Heroes of the Faith –
Preaching in Difficult Circumstances
Romans 16:1-2, Deacon Phoebe Goes to Rome.
Jeremiah 19:1 – 20:6, Jeremiah Keeps Preaching.
1 Kings 22:1-12, King Ahab Hates Micaiah.
1 Kings 22:13-28, Micaiah Predicts Defeat …
1 Kings 22:29-38, ... And He’s Right.
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Romans 16:1-2, Deacon Phoebe Goes to Rome (1/22/2010)
Quick! What’s a cat?
Did you answer “a little pet animal that says meow”? Or did you answer, “two hulled sail boat”? Or maybe “jazz musician”? Or any of about half a dozen other meanings? Greek and English share the trait that the majority of words can only be unambiguously defined in context. I took a little sample of translations of today’s scripture, and diakonon is translated as follows for Romans 16:1:
|GNB||who serves the church|
|Darby ||minister (see below!)|
This is interesting because in the letters, diakonon
is frequently translated “minister” in reference to Paul, Timothy, Epaphras, and several other men. In referring to servants, it’s routinely translated “servants.”
So is Phoebe a servant or a minister? Yes. In the Gospels, it’s translated both ways as well, but on the lips of Jesus, it’s clear that a minister is
a servant (Matthew 2:26, Matthew 23:11, Mark 9:35, Mark 10:43). However you translate it, Phoebe undertook a difficult trip to a dangerous city to serve or minister to the Christians in Rome.
Jeremiah 19:1 – 20:6, Jeremiah Keeps Preaching (2/12/2010)
I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, a diakonon of the church in Cenchrea. Receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and stand by her in whatever business she may have need of you. For indeed, she has been a protectress of many, including me.
You might think that people were delighted whenever God sent them a prophet, but you would be wrong. For the most part, prophets brought bad news to the kings and people of Judah and Israel, and the people they spoke to were unhappy to be getting it. Jeremiah was delivering God’s message that the kingdom of Judah was about to be destroyed and the people sent into exile. Instead of asking, “How can we avoid this terrible fate?” they beat Jeremiah and put him in chains. You or I might have gone back to our regular jobs, but Jeremiah continued to prophesy throughout most of the 40 years of the Exile.
The conditions in Jerusalem during the siege were as terrible as Jeremiah predicted in his prophecies, and he wrote the book of Lamentations about Judah’s punishment and suffering. Never read Lamentations on a cloudy day or after sundown.
1 Kings 22:1-12, King Ahab Hates Micaiah (3/1/2010)
Have you ever had someone ask you for your opinion, either personal or professional, and then tell you that you were wrong? My usual response is, “If you didn’t want to know, why did you ask me?” We get the impression from today’s reading that King Ahab of Israel has asked the prophet Micaiah for his professional opinion on a number of occasions, and that the King has ignored him every time, because it’s always bad news. Even so, King Jehoshaphat of Judah wants to hear what Micaiah has to say.
1 Kings 22:13-28, Micaiah Predicts Defeat … (3/2/2010)
The way Micaiah is treated in the court of King Ahab is unusual. Prophets nearly always brought bad news to political and religious leaders, and often to society as a whole; however, since they were recognized as the messengers of God, they normally did so in safety. Remember, though, that King Ahab was married to a Philistine princess who worshipped Baal and who supported a large cadre of Baalist prophets. Furthermore, he was the son of an assassin, King Omri, and he continued the support of the idolatrous shrines at Dan and Bethel. So Ahab didn’t have the proper respect for God, much less his messengers.
1 Kings 22:29-38, ... And He’s Right (3/3/2010)
We all know that “art imitates life.” A common plot in plays and novels is as follows:
The Bible reports several similar real-life situations. Yesterday, Micaiah told King Ahab that if he attacked the Syrians, his soldiers would be like sheep without a shepherd. Ahab correctly deduces that he’s going to get killed if the Syrians see him, but instead of staying home and repenting, he disguises himself and goes anyway. Since the Syrians don’t see him, they start shooting more or less at random, and Ahab is struck by an arrow and bleeds to death.
- There is a prophecy that something bad is going to happen to Joe.
- Joe takes some action in an attempt to forestall the prophecy from coming true.
- Joe’s action is instrumental in making the prophecy come true.
If you are so unfortunate as to be sent a prophet from God, I suggest you pay close attention to the option of repentance, which is always part of the prophetic message.
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Copyright 2010, 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
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