Bible Passage: Mark 11:27 – 12:27
We often think of them as heroes of the faith, but the life of a prophet was seldom easy and often ended in brutal ways.
Killing the Prophets
Mark 11:27-12:27 is one of those long groups of stories where Jesus is in constant conflict with the religious elites of Israel. What is really interesting about this set is that there is an emphasis that every group of religious rock stars were against him. Austin pointed out that these groups never could agree on anything, but they were united in opposition to Jesus.
Jesus does not shrink back from the challenge of each of these religious elites. He either shows them how they have made idols in their respective camps that have ignored God’s law, or he points them to the greater reality of his kingdom as it is coming into the world. These must be hard pills for them to swallow.
In another passage in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus speaks 7 woes on the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, basically telling them that they are doing the opposite of what they proclaim to do as “representatives” of God.
One of the groups in Mark, the Sadducees rejected the prophets, so Jesus used the Torah to indict them. The Pharisees, however, held the prophets in great regard, so Jesus uses the prophets to indict them. The last of the woes deals with the way that the prophets were actually treated by the religious elites.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous,
30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’
31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.
33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?
34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town,
35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
I want to call attention to verse 35, where the continual story of the Old Testament from the first prophet to the last is that they would be murdered. Today, we’re talking about the prophets who were rejected by the religious elites of their day because they were indeed faithful to proclaim only what God told them to.
Joel is not a prophet we typically hear from, but he is nonetheless very important.
15 Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
16 Is not the food cut off before our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God?
12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
30″And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.
The next prophet I want to talk about is Jeremiah. One thing interesting about Jeremiah is not only the fact that he prophesied against the religious elites, but that he himself was actually born into the elites. Has father, in fact was the high priest under King Josiah.
We often call Jeremiah the weeping prophet. He had a long career as a prophet…over 50 years that spanned many kings. This is why Jeremiah is the longest book in the Bible other than Psalms. One of the hallmarks of Jeremiah is that he was often in opposition to the political pride of the kings of Israel.
1 When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the LORD their God, with which the LORD their God had sent him to them, 2 Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The LORD our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’ 3 but Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may kill us or take us into exile in Babylon.” 4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah. 5 But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces took all the remnant of Judah who had returned to live in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been driven– 6 the men, the women, the children, the princesses, and every person whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan; also Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. 7 And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the LORD. And they arrived at Tahpanhes.
2 O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.
5 “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.
6 For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own.
2 And the LORD answered me:”Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end–it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.
18 “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols!
19 Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it.
20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
16 I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
1 And he said to me, “Son of man,stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” 2 And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day.4 The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ 5 And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. 7 And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house. 8 “But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” 9 And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. 10 And he spread it before me. And it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe.
1 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.”Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. 4 And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. 5 For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel– 6 not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. 7 But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. 8 Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. 9 Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” 10 Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. 11 And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’whether they hear or refuse to hear.”