Micah 3: 5-12 (NRSV)
5 Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets
who lead my people astray,
who cry “Peace”
when they have something to eat,
but declare war against those
who put nothing into their mouths.
6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision,
and darkness to you, without revelation.
The sun shall go down upon the prophets,
and the day shall be black over them;
7 the seers shall be disgraced,
and the diviners put to shame;
they shall all cover their lips,
for there is no answer from God.
8 But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the spirit of the Lord,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression
and to Israel his sin.
9 Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob
and chiefs of the house of Israel,
who abhor justice
and pervert all equity,
10 who build Zion with blood
and Jerusalem with wrong!
11 Its rulers give judgment for a bribe,
its priests teach for a price,
its prophets give oracles for money;
yet they lean upon the Lord and say,
“Surely the Lord is with us!
No harm shall come upon us.”
12 Therefore because of you
Zion shall be plowed as a field;
Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins,
and the mountain of the house a wooded height.
I remember a fantastic article I read in a local newspaper several years back that gleefully wrote about a dodgy psychic who had had to cancel their residency at a local leisure centre due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’. Oh the delicious set-up as the journalist dug into their drawer of puns and had a field day.
One of the ironies of false prophets is that they rarely see their comeuppance coming…
‘False prophet’ is a bit of an oxymoron, like saying ‘a lying truth-teller.’ It makes me think of one of those riddles when you are told there’s a parrot that always lies and a parrot that always tells the truth standing at a crossroads but you don’t know which is which. Why are the lying parrot and the honest parrot hanging about together in the first place? Is the lying parrot hanging on to the tail feathers of the honest parrot? Or is the honest parrot trying to make up for the lying parrot’s misdemeanours?
As 2020 starts to draw to a close and 2021 is on the horizon we are living through a state of flux. There will be many voices clamouring to be heard, wanting to set the agenda as we seek to rebuild society in the wake of this past year. There will be truthful truth-tellers and dishonest parrots. Some, motivated perhaps cynically by financial gain, will claim to be prophets able to divine a way through the crisis that just so happens to conveniently suit their own ends.
We know this because it was ever thus.
The community of saints we belong to has had to endure many false prophets through the ages, those who have had the audacity to claim to speak with divine authority when in fact they were talking out of their wallet. But we take comfort in the fact that while the words of the prophets echo through the ages — the false prophets don’t tend to stand the test of time. They usually fall foul of ‘unforeseen circumstances’…
We tend to our hopes and dreams earnestly
keep us focused on wisdom and kindness
not folly and cruelty.