Welcome to the New Year! I remember a bit of wisdom that my last manager gave me while I still worked in pest control. At the end of the fiscal year, he gathered everyone and said “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that this is a new year and all the mistakes of the last year are gone. You have a slate that’s wiped clean. The bad news is that this is a new year, and all your accomplishments of the past year are gone too.” There’s some truth to that. In Christ, we know that every morning his mercies are new. All your failures are gone, and he’s never going to bring them up again. But also we need to move forward concerning our walk with him. I know that the Spirit has rebuked me sometimes because I’ve been resting on what I did for the Lord in the past. I know that I’ll get rewarded for service some day, and the Lord never forgets what we do for him. But my focus always needs to be on today, not on the past--That applies to both failures and to successes.
Before we get to today’s study, I have just one more bit of housecleaning. If you’re getting this by email, then it might've been a while since you visited the actual TAWG Blog website, which is as it should be. But I'd like to point you to something else my website offers. I’m a huge believer in reading the Bible systematically from cover to cover on a regular basis. If you don’t then you tend to go back over and over and over to the parts of the Bible which you like best and neglect the parts which aren’t as naturally appealing. Please let me remind you: Paul didn’t say most Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. He didn’t say all Scripture except for the boring parts. He said all Scripture. That means from Genesis 1:1 to the last verse of Revelation. Does your Bible reading reflect that truth?
That’s why I have both the 2-year and 3-year Bible reading plan on my web site. You need Microsoft Excel, or at least a reader for Excel in order to access it (which is free). Why not a one-year plan? Well, there are plenty of those out there for you to use, and if that works for you, then please continue it. I find, however, that a lot of people (myself included) get intimidated and discouraged if we miss a day and get behind. You miss a day or so and find that you need to read 10 chapters of Jeremiah or Ezekiel, which (let’s be honest), would be a beating. So I offer the other plans so that you can take your time and more easily catch up if you miss a day or two. The three-year plan is my favorite, and my wife and I have been doing it for several years.
Now let’s talk a little bit about the plan for this year. God willing, we’re going to spend about 6 months in the prophets, and then the remainder of the year in the epistles of Paul and others. I feel the need to remind you: This isn’t a commentary, so we’re just going to do an overview of both sections with some of the main themes.
Along the way, we’re going to do a couple of topical studies to break up the rut. The ones I have in mind are on prayer and evangelism/witnessing. Hope you’ll stick with us for the ride, and it’ll be a blessing to you.
Now, finally, let’s take a brief look at today’s passage and subject. By the way, if you’re ever playing Bible trivia, and the question is “Who was the first person to be called a prophet in the Bible?” you know the answer. Genesis 20:7 is the first mention of the term.
What is a prophet? There are a couple of aspects to the job-description, but literally a prophet is a mouth. He (or she, there were a few female prophets in Scripture) was a representative between God and humanity. Most of the time, this is in the direction of representing God to mankind, but today's an exception.
Abraham didn’t go out and preach, as far as we know. He didn’t go to people and tell them “This is what God says” like Jeremiah or Amos did. But he was a prophet in that 1) God had revealed things to him that he didn’t to anyone else, and Abraham did convey that truth to humanity eventually (otherwise we wouldn’t know about it), and 2) Abraham would intercede for Abimelech to God and plead with God to forgive him.
If you know me, then you know what’s coming next, right? This is the part where I ask “So what? How does this affect me right now?” I don’t believe we have biblical prophets today. But there’s a sense in which we can fulfill that role right now. We're the only representatives on earth between humanity and the Lord today. And part of that role is to “stand in the gap” between God and mankind, and a huge aspect of that is intercession. It’s a huge responsibility and privilege to stand before God and plead with him for others. Do I take this as seriously as I should?
Father God, it’s amazing to me that you actually want to hear from me and expect me to take on that responsibility. Thank you. By your grace, I want to take up that challenge.