From there Abraham journeyed towards the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said,“Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing?” 11 Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come,say of me, He is my brother.’”
14 Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him.15 And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of allwho are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated.” 17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. 18 For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
I have been called a prophet. I can’t say it sits comfortably with me. It sounds pretentious. After all a prophet has a large beard. I no longer have one of those. Fat and Frantic, a Christian group from the 80’s said that prophets are completely bald. They ‘prophesy here. Prophesy there. I know I’m a prophet ’cause I got no hair (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EWWI4ikV6g).” However, silliness aside, what constitutes a prophet? It is one who speaks God’s truth into a situation. It may be God’s truth about the future, but it is often God’s truth about the present and the past. What, then, is truth? It is speaking the way things really are.
Our generation has a decline in prophets because to speak God’s truth means to speak in absolutes. As Obi-Wan Kenobi reminded us in Star Wars Episode III, only Sith believe in absolutes. Yes, apparently that is absolutely true. Believing in absolutes is imperialistic, dark, and harmful. Ironically, this has become a cultural absolute in some circles. We may speak small truths which we have all found on our own little journeys, we may apply the Bible as a personal story without offending anyone else. However, the only prophets who can speak absolute truths into the public domain are scientists, movie-makers, and musicians. The religious prophets are fanatics, their followers are lunatics and the religious motivations of social reformers like MLK are silenced.
The passage above is the first time that the word for prophet is used in the Bible. Araham knows God and he knows how God sees the world. This is not with omniscience, but it is with accuracy. Abraham is not God, he does not think he is God, but he can speak for God. In the same way, when we communicate the thoughts of scripture we are prophets. We are not God. We do not think we are God. But we speak the word of God.
Like Abraham, let us be prophets. Let us speak your truth into the world that is floundering all around us. First speak it into our lives and let us be pliable and authentic with you. Show us more truth of our depravity and then bring your healing. As we are healed let us bring healing to others and to be bold even when healing involves pain.
- What is the problem in the passage?
- How do people seek to solve the problem?
- What is a prophet?
- When do you prophecy?
- What is the purpose of your prophetic ministry to others?