Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? (Habakkuk 1:3)
The word "burden" here just does mean a load or weight, as much as a man can carry. Thus the Prophets felt what the Lord had shown them to be something that weighed heavily upon them and often overwhelmed them.
The prophetic function is brought into operation at a time when things are not well with the people and work of God, when declension has set in; when things have lost their distinctive Divine character; when there is a falling short or an accretion of features which were never intended by God. The Prophet in principle is one who represents in himself and his vision God's reaction to either a dangerous tendency or a positive deviation. He stands on God's full ground and the trend breaks on him. That which constitutes this prophetic function is spiritual perception, discernment, and insight. The Prophet sees, and he sees what others are not seeing. It is vision, and this vision is not just of an enterprise, a "work," a venture; it is a state, a condition. It is not for the work as such that he is concerned, but for the spiritual state that dishonors and grieves the Lord.
This faculty of spiritual discernment makes the Prophet a very lonely man, and brings upon him all the charges of being singular, extreme, idealistic, unbalanced, spiritually proud, and even schismatic. He makes many enemies for himself. Sometimes he is not vindicated until after he has left the earthly scene of his testimony. Nevertheless, the Prophet is the instrument of keeping the Lord's full thought alive, and of maintaining vision without which the people are doomed to disintegration.... The Lord needs that which really does represent His fullest possible thought, and not those who are just doing a good work. But it costs; and this is the "burden of the valley of vision."
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