The Weather Report
“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” Jonah 3:10
Do you watch the weather? Television news can be irritating but weather reports typically do not set out to sway people. I realize a few unseasoned weathercasters will embellish their experiences. I’m not sure why they do it other than a) getting caught up in the moment, or b) trying to raise ratings among viewers or listeners. Weathercasters predict the forecast and share it with us based on information they obtain and calculations they make. Sometimes they are spot-on. Other times, not so much.
While weather reports may be accurate, there are times the report calls for rain and the sunshine breaks through. Still other times, we downplay the weather report or ignore it all together; which can have disastrous results. During Hurricane Ike, for example, Bolivar Peninsula was destroyed. There were warnings. There were people who heeded the warnings. There were other people who said, “It won’t be that bad,” or “I don’t care what they say. I’m not leaving my home.” What happened? Many people died.
In the biblical world, prophets were the weather forecasters of their day; literally and spiritually. The prophet would take information given to them by God and accept the calculations based on God‘s message. If they were obedient, they delivered the forecast to a designated people group. Prophets were, and still are, designed for a specific people at a specific time and in a specific place. We don’t have one weather report for the entire United States, do we? National weathercasters can present a picture but we’re really going to depend on regional or local experts.
The same is true with prophets. Prophets typically are not called to give a message to the entire world. Prophets are sent to us because they’re called to our specific people group in a specific place with a particular message. Many of us feel more comfortable calling today’s prophets, “teachers,” “preachers,” “pastors,” or “speakers.” Just like TV news, if they tell us what we want to hear, we’re happy. The real challenge to our faith comes when a prophet tells us things we don’t want to hear. God may test us to see if we are willing to embrace the message and make the necessary changes.
Jonah is an example of a prophet called by God who disobeyed God’s orders. Jonah didn’t want to deliver the message. He ran. He got caught. He finally obeyed. But then God didn’t follow through with the destruction Jonah prophesied. It wasn’t that Jonah got the message wrong. Once Jonah did the right thing, the people did the right thing, and a righteous God relented.
So, what does this have to do with us today? I suspect all of us had prophets, preachers, teachers, and speakers address us with words of warning or a call for change. The spiritual gift of prophesy did not die when Christ returned to Heaven. God continues to use messengers today. Our responsibility is to examine the message, determine if the message is from God, and then act accordingly.
What message is God sending us? What message does He have for your church body? It is important that we listen carefully, be prepared, be ready to move, be willing to do what is best and trust God through His prophets.
How do we know which prophets are real and which are false? The message. A true prophet points to God’s power and ability. A false prophet points to a human, as long as that human says what the person wants to hear.