Judges 19 still has a hold on me. This passage that I initially found to be incredibly disturbing, has spoken to me in a myriad of ways over the last few weeks. Click below to read the passage for yourself.
Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless he reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7
Although no prophet is specifically mentioned in this text, I believe there are a few prophetic principles on display.
Immediately upon reading the passage, I wondered why the man’s father-in-law kept him so long. They had never met before (Judges 19:3) He may have simply enjoyed the young man’s company. He may have wanted to keep his daughter with him for as long as possible. (The daddy-daughter bond is nearly unbreakable. I think of how my husband looks at our two daughters. For a more public example, watch how Stephen Curry and Riley Curry interact in those post-game interviews.) But I believe, the father-in law had a hunch, an unsettling in his spirit about what would happen once the couple left his home.
I wondered if the weary servant had a bad feeling about Gibeah. I wonder if his suggestion to turn in to a nearby territory was based on his physical exhaustion or his spiritual intuition, or most like some combination of the two.
So then the first lesson on prophecy from this passage is that it may not be delivered as expected. There isn’t always a talking donkey or a burning bush. There may not be lightening, or even a laying on of hands. Sometimes, it’s a still small voice, an unexpected call from a friend, an unexpected delay.
Prophets don’t always wear robes, sackcloth and ashes. I believe God can use any thing and anybody. So then, a prophetic word could be delivered by my father-in-law or my maid (I wish!!). But beyond that, God is not limited to resources and people in my immediate circle, so that I must be open to receiving prophecy from any source. He may use someone from another race, another religion. HE has even used another species to deliver his word. My job is to receive it, however it shows up.
The second principle of prophecy that I glean from the above examples, is the importance of being clear. The prophet’s primary job is to deliver the word of God to the people of God. If that word is unclear, it could be disastrous. Let’s say that both the servant and the father-in-law had prophetic premonitions. Neither spoke to him in a manner that would have stopped his travel. Their methods were left up to interpretation.
The Bible says “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Matthew 5:37. Might this young woman have been spared if her father had said to the Levite, “Do not go. I fear I will never see my daughter again. Might she have been saved if the servant said to his master, “I do not think Gibeah will welcome us.”
This is all conjecture of course. God may not have spoken to either man. In which case, their silence is best.
I do not know what modern-day prophets look like. (Hopefully, not like those shows on TV). But I do know that carrying the weight of the word is not always an easy task. Yes, sometimes the prophet gets to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”, or tell of the coming Messiah. But sometimes, the prophet has to foretell periods of captivity, death and destruction.
Bad news is not easy to hear, but it is even harder to deliver. So let us honor those with prophetic voices. Let us prepare to hear whAt they have to say, and let us act accordingly.
However and by whomever the Lord sends His word, let us all be willing to receive it.