A Message from Rev. Maya Landell
The Story chapter 15 God’s messengers
As I pray into and work on worship/bible study and life connections to Chapter 15: God’s Messengers, I’m distracted by feeling behind on the many emails in my inbox — each one with a story, a need, a question, a care, an opportunity, a hope, a concern, a blessing. I wonder in 2020 how God is trying to reach me: Who are the messengers I should be listening to and how do I prioritize the voices when so much seems urgent and important? What do I need to turn my attention to that is not urgent and important? That’s not even looking at voicemail or texts. But I am certain in the midst of all of our messages God is trying to reach me with a message. The question is: Will I respond to God or put God through to voicemail?
In The Story the message that God desires to be heard is delivered by special servants called prophets. This week the chapter focuses on four prophets from the Northern Kingdom: Elijah, Elisha, Amos and Hosea. Next week we will jump back down to the south and hear from the prophet Isaiah.
Because the Bible is arranged topically and not chronologically, many people will enter “the black hole” of their Bibles at this point. The Old Testament books are arranged as history, poetry and prophecy. The story seems to get jumbled up and confusing. With the division of God’s people into two kingdoms — 10 tribes called Israel in the north and two tribes in the south called Judah — and the fall of the north to Assyria and the south to Babylon, many people give up reading their Bibles. Don’t let this happen to you.
In the coming weeks, we will hear a lot from prophets. God sent nine prophets to the 10 Kings in Israel over a period of 208 years. (The only prophet that the northern kingdom heard and obeyed was Jonah and that was a message to the Ninevites, not Israel.) Some, like Hosea and Amos, share harsh words and lament about the state of things, while others, like Isaiah, offer strength and comforting — reminders to the people of who they are and who God is.
Our popular culture lately has offered new meaning to the words prophecy and prophet. In our time, a prophecy is often connected with a prediction for the future. A prophet can seem much like a clairvoyant gazing into a crystal ball. But in scripture the definition of a prophet is much simpler: A prophet is a messenger of God; God’s spokesperson. While the message that is shared by the prophet — “the prophecy” — often looks to the future, it’s not the prediction but rather the message from God that really counts.
The work of all four prophets this week shows that God remains with God’s people. Even when the people turn away from God for decades, God still yearns for them to live justly and with compassion. God yearns for the people to repent and reorient their lives. These stories tell us that God’s love never goes away. While there are predictions of judgment, there is always room for forgiveness. God is still speaking through the story and by the spirit.
Cell phone rings. God is calling. Will we answer or let it go to voicemail? Will we let the Spirit of God get through? Will we be God’s messengers of justice, love and peace to our families, in our work and in our community? I invite you to make space to notice and listen, keep asking for the wisdom of a discerning heart.
See you Sunday,