the choice (e.g. Amos, an innocent “herdsman and dresser of Sycamore trees”, from a small village named Tekoa).
God did not like what He was seeing in society, so He chose certain righteous people to get His message out. Not all people were corrupt, vulgar or idol-worshippers; just like nowadays.
When God gets angry, the consequences can be devastating, as with the great flood. But God promised to never do something like that again. Instead, He would take away the people’s blessing and allow enemies from surrounding countries to attack them; He would say (through the Prophets) that He would “send” the enemy to them, as a punishment.
But God is just and does not want to see mankind, the core of His creation, being hurt or killed (Hosea 11:8). That is why, every time before a punishment reached His people, He appointed several prophets to go out and warn the people about their behaviour and the consequences, if they didn’t obey.
So in comparison to ordinary whistleblowers, prophets additionally received information (visions, messages) directly from the Almighty, even without physically having to be at the scene, i.e. from country to country (remote viewing) or even across time. This way, they could also often see the future of hundreds of years later, including Jesus birth, his life, the end-times (that we are now in) and the world’s final destiny…
Read the book “Meet the Prophets – A Journey through the Lives and the Visions of the Old Testament Prophets”.