The Prophetic Role Of The Church
By Dave Butts
The most common role of a prophet in both Old and New Testaments was to speak to the people a word from God. In our day, the church must accept that it has a prophetic role in our nation. We must speak a word from God to America with both truth and love. Too often our desire to be accepted or even effective in our evangelism has kept us from clearly declaring God’s Word to a nation that has turned its back on Him.
It is easy to confuse love and truth. Paul commands us to speak the truth in love. Truth without love can be harsh and even legalistic. Love without truth is fuzzy spirituality that leads nowhere. If we do not speak truth, we are not loving. It may seem that way, but failing to warn people of danger is in fact an indication of our lack of the real love that changes lives.
…One of the most helpful pictures of the prophetic role is that of the watchman, referred to by Ezekiel and many others in the Bible. God has clearly called us to this place of watching, praying, and speaking. In my book, Prayer and the End of Days, I wrote the following about the tasks of a watchman:
They are to watch and pray (Matt. 26:40-41).
They are to be on guard constantly and to provide protection. “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin” (Lam. 2:19).
They are to listen. Jeremiah 6:17 says, “I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpets!’”
They are to warn. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me” (Ezek. 3:17).
They are to call on the Lord. “I have posted watchmen on your walls…You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest” (Isa. 62:6).
Standing on the walls of our nation, watching, praying, and warning of coming danger: that is a powerful and instructive visual for the role of the church in our nation today. Who else can do this, if not us? What group of people is reading the Word, seeking the heart of God, and paying attention to what is happening around us? As the foundations of our nation crumble before us (Psa. 11:3), we must not retreat into fear, a critical spirit, or timidity. To the walls of prayer!
The Watchman’s Call to Prayer
Scripture makes it very clear that one of the primary responsibilities for watchmen is prayer. “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth” (Isa. 62:6-7).
To those confused or somehow turned off by the reference to Jerusalem, remember that we must always be careful to discern biblical usage. Jerusalem is an actual city with great significance, both in the past and, I believe, today. But it is also used biblically to refer to the purposes of God in coming to dwell in the midst of His people (see Revelation 21:3). Isaiah is clearly calling the Lord’s people to pray with intense, unending effort until the purposes of God are accomplished!
The prayer movement that God is birthing in this nation and others is of the Isaiah 62 type. We are no longer praying just “fix-it” prayers that make our life better but prayers that grab the attention of heaven because they are prayed over issues clearly on the heart of God. Not simply a few added lines to a “quiet time,” Isaiah writes of extraordinary prayer that is day and night and so does not stop until God’s purposes are accomplished.
As the church watches and prays, we will increasingly be made aware of the dangers, both spiritual and physical, that are coming upon our land. That awareness will cause us to take up the trumpet. Blowing the trumpet is a picture of warning people of danger. Look at some of the Old Testament passages that speak of this task.
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to My people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins” (Isa. 58:1).
“Put the trumpet to your lips! An eagle is over the house of the Lord because the people have broken My covenant and rebelled against My law” (Hos. 8:1).
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly” (Joel 2:15).
“When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?” (Amos 3:6).
…Men of the tribe of Issachar in the Old Testament were described as those who understood the times and knew what Israel must do (see First Chronicles 12:32). That is our role today. Understanding the times, but not leaving it at just understanding. It is also knowing what the people of God must do during those times. Perhaps a very practical prayer for the church today is that God would make us as the sons of Issachar, understanding the times and knowing how to live in those times.
The first step for many of us is to pray this simple prayer: “Lord, please help me to understand the times in which I live. May I not be dependent upon others’ opinions but always seek after Your accurate perspective of what is happening in my world.”
…Paul clearly teaches us, “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober” (1 Thes. 5:4-6). Whether it is end times events that we face, or remedial judgments for our national sins, the watchman church must not be unaware. The call is to watch and pray!
– Adapted from With One Cry by David Butts. © 2016 by David Butts. Published by PrayerShop Publishing. Used by permission.