Monday, December 3, 2012

The Mediation of the Saints 3: Walking Together

III. Walking Together, the Chosen Few

Last time we examined briefly how God uses and works with our desires. He works with our friends and enemies alike to effect His great wisdom. Now this can be hard to understand and it can make it seem like we play no part. Some feel that this makes God controlling or domineering while others feel they have no control or say. Below I will look at how the prophets worked with God, voluntarily, to bring about His will. That through their own acceptance of His will (though it was God's initiative and grace, always) they shared in it.

God sent his prophets to the people of Israel. God preferred them over others to spread His message by asking “Whom shall I send?” (Is 6:8). To Jeremiah He said “I place my words in your mouth” (Jer 1:9). To Ezekiel he said “Son of man, I am sending you … eat this scroll … and speak my words to them” (Ez 2:3, 3:1,4). It did not matter what rank or station. God formed a special relationship with a priest, one already a prophet, and a herdsman. “The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, 'Go and prophecy to my people Israel'” (Amos 7:15).

It should be noted that every prophet counted himself unworthy for the task God put before him. God, however, strengthened them by His Spirit. The inspiration he gave them was not a matter of replacing them with His own Body. It was not replacement but literally inspiration, a “breathing into.” The prophets did not lose their soul, mind, speech, or person. They were men who were deeply entrenched in the world they lived in and all of its evils. They were not transported to an ethereal realm but God met them where they were.

More powerfully still it is written: “Do two walk together unless they have agreed? … Indeed, the Lord God does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:3, 7). It pleased God to not merely use the prophets as a tool, nor does he use those faithful to him as a tool. Rather God asks us to walk with Him. He asks that we seek his voice, hear it, and respond. Each of the prophets believed, heard His voice, and were deeply moved by the presence of God. Then God asked them if they would go to his people and speak to them. God speaks through his prophets, but the prophets do not merely speak for God. They speak through God, rather God and the prophet speak together. The prophets stand in His presence (e.g., “Thus the Lord answered me [personally]: if you repent, that I restore you, in my presence you shall stand … you shall be my mouthpiece. Then it shall be they [Israel] that turns to you” (Jer 16:19)).

A prophet listens to the plight of God who looks upon the children that he loves. He sees them turning their backs to Him and instead preferring to sacrifice children to wood and stone. The prophet feels what God feels and cannot help but speak out. The prophet is so attuned to God's will that he acts clearly and directly. But not all men, even the holiest among them, experienced this. Only a select few were called. Some considered weak, faithless, and sinful. Some struggled and failed even after they were called. But God does not necessarily call the strong, the proud, or the sure. God called the Hebrews saying “It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations” (Deut 7:7). The same was true with the Apostles and prophets.

All of these men and others—holy men and women alike—were chosen by God to proclaim his word. They were men “of unclean lips in a people of unclean lips” (Is 6:5) and yet God selected them to deliver his message of repentance and reconciliation. He used our humble humanity and at times the wickedness of humanity to do His will. He effected his will through the agency of man. Some are willing while others are unknowing. God's hand directs them both. His kindness rests on those who turn to him.

Next time we will turn to the Resurrection of Jesus and his instruction to his Apostles. We see that the course of history changed at the coming of the Word but we see also that Christ continued the course God set from the beginning. That is to say that men and women from every generation would guide people to God in extraordinary ways. This was true in life and in eternal life, now afforded by the blood of Christ. Because Christ rose death now carried no sway over the souls of the faithful departed. The saints ran the race and so celebrated their victory over death. We will treat the Apostles and their successors and how they too are more than just a model but fully living and forever servants of God leading us to Him.