The United States needs a “Great Protector,” said Steve Cortes, a writer for RealClearPolitics July 1. Donald Trump, in Cortes’ view, needs to transition from being the “Great Disruptor” to take on the role of “Great Protector of the American people, especially the middle class.”
However, we now need something far greater. The contemporary moment of madness prompts a call for real prophets to rise up and do what prophets do. Prophetic truth is the flame that can reduce to ashes the lies and misrepresentations that sever people from God and one another.
Jesus Himself prophesied in Matthew 24 the coming of “lawlessness.” In the intense testing of that age many people would “fall away,” said the Lord. Another phenomenon would be the emergence of “many false prophets.”
Lawlessness, apostasy, and false prophets abound in our present society. We urgently need true prophets. Shysters trying to foretell the future we don’t need, but the forthtellers who proclaim Christ and His Kingdom of goodness, justice, peace, and Spirit-given joy (Romans 14:17) and hold us to that vision are crucial in the confusion of our age.
The prophets we need will be mere mortals. They will at times be Nervous Nellies like Elijah when he heard Queen Jezebel was after his hide. They may stumble in their human weaknesses, but always they will burn with the Word of God. Hearers will know that the Lord has spoken through a frail human.
A few Sundays ago, I played a film clip at the church where I was preaching. In the video Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his great “I Have a Dream” speech to a vast multitude at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
At the conclusion, my audience applauded at length for words uttered fifty-seven years ago by a man dead for fifty-two years. The contemporary congregation at the church watching a grainy film clip and listening to a scratchy soundtrack nevertheless recognized a truly prophetic word.
There was also the ring of the prophetic when Dennis Prager, a religious Jew, said that “if we continue to teach about tolerance and intolerance instead of good and evil, we will end up with tolerance of evil.”
“Why is it that so few realize the seriousness of our present crisis?” wondered Bishop Fulton Sheen in 1947. He gave the answer: “Partly because men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because it involves too much self-accusation, and principally because they have no standards outside of themselves by which to measure their times... Only those who live by faith know what is happening in the world. The great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on.”
Many who watched and listened to Bishop Sheen’s regularly televised broadcasts knew they were hearing a prophetic man, especially when he said: “The only way out of this crisis is spiritual... The time is nearer than you think.”
And here it is, right now. We are living in it.
John Edmund Haggai, my beloved friend and mentor mused: “Preachers are praised as administrators, after dinner speakers, book reviewers, counselors, good mixers, organizational workers, program pushers, but whatever happened to preaching?”
And we might ask in this crucial period: “Whatever happened to prophetic preaching?”
America now has no shortage of soothsayers, analysts, and prognosticators. Their grave countenances stare at us Big Brother-like from TV and computer screens. Attempting to sound like wizened sages, their ponderous tones tell us how to think, what is really happening according to them, and who the good guys and bad guys are. They venerate those who win their favor and vilify those they hate.
We need real prophets who will dare to say to the contemporary spiritual descendants of ancient Babylonian ruler Belshazzar, “you have been weighed in the scales and you come up short!” (Daniel 5)
We need genuine prophets who will not prostrate themselves on the red carpets of the entertainment establishment but will stand on those lush fabrics and call the delusions the exploitive lies that they are. May the Kanye Wests and Justin Biebers and others who have important voices in that sphere find and sound the prophetic message.
We need the authentic prophetic voice that will get in the faces of the titans of the information establishment and declare that they and their propaganda will not tell us what and how to think.
We need daring men and women, flowing in the power of the Holy Spirit, to tell the snake-oil hucksters in the academic establishment that we see through their pretense and shallow sophistries.
In this hour there is need for bold prophets who will confront the Herodian political establishment with the truth that its silvery garments are hiding infestations of worms inside.
We don’t need more sycophants, fact-spinners, fake news disseminators of left and right, appeasers, media wizards, propaganda contrivers, placators, deep-state bottom-feeders, or pompous pulpiteers, but real prophets.
They may be stutterers like Moses, rugged like John the Baptist, ragged like Jeremiah after his stay in the cistern. As the biblical prophets discovered, the establishments will deal harshly with them. The sequence will be the same:
Nevertheless, let the prophets rise up on the street corners, in city squares, in stadiums and church pulpits. May God anoint prophets to infuse our deluded culture with sobering, life-giving, liberating truth. (John 8:32)
We have had the moments of protest. Will we now have the Kairos — the opportune hour — of the prophets and the prophetic church?
Wallace Henley is a former pastor, White House and congressional aide, and author of more than 25 books. His newest is Two Men From Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Trump, and the Lord of History, published by Thomas Nelson.