I have a question for you: Moses says he wishes everyone was a prophet, so are you ready to be a prophet? When you hear that question you may be wondering what a prophet does, or you have an idea and it doesn’t sound very promising.
I expect the image most people have is a strange looking guy with a long scraggly beard. He stands on street corners yelling at people who walk by, wearing rough burlap robes and a sandwich board that boldly declares: REPENT, THE END IS NEAR! If that’s your picture of a typical prophet, I doubt you’d be interested in the job.
It’s true that biblical prophets could be a bit strange. Think of John the Baptist or maybe Jeremiah. They definitely weren’t beloved figures. Frederick Buechner puts it this way:
The one whom in their unfathomable audacity the prophets claimed to speak for was the Lord and Creator of the universe. There is no evidence to suggest that anyone ever asked a prophet home for supper more than once.1
[A] prophet’s quarrel with the world is deep-down a lover’s quarrel. If they didn’t love the world, they probably wouldn’t bother to tell it that it’s going to Hell. They’d just let it go. Their quarrel is God’s quarrel.2
While we didn’t read Acts 2 this morning, that story can help us understand what Moses had in mind. As Luke tells it, on the Day of Pentecost, a small group of Jesus’ followers gathered in the Upper Room, unsure about their future. As they sat there, the Spirit fell and empowered them to declare the good news of God’s kingdom.
I. SHARING THE LOAD
If this is the way you're going to treat me, just kill me now and end my miserable life! (Numbers 11:15).
That’s an important message for us to hear. I know that this congregation has always understood ministry to be a shared vocation. I’m amazed out how much each of you does. But it doesn’t take much to become dependent on a pastor and expect the pastor to do the ministry of the church. The search committee will encounter candidates who are quite willing to do everything, who would be jealous of sharing the load. I expect they won’t recommend such a candidate. Still, it’s good to be reminded that ministry isn’t something just one person does or that any one person is irreplaceable. Moses learned that the hard way!
I wish the Lord would give his Spirit to all his people so everyone could be a prophet (vs. 29 CEV).
Like I said earlier, I know some of you are leery about becoming a prophet. But don’t worry, you don’t have to become a fortune teller or shout from the street corners words of judgment. But, empowered by the Spirit we’re all called upon to proclaim God’s love of the world and speak out against injustice in our world. It can happen with words or without words, but what we say and how we act will declare the message of God to the world – and that’s what it means to be a prophet.