The Town Crier

“Hear ye, hear ye!”

Long before Facebook, before Google, before cable news, and before newspapers was the Town Crier. Dating back to the 18th century, Town Criers were elaborately dressed men who would deliver the news to the town. Often carrying a large bell to gain the attention of the townsfolk, they would then declare out, “hear ye!” When the crowd had gathered, they would deliver the important news. Back in those days, if you wanted to “share” a story, you actually had to tell someone.

The Town Crier was an important part of society, keeping the people apprised of current events. But long before the Town Crier, David instituted his own version of it: the Town Prophesier. This person had an even more important job than keeping the town up to date on the current events or town scandals. His job was to announce the Word of the Lord.

1 Chronicles 25:1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.  

Can you imagine this job? The job description might have looked like this: hear from the Lord and declare it to the people. What a cool job! They even had their own band that followed them around. I’ve always thought it would be cool to live life with a soundtrack, but these guys literally had that. Set apart for the ministry of prophesying… how about that?

As I reflect on this verse this morning, what strikes me is how important it is to hear from the Lord and declare it out. It has always been important. But we don’t need Town Criers; we don’t need professional prophesiers. WE can hear from the Lord. The prophet Joel said that God would pour out His Spirit on all people and it happened in Acts 2. Now YOU can hear from the Lord. YOU can prophesy. YOU can declare out what God is saying. 

You just have to take the time to ask and to listen.

Do you have a voice?

Micah 3:8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.

Spoiler alert: Israel sinned again.  Okay, that’s not really new news to anyone who has read the Old Testament.  Those poor saps just couldn’t get it right.  We like to scratch our heads about their ongoing failure, even though we probably have some of our own.  We live in a world full of sin, don’t we?  Much like in the time of Micah, sin abounds around us.  So what do we do about that?  What’s our personal response?

The first, is to choose to be different.  Micah said, “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord…”  He wasn’t filled with sin; he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.  Filled.  In other words, there was no room for anything else except the Spirit of the Lord.  The word full means that there isn’t room for anything else.  So Micah chose to live with the power of the Lord in his might.  He chose to live according to the spirit rather than the flesh.

Because of that decision, he had a voice.  He was called to tell Israel about their sin.  You don’t get the privilege of prophesying about sin when you are entrenched in it.  If you tried to, everyone would know you were a fraud, a fake, a hypocrite.  That’s why it was so important that Micah chose to be filled with the Spirit rather than consumed by the flesh.  Living in sin like the rest of the people would have undone his message. 

Sometimes we think we should live like everyone else so we don’t look “religious.”  We engage in all the world’s activities and embrace it’s philosophies.  We participate in culture because we don’t want to alienate people.  Here’s the problem: we are called to be set apart, holy, children of the Lord.  Our participation in the drinking night may not build bridges but instead reveal hypocrisy.  We are the church, we are not the world.  Like Micah, we have a voice.  But our voice is to be used to speak into a situation that grieves God’s heart; it’s not to speak into a situation in which we are a part.  Do you have a voice?