In recent times, the title “prophet” has become a sexy one. This certainly wasn’t the case in Bible times because prophets rarely died of natural causes. This is because they rarely had ego-massaging messages. A holy God revealing Himself to sinful humanity would have been an excruciating experience on the part of humanity so He chose to reach out to us in voices and words much like our own. Not that He dictated the prophecies, No! He chose instead to illuminate the minds of the prophets with light they would in turn, encapsulate in our imperfect language.
“…for no prophecy originated in human ideas, but prophets spoke for God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
(2 Peter 1:21 FBV)
If we are to be scale models of God (Genesis 1:26-28), He cannot spell everything out for us. As somebody said, “God doesn’t sign His signature on sunsets.” Belief must always be a choice thus, God can’t barge His way into our hearts and overwhelm us into belief. He has however, given us just enough evidence (not proof) to justify belief. In other words, room for doubt is also room for choice.
Peter, facing martyrdom, is eager to leave no impression that he has placed his faith in a well crafted charade. He, at the Transfiguration, heard the voice from Heaven declaring Jesus as the Son of God. There is a problem. Evidence of experience, though immediately compelling, has no longevity. Sensory experience that is. The apple’s acrid sweetness soon passes from the tongue and likewise, the lover’s caress along with the pinprick, soon fades. The Transfiguration in all its magnificent panoply, is not enough.
Peter points to the “sure word of prophecy.” Prophecy is not about tracing the future but tracing God’s hand in time, teaching us to trust. It is not meant to call us to rest in the reassurance of our knowledge of the future but in our knowledge of God. In the beginning of Daniel’s book, he easily explains the future but as the book progresses, the visions become harder to understand yet he draws closer to God with each vision until at the last befuddling prophecy, he has a theophany.
Prophecy is greater evidence than bells and whistles because it gives the brain something to chew on. We were designed to move from conviction rather than compulsion, thus faith is a choice and not an instinct. The Bible reverberates with God’s voice. It is in learning to hear His voice in the Bible that we learn to hear the same voice in our lives.