Cheryl Kline, an avid reader of Christian literature, is preparing to go as a missionary to minister to children in a third world country. She is a graduate of Bethany College of Missions in Minneapolis, MN.
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THE PROPHET'S HOPE: WHAT DOES FRANK PERETTI'S JOHN TELL US?
1. THE EARTH IN TURMOIL
John felt a cold draft moving through the mall as if a huge door or window was open somewhere. He got up and got moving. It seemed so noisy in here. What was everyone talking about anyway, and did they all have to shout like this?…He could feel the ground stirring to life under his feet…A rumble…Then he heard screams, cries for help, wailings, shrieks of pain…Now the darkness at the far end of the mall was growing, rising, beginning to spin like a deep, black whirlpool, a bottomless vortex. It was drawing, pulling, yanking people toward it. The whole mall was sliding in! At this end, where John sat, no one seemed to notice. They kept walking, talking, laughing, teasing, buying.
The people around him were starting to notice. The shoppers were starting to hurry, to talk more loudly and more quickly, to tug and pull at each other in all directions…But they were not frantic to escape, to get out of this place, to flee the other way. They were frantic to buy things, see things, hear things, handle things. They ran into the stores, began grabbing the first items they could get their hands on and shoving money and credit cards at the merchants…
He could hear it swirling and sucking, roaring like a tornado. He could see unwary people disappearing into its depths, tumbling headlong down its throat, screaming, clawing to get away, their bags and packages flying from their hands…The cavernous throat was getting closer, closer, wider than the whole mall, higher than the ceilings, unrelenting, insatiable.
2. JOHN'S VISIONS
This excerpt is taken from Frank Peretti's book, The Prophet. When reading this book and after, his visions have always stayed in my mind, especially this one. The character in the book, John, always heard the cries, shrieks, and wails of people, calling out for help, all assailing him. He saw and heard things that most people don't see or hear or even think about many times. He heard the cries of people that were hopelessly lost and deceived, people who were so lost, that they didn't even know they were lost.
Frank Peretti's book The Prophet is a book that helps Christians to be more tuned in to the spiritual world around us. In this book, the main character, John, is an ordinary person who works as a news reader. He hasn't given much thought to God, and his relationships with his family are going downhill fast. John suddenly finds himself hearing cries of help and being able to see people's heart cries. Through this gift, he is brought closer to God, able to work through much of his past, and his relationship with his family is renewed.
3. DELAYING THE INEVITABLE EVIL
When the people in John's vision were being first pulled into the dark vortex, they did not know what was happening, but when they first started to notice, they started to talk louder, spend more, and look at other things. They thought that these things would be able to distract them from the dark tornado that was coming their way and sucking in everything in its path. In the end, they too, were sucked into its cavernous mouth screaming and frantically trying to get away.
These people were hopelessly lost, with no one to turn to, with no hope. They tried to turn to earthly things that satisfied for a time, but only delayed the inevitable evil a little while longer. The evil kept advancing, destroying everything in its path.
The sound carried the crowd onward as one tribe, one voice, one spirit. The young men rocked with the rhythm and pounded the air with defiant fists. The young women swayed as if in a trance, their arms reaching heavenward…Carl sank into the seat…The question still pounded in his head and not even the sound could drown it out: Where are we going? Where are you taking us?
4. ROCK CONCERT REVELATION: ENDLESS ROAD OF MEANINGLESS DRUDGERY AND HOPELESSNESS
In this excerpt, the character's son has an amazing revelation. He is at a rock concert and spent $20.00 for a seat, which he knew he would never sit in because he would be standing up and dancing the whole time. Yet he was troubled. Then, his eyes are opened to see the utter hopelessness of it all, and how they all are so deceived. His questions, "Where are we going? Where are you taking us?" are his first steps of realizing that something is leading them into destruction down an endless road of meaningless drudgery and hopelessness.
5. ONE WITHOUT HOPE AND WITHOUT GOD
Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever felt that something had you in its power, leading you into pain, hurt, anger, and an endless meaninglessness? You are not alone in this feeling. There are many others out there today, who are lost in this swirling tornado of destruction "happily oblivious" or at least trying to drown out the danger and evil that is swirling around them. Yet, down deep, their hearts are crying in desperation for someone to help them. You are as one "without hope and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12b).
The Bible says that we "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We are all "without hope and without a God". "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Rom. 3:10-12).
There is no one in the entire world that deserves anything better than the hopelessness of this world and the pain and evil that you encounter every day. "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23), and "death is the destiny for every man" (Ecc. 7:2). This is the most hopeless statement of all - to say that all of us are going to die because we have all sinned. Everything is meaningless. There is no cause for life in a world that is just leading us to destruction.
6. GIFT OF GOD AND ETERNAL LIFE
But Rom. 6:23 does not stop at what our wages are. It goes on to tell us that, though we deserve death for our sins, "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ." Yes, we are all headed for that terrible, cavernous tornado of destruction that is ready to suck us up, but there is someone who saw where we were going. He knew that we were going to die because of all the bad things that we do and have done. But, He loved us so very much and didn't want us to die. He knew that we couldn't save ourselves from the evil that surrounds us, but He had the power to save us. He loved us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins. The payment for sin was death, and so the payment had to be filled. So, He sent His only son to die for us and to take the punishment of death for us, so that we could be made alive. This person was Jesus. God loved all the people in the world and "was not willing that any of them would perish", so he sacrificed His son, Jesus, who was crucified and died to take all of our sins away and give us a gift of eternal life.
7. HOW DO YOU GET YOUR GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE?
You may well ask how I have a hope that you don't have. I have hope because I know that I am not going to die and be sucked into the bottomless vortex that leads to eternal death. Because I have the Son of God in my life, I have eternal life (1 John 5:12). I have a hope in Jesus who has already conquered sin and death, because, when Jesus died for our sins, He did not stay dead. Three days later, He rose from the dead. I have hope in Jesus, who has victory over death, and He has given me life.
In the book, The Prophet, John is standing in his apartment overlooking the city, and he hears the voices of the people crying out once more.
They were hurting, yes and dying, pulled steadily downward by despair, but they were crying out because they knew they would be heard; they were reaching desperately for hope because they knew it was there. They knew. As much as they argue against it and deny it in the light of day and in the clatter and diversion of their social circles, in their souls they still knew. 'You know,' he said to the city, 'there really is an answer. Here I am talking about Evil and right and wrong, and here we all are wailing about how tough life is…and you know what? If there weren't anybody to hear us, we wouldn't be whining like this. If I didn't truly believe in some ultimate Good, I sure wouldn't be having trouble with evil…I wouldn't be looking for answers because there wouldn't be any. But listen to me…There is an ultimate Good. There's a God, and He cares about us; He cares about all this mess we're into. If you're hurting, well, He's hurting too, because He's fed up with the evil. He's fed up with the pain, and I think He wants to fix it, if we're willing to let Him.
It's our fault we're in this mess!…God won't help us if we're going to keep pretending with Him, throwing His name around and acting like we're praying, because He won't take it…We've sinned against God, but His Son paid the penalty for us. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He can be our peace and our comfort, and He can wash us clean…
8. CALL OUT TO GOD
Yes, we have sinned against God, and yet He is still willing to help us and love us if we turn from our sins and turn to Him. He can give us hope, eternal life, and can wash away all the dirt and grime that is in our hearts, but we must be willing to admit that we are sinners and that we need God's help. We must also confess that Jesus is Lord and truly believe that God raised Him from the dead. Then we must make the step and call on Him (Rom. 10:9-13). Then, when we have asked Him to be King of our lives, He will come into our hearts and wash them clean and make us His children.
This is the hope that I have today. I know that I am one of His children and that He loves me very much. I know that He will never leave me when I am in trouble, but will help me through it. And I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that the evil in this world will not have victory over me because Jesus has already conquered sin and evil, and He is living in me.
Do you want this hope? Just as John, the character in the book, is saying, I want to call to you. Listen to me. There is a God, who is good and He cares about you and loves you. Even when nobody else in this world loves you, He does, and He wants you to come to Him, to receive His hope and joy, and to become one of His very own special children! Listen to His call! I urge you and entreat you to call out to God, for He is not a God who is standing over us with a stick, but loves us and wants to be with us, but He also is a just and Holy God, and will not wait forever. There will be a time when it will be too late, and your chance will be gone. This time could be now or later. Please, do not wait!
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Frank Peretti. The Prophet. Bethany House Publishers,
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