For some, there’s a certain mystique about being a prophet. They imagine it comes with power, influence over others and a special relationship with an all-powerful deity, then the recipient of the gift must be some sort of superhero – a larger than life figure who deserves to be worshipped in their own right. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are just ordinary people, made extraordinary by the sovereign intervention of an extraordinary God.
In fact, this hum-drum lack of the spectacular works both ways. Scepticism is nothing new. It flourished 2,000 years ago and was in vogue long before then. Our modern sophistication did not invent doubt. Humanity does not need to evolve to a hypothetical level of maturity before it is able to question the assertions of those who claim special powers or privileges.
A person claiming special revelation will meet the same response now as someone would in the Bronze Age. Some people are gullible, and will believe whatever they are told. Others are not – our ways of making sense of our existence might differ in semantics. But it boils down to the same thing. We want proof that will satisfy us intellectually and help us gain a better understanding of our purpose and place in the universe.
To be a prophet is therefore a calling not to be surrounded by adoring believers, but to stand out and demonstrate a different reality to those who may not yet perceive it.
In this series of meditations I will be looking at the place of prophecy in the context of Advent – ordinary people who foresaw an extraordinary event that was certain to come…