This quarter’s Sabbath school lessons about the minor prophets (so-called) reminded me how little things have changed over the past two and a half millennia. If you’re looking for some tame, bland messages about personal spirituality, you had best look elsewhere. The messages of Joel, Amos, Nahum, Habakkuk, and others are messages of judgment against the same things that plague our society today: greed, oppression, classism, and indifference to the marginalized among us.
The messages of these prophetic activists is also a reminder that God’s heart is as concerned with the nations of the world as it is for His own chosen people. And that often He uses others as instruments to render judgment on His own people.
These voices remind us that truth in the abstract is unacceptable in isolation. In order to be truly effective, words and ideas have to be combined with acts and deeds. What good is it to say that we all come from one Creator if we cultivate a climate of inequality? Or if we ignore the material and emotional needs of people in our society just so we can say we care about their spiritual destiny? Or if we condemn others while hiding behind our own prejudices?
Author Anne Lamott wrote: “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” While we often claim to know the mind of God, only our actions will show whether we truly do.
The prophetic voice says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14). We know that justice will reign when Christ returns, which is all the more reason to live it now.