Prophet Jonah's Message
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16. Prophet Jonah's Message

Thoughtful JonahAn excellent example of an Old Testament prophet might be Jonah, who prophesied in the Northern kingdom of Israel in the eighth century BC. He lived a few miles north of Nazareth, where Jesus in later years worked as a carpenter. The prophet Jonah's message of impending doom upon the city of Nineveh is given him by God in Jonah 1.1-2, "The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because its wickedness has come up before me.'" God instructs Jonah to go and tell this message to all. Jonah is a typical prophet. Jonah's story is included in the "Prophets" section of the Old Testament by its Hebrew compilers because they recognize this. In some prophetic messages, there is sometimes hardly any story, but all announcements. The prophet Zephaniah prophesies in the sixth century BC. His name means "God has concealed." The first verse sets the scene, but the rest is a message from God.

Working Lay People

"The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah, 'I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,' declares the Lord." Typically, the prophets are working lay people who are plucked out of their walk of life to fulfill their tasks and often disappear as quickly when they complete their job. We find prophets who were court servants, potters, shepherds, and a pruner of fig trees coming from nowhere to speak God's message. One oddity is Ezekiel, which means "God will strengthen," who is taken from his priestly function to be a prophet. We read in Ezekiel 1.2, "On the fifth of the month, it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin, the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was on him." Another unusual instance is the formation of a school of prophets as in Elisha's day.

Sacrificial Tasks

Jewish High PriestIn the Old Testament, a priestly family, the Levites, are given the responsibility of maintaining and ordering worship in the religious sanctuary, whether it be the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the Temple, or later after 70 AD in the Synagogues. Levites are set aside for sacrificial tasks and are often a full-time, professional group. They are the priestly class. They represent human beings to God. Then, others present God to human beings. They have a special message from God, such as the prophet Jonah's message, and told to "Go - Tell!" They are called prophets, and the second half of the Old Testament, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Hosea, preserves many of their names.

Angel Message Today

Angel StarsLike an angel message today, God has given Christian Evangelists his Good News to proclaim. Angel messages are a common element in many spiritualist activities today. You can get angel card readings for daily guidance, even a word from your guardian angel. These seem to be authentic, but a salesperson makes them up. The only authentic messages from God come directly from the Bible. Only the scriptures can be relied upon to present God's view. The evangelist is someone who has learned God's message of salvation from the Word of God who takes and shares that message. An evangelist is literally "a bringer of good news" The Greek word used here is "euangelistes." It also translates as "to announce well." In the Bible, we find that an angel is an other-than-human being, who may carry God's message and share it with a particular person or group of people at the command of God. "Good News" and "going" are tied in with both the angel's role in past times and the evangelist's role today. Angels also have a second role as ministers on earth and in heaven at the direction of God. Throughout history, God has always had two groups of enthusiastic followers in the Old and New Testament times. Some represented humans to God, the priestly maintainers of a religious order, and others represented God to humans, the evangelistic, prophetic group. They were people with God's message and prepared to tell it no matter what. Similarly, in the New Testament era, we have the dual ministry of the evangelist and the priest as equivalents of the prophet and the priest in Old Testament times.

Holy Spirit Prophet

Dove and FireA Holy Spirit prophet was given a message by the Lord Jesus Christ and directed to deliver it to human beings. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, a new order of prophetic figures began. Old Testament prophets received the power of the Holy Spirit for a specific task. They were given the resources for the job, but only for as long as it took to do it. After the Day of Pentecost, it was different. The Holy Spirit descended and remained on all believers, rather than on a few for a particular task. Thus Christians could say the Holy Spirit filled them. They experienced a day after day very present experience. With this giving of the Holy Spirit's power at Pentecost, the prophecy of Joel, whose name means "One to Whom Yahweh is God" and who was mentioned by name only once in the Hebrew Bible, was fulfilled. It was described in Acts 2.17-18, "In the last days, God says, 'I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.'" From that day onward, there was to be a multitude of Holy Spirit-filled prophets, rather than a few chosen ones. The Holy Spirit prophet was to be the evangelist - women as well as men, old and young - but all proclaiming the same unique message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The message varied in its presentation, but the elements in it were the same every time.

Evangelist Prophet Message

Anglican PriestThe evangelist prophet message in the Christian era is primarily passed from Christ to human beings through human channels. In parallel with this new order of evangelists came a revision to the priestly order. The apostles and later Christian priests developed a pastoral and administrative role as maintainers of the religious order in place of the Levites. The vast majority of our professional ministers fulfill this role today. Their intended task is not so much to go beyond the church gates with the Good News for those people outside but to give pastoral oversight to the Christian flock with this evangelistic function. Like the priests of the Old Covenant, these pastors eventually came to be responsible for the ordering of ceremonies. However, this was probably not the case with the absence of church buildings during the first three hundred or so years of the Christian era.

Neglected Message Tragedy

CongregationThe tragedy today is that the evangelist prophet message is mainly neglected while the full-time pastoral role dominates. Perhaps desiring a tight organizational framework, the church has purposely subverted the uncontrollable elements of the lay evangelist prophet. The congregation of the faithful assumed that their minister did the work while they sat back and received. They ignored their spiritual gifts. Today, however, there are hopeful signs that the message and the messengers are resurfacing. More clergy and pastors are encouraging their people to speak out, to be involved in visiting the sick, to use the business skills that few of the clergy have, to take the lead. So the vast body of ordinary Christians is again becoming the prime mover in evangelism and not the passive recipients of the pastor's ministries. The evangelist prophet message is again rightly becoming the ministry that the full-time pastor is building up and supporting!

"Prophet Jonah's Message"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2020

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