Listen Up, People

Reflection on the Prophets
Bible School Celebration Service
by Elaine Maust
March 9, 2008

Intro

This week we met five interesting characters from the Bible. Five of the prophets – Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, Amos and Daniel. These Prophets were messengers for God. They took God’s message to the people. Each added one book to the Old Testament.

Here is a little taste from each of the prophets.

Isaiah – Hold onto Hope (Isaiah enters)

God called Isaiah in a terrific and compelling vision that changed his life. One day in the temple, he saw God on a throne surrounded by angels. He was so struck by all of this that he declared… (Isaiah speaks) “Woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips.”

Then an angel flew to Isaiah and touched his mouth with a coal from the fire. (Isaiah picks up coal) Isaiah heard God speak, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?”

And Isaiah said… (Isaiah speaks then exits) “Here am I. Send me.”

And so, Isaiah went to the people with bad news. If they didn’t change, they would spend years in God’s “time out.”

But Isaiah also told the people good news, “Hold onto hope!.”

Isaiah 61:1-3 begins, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…” Many many years later Jesus told the people that Isaiah had written those words about Him.

Ezekiel – Get a New Heart

Ezekiel was a prisoner of war and a priest. God’s call surprised Ezekiel, because he didn’t expect God to find him in Babylon, so far from his home.

Ezekiel had a series of fantastic and bizarre visions that included bones, wheels and flying creatures with multiple faces. If you enjoy movies and books with such characters, check out Ezekiel and his visions full of symbolism and drama.

(Ezekiel enters, sits by the river)

In one vision, Ezekiel was handed a scroll with a message from God on it. He was told to eat it. (Ezekiel eats the scroll) The message on the scroll was bitter, but when he ate it, it tasted sweet.

God says in Ezekiel 36:26. (read)

Here’s how we said it at Bible School… (Ezekiel speaks, then exits)

Get a new heart is what it’s all about
God changes people from the inside out.

We learned from Ezekiel that God can do an extreme makeover on us, beginning on the inside.

Jonah – Accept God’s Mercy

Jonah was a reluctant prophet. He didn’t want to obey God’s message to “go to Nineveh.” We can’t blame him. The Ninevites were the enemies of his people.

Well, this running away from God got Jonah in all kinds of trouble that included a storm and a big fish. When he eventually did what he was supposed to do to begin with, he was in for a big disappointment.

Like other prophets Jonah told people to straighten up. When they did, Jonah was furious with God. He was hoping God would whack them for being bad.

Jonah was not able to be with us this morning. If he was here, I think he would tell us that God has mercy on all kinds of people who don’t deserve it. Like the folks in Nineveh. Folks like Jonah himself. Even folks like us.

Amos – Don’t Just Worship

Amos was a farmer and a shepherd and felt startled and unprepared for God’s call. Why would God call him?

(Amos enters, checks on fig crop)

Amos took a strong message to the people. (Amos speaks then exits)

Listen up, people all over the land,
Worship and justice go hand in hand.

God was not impressed with their worship. Wait a minute. How could God be unhappy with worship?

God saw the how the poor were treated and said, “that’s not just” (or fair).

These words from Amos were made famous by Dr. Martin Luther King (Amos 5:24).

Daniel – Stand Firm in Faith

Like Ezekiel, Daniel was a prisoner of war. He was carried off to Babylon where he faced hard decisions and temptations. (Daniel enters, sits in the chair and reads scroll) Daniel’s message came through his words but also through his long life of obedience to God.

From the beginning, Daniel was determined to stay faithful to God. Even though he became one of the highest government officials of his time, he did what pleased God first. He prayed even when it meant being arrested and thrown to the lions.

After that incident the king made a new law… (Daniel speaks, then exits)

For Daniel’s God is the living God who endures forever;
Whose kingdom will not be destroyed,
Whose power will never end.
Daniel’s God rescues and saves his people
And performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.
This God rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.
From now on, Daniel’s God is our God, too.

Summary

I am encouraged by the variety of folks that God called to be prophets. Ezekiel was a priest. Amos was a farmer. Daniel was a prime minister, of sorts. Jonah was… well, Jonah was a problem. I wonder why did God choose each of them?

We can hear from God too. What is God asking us to do or to say? God will use us even if we are not all that dependable, like Jonah. Or even if we feel unqualified like Amos.

These are the words of Henry Drummond: “Next to its love for the chief of sinners, the most touching thing about the religion of Christ is its amazing trust in the least of saints.”

Let’s listen up to the messages of the prophets. Amos says, we must be just or fair to the poor, or God will be unimpressed with the songs we sing on Sunday.

From Isaiah and Jonah we learn to go when God says go.

From Ezekiel to let God give us a new heart.

And from Daniel we learn to stay faithful to God in places and in times when that is the hardest thing to do.

So listen up, people
Listen, God is calling
God is speaking through the prophets
God is speaking through the Spirit.
Listen. Listen.
God is calling.


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