Tones And Tactics

Tim Catchim, co-author of The Permanent Revolution and The Permanent Revolution Playbook, suggests that any particular prophetic engagement involves a combination of a specific cluster of prophetic ‘tones’ and ‘tactics’. [1]

Catchim says prophets tend to communicate about the ‘space’ that exists between God’s will and ours, in ‘tones’, on one end of the continuum, ‘criticising’ us for ‘the gap’, and on the other end of the continuum, ‘energising’ us to ‘close the gap’. He says, though prophetic engagement includes ‘criticising’ and ‘energising’, most prophets tend to emphasise one more than the other.

On the one hand, Jeremiah is a classic example of a prophet who emphasis-es ‘criticising’ more than ‘energising’. Jeremiah’s role is primarily to ‘root out’, ‘pull down’, ‘throw down’ and ‘destroy’ the old order. For Jeremiah ‘planting’, ‘growing’ and ‘building’ a new order is secondary (Jeremiah 1:10). On the other hand, Isaiah is a classic example of a prophet who emphasizes ‘energising’ over ‘criticising’. Isaiah’s initial call is to ‘cease to do evil’. (Isaiah 1:16) But Isaiah’s principal role is to invoke the creation of a ‘good future’, a ‘new heavens and a new earth’ (Isaiah 65:17), a ‘new tomorrow’, no longer a ‘place of sorrow’, but a place that is ‘for its people a joy’. (Isaiah 65:18-19). A healthy prophetic engagement will always include ‘criticising’ and ‘energising’.

Catchim says prophets tend to communicate about the ‘space’ that exists between God’s will and ours, in ‘tactics’, on one end of the continuum, passionately, powerfully and unapologetically ‘verbalising’ their message, ‘exposing the gap,’ and on the other end of the continuum, imaginatively, inventively and ingeniously ‘visualizing’ their message, ‘standing in the gap’.

On the one hand, at one end of the continuum, a prophet may engage the world in a predominately ‘verbalised’ form, through speeches, stories and parables. The classic example of a prophet, who used the telling of parable to get a potentate to condemn himself for committing adultery with a married woman and arranging for her husband to be subsequently killed, was Nathan.

Nathan was in a fix. David needed to be judged. But according to custom, only a king could judge. The prophet had to find some way of getting the king to judge himself. And the way he did that was to tell a brilliant parable that told the story of the king’s actions in a intriguing, disguised, parallel narrative, that got the king’s attention, got the king’s reaction, got the kings condemnation, and then was courageously turned back by the prophet onto the king himself.

‘The Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.’ Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!’ (2 Samuel 12:1-7)

On the other hand, at the other end of the continuum, a prophet may engage the world in a predominantly ‘visualised’ form, through symbols, dramas and demonstrations. The classic example of a prophet, who used his own life as a illustration of God’s love, by marrying a promiscuous woman, who became a prostitute, and remaining faithful to her, in spite of her infidelities, was Hosea.

The story of Hosea is set during the time of Israel’s decline and fall in the 8th century BC. During that period the people of Israel turned away from Yahweh, who had delivered them from slavery into the freedom of the land of promise, and made a compassionate covenant with them of undying love and loyalty, and begun to prostrate themselves before Baal, a disreputable God of fertility.

God asked Hosea to marry a woman by the name of Gomer, and to remain committed to her, in spite of her many public betrayals of him. He said: ‘Go. Show your love to your wife, though she is an adulteress’. (Hosea 3:1) Then God asked Hosea to speak out of the pain he experienced, as a result of his scandalously steadfast love for Gomer, in spite of her many public betrayals, about God’s scandalously steadfast love for Israel, in spite of the pain God himself experienced as a result of Israel’s many public betrayals. He said: ‘The Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods’ (Hosea 3:1)

Surely the drama of Hosea’s love for Gomer is one of the most amazing demonstrations of God’s scandalously steadfast love ever enacted in history.

What could Gomer say to Hosea? What could Israel say to Yahweh? What could I say to God – in light of his scandalously steadfast love for us?

 

Where would I be without you?

Wouldn’t have a clue.

Anywhere is nowhere without you

 

What would I do without you?

Probably sing the blues.

Everything is nothing without you.

 

You’ve always been the star in my sky

Always been the light in my eye

Always been the spark that set my heart on fire.

 

I know I sometimes falter

I know I sometimes fall

But you know you brought me through it all.

 

You’ve always been the star in my sky

Always been the light in my eye

Always been the spark that set my heart on fire.

Set my heart on fire… Set my heart of fire…(x2)

 

You brought me through disaster

You brought me through distress

You brought me any hope of happiness.

 

You’ve always been the star in my sky

Always been the light in my eye

Always been the spark that set my heart on fire.

Set my heart on fire… Set my heart of fire…(x2)

 

Set My Heart On Fire (mp3)

 

Dave Andrews

 

[1] Tim Catchim ‘The Prophetic Ministry’ – Part 1 http://5qcentral.com/prophetic-catchim/ Dec 5 2017

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