There used to be a time when it was quite frequent to see a bearded man on a street corner holding a sign that said something similar to ‘Sinners repent’! I haven’t seen too much of it lately but maybe it still happens in some places. I never remember seeing a woman do it. I suppose this was the idea of a prophet that I had back then. I think I’ve always thought that a prophet or, as the case with Deborah, a prophetess, speaks for God; but my image of the office has changed quite a bit.
I remember hearing someone teach about the five ministries in the body of Christ and a statement about the prophet changed my perception forever. He said that the prophet was known for the love with which he/she spoke. The prophet calls people back to God. If when we think of God, we are reminded of sin, guilt, our performance, consequences, we will think of the ‘sinner repent’ idea. Prophets are called to speak God’s word in love. Check out the first use of prophet in the Bible in Genesis 20; it is interesting. It is a record full of forgiveness, love, restoration, healing and prayer for people.
God is love. He is encouraging and has provided abundantly. If we define sin as missing out on the greatest thing there ever was, we might not condemn ourselves and others so much. We would openly, honestly truly love God because he first loves us.
In the life of Deborah, we see her encouragement, challenging people to rise up and be more than conquerors and believe God. She stated it plainly and simply and without condemnation. The song she and Barak sang, was and is, uplifting and victorious. The last line in the song is:
31 So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years. Judges 5
People perish because of a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), not because God wills it. God has provided his word to free people, not cause them to cower and cringe. God’s desire for us is to stand up boldly, honestly, truthfully and in love and to share the greatness of his desire for us. What Moses said to Joshua in Numbers 11, truly is a great thought:
…would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them! Numbers 11:29b
How different our world would be!