“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9
Prophets are real, alive, and still relevant today. These men and women may not be turban wearing folk who roam the wilderness or live on mountain tops, but they are more common than the world may think. In fact, they may be the ones you’d least expect.
When examining the Bible, there is a universal theme: love. It’s found in every aspect and every corner. I understand that it can be super easy to look through the texts and get caught up in the violence, torture, rape, and genocide that is described in it. I admit that these ideas are troubling and can be pretty hard to swallow, but the message being shown through the entire Bible is that of love.
Examine what the Bible is. It’s a collection of poems, letters, epics, and stories that are written for a specific purpose and reason. The Bible is exactly that: poems, letters, and stories. Each piece of literature in the bible is written from the perspective of a person who is trying to understand and know God. It’s progressive. It’s raw. It’s relevant. The bible is an unraveling story of how every individual is called to progress and not give in to the ways of the world around them.
What does this have to do with the prophets? Well, the prophets in the Bible were people who pointed out the wrongs of the world. Prophets were spokespeople of God’s love. They spoke out against oppression, poverty, corrupt systems, and the evil that was adopted by their societies. Moses was a prophet who brought the oppressed Israelites out of Egypt. Isaiah spoke of the liberation that the world experiences through the Christ. David was a prophet who spoke of the goodness of God that will last forever. Ezekiel spoke of a God that loves so much that the dead are made alive in this God. Joel speaks of a God who liberates the oppressed by giving them the spirit of God. Hosea speaks of a God who loves so much that this God will do anything to restore humanity. These are raw and intense messages and they are still relevant today.
Prophets didn’t just speak of liberation. Prophets did very offensive acts to show the corruption of the world. Isaiah ate his food off of dung and professed that the dung was a representation of the nation of Israel. Jeremiah wore a yoke, a mechanism designed to restrain oxen, and proclaimed that if Israel didn’t change its ways, it would be just as he was: yoked. Hosea married a prostitute showing all of Israel that they were whores giving themselves to whatever pleased them. This is the Bible. These are prophets.
What does this have to do with modern times? Well, look at what we have going on now. There are people just like the prophets in the Bible who are acting and speaking up agianst opression. There are people who are doing radical exhibits to get the attention of others. There are people who are creating songs just like David who show us what it means to love and to free those who are captive and even give insite to what it means to be the one under oppression. Who are the modern day prophets? You’d be surprised.
Kendrick Lamar is a man who was born and raised in Compton, California. He is following in the footsteps of former group NWA. Kendrick has always pointed out major controversial topics in his albums, but in his new album, he covers the topics of police brutality, the opression of African Americans in the US, and the struggle to find God. “Damn” may have hype songs, but if you don’t listen to the entire album, you may miss the underlying point he is trying to make.
J. Cole is a man who has shocked the world with his music. In his most recent album, “For Your Eyes Only”, Cole expressed the struggle of the black man. He shows that the system in the US was designed to keep the black community under their finger. The album is a progressive story that shows a man who falls in love at a young age, deals with the demons of his past, falls into the trap of his culture, has a daughter, fights to make things right, and ends up dying due to the systems put in place. This man described in this album is a metaphor for the countless amount of black men who are caught in the trap of the systems that the priviledged white men have created.
Logic is a biracial man. He preaches a message of “Peace, love, and positivity no matter your race, gender, religion, color, or sexual orientation”, and strives to promote “equality for all people”. Under this theme, he points out the racial struggles in the US, mental illness, homophobia, universalism, and the men in power who are selfishly seeking their own satisfaction and glory. He effortlessly picks at topics to stir the pot and expose the madness that underlies each person.
These are just a few examples of countless amount of people who are in the music industry who you wouldn’t imagine as being a voice for those in the margins. You wouldn’t expect them to be a voice seeking righteousness and equality, but in the reality of it, they’re on the forefront of it. The music of today is changing and it’s beginning to speak up against the corupt systems that we have founded. Those aren’t the only people who are on the front.
Bree Newsome did something extrememly daring on June 27, 2015. Newsome scaled up a thirty foot flag pole to take down a confederate flag at the South Carolina state capital. This was daring and brave move. She was later arested for removing the flag, but she definitly spoke a message. Racism is still alive. This act reflects something that the prophets in the Bible did: the elephant was exposed. Newsome pulled the blanket off of an issue that so many were blind to. She pointed out that there was a system designed against those of color. It was a bold move, but prophets never make a move without suffering for the cause of liberty.
Colin Kaepernick is the most trending name at this topic other than Donald Trump. Kaepernick took another political stance. He took a knee during the national anthem as a silent protest to create conversation about our systemic racism. His intentions were pure in heart and just as the black prophets of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, he is taking some heat for his decision. The elephant is continuously being exposed and through his protests, the US is talking. His actions point out how horrible the systemic racism is just as Isaiah exposed the corruption of Israel as he ate his food off of dung.
These voices are speaking and there are so many more names that are prophetically speaking up. Lecrae, Being As An Ocean, Silent Planet, Propaganda, Kings Kaleidoscope, and many more are exposing the problems and creating awareness of issues. The question in response to this is simple. Whar are you going to do? Are you going to sit silent and watch the opressed or are you going to speak up and join a movement towards equality and freedom just as the prophets in the Bible did?