If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, it’s that a lot of people will say they’re going to do something and then they may do it once or twice but beyond that it doesn’t continue to be a practice for them. Now I’m not talking about simple tasks, here. I’m talking about big life changes and challenges. Those things we are to constantly do in our lives for the betterment of God’s creation.
Things like praying every day, day and night. Communing with the Lord and all of the Lord’s people. Sharing with each other our sorrows and our joys. Putting behind is bad and hateful speech of others.
These are things we struggle with, and this passage only brings out one more practice. Prophesying. People think, “Oh! Aerii’s the minister, that’s her job. That’s what she does on Sunday mornings in the church when she preaches for us.”
But that is simply not true. Yes, preaching a Sunday morning sermon is part of prophesying the Good News Christ has given us, but that’s not all of it, and it doesn’t ONLY happen in the church on Sunday morning. No way! If that was the case, our churches would have died out years and years ago, and in some ways, I feel and fear that’s why our churches are dying out now.
There’s this understanding that prophesy is what you hire the minister to do. That’s why they’ve been given this position in the church, that’s what they’re job is. But that is NOT the case. And I’m sorry if I’m bursting your bubble right about now, but you should know that about me already, I burst bubbles.
Moses took 70 men to the temple from the camp. Now a days, we take children and women, and men, and a whole host of other misfits. Moses took these people, and he prayed over them, he asked that the Spirit come down onto them, give them life, help them to prophesy. He asked God to make their mouths sore with the truth of this great and wonderful love.
And they did it! They all prophesied. They all spoke the truth. They all shared their stories, their testimonies, the life they had all had, and it was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Moses’ job wasn’t to prophesy to these men. His job was to teach them and lead them to prophesy themselves. Moses’ job was to equip these people to go out and prophesy to those who hadn’t yet heard the prophesy, to those who knew nothing of it and to those who refused to believe.
That is the role of the pastor, the minister, the reverend. Whatever it is you call me. My job is to equip you with the skills to prophesy, to preach, to teach, to share your story. My job is similar to that of Moses’.
Now there’s a second part of this story. Those 70 men Moses took to the temple prophesied once. ONCE! That’s it! Just one time. They shared their story and then it was as if all of a sudden they were done and nothing else to do with it. That’s what I’m talking about with these practices God gives us to do that we just don’t do every day, that we just don’t do consistently, that we just don’t do more than once.
These men whom Moses spent a lot of his time with, only did what was asked of them what was Spirit-led of them once. That means only a very small amount of people actually heard their stories, heard about God. That’s how they failed in their faith. They didn’t make prophesying a practice, a ritual, a habit in their lives. They didn’t transform themselves into prophets.
That’s a scary word. Prophet. And it goes right alone with prophesying. I think that’s why a lot of people are scared of that word, are scared of prophesying, are scared and only do it once. It’s why they use excuses to get out of it, change understandings of the way the churches are currently run to pay someone else to do what they don’t want to do. That’s not how it works at all. You cannot pick and choose the habits God wants you to have, trust me, I’ve tried and failed several times.
But this is where those other two in this passage come into play. Those two people who weren’t at the temple but were in the camp. Those other two people who didn’t have a lot of training a lot of effort and time spent with Moses that day. These two people received the power of the Holy Spirit and they began to prophesy. They preached and they taught, and they loved the Lord God with all their hearts, minds, soul, strength and voices.
They continued to preach and teach. And when Joshua ran to tell Moses what was happening because these two weren’t part of that “chosen” crowd Moses laughed! He could see absolutely nothing wrong with two people prophesying about God, about the Lord, about the love they feel with their faith. He told Joshua not to stop them, that they were doing right by their faith, that they were prophesying and that EVERYONE else, everyone, meaning all those people he had been working with, Joshua too, should be more like those two.
Well what does that say about us as a church now. Our churches are dying. Not just this one, but the one next door to us, the ones down the road from us, the next town and city over, the next county and state over. Our churches are dying. Now more than ever we are not prophesying. We are not sharing our testimonies. We are not witnessing to the love of God in our lives.
We are failing like those 70 men Moses was teaching. We are only prophesying once, and when we fail in that attempt, we don’t ever do it again. We don’t ever go back to the camp and preach to those around us. On this day, in 2017, where we celebrate the beginning of the church, where we celebrate mass prophesy and the sharing and telling of the story, when we ourselves share and tell the story of how this church began, why we wear red to celebrate, this day take to heart the habits God wants us to have.
The habit of prophesying. All people are to prophesy. Not just me, as your minister, not just Moses, not just Eldad and Medad, or Joshua. ALL people prophesy. That means you. That means the person sitting next to you. That means the believer in the Methodist church. That means each and every one of us who believes needs to prophesy day and night, needs to go out into the camps into the streets and cities and share our story, witness to the love of God, love each other in the ways only God can love us.
All people prophesy. And it doesn’t matter if you’re trained, if you’re an elder, if you’re a deacon, if you’re just someone who shows up each week and prefers not to be up here in front of the church. If you are a believer, you are to prophesy. You are to preach and teach and share the love of God with all. So go out, leave this building with a heavy heart and with the Spirit of God upon you to encourage you to prophesy for the Lord. Amen.