By Tony Rossi, Director of Communications
“God does His greatest work through frail people. He helps us become the people we are meant to be.” Julie Davis makes that observation in her latest book “Thus Sayeth the Lord: A Fresh Take on the Prophets” – and it’s a realization she came to after her Catholic women’s book club piqued her interest in the Bible’s prophets.
During a “Christopher Closeup” interview, Julie noted that the Hebrew word for prophet means “mouth,” so these figures are sharing words from God Himself. Sometimes they tell you things you want to hear, but often the message is challenging both to the prophet and society at large. That was certainly the case with the first prophet Julie studied: Jonah.
God tells Jonah to go and preach repentance to the Ninevites, whose acts of wickedness were horrific. But Jonah wants no part in delivering this message because he hates them so much. Eventually, Jonah does as God asks, and the Ninevites turn from their evil ways. Jonah becomes angry that God lets them off the hook. God explains to Jonah that He cares for all of His creation and that their evil was based in ignorance. Why shouldn’t He offer them His mercy since they repented?
Julie observes, “That’s a powerful lesson for us today. We have many enemies around the world, people who don’t like us. And then we also have people who don’t think the same way we do about social issues.” We have to remember that God extends His mercy to everyone equally if they turn to Him, no matter what they’ve done in the past.
Julie believes these ancient stories remain relevant and timely. She says, “These prophets were people just like us. We all are dealing with the Lord. What does He want us to do? Where are we God’s mouth, so to speak? These people were put in extraordinary circumstances and they were called to do big things. But in our own everyday lives, we’re called to do extraordinary things…with our next door neighbor, with our in-laws, with our children or our coworkers.”
Julie goes on to pose the question, “Why does God use human help so much?” She concludes, “It starts with Adam. We were meant to be helpers all along. When Adam is first created, God says, ‘Help till the land. Help this garden become greater.’ So that was always our destiny…We’re helping not because [God] needs us. But we need it. It’s both fulfilling and creatively satisfying when you’re doing what you’re created to do. And not as a puppet, but with full cooperation and thought. Also, as we try and fail and try again, that’s how we learn.”
That was certainly the case with Moses who went into exile for 40 years after killing an Egyptian. Julie notes, “At 80 years old, he’s got every excuse [to decline serving as God’s mouth]…‘I can’t speak very well. I don’t know your name.’ All these things and God still [responds], ‘Go do it. I’m with you.’ These are the things we must understand. We have all fallen. We are all sinful. We all have to get back up, learn who we are, and keep trying. And even when Moses has done what God wants, his story arc shows that he keeps growing as a person. So if we keep doing all this, we also can follow his example and learn more who we are, grow a relationship with God, and become more the people we’re supposed to be.”
For free copies of the Christopher News Note APPLYING THE BIBLE TO YOUR LIFE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org