Speaking Truth to Power

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Prophets in the Old Testament operated outside the established political and social hierarchy. Their job was to speak truth to power. God told Jeremiah:

“Go down to the house of the king of Judah and speak there this word, 2 and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, who sits on the throne of David, you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates. 3 Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.” (Jeremiah 22:1–3 ESV)

Nathan said to King David:

“You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’” (2 Samuel 12:7–10 ESV)

The job of a prophet is to speak truth to power.

The New Testament seems to indicate that with the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church generally on the Day of Pentecost, all true believers are now prophets in some sense. When the crowd initially misinterpreted the strange phenomenon they were observing Peter corrected them saying:

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:16–18 ESV)

Every true believer is a prophet in this sense. They are filled with the Holy Spirit of God and thereby helped to speak the Word of God to the people of God – and sometimes, when necessary, to people in power.

There is therefore a great danger in becoming too identified with any particular political party or any particular political person. We must never allow ourselves to be co-opted. The church is not a voting block – she is a desert prophet. Existing on the margins of society – in the world but not of it – and ready, when necessary to speak truth to power.

John the Baptist did it – and it cost him his head.

Jesus did it (read Matthew 23) and it took him to the cross.

Every true Kingdom messenger must be prepared to do it – and every true Kingdom messenger is equipped to do it. Jesus promised that! He said:

when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:11–12 ESV)

That hour may now be upon us.

It is time for the church to get out of Caesar’s debt and to prepare herself to speak truth to power.

Help Lord Jesus!

SDG,

Pastor Paul Carter


Most of Paul’s blogs and articles directly reflect upon his daily Bible Readings using the M’Cheyne or RMM Bible Reading Plan. To learn more about the plan visit www.intotheword.ca. He also hosts a radio and podcast program called Into The Word that takes listeners chapter by chapter and verse by verse through whole books of the Bible. To find the most recent episodes visit ca.thegospelcoalition.org; to find older episodes and series visit www.intotheword.ca. The podcast is also available on iTunes.

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