The prophets critiqued the establishment of their time. What would be their criticism of the church today?

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The prophets critiqued the establishment of their time. What would be their criticism of the church today?

Notable is that “criticism” by the prophets of old was just one of their duties. But perhaps the greatest criticism of the church would be the same now as it was for Israel then. Just as Israel ignored God to satisfy herself in false religion and commit sin, so the church has forgotten the Great Commission and indulges herself in activities that are little more than the works of a civic club. The church often forgets the New Commandment of John 13:34, 35. Thus, sin abounds.

Prophets were mouthpieces for God. He told Ezekiel, “When I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God” (3:27, KJV). Likewise, the apostles spoke the words of the Messiah. First, like covenant lawyers, the prophets held Israel responsible for breaking the terms of the covenant. The apostles held to the same tradition. Second, the prophets called the Israelites to repent, to turn back to God. The apostles did as well. Third, the prophets spoke of God’s judgment and of God’s hope. The apostles repeated that message.

Prophets foretold of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today, they would continue to testify of Jesus, confirming His first advent, death, and resurrection. The prophets spoke of the unity of God, worship of God, His will and character, avoidance of idolatry and sin, and belief in the day of resurrection, or the day of judgment, and life after death. Today, they would continue the same message. Their most important message would remain to bear witness of Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ social criticism was the same as the prophets’. It circled around three main points: the spirit that dominated seekers of wealth, the methods most of them used to pursue their ends, and how they used their money. Therefore, we expect that if the prophets of old were to speak to the church today, they would deliver an identical message.

There were good biblical prophets back then, and there will be good biblical speakers for God today because God says He will pour out His Spirit, and our sons and daughters will prophesy (Joel 2:28). There were some bad biblical prophets, and there will be bad speakers for God today (Matthew 7:15; 24:24). Regarding the true prophets of God, the Bible says, “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20, KJV).

The prophet’s role in the early church was to reveal divine mysteries and God’s plan of salvation. Sometimes that prophecy was startlingly direct (1 Timothy 1:18). In 1 Timothy 4:14, Paul urges Timothy not to “neglect the gift (Greek: charisma) that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy. . . .” God wants His people to flourish, to experience peace and joy in a community of love. But sin destroys a community, so God sends His prophets to warn His people so they will turn from sin and its destruction.

Therefore, it is expected that if the prophets of old were to speak to the church of today, they would continue with the same message. In other words, the church does well when she does her best to “focus on Jesus and follow His plan.”

— Elder Chip Hinds

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Chip Hinds is the Southwest District Superintendent of the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day).

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