I was just reading John 11 today. In it Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Afterward the Pharisees are angry and want to kill him because, you know… that’s a perfectly natural response to SOMEONE BEING RAISED FROM THE DEAD, right??
Anyway, so the Jews are trying to figure out how to deal with the “threat” of Jesus on their power and livelihood. First it’s interesting to note they don’t even think for a moment on the implications of him actually being the Messiah. As it had been for the entire history of their people, all they could see was their Earthly status and possessions at risk. They cared nothing for the redemption of sins or right standing with the Father.
The even more interesting thing to me (today) is in verse 49-52:
“But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad." (John 11:49-52 ESV)
Sooo…. Caiaphas is prophesying, and not by choice. He’s meaning to say one thing, and in one sense actually saying it, but all the while actually becoming the mouthpiece of God to foretell events to come? This isn’t because he’s a righteous man, it’s because God wills it. It isn’t because Caiaphas chooses to prophesy, God chooses for him and gives him no say in the matter. How does the psychology of this even work for Caiaphas? The more I think about this the more my head hurts.
Here’s a good writeup on this that I really enjoyed: http://www.jimmcguiggan.com/reflections3.asp?status=John&id=362
Something else I read today along the same vein:
“And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel” (Ezekiel 4:9 ESV)
So God actually DECEIVES the prophet, gives him something false to say so as to also lead astray the one inquiring of the prophet, and then destroys him! Actually, if you look at the context you’ll see God destroys both the prophet and the inquirer, but I’m trying to focus on some observations about prophesy here.
More Questions than Answers
I often wonder how the prophesies contained in the Old Testament came to be. Some of them are the strangest thing… the author/prophet delivering them will be talking about something, then at random be clearly talking about Jesus’ coming (in detail), and then continue with what he was saying like nothing just happened. Wait, what???
I mean, did they even realize what just happened? Did they know that they were just speaking of the future or did they, like Caiaphas, have something else in mind to say? My guess is that maybe sometimes they knew and sometimes they didn’t, but even if they didn’t know, it’s funny that for the centuries leading up to Christ the Jews saw these prophesies of the coming Messiah for what they were, even if the prophet didn’t.
I don’t really have any answers here, I’m just making observations. I find it interesting that the word of God is going to be delivered, whether the prophet is a willing party or not. God is no respecter, at least in these cases, of the prophet’s “freewill” and will even use the prophet as a tool of deception to accomplish his own will!
This is a bit of a contrast to a lot of contemporary “prophesy”. I’ll admit I’m not very well studied on this, but I’ve been wondering a lot lately about how much modern day “prophesy” really resembles what’s modeled in the Bible…
but I digress (for now).