Icons of the Prophets
From the very beginning of Salvation History, we have examples of men and women who lived holy and blessed lives, and we remember them with thankfulness, for they encourage us to have a real and lasting relationship with the Living God, as they did. There are some who lived by God’s Commandments even before the Law was given to the Holy Prophet Moses, for the Holy Spirit works with those who love deeply the Creator of all, and those who call upon Him in truth. They lived as far as they were able the hidden law in their minds and hearts, and so lived a life full of virtue. We can look to the blessed Enoch who walked with God, Noah who was so faithful in his faithless generation, the righteous Job the Long-Suffering, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the Patriarchs who spoke and wrestled with God, the Comely Joseph who forgave his brothers’ grievous wrongs, and all those who lived before Moses heard and wrote their sacred history by an angel’s Heavenly visitation.
When the Prophet Moses heard God speak to him in the Burning Bush, the course of history was changed, for the law written only in men’s hearts soon became more visible and outward, better imaging the Divine pattern that would be fulfilled later when Christ as God Incarnate made this pattern or type more complete and revealed. With Moses was his brother Aaron, who helped in this work of speaking with Pharaoh to let His people go, and then led them through the Wilderness into the Promised Land of Israel, with Caleb and Joshua as their faithful companions. In the setting up of Israel, we have for the first time in history a nation actually governed by God Himself through His Prophets, such as Samuel. Later the people demanded kings, and soon King David and King Solomon appeared to rule and prepare a temple for God to more permanently speak to men, and receive their outward worship.
Many prophets arose from the time of Moses to the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth, and they spoke His words (sometimes incomprehensible until the Incarnation), and prepared the way of the Lord, for the last of these prophetic voices, St. John the Baptist and Forerunner, spoke the very same words that Jesus began His ministry, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” We remember the Prophet Daniel, the Three Holy Children, the Holy Prophet Elias (Elijah) who rose to Heaven in a chariot of fire, the Righteous Gideon, Ezekiel, Habbakuk, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, Micah, Zechariah, and Zephaniah, all of whom pleased God and spoke His word. At last we see the Prophet Zacharias who was the father of St. John the Baptist, and the High Priest who brought the Virgin after she gave birth to her Son into the Holy of Holies by God’s inspiration, earning the hatred of the uncomprehending priestly class of that time.
Let us turn to these holy ones who before the great dispensation of the Grace of God coming in the flesh on earth, still heard Him, lived by Him, turned to Him, and later at His Resurrection were raised by Him from the world of the graves into Heaven. May they guide us to live a better Christian life, painless, blameless, and peaceful, and in faith may we see them and rejoice with them someday in His Glorious Kingdom.