The interconnected identities of Jesus and John the Baptist are a matter of speculation in the Gospel of Matthew. The truth is revealed through the fulfilment Old Testament prophecy and against the foil of the brutal rule of Herod.
Luke’s account of Pentecost frames it as the installation of a prophet. As we reflect upon the shape of the prophetic vocation and the content and shape that Luke’s narrative gives to the Church’s calling we will be empowered for our political vocation in the twenty-first century.
Micah’s message reminds us of the importance of small beginnings and the potential of the things that can start from them. Alongside this, he teaches us of the necessity of the actions whereby we live the difference that God desires to create in the world.
King David’s actions in taking Bathsheba provide a shocking and illuminating case study in the behavior and psychology of impunity. The prophet Nathan’s employment of parabolic misdirection in his exposure of David’s sins suggests an effective manner in which such impunity can be confronted.
What the world needs is not another group of people scrambling for advantage or clamoring for privilege, but rather a community of people engaged in acts of transcendence that move beyond the interests of the self towards the furtherance of the common good. That will only happen when the church tells the truth about how and why it was so chosen by God and re-orders its practices accordingly.
Ezekiel’s prophecy to the dead bones of exiled Israel brings life and restoration to a people who considered themselves beyond hope. Faced with lost causes, recognition of the creative power of the prophetic word can extend the horizons of the possible and inspire a wider range of political action.
In Isaiah’s prophecy a young child serves as a sign puncturing the gloom of a dark political situation. The use of infants and young children to draw attention to God’s future within the book of Isaiah has significance for our own political visions. In regarding the sign of our children we can accomplish an existential turn from a politics driven by the selfish interests of our own generation to one of responsibility and hope for the well-being of those to come.
Elijah’s ministry takes place during the reign of king Ahab in the 9th century BC. The narrative about the prophet is expressly political. It depicts a political dissident who speaks against the powers of his day, with the main focus on promoting the worship of Yahweh and fighting against the worship of Baal. The prophet’s actions must be understood against a wider Near Eastern context where religion was completely intertwined with politics and where Yahweh was the national god of the Israelites.