The Acting Prophets
Then I got to thinking about another category, and this is one of my favorites. Sometimes God would speak to the writing prophets and the oral prophets and he would say, “Stop speaking. Stop writing. Start acting!” God wanted to get the people’s attention, and He knew that one way to get their attention was to have the prophets start acting.
Isaiah — For example, God spoke to Isaiah one day and said, “Isaiah, nobody is paying attention to you, so here’s what I want you to do. I want you to walk barefoot and naked for three years.” Isaiah was the first streaker! The people would be standing there talking and all of a sudden Isaiah comes by in the buff. The people said to Isaiah, “What is this?” Isaiah answered, “This is a message from the Lord. The message is that if you do not repent, for we have been calling your to repentance, the whole nation is going to be stripped barefoot.”
Ezekiel — The one who was one of the greatest actors was Ezekiel. In fact, when God called him to be a prophet, God struck him dumb so that he could not speak. Until Jerusalem, Ezekiel was a prophet who prophesied by acting. God told him, “Go out and get a sand pile. I want you to play in a sand pile. I want you to take the sand and I want you to make a little wall of sand. Then I want you to take the twigs of a tree and I want you put little twigs all around this wall. When people come and say, ‘What in the world are you doing playing in the sand pile?,’ you write on a tablet ‘This wall represents the wall around Jerusalem and the twigs represent siege machines. If you don’t repent God is going to send armies and they are going to come to this place and they are going to destroy it!'” It was amazing what God asked Ezekiel to do.
On another occasion, God said to Ezekiel, “Here’s what I want you to do.” I couldn’t have done what God asked, for evidently Ezekiel had a lot of hair. “I want you to go to the city square today. I want you to cut off all your hair and put it on the ground in a big pile. Then here is what I want you to do. I want you to take one-third of the hair and I want you to throw it up in the air and let it blow around. Next, I want you to take one-third of the hair and I want you to burn it. Finally, take the last third, throw it up in the air, and take a sword and chop at it.” I’m sure by then they called the guys from the funny farm to come get this crazy man!
When the spectators asked Ezekiel what this all meant, he wrote, “If you do not repent, this city is going to fall. One-third of you will be destroyed by the fire. One-third of you will be destroyed by the sword. And, one-third of you will be taken over the wall into captivity.”
God asked Ezekiel to act over and over. On one occasion, the Lord spoke to him and said, “Tomorrow morning you are going to find your wife dead, and when you find her dead, I just want you to leave her there. I don’t want you to prepare her body for burial. I want you to walk off, go into the city, and start doing your prophetic thing. When the people come to you and say, ‘Your wife is dead. We found her dead. Why are you our here doing this? Why aren’t you attending to her?,’ I want you to write on a tablet and tell these people this, ‘That if they do not repent this city is going to fall, and when it falls, it will fall so quickly and so decisively that the living will not be able to take care of the dead.'” That is just a few of the prophecies Ezekiel was asked by God to act out.
Jeremiah — Jeremiah was told on one occasion to take an ox yoke, put it on his shoulders, and walk around with that thing on his shoulders. When the people asked him what this was all about he was to say, “It is the will of God for you to surrender and go into captivity.” That didn’t made him real popular. He was called a traitor, thrown into a pit, and almost murdered because the people didn’t want to hear the message of God.
Hosea — I think the greatest actor, and the one who is going to get the Oscar when all the awards are handed out in Heaven, is going to be Hosea. Hosea who was asked to marry a prostitute, and he did! Here was the holiest man in all the land, yet God said, “Go marry a prostitute.” He stammered, “Well, Lord?” But God said, “Do it!” And Hosea did it.
Hosea’s new wife must have been very beautiful. One person once said she must have been very beautiful because he certainly was not attracted to her by her name. Her name was Gomer. But, he married her.
God next said, “Now go preach a message. Preach the message of this marriage.” Hosea went out and he preached all over the land. He cried out, “You Jews are full of pride and arrogance. You think that God called you as His Chosen People because you are better than anybody else. Well, let me tell you something. You are no better than anyone else in all the world. When God called you, you were like a child who had been born and thrown on the side of the road and was lying there in its blood and nobody wanted you. I didn’t select you for your beauty. I didn’t select you for your intelligence. I didn’t select you for any of that. I selected you out of My grace. So, you need to put that arrogance aside and you need to repent.”
That wasn’t a popular message, and so Hosea was severely mistreated. He went back home, but when he came home, he couldn’t believe what had happened. He found out that while he was preaching his heart out and being persecuted that his wife to whom he had given his good name, his wealth, and everything he had, that this wife had suddenly succumbed to her old passions. She was actually back out on the auction block in the center of town auctioning herself off to the highest bidder!
Hosea was crushed. He cried out to God, “God, how could you allow this to happen, for my wife to return to prostitution?” But, God only replied, “Go preach the message.” The message was God saying, “I gave you my good name. I gave you blessing after blessing after blessing, But, what did you do?” These are the actual words, “You spread your legs to the first person who came along.” God declared, “You are a harlot nation! You are a prostitute nation! You are to repent! You are just like Hosea’s wife!” So, Hosea preached that message, but again, nobody liked it.
Hosea came back home one day after he had preached his heart out and as he walked up to his door he looked next-door. His neighbor was on his front porch with a golden idol, and he was worshipping and kissing the idol. Hosea cried out, “Oh, my God, men kiss calves!”
I think if Hosea lived and traveled all over America today, he would get up and preach, “Oh, my God, men kiss calves! They kiss power. They kiss CD’s in the bank. They kiss fame and fortune.” He’d exhort, “Instead, kiss the Son! Put these idols all aside and fall in love with the Lord Jesus Christ.”David Reagan: Kiss the Son! Put these idols all aside and fall in love with the Lord… Click To Tweet
Hosea is a type of Christ in the Old Testament. He went down to that auction block and in front of the entire city he paid the price to buy his wife out of harlotry. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine Hosea stepping up and everyone mocking and laughing at him? Hosea begins to bid, and the auctioneer raises the bid, and he bids and he bids until he’s paid everything he has in order to buy Gomer out of harlotry. She didn’t deserve it, for it was grace.
The whole story of Hosea is what grace is all about. By the grace of God Hosea just bought Gomer out of harlotry. The story ends there. It doesn’t tell us anything else. But, it doesn’t have to, because I guarantee one thing — from that day on until that woman died, she was faithful to her husband because she could not conceive of such a grace that would forgive her, forget about her cheating, and then buy her out of harlotry.
To summarize, we’ve got the writing prophets, the oral prophets, and the acting prophets.
In the fourth and last part of this Garden Tomb sermon, I’ll introduce you to the marvels of symbolic prophecy.