Let's continue on with my message which was presented at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. We've been discussing how God talked to the prophets who in turn talked to the people. God used writing and oral prophets. Now we'll cover the acting prophets.
The Acting Prophets
I then began to wonder if there was another category, and there is. It's one of my favorites.
Sometimes God spoke to the writing prophets and the oral prophets and said, "Stop speaking, stop writing, and start acting." He wanted to get people's attention and He knew that one way to get their attention was to have them start acting.
Isaiah —For example, God spoke to Isaiah one day and said basically, "Isaiah, nobody is paying attention to you, so here's what I want you to do. I want you to go barefoot and naked for three years." Isaiah was the first streaker! You're just standing there when all the sudden there goes Isaiah. The people said to him, "What is this?" Isaiah would reply, "This is a message from the Lord, and the message is, 'If you do not repent the whole nation is going to be stripped bare.'"
Ezekiel —The greatest of all the acting prophets was Ezekiel. I don't know if you ever noticed this or not, but when God called him to be a prophet God struck him dumb so Ezekiel couldn't speak. Until Jerusalem fell, 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." And God said, "I want you to take the sand and I want you to make a little wall out of it. Then I want you to take 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 and you say to them, 'This wall represents the wall around Jerusalem. The twigs represent siege machines. If you don't repent God is going to send armies and they're going to come to this place and they're going to destroy it.'"
It was amazing the things God asked Ezekiel to do. On another occasion, God said, "Here's what I want you to do." Ezekiel must have had a lot of hair to be able to do this. God told him, "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 I want you to take one-third of it and throw it up in the air and let it blow around. I want you to take one-third of it and burn it. Then take the last third and 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 people asked Ezekiel what his actions meant, he wrote down what it means, "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." He answered that over and over.
On one occasion the Lord spoke to Ezekiel and said, "Tomorrow morning you are going to find your wife dead. 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 people come to you and say, "'Your wife is dead. We found her dead. Why are you out here doing this? Why aren't you attending to her?' then I want you to write on a tablet and I want you to tell people this. '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 to act out.
Jeremiah —Another prophet, Jeremiah, was told on one occasion take an ox yoke and wear it on his shoulders. When the people asked him what he was doing, he was to say, "It is the will of God for you to surrender and go into captivity." You can imagine that made him real popular! The people called him a traitor and threw him into a pit and almost murdered him because they didn't want to hear his message from God.
Hosea —I think the greatest actor, and the one who is going to get the Oscar when all the awards are handed out, is going to be Hosea. Can you believe Hosea was asked to marry a prostitute? He was the holiest man in all the land, and God commanded him to go marry a prostitute, which Hosea did. I heard someone say once that she must have been very beautiful, because he certainly was not attracted to her by her name. Her name was Gomer!
Hosea married Gomer and God then said, "Now go, preach the message. Preach the message of this marriage." Hosea went out and he preached all over the land. "You Jews are full of pride and arrogance. You think that God called you as His chosen people because you are better than everybody else. 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 that had been born and thrown on the side of the road and was lying there in its blood and nobody wanted it. 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. You need to put that arrogance aside and you need to repent."
You can imagine Hosea's message wasn't very popular. He was severely mistreated.
When Hosea returned home, what he finds out is that while he was out preaching his heart out and being persecuted that this wife to whom he had given his good name, his wealth and everything he had, had suddenly succumbed to her passions. She was actually back out on the auction block in the center of town auctioning herself off to the highest bidder. He was crushed.
Hosea cried out to God, "God, how could you allow this to happen, for my wife to return to prostitution?" And God said, "Go preach the message." The message was this. "I gave you my good name. I gave you blessing after blessing after blessing. And what did you do?" These are the actual words, "You spread your legs to the first person who came along. You are a harlot nation and you are a prostitute nation. You must repent. You are just like Hosea's wife." Hosea preached that message, and again, nobody liked it.
Another time upon returning home, Hosea saw his next door neighbor worshiping and kissing a golden idol. Hosea cries out, "Oh, my God, men kiss calves!" I think if he were in our nation today and he went all over America today, and he were to get up and preach, Hosea would say, "Oh, my God, men kiss calves. They kiss power. They kiss CD's in the bank. They kiss fame and fortune." But Hosea advises, "Kiss the Son. Put it all aside and fall in love with the Lord Jesus Christ."
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? There Hosea is stepping up and everyone's mocking him and laughing at him, and he begins to bid. The auctioneer raises the bid, and Hosea bids and bids until he's paid everything he has to buy his wife out of harlotry.
Gomer didn't deserve it. It was grace. The whole story of Hosea is about grace. By the grace of God Hosea bought his wife out of harlotry.
The story ends there. It doesn't tell us anything else, but it doesn't have to, because I guarantee you one thing. From that day on, this woman was faithful to him because she could not conceive of such grace that he would forgive her and forget her indiscretions and buy her out of harlotry.
In the third and last part of this sermon from the Holy Land presented at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, we'll discover the wonders of symbolic prophecy.