Believe in His Prophets – 2Chronicles 20:20
It is virtuous to believe in God’s prophets. It is not always easy to believe in the prophets. Sometimes the prophets were commissioned to deliver harsh words of rebuke. Messages that expose corruption, hypocrisy and that upset the apple-cart of spiritual complacency. People like to think that their understanding of spirituality is complete and refined and these same people like to judge themselves favorably according to their own spiritual standards. The prophets were sent to destroy the self-delusion of these people who were so self-satisfied.
Sometimes the prophets were sent by God to encourage the people to take a course of action that may seem completely illogical from a human perspective. The prophets often encouraged Israel to abandon fear and plans of self-defense and to place all of their trust in God. It was not easy to accept these messages that were delivered by the prophets of Israel.
It would be so much easier to dismiss the prophet as a madman or as a fraud.
Those who would reject the prophet and his message did not need to look at themselves as people who are taking a stance against God. The human power for self-delusion is almost unlimited. People could build an entire spiritual framework in which that which is good and Godly is defined as evil and that which is evil is defined as good (Isaiah 5:20). People who operate under this delusion of a false spiritual framework will consider a man of God to be evil. The fortress of petty religiosity that these people have erected for themselves will give them the strength and the confidence to persecute and even to kill the true prophet.
Even in a corrupt society that has built itself a complex structure of crooked spirituality God will find good people. These are people that have the humility to suspect that their concept of Godliness may not be as perfect as they would like to believe. These would be people who take rebuke, not as a trigger to persecute the messenger, but as an occasion for introspection. These are people who have the moral courage to reevaluate and correct the spiritual structure that they have erected for themselves.
It is good and Godly to accept the prophet sent by God and it is evil and ungodly to reject him.
But at the same time, Israel has a serious responsibility to reject a fraudulent messenger. Israel was entrusted with a message from God, they were appointed as God’s witnesses to the world and they were charged with the mission of preserving that message. Throughout history men arose with fraudulent messages that threatened to corrupt the testimony of Israel. It is Israel duty to reject these imposters and to maintain their loyalty to the truth with which the nation was entrusted.
Whenever a claimant to prophecy is rejected it is easy to cast the rejecters in the evil light of petty, hypocritical legalists. It is easy to say that those who rejected the visionary were threatened by the truth of the message that was brought to them and that they were too haughty to be able to accept the rebuke that was delivered to them.
But is this always the case? Israel is charged with the mission of destroying false prophets (Deuteronomy 13:6). Any time Israel moves to discharge this holy duty they can be accused of self-centered hypocrisy.
A holy rejection of a false prophet will be rooted in love for God (Deuteronomy 13:4). Before we are encouraged to believe in God’s prophets we are encouraged to believe in God (2Chronicles 20:20). After all, this is Israel’s mission, to testify to the world that all of the devotion that humanity can muster ought to be directed above and beyond all of nature to the One God who created it all (Isaiah 43:10).
When a prophet came with a message that would have us redirect our devotion then our loyalty to God demands that we reject him together with his evil message. Our love for God does not allow us to bend our hearts towards any one of His creations. And our love for God gives us the strength and the fortitude to face all of our accusers with equanimity. When the Jew was being burned at the stake under the accusation that he is a small-minded, self-centered, petty, hypocritical legalist, his love for God did not waver. When those who accepted the message of the false prophet cast themselves in the role of the humble and trusting people who are obedient to God’s message to the degree of total self-effacement, while at the same time they cast the Jew in the role of the arrogant, stubborn, inflexible, self-deluded rebel against God – the Jew was empowered by His love for God to remain strong.
This love for God survived 2000 years of hell on earth and it burned brighter than all of the persecutions that tried to extinguish that love (Song of Solomon 8:7). And it is the fire of that love that will eventually light up the world with light and happiness (Isaiah 60:3).
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal