The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” Then the Lord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. – Deuteronomy 18:15-19
Prophets make frequent appearances in the Bible. The job of a prophet was to serve as God’s mouthpiece, in a manner of speaking, warning the people when they stray from the righteous path. Moses fulfilled the job description as a prophet as well as that of a leader who guided the Israelites out of Egypt and to the very gates of the Promised Land.
Prophets had a tough job. Many times they were totally ignored, even when they were commanded to do totally outrageous things like walking around town stark naked or eating scrolls. The prophet that we know as Jesus had a tough time as well, trying to get the people to see the error of their ways and change. The words of the prophets were not all gloom and doom; remember the promises from Isaiah that we hear all through Advent about hills shouting for joy and rough places smoothed out.
We have prophets with us today, people raised from among us who speak to us in both warning and hope, people who see the wrongs of this world and are given the job of trying to get people to listen to them and make changes that will be for the benefit of all. Look around. Who among us speak of what they see and what is needed to correct the wrongs?
Advent is a good time to look for prophets among us and truly listen to their words. Maybe some of them have never been inside a church door in their lives but God can still use them to get the word out. They are Christians and non-Christians, peacemakers and peacekeepers, teachers and preachers, mystics and magi. Some of them people will decline to hear because the prophet does not speak in Bible verses or preach on street corners. Others will hear but feel they, as one individual, cannot do anything to change the many ills of the world. A few will take the words to heart and, like a beacon set on a hill, strike a fire that will be seen by another on another mountain top.
As we light the Advent candles, remember to look for a signal fire from a friendly neighborhood prophet – maybe even someone who simply passes on a word of hope or warning. Maybe that prophet is one of us.