Wrestling with Truth November 13, 2011

The Prophets

Three great stages of OT History:

Patriarchs  —  tribal rulers, carried out sacrifices, represented families before God; covenant; transmitted the blessing; hereditary; tendency toward corruption

Priests  —  after Sinai the priestly function passed to the tribe of Levi; hereditary, tendency toward corruption; retained their institutional and conservative function on into NT times; real moral and spiritual leadership of the nation passed to the prophets

(cf. Exodus 19:6 and 1 Peter 2:9 – nation of priests)

Prophets  —  parallel the apostles in the NT;  responsible for the writing and perseveration of many of the books of the OT;  Abraham (patriarch), Moses (law-giver), and Samuel (the last of the judges) seem to cross over all three functions

[which one of these typifies you in your work or within your family?]

In Hebrew Bible, Joshua, Judges, I & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings are named “the Former Prophets”; latter prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the 12 minor prophets

Scope of prophet’s work:

  • Illumination of the past, especially as historical writing
  • Judgment of the present, especially as admonition and call to repentance
  • Foretelling of the future, especially as warning and comfort, namely:
    • Judgment upon Israel
    • Judgment upon the nations of the world
    • The conversion of Israel
    • The conversion of the nations of the world
    • The Messiah and His Kingdom

1.         roeh or chozeh (derived from terms that mean see, behold, gaze upon, view, see, complete)

Earlier term;  (1 Sam 9:9 NIV)  (Formerly in Israel, if a man went to inquire of God, he would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)

One who “saw”; his message was often called his “vision”

2.         nabi  (one who speaks, one who announces, one who speaks for another, spokesman); Moses and Aaron

Far more common term

True prophet spoke what God gave him to speak
False prophet spoke from his own imagination

  • (Deu 18:20-22 NIV)  But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” {21} You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” {22} If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

“Speaking the word of the Lord frequently involved prediction, foretelling the future.  More often it meant proclamation, “forth-telling” a message from God.”

Jeremiah mediates the word of God:  (Jer 1:9 NIV)  Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.

“The prophet received the word by divine inspiration but communicated it through his own personality.  The communication therefore bears the mark of the prophet’s personality as well as the credentials of divine authorship.”

“The prophet, unlike the priest, was not born to his office.  He was called to it and especially endued with the Spirit of the Lord to accomplish its purposes.  His experience of the divine was never for the sake of his own mystical enjoyment.”

“The mission of the prophets was to bring an understanding of the will of God as it applies to all of life.  The prophets were undying foes of cloistered piety, religion confined to the Temple ritual.  Politics, commerce, justice, and the daily dealings of man with man were all brought under the judgment of God.”

[From W. Purkiser, R. Taylor, and W. Taylor, God, Man, and Salvation, pp. 145ff.]

Preacher??  Is this the fourth category after patriarch, priest, and prophet?

External and internal perspectives

Peter Taylor Forsyth:  “You cannot quench the preacher without kindling the priest.”

TLT:   Among other ways, revelation expresses itself through mind and heart.  If mind is thwarted, the heart will find a channel.  If the heart, is restricted the mind will address the issues.  God is at work through priest and preacher.  Sometimes God’s truth is seen and felt in the beauty of liturgy and orderly structure and sometimes in the clear proclamation of rational truth.  God is at work in the whole person.


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