We need prophets. Weeping prophets. Who love Jesus and his Father. And who grieve over the tragic spiritual state we’re in today.
Think of the difference between a doctor who tells a wife of her husband’s terminal cancer with a tear in his eye; and another who is professional and distant. We prefer and trust the one over the other.
Two of the weeping prophets in the Bible are Jeremiah in the Old Testament. And Jesus, himself, in the New.
What is a prophet’s task? To tell the truth. They are called to share God’s heart in terms that call for broken hearts. Who love God and others. Prophets also speak of the future, warning about what’s sure to come.
Jeremiah, in the Old Testament, warned Judea of a coming seventy-year captivity as judgment for their false loves. For loving personal wealth, power, boutique spiritualities, and distorted sexuality. All fruit of dismissing the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jeremiah’s God.
So Jeremiah is called the “weeping prophet” as he spoke with God’s heart and his own: “Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” [Jer. 9:1] And Lamentations—what Jeremiah wrote after the promised judgments arrived—expressed the pathos of a broken heart.
Jesus also shared his own Jeremiah-like broken heart over Jerusalem. “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes’” [Luke 19:41-42].
Many of the false values and choices of past times are being repeated today—in America, the UK, Europe, and the world. We only need to read warnings of the past to see the problem we’re in today. Scriptures point to divine judgments certain to come as God again confronts human hubris. As we read them today we still need to shed tears. We’ve grieved God and we, in turn, will have grief as a reward. National tragedies were common then and are certain to come now.
What prophetic warnings of the past still pertain today? Here’s a short list from among many.
Truth is being challenged, regularly, by flagrant lies. And lies are ultimately birthed by the great Liar of John 8:44. Jesus warned that those who dismiss truth and love lies aren’t able to hear God’s words. And as Scriptures fade from the public forum so, too, does mutual trust fade as a necessary basis for society. Truth is the lifeblood of safe relationships, both private and public.
Once again human lives are treated as small tokens, easily spent for personal reasons. Just like the careless offerings of children to Molech in the OT the blood of abortions today pollute the lands that allow them. Numbers 35:33 is still a reality of life.
Marriages that God forms and blesses—making two into a “one,” never to be divided except by death—are now as flimsy and readily discarded as paper towels. With the tragic consequence that too many children never feel the lifelong embrace of two loving parents. And the children then repeat the pattern in generational loops. So the familial fabric of society shreds.
In writing or reading this we need to share tears. Each of these events carries grief and pain. With visions of love and faithfulness lost and spoiled—it’s not what we wanted.
But how do things change?
Only as God’s merciful and unchanging word, applied by his Spirit, scrubs our souls from what we’ve embraced from a fallen world that either distorts or dismisses God.
Yet even in churches too many preachers and teachers today only tell us what we want to hear. We live like naturalists who ignore God’s embedded intelligence in the creation; and dismiss his power over life and death as expressed by Jesus on the cross. We’re comforted even when we’re overtly wrong, and the substance of sin is woven into the fabric of souls and society.
The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, spoke on God’s behalf in the face of such false voices: “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds” [Jer. 23:21-22].
It’s time for true prophets to speak, and for God’s people—and the world—to repent. God is obviously shaking our world today and we need to listen. And faithful voices need to speak.