Hosea 1:1 opens with these words: “The word of the Lord came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” That’s quite a prophetic legacy that the Bible ascribes to Hosea—a ministry spanning the succession of four Israeli kings. But knowing that all Scripture is given by inspiration from God (2 Timothy 3:16), why did the Holy Spirit pause to recognize Hosea’s ministerial memoir? While the names of these kings certainly help historians date Hosea’s ministry, we must not neglect a deeper purpose for this kingly inscription. Additionally, God wanted the curious reader to know that a prophet’s ministry impacts the highest authorities on Earth!
As the Bible demonstrates, nations prospered or floundered with respect to a king’s response to a prophetic utterance: “Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed” (2 Chronicles 20:20). “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns” (Isaiah 52:7). What favor God gives to the prophet! But is this the full picture? Is the destiny of a prophet meant to solicit the charm of a kingdom? Hardly! In fact, most Biblical prophets experienced lives of divine contradictions. For example, Moses, the mighty emancipator and the voice of God, withstood a national insurrection. Elijah overpowered 400 prophets of Baal and yet he bore the title, “Troubler of Israel!” Jeremiah withstood scorn, threats, imprisonment, and expatriation during his 50-year ministry. The personalities God chose as prophets had no chance of winning the Most Admired Person of the Year. They were more accustomed to deserts than palaces, and yet their words uprooted kingdoms! Dying in disgrace, their rewards preceded them and met them at Heaven’s gates.
While many scramble to insert “Prophet” before their name, there yet remains a vacuum for wholly surrendered, strike-force messengers of God. There is a want for prophets that are disinterested in likability ratings, standing ovations, and reception lines. While prophetic titles and designations can be justified, one must take caution! The territory God sends these servants through is often a littered minefield. That’s because the prophet’s weapon is the Word of God—a part of the arsenal that terrifies the enemy. But take courage! With God’s Word no checkpoint can disarm them and no boundary can stop them. The Word of the Lord functions as a blowtorch, battleax, and double-edge sword. But what is often overlooked in such messengers is their compassion—the virtue that creates a reluctance to release God’s Word. That is why God must package his Word with fire as it’s given to the prophet. It is God’s fire that “burns in their bones” and makes them unable to contain it.
Yes, the “word” from God’s prophetic messengers is mighty as it heals the sick, works miracles, uproots kingdoms, and inspires hope. Such is the ministry of a prophet—not an office to hold but a calling to discharge.
Robert D. Pace
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