The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” The word of the LORD came to me again: “What do you see?” “I see a boiling pot, tilting away from the north,” I answered. The LORD said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the LORD. “Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah. I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made. “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
– Jeremiah 1:11-19 (NIV)
He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.
– Ezekiel 2:1-10 (NIV)
See now, the Lord, the LORD Almighty, is about to take from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support: all supplies of food and all supplies of water, the hero and warrior, the judge and prophet, the soothsayer and elder, the captain of fifty and man of rank, the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter. I will make boys their officials; mere children will govern them. People will oppress each other— man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the base against the honorable. A man will seize one of his brothers at his father’s home, and say, “You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!” But in that day he will cry out, “I have no remedy. I have no food or clothing in my house; do not make me the leader of the people.” Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.
– Isaiah 3:1-9 (NIV)
Simon & Garfunkel’s song, “The Sound of Silence,” speaks of the hours immediately following the death of President John F. Kennedy. So much confusion, fear, and panic ensued, all due to a total lack of information provided to the public. All that existed was a hushed, awkward silence while people waited to hear the inevitable truth about his death. People knew…yet they could not speak…because they had no confirmation of the manifestation.
And I sit and wonder…how often do we live with the sound of silence…as we wait for God’s revelation to become manifest?
Six months ago, the Lord revealed to me a betrayal that was to come. It would come from a source no one would expect. Her motive would be jealousy, envy, and pride. She would make accusations. She would behave dishonorably. God even revealed it would directly connect to a certain action I would take to further my ministry. She would assign the matter to a lie, something things were not about.
God revealed it. It would be so. And just as God revealed, it did indeed happen over the past week.
Even before this, I would “know things” about the situation. Do any of you know what I mean by “know things?” We find ourselves in a situation that bespeaks one strong possibility, yet, by the Spirit, we just know reality will prove to manifest the opposite. I remember sitting with this woman and a group of other female ministers, hearing them all say I would definitely return as a speaker for next year’s annual event. Yet I “knew” I wouldn’t be returning. Nothing in the natural suggested it. The circumstances would have said I was wrong. Yet, I “knew” by the Spirit…and I was right.
I had all this revelation and…what was I going to do with it? I couldn’t confront the individual in the circumstance because no circumstances suggested anything was to happen at the time. I could have shared the vision (the only person I told was my mother, a prophetess, that she may stand as a witness to the revelation when it manifested), but no one would have understood it. If we looked at circumstances with natural eyes, there were no signs. The only foresight came by the Spirit.
God gave me a vision I wish He hadn’t. I know I needed to know, but knowing didn’t make it easy. All I could do was wait in silence. I knew what was to happen, but I couldn’t talk about it. I lived with this sense of knowing, yet felt a strong sense of hushed silence. I could not confront, I could not speak – all I was appointed to do was treat her with respect, remain constant in my behavior, and remain an honorable woman of God. I was called to continue to be who I was…and wait.
My prophetic experience causes me to ponder on the experiences of the Biblical prophets. Much of the time, the prophets saw things they wish God had not revealed. We often fail to see this in their experiences. They were confronted with the destruction of their people, watching them walk into exile, seeing only a remnant return, hearing of their future fall into idolatry, watching nations rise and fall, kingdoms wax and wane, occupations come and leave, and foreseeing fearful and troublesome futures for the world and God’s people. In looking at a prophetic call in this vain, it is no wonder Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet.” What he saw broke his heart, challenging not only his call, but his very self. While they might have proclaimed their warnings, the prophets always had to live with that awkward silence – sometimes years in the making – for their spiritual eyesight to align with natural circumstances. All they could do was wait, sometimes weep, sometimes pray, and always remain who God called them to be.
In today’s church, I think we sometimes minimize spiritual gifts, making them a divine amusement park ride. We overlook their intense and often difficult responsibilities. There is a reason the words “oracle” and “vision” in the Old Testament mean, by extension, “burden.” When God shows us things about circumstances, people, even the future that we would rather not see, He is giving us a necessary burden we must often bear alone. It is something that remains between us and God, until the time when it manifests.
And, in the meantime…we wait.
(C) 2010 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.