This passage from the prophet Isaiah records words spoken to Israelite exiles in Babylon. Far from home and losing hope, Isaiah gives them an oracle, words from God intended to exhort, encourage and sometimes rebuke God’s people.
Often we think of prophecy as a prediction of the future, but in scripture, prophets do not usually give glimpses into what is to come. Rather, prophets are more like God’s mouthpieces, those whom God uses to speak to God’s people. You can tell when a prophet is giving an oracle (a message from God) by the phrase “says the Lord.” The prophet signals that what is about to be said is as if God has been speaking directly. No wonder we consider the words spoken by God’s chosen mouthpieces to be so central in scripture and in our liturgy.
But what about those who are listening. Sometimes we forget that God has also chosen the people who will hear the words of the prophet. In fact, this may even be the more significant calling. God reminds those in exile that they are not forgotten, that God will help them.
God has chosen us to hear God’s word too. What might God be saying to us through oracles and prophets today?
Speak to us, O God. We are listening. Amen. — EP