Friday, June 24, 2022

Silence of the Prophets (Psalm 74)

"We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet" (Psalm 74:9a).

The occasion for the writing of Psalm 74 is uncertain, but many speculate that it was during the Babylonian captivity of Israel because the psalm refers to the burning of the temple. Evidence against this theory, however, is that the psalm mentions the silence of the prophets, which could not be during the exile because there were a number of prophets at that time. Therefore, some say this psalm actually relates to the period when the temple was profaned under Antiochus Epiphanes. This, however, is questionable because the temple at that time was not utterly destroyed. Perhaps the psalm refers to a time during the Babylonian exile when the prophets were silent, sometime shortly before Daniel. Whichever the appropriate period might be, the psalm paints a graphic picture of Israel, assailed by calamities and faced with the silence of the prophets.

God used prophets to speak to the people, warning them of His judgments and giving them assurance that their sufferings would end. When God fell silent, despair wove its way through the Jewish nation. The prophets played a vital role—they offered consolation and inspired the people with hope of divine mercy. They were also heralds of the wrath of God, calling the people to repentance. Thus, when the people were locked in the chains of a foreign enemy, their fears were magnified by the silence of the prophets. They needed the reassuring words of God that their sufferings would end as well as a call to repentance. Though the prophets often used harsh language in their dealings with the people, this was necessary for their correction. Once the people were humbled, they offered assurance that they could hope in God for deliverance.

As Christians, we need not fear the silence of the prophets, for Christ has taken this office upon Himself (Acts. 3:22). Through the Scriptures, which are illumined by the Holy Spirit, He speaks to His people, warning, inspiring, instructing, and consoling them. When we are in rebellion, He rebukes us through His Word, calling us to repentance. When we are humbled, He offers assurance, establishing our hope of salvation that we might not be consumed with fear when under affliction.

How do you know a prophet is truly of God? (Read Deut. 13:1–5) Are the Scriptures sufficient in revealing to us God’s will or do we need further revelation from men who claim to be prophets? How does Christ as our Prophet reveal that we have no need of any more prophets like those in the Old Testament?