Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Timing – Disbelief of Prophecy

The prophet is taunted by the people as they disbelieve the prophecy and whether God's judgement will come. The prophet sees the consequences but not necessarily God's timing (Isaiah 5:19). The people may disbelieve the prophecy because they do not see it happening but what the prophet knows is that unless things change the consequence is inevitable.

In this Isaiah passage (5:8-25), the prophet is describing the sins of Israel and their most likely consequence. The people refuse to see it and to address the issues and as a result the judgements will come.

As I think of the economic system, I believe we see the consequences of a corrupt and out of balance system. Despite the warning signs of cycles of recession, people believe that it can be fixed by the same thinking that caused the problems. Consequently they ignore the words of those (the prophets) who call for a rethink and for the imbalances to be addressed.

From a position of relative security, facing the consequences of a system that favours the wealthy doesn't seem that important but now having experienced the uncertainties caused by the lack of a permanent position and the inability to purchase a house, like the prophets whose lives become part of the prophetic message, I have become much more focused on the problems of the system and our failure to address the issues.

The art of prophecy is communicating these insights in a way that will help others see the problems and address the issues that they raise. The prophet warns of the consequences of a particular course of action but not from the perspective of seeking judgement or destruction but rather from the perspective of having the people hear and change the direction in which they are travelling.

The Equality Trust (http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/) talks of the benefits of a more equal society. As such they speak as a prophet and like a prophet, they struggle to have their message heard. Like a prophet, they know the consequences of being an unequal society but they don't know when the worst of the consequences will kick in. Will their message be lost until the worst of these consequences kick in? Are we open to hear the message and act to correct the imbalance. Are we prepared to challenge the system and make drastic changes even if those changes upset some of our long held dreams?

My call is for shalom economics that seek wholeness and justice. A just economy aims for a more equal society. A shalom economy seeks to satisfy the needs for all of the cosmos. Are we prepared to struggle for such a change?

Without a fundamental change to the basis for our economy, we will continue to go through cycles of prosperity and recession. Many of the ecology problems and the number of people struggling to survive will continue to increase if we hold on to an economic model that is based on balancing of numbers and rewarding for services that don't address the problems. Will we listen to the prophets or simply treat them as eccentrics of now relevance to society?

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