What Manner of Man is the Prophet? (Part 2)

13 05 2010

So, continuing with the characteristics of a prophet. . .

3. Uses Luminous and Explosive Language

A prophet writes in a style both “poetic . . . [and] charged with agitation, anguish, and a spirit of nonacceptance”. His words are “designed to shock rather than to edify” and his “images much not shine, they must burn.” The prophet speaks out boldly and loudly to get attention to the issue, disregarding social conventions or matters of style. He’s not an eloquent public speaker trying to convince the audience of his side of the issue – he stands out and condemns the wrong and call people to repent and change what’s wrong in this world.

The reason he speaks with such conviction and power: “his life and soul are at stake in what he says and in what is going to happen to what he says.” God holds Ezekiel responsible for delivering God’s word, however unpopular it might be. God says that if Ezekiel doesn’t deliver the message, the person’s / nation’s sin is on Ezekiel’s head. But if he delivers it, their sin is on their own heads for not listening to him. That’s a huge responsibility. And, as the prophet is a member of the society to which he speaks, the prophet equally shares in their fate.

“Authentic utterance derives from a moment of identification of a person [prophet] and a word [that he’s delivering]… He is one not only with what he says; he is involved with his people in what his words foreshadow.” The prophet cannot speak prophetically until he identifies himself with(a) the message and (b) the subject to whom he will speak. This is similar to Christ becoming human – he doesn’t have the right to speak to us until he is one of us – and in so doing, he becomes the message. This isn’t so strange as it may seem – a person speaks most passionately when they truly believe what they say, and even more convincingly when they’ve experienced what they say. In this way, the best messenger must identify himself with the message (although we must not confuse the two).

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