Speaking the truth to a wayward loved one or audience is risky business.
Jesus singles out the role of prophets (Truth-tellers) when He rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for their rejection of truth-tellers and the truth that they tell, “That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar” (Matthew 23:35).
Cain always kills Abel.
Darkness always rejects light. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11); “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20). Jesus was that Prophet of whom Moses prophesied, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear” (Deut. 18:15). And Him they falsely accused and hung on a cross!
During the 209 years of Israel’s existence as a nation the LORD raised up prophets to proclaim light and truth. Some are named (Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Amos, Hosea), while some remain unknown. Sadly, Israel’s kings silenced the prophets by murdering many of them. Further, even Israel’s enemies were more responsive to Israel’s prophets (Naaman, the widow of Zarepheth) than were God’s people. Ahab continually blamed Israel’s troubles on Elijah, though Elijah was simply the messenger of God’s justice. Elisha was mocked by young men and ignored by kings, yet he faithfully proclaimed God’s Word to the nation.
During the 345 years of Judah’s existence as a nation they too were sent prophets—both named (Obadiah, Joel, Micah, Isaiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk) and unnamed. The prophet Zechariah to whom Jesus referred (2 Chron. 24), the grandson of the priest who had helped King Joash, called Joash to repentance; in return, Joash had him murdered, bringing judgment on himself, the leaders of the nation, and eventually even the nation.
Old Testament prophets were given two tasks: Demand repentance from a sinning and rebellious people and proclaim the day of the LORD (the coming Messiah in redemption and in final judgment).
Truths about prophets and people:
- Prophets have never been revered by God’s people.
- Prophets risk (and often lose) their lives to tell God’s truth.
- Prophets expose sin for what it is. Therefore, because people love darkness, they hate both exposure and those who expose them.