on prophecy

One of the best books I have ever read is The Prophets by Abraham Joshua Heschel. My Hebrew Prophets professor recommended it during my first quarter at Fuller, and the writing of the book is almost as prophetic of the portraits of the prophets within it; powerful and poetic.

The prophet is a man who feels fiercely. God has thrust a burden upon his soul, and he is bowed and stunned at man’s fierce greed. Frightful is the agony of man; no human voice can convey its full terror. Prophecy is the voice that God has lent to the silent agony, a voice to the plundered poor, to the profaned riches of the world. It is a form of living, a crossing point of God and man. God is raging in the prophet’s words.

We and the prophet have no language in common. To us the moral state of society, for all its stains and spots, seems fair and trim; to the prophet it is dreadful. So many deeds of charity are done, so much decency radiates day and night; yet to the prophet satiety of the conscience is prudery and flight from responsibility. Our standards are modest; our sense of injustice tolerable, timid; our moral indignation impermanent; yet human violence is interminable, unbearable, permanent. To us life is often serene, in the prophet’s eye the world reels in confusion. The prophet makes no concession to man’ s capacity. Ehibiting little understanding for human weakness, he seems unable to extenuate the culpability of man. Who could bear living in a state of disgust day and night? … The prophet’s ear perceives the silent sigh.

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