God is constantly trying to restore relationship with humankind and the prophets were another attempt. The priestly system was not working; worship and sacrifice were not drawing the Israelites hearts to God as was originally intended. Instead they practiced the ritual in order to assuage guilt over immoral behavior. The prophets were needed to try to bring Israel back on track; they became God’s spokespeople. “Here for the first time ritual takes second place to the moral law” because the ritual, which was supposed to help shape community morality was incomplete (Pojman).
Moral failure is breaking covenant with God (Pojman) and the Israelites were guilty of this. Because of their moral failure, the nations around them also suffered from moral failure. Israel’s job was to be a light to the nations around them, that is why they were placed in the midst of two major trade routes that linked the east and the west (“That the World May Know” video series). This is because God loves all of humanity and wanted to use Israel to draw the nations into relationship. The prophets recognized God “as the father of all humanity, not just the Jews, the implication being that we are all brothers and sisters of one another” (Pojman).
Prophets are needed in the world today, but I am not sure that the American church as it stands right now is ready to take this role. From what I have seen there is a lot of good, but there is also immorality. People come to church on Sundays, but live as they want throughout the week. They have their careers and allow themselves to be shaped by their careers rather than allowing their faith to help them shape what they do (Bankard lecture on Aristotle). In many churches there also seems to be a lack of concern for the lost. Many churches seem to be inwardly focused and would rather concentrate on what their church building looks like (beyond the functional) rather than reach out to the surrounding neighborhood. They are comfortable in the fact that their eternal future is secure. Some of our leaders seem to be more concerned about hurting feelings rather than doing what is needed and right. Just like “oppression and violence (were) destroying the people” in the Old Testament prophet’s day, the things that I mentioned above are destroying churches in America (Pojman).
Humans were created in the image of God, but because of the Fall our basic nature was corrupted (Pojman). Because of this we are in need of a Savior. We also need a loving prophetic community to help keep us on track. We need mentors who will help us form spiritually and we need to practice spiritual disciplines. The disciplines help us “reshape our desires” so that we want to do what God wants (Bankard lecture on Aristotle). We need to embrace Christ’s teachings and let them become part of us through practice, mentoring and discipline.