20.9.07

Prophetic Preaching

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mt 3:1-2)

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mt 4:17)

What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet... Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. (Mt 11:9,11)


Jesus describes John as the greatest among the prophets that came before him, (all those who came after him are of a different order.) Yet we don't have a record of anything John prophesied... or do we?

Now, I know that John was special among the prophets because all the others saw Jesus from far off, but to John it fell to say, "Behold! The Lamb!" But I don't believe that was the only way he was prophetic. We don't have any record of him saying "Thus says the Lord..." or any other conventional form of prophetic utterance, but we do have a record of his preaching.

We know that Jesus only did what he saw his Father doing. He came to instigate a new Kingdom order of God's will on the earth not to follow existing trends, so it is inconceivable that Jesus was copying or plagiarising John's message. So we see that John's message was highly prophetic for this reason: He was preaching Jesus' message before Jesus!

This, I believe, lifts the lid on the true nature of preaching. It can be, indeed it should be a prophetic activity. It is not just regurgitating the scriptures into a little homily or thought for the day. It is not following a teaching programme and ticking off doctrinal foundations. There is nothing wrong with these things, but if that is all preaching is, it falls short of the mark. Preaching is prophetic, for it is capturing and communicating what Christ himself would say to the church.

There is thus an overlap and symmetry between the ministry of the prophet and the ministry of the preacher: The prophet brings a prophetic message to communicate the word of God; the preacher brings the word of God to communicate the prophetic message. The most important requirement for both is to stand in the presence of God and hear what he has to say.

4 comments:

SLW said...

Chris,
This post is absolute music to my ears! I can't tell you how much it means for me to hear another preacher say this. I have stumbled into the prophetic mode of preaching because that is how the Holy Ghost moves in me. I've done that alone (seemingly) by faith, without the support or encouragement of the "preaching establishment." What "they" push in Bible colleges, seminaries, continuing education, or any other formal prepatory opportunity is expository regurgitation and nothing else! Any decent preacher knows in his heart there is more to it than that-- there's something in the moment, something fresh, something that can't be regurgitated, and that's why he preaches. Your description of preaching as saying what Jesus is saying to the people is excellent! If all that was required was expository regurgitation, the best thing for a preacher to do would be to read the expository sermons of the masters who have gone before. We know that would be bogus, yet we fail to grasp the prophetic dynamic.

Chris HH said...

SLW,
Thanks for those comments, they mean a lot.

I'm very blessed to belong to a community who highly esteem the prophetic and believe it to be a fundamental aspect to our very nature as God's people.

Never-the-less posts like this are me thinking aloud, and musings from my own journey in these matters, so it's very encouraging to get some confirmation!

Matthew said...

Good post Chris. Many who deny the operation of the charismatic gifts for today would suggest that today's preaching is what the NT means by prophecying: important that we don't through the baby out with the bath-water here because they are kind of right!

In 1 Tim 4:13 indicates there are at least 3 distinct ways we should "handle" the word of God: read it to people, preach it to people and teach it to people. I myself now draw a conscious distinction as to whether I am preaching or teaching - they are not the same thing, and what you describe, I believe, is true preaching!

Sarah said...

Amen! Preach it, Brother!w3