The prophets, man, the prophets of old had it hard. I have heard some modern-day prophets, and I like them. I like what they say. A lot of it is really warm and fuzzy and, honestly, they seem to be respected and even kind of Hollywood-style idolized these days. But that seems to be a problem to me—that they are so sparkly and loved and full of these honeyed words. It doesn’t fit the calling I see historically in scripture. I am not saying that God can’t do a new thing. I am merely saying that the only prophets like that in the Bible were the ones that the Lord was woe-ing and condemning for speaking falsehood and lying divination, for saying their own words of peace when God was saying, “sword, famine, wild beasts and plague” (Ezekiel 14:21). The entire job description of a prophet is this: speak the word of the Lord. But the saccharine prophets in the Old Testament, the ones God had to slay because they were leading His people to slaughter, were speaking their own words “from their own inspiration…following their own spirit” (Ezekiel 13:2, 3).
I think we are like those false prophets “who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace” (Ezekiel 13:16). Her was Jerusalem back then. Her was God’s people who wanted to be chosen and blessed, but in the luxurious sort of way that fit with the spirit of the age and kept them from sorrow. If you are like me, you and I are the new Her. We are fearing, more than anything else, the trials and suffering that the Spirit of the Lord has already promised are coming. Paul says that we are “fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17). That is a gigantic IF INDEED and SO THAT, all hinging on our willingness to suffer with Christ. And here we are running from it with every last bit of our energy. Here we are hungry for prophetic visions of bliss and blessings. Here we are living terrified of what we are surely meant to endure from the hand of our compassionate God—our calamity-bringer.
It was God, not Satan, who sent judgement on His people. It was calamity with a purpose of driving His people away from their idols and back to His arms (Ezekiel 14:21-23). The Lord makes it very clear that the horrible terrors and disasters that He strikes His creation with are His miracles (Exodus 3:20). We like the healing sort of wonders, but plagues and smiting have really disappeared from our thesaurus of miracles. But even the New Testament guys still got that.
“If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32). The One who is for us was pleased to crush His only begotten Son (Isaiah 53:10). This is the God we are dealing with. This is the God who is ALSO going to freely give to US. But what are we waiting for? Paul goes on to describe the things we are going to be given, and they include tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and sword (Romans 8:35). Sound familiar? The very same word that was coming through the prophets of old, kept coming through Paul from the same Source, the Spirit of the living God. Notice that it is not in spite of these things that we will remain in the love of Christ, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39). Do we understand that all these things are coming? These are the myriad fears of man, the fears of things created. Created by Whom? These things are all created by the One who still holds the whole world in His hands and allows those “things to come” for us. And we live our lives in fear of them, desperately trying to tap dance around them and somehow to avoid at least some of them. But they are coming.
God told His prophet Ezekiel that that those things were coming for him too. He had a whole list of bizarre and horrible things for Ezekiel to endure and say and do, but the first was to eat something. “Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you” (Ezekiel 2:8). Oh, God is about to give me something to eat! It must be sweet and creamy or thick and savory, because it is from God. Peace, peace! Oh, okay, no. “Then I looked, and behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll was in it. When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe” (Ezekiel 2:9-10). What!? Yes! God was feeding His obedient son a book full of horror and desolation. But, friend, watch! Ezekiel is God’s child, so he opens his mouth and His tender, loving God puts him up in the highchair and feeds him a gigantic, airplane-style, swooshing bite of bitter scroll. And what does this child of God say?
“Then I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth” (Ezekiel 3:3). And that is where our knees should hit the floor. Because the truth is that God called Ezekiel away from fear for a reason. He told Ezekiel that his ass was destined for thistles and thorns and scorpions, but that he was not to be afraid. Why? Because I AM. Because I AM was in the midst, and I AM can make roads in the wilderness and streams in the desert (Isaiah 43:18-19). When you are His, you are bound for the difficult places. But there is nothing to fear, my dear brothers and sisters, because you are going there with HIM! Nothing is going to separate you from Him—nothing at all on this entire journey. Stop clenching your teeth and pursing your lips. Let him strap you in to the high chair and fasten your bib. Open wide your mouth, for even the lamentation you were dreading He will make as sweet as honey.