The Word of the Lord Was Rare These Days

There is a little verse near the beginning of the book 1 Samuel that goes like this 

"Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread." - 1 Samuel 3:1

Often we read "the word of the Lord was rare in those days" and assume it was because the most extravagant visions of God (flood, destruction of towns because of hospitality, pillar of cloud and fire, burning bush, etc.) were over. Perhaps this it is also true that the word of the Lord was rare because people were not able to access it. That is what makes something rare, our ability to access it. Diamonds were rare, now they are mass produced and much easier to come by. Eating oranges in December in the North was rare, but no more. Rare does not mean gone, just difficult to access. 

I offer up the reason the word of the Lord was rare then, and is today, is not because it is not present but because we do not access it. And we do not access it not because it is behind a locked door but because we do not want to access the word of the Lord. 

Throughout the Bible the word of the Lord was prophetic truth that was spoken from within a group to that very group. It is Moses calling the people to follow the law. It is the leaders of the tribes that Amos calls cows. It is Jesus having harsh words for the leaders of the religion he was a part of. 

Angry mob from wikipedia

Angry mob from wikipedia

Critiquing other tribes is easy and primal. Critiquing your own tribe is difficult and divine. 

Today we have "prophets" who are condemning other tribes. The left condemns the right and the right condemns the left. There is a place for critique of the powers and principalities to be sure, however what connects the prophet to the divine is the prophets willingness to critique their own tribe and even their own self. This is what contributes to the beauty of scripture. If you were going to decree a set of texts as holy and authoritative for a religion would you pick texts that decry your people's own failures or would you only select the texts that show your side as winners? 

The word of the lord is rare in these days. It is easier to rally the base with talking heads than to examine our own hypocrisies, deficiencies and sin. 

(This post was inspired by Phil Ochs' song, Love me, I'm a Liberal, introduced to me via this brilliant Intercept episode.)