S (Scripture): Revelation 11:3 And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth… 7 When they have completed their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will make war on them and conquer them and kill them. 8 Their corpses will lie in the street of the great city that is symbolically called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was also crucified. 9 For three and a half days those from every people, tribe, nation, and language will look at their corpses, because they will not permit them to be placed in a tomb. 10 And those who live on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate, even sending gifts to each other, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. 11 But after three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and tremendous fear seized those who were watching them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them: “Come up here!” So the two prophets went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies stared at them.
O (Observation): Prophecy is a challenging calling. These two were called to prophecy amidst the non-believers. Didn’t really take, but they were given a calling to follow. They did. And it cost them everything, even life itself.
They were killed. They were mocked. People celebrated as they left the bodies to rot. People even exchanged gifts! (Not the same feel as Christmas, though.)
But the prophets were not abandoned. God brought to them new life. And better yet, God called them into the heavenly realm.
The people were in awe…but not necessarily changed. They were shocked at God’s show of power and life…but converted, they were not.
A (Application): Being prophetic is not my base ministry. I’m a better apostle than prophet. But we are all called to take on the mantle of “prophet” from time to time. Those times are difficult for me.
Yet this text reminds me that when we prophecy, we are not doing so alone. As modern-day prophets, we are called to look at specific situations and specific times to clarify what we think God wants His followers to hear.
Those prophetic words are best discerned in community, amongst those you trust. And when spoken, don’t take a lofty pulpit as your stage, with a nice dress or suit. The two prophets from the text wore sack cloth.
And above all, trust that God has got your back. That when you fail…God will be with you.
I have spoken out in favor of maintaining my relationships with the Muslim community here in Murfreesboro. Could some of them secretly be wishing me ill-will? Sure. Absolutely. But I prefer to look at texts like today as signs of hope for me and my prophecy. (I don’t necessarily think I will be killed and would be given the breath of life and ascend to heaven…but you never know…)
My call is to treat my neighbor with love and respect. Those actions, I hope, will reflect my identity as a child of God.
I’m at peace with this prophetic message.
What prophetic message has God given to you today?
P (Prayer): Lord, make us bold and give us prophetic declarations that bring correction and hope to all. Amen.
p.s. Here is a link to an open letter of support for our Muslim neighbors (which I wrote) at a time when threat of protests arose across the nation a few months ago.
Here is a reflection I wrote when our congregation visited the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in November 2013.
Here is a link to information on ELCA-Muslim conversations.