Where are the Prophets?
By Michael C. Catt
THERE IS A STRANGE VOICE. . . lacking today. Don’t get me wrong, we have many voices, but there is an utterance noticeably absent from today’s pulpit. It is the voice of a the prophet.
I REMEMBER SITTING IN. . . Vance Havner’s living room eleven months before he died. He was unable to travel and preach as he had for over 60 years. He told me he was writing a new book and was going to call the book “FINALLY BRETHREN.”
HE LEANED OVER TOWARD ME. . . with that twinkle in his eye and said, “Now, I’m not saying the Lord’s told me anything. . . (lengthy pause) . . .but then again I’m not saying He hasn’t either.” At that moment, I knew, he knew, the end was near. That afternoon I asked Havner to pray that I might have a portion of the prophets mantle. I will never forget the hands of that giant resting on my shoulder as he prayed for me.
VANCE HAVNER DIED. . . at age 84, on August 12, 1986. Men of his caliber are sadly missing on the evangelical horizon. My generation knows more about being a CEO than serving God. The great voices of God are passing off the scene and boomer preachers are, for the most part, issuing a resounding thud in the pulpit.
HAVNER WAS NEVER FLASHY. . . just a humble preacher boy from the country with the obvious anointing of a prophet. Havner wrote over 30 books yet never had a secretary, mailed a brochure or established an evangelistic association. He never promoted himself (a lesson a few evangelists and preachers need to learn).
MY REASON FOR WRITING IS. . . I am increasingly burdened by the absence of prophets on the American scene. We desperately need a voice “crying in the wilderness.” We don’t need any more faith healers, or health and wealth charlatans. We need prophets calling us to repentance.
THE CHURCH HAS MORE. . . resources and a greater ignorance of God’s Word than ever before. The Bible is seldom read and rarely applied. Prophets preach “thus saith the Lord.” We’ve far too many on milk who should have graduated to meat. Prophets are needed to remind the body of the clear teachings of the Word.
IT IS NOT ENOUGH. . . that conservatives appreciate the Word. It must also be appropriated, assimilated and applied. We don’t need entertainers. We need expositors who preach the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. To water down truth to keep a church, or keep the carnal quiet is the death of the prophet.
WHATEVER UNCTION. . . the prophet has, most pulpiteers are sadly lacking in it. Richard Cecil said, “All the minister’s efforts will be vanity or worse than vanity if he have not unction.” No preacher can avoid being a prophet. This means we are to preach without regard to results. Havner said, “When you throw a rock at a group of dogs, the one that yells is the one that gets hit.” Hit dogs holler!
THE PROPHET STIRS UP. . . the people of God. Again quoting Dr. Havner, “If ever God’s people needed to be awakened and aroused and shocked and alarmed to their holy privilege and solemn duty, it is today.” The Holy Spirit was given to the church to be a stimulant not a sedative.
THE PREACHER NOR THE. . . people can be complacent in light of the times. Men are lost and going to hell. Government isn’t going to save them. To be complacent would be a criminal offense in the church. If the Word of God is not true, then nothing matters. However, if it is true nothing else really matters.
WE LIVE IN A TIME. . . when people get excited about the trivial and shrug their shoulders at those things that will affect them in time and eternity. The prophet Isaiah said, “And there is no one who calls on Thy name, Who arouses himself to take hold of Thee; For Thou hast hidden Thy face from us, And hast delivered us into the power of our iniquities.” That verse could well find its place on the front page of any newspaper. It’s time for the church to wake up, get up and get going. The prophet is the key.
WILLIAM McPHAIL. . . said, “The best cure for sleeping sickness in the pew is some soul-stirring preaching from the pulpit.” The preacher’s calling is really quite simple. He is to fill the pulpit and preach the Word without apology. The Shepherd’s job is to lead the sheep to food. If the sheep refuse to eat, it’s their fault, not the shepherd’s.
WHEN GOD’S PROPHETS. . . declared the Word of God in the Old Testament, they didn’t paint a very pretty picture of God’s people. Why? They were disobedient to the commands of God. Disobedient sheep don’t need a brush and comb, they need a rod and staff. Sheep who always demand their way are really goats. I know more than one preacher who has fallen into the “Mr. Personality” trap, only to find the prophets mantle rendered powerless. The preacher who tries to please the worldly crowd or the carnal church will not please God.
PREACHERS MUST BE. . . prophets. The word means forthteller. A prophet was not known for his hindsight or foresight but his insight. He was God’s plan. He knew the covenant God had made with His people, and he knew the gap that existed between God’s call and His people’s response.
A PROPHET IS ONE. . . who knows the times and what God is trying to say to the people of his time. Scholars are good at interpreting the past; prophets are needed to interpret the present.
PROFOUND THOUGHT. . . “When the message you have to deliver, strikes straight home, don’t water it down just a little. Go straight for God if you come from Him. Neither for fear nor favor alter the message.” – Oswald Chambers.
WHERE ARE THE PROPHETS?
Used by permission of the author.