Text: Hebrews 4:12, Deuteronomy 10:12-15, Deuteronomy 31:22-26, Micah 6:6-8, 2 Peter 1:16-21
A prophet declares God’s living Word. The Old Testament prophets were God’s mouthpieces, bringing God’s Word to the ears of a people who would be lost without it. As the messengers of the Word, prophets pointed to the coming Messiah who would be the Word made flesh.
This morning, my kids drank orange juice from glasses decorated with fall leaves and acorns. “Mom, isn’t it winter now?” they asked, innocently, just trying to keep the festive glassware in line with the appropriate season. Later, as I took my morning walk in the woods, I found remnants of spooky, fake spiderwebs and skeletons still hanging from the trees, albeit dancing with slightly enthusiasm than they once had in October… or early November.
Christmas is coming, but we are still not quite ready. Those clackity skeletons still hang from the trees in the woods, and although someone really should take them down, they remind me of Ezekiel and those rattling dry bones. God led Ezekiel into a valley filled with dry bones, and called him to “Prophesy concerning these bones and say to them: ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’” (Ezekiel 37:4).
After he spoke these words, a quiet rattling sound twitched from the corners of the valley, welling up to a giant clamor as the bones came together, bone on bone, until the whole valley was filled with living, breathing men. These men stood as a testament to God’s promise that His might and His authority are trustworthy, even when all hope seems to be lost. And dry bones do seem to be the very essence of hope lost, gone, and dried up.
When Ezekiel called to the dry bones, he spoke boldly, with the authority of the Lord. Similarly, in the Old Testament, prophets were heralds of the Lord, declaring God’s living Word with assurance. And the Word certainly bears an authoritative declaration. The Bible tells us that God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It is trustworthy (2 Peter 1:16-21), and God’s people are called to follow it (Deuteronomy 10:12-15). Historically, God used His prophets to make His Word known (Micah 6:6-8), and He has preserved it for us in the form of Scripture so that it can serve as a sacred, reliable guide (Deuteronomy 31:22-26, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The Old Testament prophets spoke with an authority regarded even higher than that of a king. In fact, God often used His prophets to speak uncomfortable truths to those in power (2 Samuel 12). Sometimes the kings and rulers were grateful for the help, other times they were furious. But the power and authority of God’s Word has nothing to do with our approval of its message. If it is true, we need to hear it, no matter how much we may not want to.
These prophets were God’s mouthpieces, bringing His Word to the ears of His people, who would be utterly lost without it. We need people who can speak God’s Word into our lives, and do so with authority. And we need to ask God for the humility to always welcome the counsel of Scripture, and to regard ourselves as people under its authority.
God gave real authority to His prophets. Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones hopped right to it when he spoke. God blessed the authority of His prophets to bring light, hope, and joy. Peter exhorts, “You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). God’s Word—and His message of Christmas—is that lamp shining in a dismal, dead place. When the authoritative Word of the Lord appears, it brings with it the very light and joy of life, as well as a promise: Christmas is coming!