Found in Progress, the monthly magazine of the Congregational church, Romford, 1949
Once upon a time three men were having a discussion on their respective professions. The Doctor claimed that his was the oldest and therefore most honourable, pointing out in support that according to the first chapter of Genesis woman was made from the rib of a man - that he claimed was a surgical operation. "Ah," says the Architect, "a little earlier it says the earth was made from chaos and only an architect could do that." whereupon the Politician looked at the other two and said, "Who do you think is responsible for the chaos?"
I don't know that this story has much, if anything, to do with what follows, but the other Sunday listening to the reading about the prophets of old and also studying the thing a bit further, it made me wonder what really constituted a prophet and whether there are any today.
Obviously they were men of great determination and strong wills and in some quarters most unpopular. I suppose they were something of the mystic - that is the good ones - although in Elijah's day the false prophets seem to have had as good a time as reals ones a hard one.
Is there a modern equivalent? We know there are plenty of false ones, masquerading as politician, big business men, trade union organisers and others who promise the earth and a good time and who, when they see things going wrong, haven't the courage to tell the truth because of loss of prestige, or votes or "honours". A few people so give warnings from time to time but none of them seem to be inspired by God. And yet if one did arise I suppose the modern generation would say he was an eccentric old fool and nobody should take any notice of him!
But just a minute. Have I got the wrong concept of a modern day prophet? It's just occurred to me. I suppose in a way out ministers are prophets, at any rate all those who believe they are called by God Himself to preach His word. Now, if one were to rise today would he be an Elijah and call down the fire from Heaven or would he be a Jeremiah? I rather think the latter, but we could so with a former!
That's one of the interesting things about the Bible - it's astonishing how many of the things that happened in the Old Testament time are being repeated today in modern form. Call the League of Nations or U.N.O the Tower of Babel and we shouldn't be so far out. Yet if it happened and we were not there would we believe it?
This may sound a but pessimistic but despite what I've written above I have a firm conviction that the day is not far distant when there will be some God-fearing man who by his strength of character will lead the world out of its present chaos.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon