If you’ve hung around this blog for any length of time, you’re bound to have read these words, “the life of a prophet isn’t easy.” The job of a a prophet is to act as the mouthpiece of God. Sometimes, prophets get to share hopeful news. Take the lesson from Isaiah 11 as an example:
“The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
Words of comfort and hope didn’t come easily to the prophets of old, however. Instead, the regular duty of the prophet was to warn people to “flee from the wrath to come.” Usually, prophets found their way to the power centers to warn the rulers and their people that they had failed to live up to expectations, and that God was angry and planning some sort of divine punishment.
That’s the world that JBap finds himself living in: a world where politics and religion had become awful bedfellows; where the powers-that-be made sure the have-nots stayed in subjugation; where worship of the LORD had been turned into a money making operation. A world not that unlike our own, come to think of it.
JBap’s job was different than the other prophets, however, because JBap got to proclaim the coming of the Savior. Sure, he had his moments of fire and brimstone – “you brood of vipers!” – but, John’s job was to bring people to the place where they were ready for a change. “Repent!” John proclaimed, “Repent! For the Lord is about to do something spectacular and you’ve got to be ready to see it.”
John’s job, in the end, was to make sure the people were ready to see Jesus for who he really was. His task was to open the eyes of the spiritually blind so that could see Jesus not merely as a Rabbi or a miracle worker or a revolutionary, but as the Son of God, as the Lord, as the Messiah. Which, when you think about it, is probably a much harder job than the other prophets. When the Babylonians are trampling everyone around you, the prophet saying “we’re next” is pretty easy to believe, but when the prophet is proclaiming a savior for the nations, well, that takes a little extra effort.
John’s job was not an enviable one, but thanks be to God, he was faithful to the task at hand.