In Micah, chapter 2, the prophet suddenly turns from a message of stern warning to one of hope. It strikes me that to know when people are living under God’s frown, and when they are living under his frown requires a level of discernment that we might characterise as ‘prophetic’ .
In this connection, I was interested in a note concerning the Puritan Nicholas Byfield. He ‘was known for his excellent scholarship, judgment, and aptitude, in addition to his ministerial skills. William Gouge wrote of him as a pastor, “When he had to do with tender and troubled consciences, he was a Barnabas, a son of comfort; but when he had to do with impudent and obstinate sinners, he could make his face hard and strong, and show himself like a Boanerges, the son of thunder”’
Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans: With a Guide to Modern Reprints, (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), 127.
We have teachers in our churches, who can present God’s truth with clarity and precision. But where are the pastors who can apply it with this kind of faithful discernment to individual souls? And where are the prophets, who can apply it is the similar discernment to churches and to nations?