Understanding Prophets in the Bible! Introduction to the Bible Concepts of Prophets! Part 1
(ver 1.2) This is a totally new subject for me and one that few people have studied. However, this is an essential subject to understand for many reasons. I recently got a comment from someone who brought up the subject and I thought it would be good to clarify what a prophet of God is and what they can and cannot do using the Bible. You see we have recently had a string of several false prophets that have proclaimed things to the world that are clearly false. But, these false prophets have had at least a few people who have easily fallen for their deception and that is what concerns me. Jesus actually warned us in the Bible that there would come false prophets (Mat 7:15). Therefore we should become smart enough to recognize the difference between the real and the fictitious. If we do not learn about real prophets, Jesus also warned us that even the very elect could be deceived by their trickery (Mat 24:24). Clearly Jesus had a lot to say about the subject. Yet there are still an extensive number of followers of the false who obviously do not see the deception that is taking place. One current false prophet said that the world was ending on May 21, 2011 and this obviously did not occur but I’m sure he had some good reason for this error. This man was sent millions of dollars that came from people who had given him their money and they were clearly lied to. It could be that this man who predicted the end of the world truly believed that he knew something or he could have been a charlatan who intentionally duped people for their money. I do not know if either of these is true, so I do not judge him. I do however see clearly that his message was false based upon my knowledge of the Bible so I was not deceived. Obviously this was not the case for many other people in the world.
Today we are going to explore Bible verses about prophets and see what God reveals to us about them. Here is a verse found in the New Testament that applies to my subject today directly:
1Co 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
Here we have God giving us some specific instruction and directions of the correct order within a church service. If prophets speak in church let it be limited to only 2 or 3 and then let the rest present judge what is said. This is pretty plain to me. It tells me first off that prophets still exist even in the modern church of God and that we do not accept the words of any one prophet just because he said something. This verse implies that there should be other prophets with the same witness. That is an interesting concept to consider. Did God always send more than one witness (prophet) to a city or a nation with the same message? I personally believe that God did do this. But, it would take hundreds of hours of Bible study to prove it. If you have knowledge in this area, I would appreciate hearing about it. If you look at the obvious Bible examples, I found several places where it would appear that God always sent more than one prophet with the same message. For example the prophets Isaiah, Jonah Nahum and Zephaniah all mention the city Nineveh. Of course they do not have to prophesy at the exact same moment in time, it could be during different times with the same general message. Then there is Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel who say a lot of the same things about the city of Jerusalem. I believe these are examples of God following His own word, which I believe God always does. God says “In the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established” (2 Cor 13:1). What is a witness? A witness is someone who has seen something and can testify of it in a court of law under oath. Guess what a prophet is called many times in the Bible? A prophet is called a “seer” (1 Sam 9:9). A seer is someone who is a witness and can see or has seen something that will happen in the future. How does a prophet see into future things? God does this using many methods. Sometimes a prophet gets a message from God by visions. Sometimes a prophet gets messages from God by dreams. Daniel and John the Revelator were both sent an angel from God with the message. Sometimes a prophet will hear the voice of God like Moses on the mountain top of Mt Sinai or the voice of God from the burning bush. Elijah taught us that God spoke to him in a still small voice in his spirit. It really does not matter right now how the message came, I believe that it primarily matters if there was more than one witness with the same message. I believe this is a very important concept to apply to modern day prophets. If a man stands up in the world and proclaims the end of the world will be on May 21, 2011 that is only the words of one man and that should be an automatic red flag warning that it is a false message. I’ll try to talk more about the concept of more than one witness with the message as I continue in this lesson. I want you to take away from 1 Corinthians 14:21 that we should be able to judge prophecy and that God has established rules to help us to know how to do this. One rule is to let every word be established in the mouths of 2 or 3 prophets and not just any one. Another rule of prophecy is no words of prophecy are open to private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20). This rule implies that God will interpret the prophecy and we cannot make up meaning using human reasoning or logic. These are two laws of correct Bible interpretation that cross over into the realm of prophecy since God has given both by His Spirit.
Another interesting fact of the New Testament is I do not know of any scripture that God says we as Christians should be led by prophecy or the words of a prophet. This of course is a challenge because I believe things have changed from the Old Testament into the New Testament on how God deals with His people. In the Old Testament, God gave the law written on tablets of stone, but in the New Covenant God has written the Law of Love upon our hearts. Clearly these were two different approaches with one being totally natural and the other being completely spiritual. God constantly used prophets in the Old Covenant to get the attention of the people of Israel. But, the church has God inside of them and God can speak directly to our hearts. The words of a prophet are not our God and they should not cause you to do anything that God has not already told you to do by His Spirit that is inside of you. The Bible clearly tells us as Christians “Those who are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). That means the Spirit of God will tell you personally what you should do, when you should do it and anything else that is important for you to know. This of course requires that you know how to hear the voice of God and that you will obey what He says. If you are a born again Christian and you refuse to listen to the voice of God, God just may send you a prophet to warn you that you are about to die for your lack of willingness to change. I heard the testimony of a man who was sent by God to another preacher to warn him that he needs to examine himself, but the preacher ignored the warning and as a result died a young man. Now a modern prophet can also come to you and confirm what God has already told you, but you will not hear it first from a prophet and then figure out if you should ask God if you should do it. However, this also does not mean we do not need to study the Bible and the words of the prophets to gain the understanding of God. I believe that we should definitely study the Bible and the words of God’s prophets. Here is another similar truth that is important to know. Christians are not to be led by prophecy, but you are supposed to be a doer of the Word of God. I’m not sure if you really understand the difference? I have heard of people in the world who have read about the coming war in Revelation and they have decided to be led by that prophecy to buy guns to help Christ defeat His enemies. This is clearly a misguided approach to being led by a prophecy to do something that God did not tell you to do. Just because God tells you what will happen in the future does not mean you are involved in causing it to happen. Get it? It is God’s responsibility to cause things to be fulfilled as He has spoken and not you. Jesus taught us that we should do what is written, but this was not an all-inclusive statement. If you tried to repeat everything that was written in the Bible you would do some very wrong things that God never told you to do. Being a doer of the Word of God requires that you know how to rightly divide the Word of God and also that you know the difference between good and evil. These are probably some of the most important things that I will say today, so I hope you understood them.
In order not to become deceived, it is best to become educated with as much of God’s truth as you can. Today we will look into the Bible to discover, what is a prophet? How does someone become a prophet? Can a person choose to become a prophet or is it God’s choice? How does God use a prophet? When does God use a prophet? What can a prophet do? Are there still prophets today? Does a prophet know and see everything? Can a prophet actually predict the future? If so, where does this knowledge come from? Is it from God or is it the prophet’s ability? If a prophet prophecies a coming event, can it be changed? These are tough questions to answer but they are all relevant to find the answer so that none of us will be deceived by someone who comes along and predicts an event that obviously contradicts the Bible. I’m not sure if I will be able to answer all of these questions today, but I will get it started so that you will begin to learn some of the basics. I have already tried to answer a couple of them in the introduction so let’s continue to learn.
I searched the Bible for references to prophets and found there were many. The Bible speaks of many men and women who are called prophets and prophetesses of God. Several of the prophets are named and many others are never named. I technically believe that there are more that are not named than those that are named, but it does us the most good to study only those that are named for now. There are actually too many references in the Bible for me to give you all of them so I will only focus in on a few of them. It is also interesting to note that a prophet is not isolated to the Old Testament only. There are many men and women even in the New Testament that do prophesy and speak for God about coming world events. Let me give you a few examples of the named prophets that I found in the Bible:
- Enoch (Jude 1:14)
- Abraham (Gen 18:17, Gen 20:7)
- Isaac (Luke 13:28, Heb 11:20)
- Jacob (Luke 13:28)
- Moses (Genesis – Deuteronomy, Psalms)
- Aaron (Exo 7:1)
- Joshua (Joshua)
- Balaam (2 Peter 2:15-16)
- Eldad (Numbers 11:27)
- Medad (Numbers 11:27)
- Samuel ( 1 Sam 3:20)
- Gad (1 Sam 22:5)
- Nathan (2 Sam 7:2)
- King David (Psalms, Acts 2:29-30)
- King Solomon (Song, Lamentations)
- Obadiah (Obadiah)
- Eliezer (2 Chron 20:27)
- Hosea (Hosea)
- Amos (Amos)
- Micah (Micah)
- Elijah (1 Kings 18:22)
- Elisha (2 Kings 2:15)
- Jonah (2 Kings 14:25, Jonah)
- Isaiah (2 Kings 19:2, Isaiah)
- Joel (Joel)
- Nahum (Nahum)
- Habakkuk (Habakkuk)
- Zephaniah (Ezra 5:1)
- Jeremiah the mouth of the Lord (2 Chron 36:12)
- Ezekiel (Ezekiel)
- Daniel (Daniel, Mark 13:14)
- Shemaiah (2 Chron 12:15)
- Iddo ( 2 Chron 13:22)
- Haggai (Ezra 5:1, Haggai)
- Zechariah (Zechariah)
- Malachi (Malachi)
- Mordecai (Esther)
- Chanani (2 Chron 19:2)
- Oded (2 Chron 15:8)
- Jehu ( 1 Kings 16:7)
- Ahijah (1 Kings
12:15, 1 Kings 14:18)
- Zacharias (Luke 1:67)
- John the Baptist (Luke 7:28)
- Caiaphas (John 11:49-51)
- Judas (Acts 15:32)
- Silas (Acts 15:32)
- Agabus (Acts 21:10)
- John the Revelator (Revelation)
- Miriam (sister to Moses) (Exo 15:20)
- Deborah (the only female among the Judges) (Judges 4:4)
- Huldah (2 Kings 22:14)
- Noadiah (Neh 6:14)
- Abigail (1 Sam 25:3-32)
- Esther (Esther)
- Anna (Luke 2:36)
Jesus called himself a prophet in Matthew 13:57 and John 4:44. The people of Israel called Jesus “the Prophet” in John 7:40. This was a reference to another prophecy of Moses that said “God will raise up a prophet from your brethren” spoken by Peter in Acts 3:22 when he quotes Moses from Deuteronomy 18:15. So when a man comes along and claims to be a prophet I always go back and judge what he says by what the greatest prophet Jesus has said. If the words of a modern day prophet contradict the words of Jesus, I run away from the modern day prophet very fast. Yes there are real modern day prophets of God. Yes they are called by God, appointed by God, anointed by God and used by God still today to bring out a new message or even a new revelation. But their words will never contradict the Bible, they will only reveal it. These modern day prophets are in existence and differ greatly from the false prophets and you need to understand the differences so that you are never deceived. My recent commenter quoted this next verse to me twice and it can easily be misunderstood so I will address it now:
Amo 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
As you can clearly see this verse seems to contradict another verse that I taught you recently that Jesus said in Matthew 24:36. You may recall that I told you Jesus said “No man knows the day or the hour” and yet we have a prophet of God saying God does nothing without revealing it to His prophets first. Which one is it? Or can they both be true at the same time? Here is where you can fall into error very fast, if you are not careful. If Jesus told us that no man will know when He returns to the earth and the prophet Amos seems to imply that God will not send Jesus back unless He first tells His prophets we have a major conflict that needs immediate resolution. The only way that I know of to solve this dilemma is for us to go into the Bible and actually see what God tells us about prophets and what they know and this will enlighten your confusion dramatically, I hope.
Let me start by asking you this question. What if Albert Einstein came to you about 70 years ago and said, “I am going to split an atom and with this act I will unleash such power that no nation will be able to withstand you”. At this point in time there were no nuclear weapons in the world. There were also no nuclear reactors and no one has a clue what is going to occur or how it is going to happen or even when it will happen. Nor does anyone have any comprehension to the hidden power that is about to be unleashed upon the world. Did Einstein not tell you exactly what he was going to do but, yet you would still be in the dark to what he was saying to you? I mean come on, are you a nuclear scientist? Do you have the understanding of how to split an atom? Back in the 1940’s when this was happening you certainly did not.
I believe that this is exactly the situation the human race was in whenever God came to them and tells them what He was going to do. You might know exactly what will happen, but how it will happen, when it will happen and the impact of why it was happening would cause you to still know very little. You have to understand that God’s intelligence is so far above your intelligence that He could tell you exactly what He was going to do and in your mind you would not be able to comprehend much of anything but the general concept of what might happen. Let me give you a direct Bible example of something that God told the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah was told by God that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel (Isa 7:14). Nowhere did God tell Isaiah how this would occur, when this would occur or why this would occur so Isaiah was given some very important but limited future facts with a very limited capacity of understanding what any of it meant. No one had ever seen a woman have a child without the involvement of a human man, so this was a foreign impossibility. If you think that Isaiah knew more than this or understood more than this, you would be greatly mistaken. Isaiah was clearly one of the greatest Old Testament prophets and he was told many things but only in limited quantities and he understood almost none of them. He wrote down what God had said to him but there is absolutely no way that you can say Isaiah understood what was written. This is the nature of how God works. If God told you everything, you would not need to walk by faith because you could walk by sight. If you knew everything you would not need a God who does know everything. Interesting concept, isn’t it? But, since God teaches you a little bit here and there you are forced to use your faith and believe the things that He has told you without understanding how they will occur or even when they will occur.
Take the book of Revelation written down by John. John prophesies many complex things that will soon occur, yet this book of the Bible is clearly the most misunderstood and controversial book that I know of. The numbers of opinions that surround this book are so vast that it is humorous to search the internet to see what people are saying and thinking about it. It is obviously very clear that God gives us a lot of information in this book while not telling us much of what it actually means on the surface. This is the nature of the prophet! A prophet is a messenger that brings to us words from God, but that does not mean the prophet knows everything about what God said or meant. If John knew more than he wrote in the book of Revelation then he must have withheld the keys to understanding what he wrote. So a true prophet is a man with a message from God that he possibly does not fully comprehend. You need to see that a prophet can bring a word from God, but the message may be a riddle, a puzzle or a hidden secret that needs to be revealed by God in order to be accurately understood by men. This is one of the key reasons when I see someone giving us a prophecy of an exact date and time that I can say they are not a true prophet of God. I think I am going to prove these statements using the Bible to give you examples of how God uses a man to be one of His prophets. In this way you will hopefully see that I am not teaching you my opinion, but that I am teaching you what God has said in His Word.
Have you understood my points so far? Just because God tells the prophet what will happen, it does not mean God will have to tell the prophet when it will happen. Nor does it mean that God has to tell the prophet how it will happen. You cannot find this in the Bible. If you try to make Amos 3:7 say that you are clearly overstepping what the verse says and making it say something beyond what was actually stated by God. You must get very nit-picky when you read the Bible and you must pay attention to every word and then you must not add to them to make them say something additional. Here is a further confirmation to what I am attempting to teach you today about a prophet of God:
1Co 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
Here is Paul calling himself a prophet. Paul tells us that people only know part of the whole truth and therefore they can only prophesy about the small part that they know. If a prophet can only prophesy in part then there is a great deal of information that is not known and not spoken of by the prophet. Do you understand this concept? A prophet of God is not God and therefore they will not know everything. A prophet will only know what he has been told and God is not going to tell one man everything. Let’s go back to the example of a witness to a crime that is called to testify in a court of law. Can a witness testify about the whole crime or only the part that they may have observed? Hopefully you can understand that if a witness testifies about anything that they did not see firsthand that their testimony becomes hearsay and speculation and it is invalid for them to speak in that area. This is how a prophet works also. They either will say what God says to be true or they will say what they want to say and this makes their words invalid.
Let me try to show what else the Bible says about prophets and I want to show you what the prophet Jesus says again on the subject because I believe these words take precedence over all the other words in the Bible and I don’t have time to explain that statement fully today. You can read the words written in the Bible in Red Ink as if they were not any more important than the rest if you want to, but I will not approach the Bible with this attitude. Jesus was God in the flesh, personally here on the earth physically for the first time. Never before had God made Himself known first hand to man in this manner. Sure the Spirit of God would speak to men and even tell them what to tell others, but this time God does not send an angel with a message, God does not tell a man a message to tell others, but God sends Jesus to speak firsthand. Since, I learned that God was so much smarter than I am, I learned that I better pay attention to what He said while He walked among us. Read this verse very carefully because God is speaking here directly to us first hand:
Mat 13:17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
Here is Jesus speaking to His disciples about Himself and what did He say to them? He says the prophets desired to see what they were seeing. Obviously this means the prophets did not see what the disciples were seeing. You could take this to mean the physical manifestation of what they prophesied would come, but I believe this statement goes way beyond that. The Greek word translated as “see” in this verse is much more diverse than just physical sight. This word is more three dimensional and it has a spiritual and an intellectual side to it that is very profound. It actually means “knowledge” and “understanding”. To know something is a profound subject found in the Bible that conveys sexual intimacy. Adam “knew” his wife and she conceived a son. You see Jesus was telling the disciples that the prophets did not understand what they were told to prophesy about. It was over their head and beyond their capacity of spiritual and intellectual knowledge. Jesus came into the world to bring us light. It was only after the light had come into the world that men began to understand in part and come out of their darkness that they lived in. The Bible says that Jesus came and taught things that were kept hidden from the foundation of the world (Mat 13:35). These are clearly the things that the prophets and righteous men of old wrote about and desired to see but, were totally incapable of understanding because they were still secrets of God. Let me give you another witness to help establish the truth.
1Peter 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
Again we can see Peter this time writing about the prophets who searched diligently for what? Do you see the implied meaning within these words of God? The prophets of old prophesied about the coming Grace of God, but yet they did not have a clue how it would come or when it would come or even who it was to come to. If you do not understand that this is the way God operates with a prophet then you still have a lot to learn from the Bible. This is why many people are easily deceived in the world today. They do not understand that God does not tell His prophet’s everything, so when a man comes along saying I am a prophet and I have been told by God that the end of days will occur at 6 PM on May 21, 2011 they fall for it without seeking to know the real truth. They can easily misapply Amos 3:7 to say I am this prophet who knows the end. However, if the message contradicts what the other prophets of God have said you better run away from him fast.
Let me teach you an Old Testament example that is critical for you to understand how the prophets of God work. We are going to the book of 1 Samuel and read about the prophet Samuel and hopefully you will be able to see how God speaks to His prophet and what He tells them and more importantly what He does not tell him. We will begin with chapter 16 after Saul was anointed by Samuel to be king, but rejected by God for his failure in his character and other factors that I will not get into.
1Sa 16:1 And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
God tells Samuel to go to Jesse’s house and he will anoint one of his sons to be the new king of Israel. Here is God speaking to the prophet and telling him what He was going to do before He did it as Amos 3:7 said to us. However, notice what God did not say! God did not tell Samuel which son was to be king. God does not name him or tell him what to look for or give him anything specific that I would think would be absolutely critical to know in order to fulfill the prophecy. Why does God leave out such important information as who is to be anointed as the next king of Israel? Did God not know or did God purposely choose not to say? I personally believe that Samuel was required to walk by faith and not by sight? Faith is a requirement in order to please God (Heb 11:6). Faith dictates that you must believe something without having the evidence to prove its existence. Samuel was required by God to go somewhere and believe that God would show him which son would be king. Obedience is another key factor. If Samuel had not gone to Jesse’s house there would have been no King David either. So Samuel is obedient and goes to Jesse’s house by faith:
1 Sa 16:6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.
You can read every verse if you like, but I’m going to skip down to verse 6 next to show you that Samuel the prophet of God still did not know who the right son is yet. Samuel looks at the son named Eliah and thinks that this one must be him, but you will soon see that it is not. Truly the prophet of God is still walking by faith waiting for God to reveal the right son, but he almost made a mistake and got into the flesh. Samuel almost began to walk by sight by thinking he had found the new future king by observing his external appearance. But, God tells Samuel something very important:
1Sa 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
This is the profound wisdom from God. As Christians we should all learn the lesson being given. We should then apply it to how we elect a president. Ignore how he looks externally, what color he is, or how tall he is, or how skinny he is and see what kind of spiritual fruit that he is producing. I guess I won’t go there today, but you get the idea, I hope and pray. You can continue to read down in this chapter and see that Jesse sends his sons to the prophet one by one from the oldest to the youngest. Seven sons in and seven sons rejected by God. It sure would have saved a lot of Samuel’s time if God had only told him the name of the son that was to become king. Samuel looks at Jesse and asks are these all of the children? Jesse says the youngest is in the field watching the sheep. Sound’s familiar doesn’t it? Was not Jesus also called the Good Shepherd? What I want you to observe is the fact that the prophet of God is not told every detail and was required to walk by faith in order to please God with his obedience. God finally fulfills the original prophecy but it does not occur because of Samuel’s knowledge it only happens because of his faithful obedience. This is a very important key factor for anybody that is called to be a prophet. This is how God operates with every prophet. God never tells the prophet everything that He knows. God only tells the prophet enough to take him to the next step of faith. Faith is one of the most important subjects found in the entire Bible and people want to ignore it to try to figure out how God operates with people. You just cannot do that and correctly interpret the Bible. If you have read my other Bible lessons then you have probably heard me say this before, that there is more than one truth in the Bible and you must use them all to come up with the correct interpretation of God‘s Word. I’m going to keep saying that until everyone gets it.
So I have been going on in this lesson long enough today. I’ll end this lesson with this question. Who is a prophet and how do they become one? Let’s read from the words of the prophet Moses and see another great Old Testament example that is important to understand:
Num 11:29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!
This verse tells us that it is the Spirit of God that makes a man or a woman a prophet. Therefore they cannot make themselves a real prophet without God’s involvement. Just because someone calls themselves a prophet does not mean they are one. I found this fact crosses over to other offices of God in the church. There are people in the world that call themselves an Apostle and clearly this was a self-appointed title. Others assign themselves to be teachers and clearly they are not. But, let’s get back to Moses. You may remember that God selected Moses and Moses did not select himself to be a prophet. If you read the context of this verse in Numbers 11 you will find a man coming to Moses and complaining of others who were prophesying for God outside of Moses. In other words a man under Moses thought this should not be happening because Moses did not authorize it. It did not go in the proper chain of authority. It is funny that God does not have to follow what men think in order to do something new, especially if one of them is questioning God. In this chapter you will find that God was making a point to Moses. God told Moses the prophet what to say to the people and Moses questioned God’s ability to fulfill what He had spoken. You can read this in Numbers 11:18-22 and the surrounding verses. You need to figure out this was a major problem with God for Moses to question His ability. Moses did not want to walk by faith and he wanted the explanation of how God could possibly give the children of Israel flesh to eat for a month. Here is another example of how God desires faith from even His prophets. Since Moses refused to walk by faith God withdrew His Spirit and placed it upon other elders of Israel and they began to prophesy for God. Anyway that is a separate valuable lesson and another conformation that God does not tell even His prophet everything. But you can see what Moses’ reaction to the complaint was. Moses wished that God would put His Spirit upon everyone so that they all could prophesy and become prophets of God. I actually believe this was a prophetic statement of what God intended for us, the church. The prophet Joel actually says this:
Joe 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
This prophecy began to be fulfilled in Acts 2 when the Spirit of God was poured out on the first 120 church members in the upper room and it actually continues to be fulfilled even to today. To prophesy is the action of a prophet and this tells us that it was God’s intention that all could potentially do this. Wow, I do not know if you understand what this is saying. To me it is saying you do not have to be directly labeled a prophet in order to prophesy. If you have the Spirit of God on you and in you, you have everything that you need to prophesy. Wow, that is a tough concept for many Christians to accept and this is probably because they have the Spirit of God in them, but not on them and there is a major difference between these two experiences. If you do not understand that, I’m sorry I do not have time to explain it. Let me review some of my major points about prophets today:
- A prophet knows in part and prophesies only in part.
- A prophet is required to walk by faith.
- A prophet is required to be obedient.
- A prophet may tell you what will happen, but will probably not understand how it will happen, why it will happen or even when it will happen.
- A prophet is just one man and not God and does not know everything.
- The Spirit of God upon someone causes someone to be a real prophet that can prophesy.
- A real prophet’s message is always from God and not from a man and thus will not contradict any other real prophet or the Word of God.
- The words of a prophet should not be taken in isolation, but there should be two or three witnesses (seers) to the actual reality that agree with each other.
- The Bible says we have the capability to judge all prophecy to see if it is legitimate.
- Jesus warned us that there will be coming many false prophets.
- So not everyone that says they are a prophet is a prophet.
- God says look not at the external things of a man, but examine his heart to determine a real prophet.
- There are many, many prophets in the Bible.
- If you can find two or three of them that agree then believe what they say even if you do not understand how it will happen or even when it will happen.
- In the church we are not to be led by prophets or prophecy we are led by the Spirit of God instead.
These are the beginnings of some very important concepts to remember and to learn to live by. In a future lesson on prophets we will explore some more scriptures to expand our knowledge on this subject. Until next time, may God continue to bless you to see and understand His Word! If you have any questions or comments about prophets you are welcome to post them and I will try to respond to each of them. God Bless.
Posted on May 26, 2011, in Advanced Topics, Understanding and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Holy Spirit, Interpretation, Israel, Jesus, Knowledge, Prophecy, Religion, Revelation, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
Much of what you have mentioned relates to the operation of the “gift of prophecy” NOT specifically to the five-fold ministry gift pertaining to the “Office of the Prophet”. Since I have done extensive study into my ministry of the Office of the Prophet, I have provided a basic but more concise and correct identification for the Office of the Prophet and its functions.
Prophets are defined beyond just a “seer” as they are not to be deceived by the external appearances of things but see issues as they really are from the perspective of God Himself which requires the gift of discernment. Nabi’ is the Hebrew word for prophet meaning “to put forth words abundantly from God’s mind and by God’s Spirit.” Prophets speak for God to covenant people, based on what they hear, see and receive from Him.
Luke 24:44 “And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”
First, Luke 24:44 confirms the vast influence prophets had upon history in the Old Testament and the futuristic events of the New Testament. Now, the Old Testament is divided into three sections: the law of Moses (Torah), the Prophets and the Writings (Psalms). The Prophets consists of six historical books: Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings. There are also the prophetic books consisting of Isaiah to Malachi. The Old Testament prophets are categorized from major to minor based on the impact of how God used the prophet (i.e., a major prophet Elijah commanded God to answer by fire, a minor prophet Nehemiah rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem).
Second, everyone belongs to one of the five-fold ministry gifts of the church: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph 4:11-12). The church is built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets as Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone (Eph 2:20).
Prophets have three “spiritual” characteristics: 1) divinely revealed knowledge: experienced God-given knowledge relating to people, events and redemptive truth to encourage God’s people to remain faithful to God and His covenant and to make clear God will for His people by way of instruction, correction and warning; 2) divinely given powers: drawn into the sphere of the miraculous as filled with God’s Spirit demonstrating God’s life and power in supernatural ways; and 3) a distinctive lifestyle: live exclusively for God, abandon ordinary pursuits of life. Always on the offense for God’s Kingdom, His righteousness and champions God’s will without thought of personal risk.
Prophets have eight “physical” characteristics: 1) a close relationship with God and God’s confidant; 2) in sympathy with God and with what God was suffering because of His people’s sins; 3) deeply loved God’s people, the prophet feel deep pain when the people hurt; 4) seek the highest good for the people, continually urge God’s people to live by God’s covenant to receive redemptive blessings; 5) have a deep sensitivity to sin and evil, impatient with cruelty, crime, immorality and injustice; 6) constantly challenges shallow, superficial holiness of God’s people and encourage heartfelt obedience to God’s revealed word; 7) have vision of the future: visions of doom and destruction as well as visions of restoration and renewal; 8) often a man of loneliness and sorrow, frequently persecuted by false prophets however, people and leaders take notice of prophet’s character or message.
Prophets are an ethical teacher, moral reformer and a disturber of the mind, exposes sin and apostasy, always encouraging people to live holy (The Prophet in the Old Testament, pgs. 1008-1010). Every prophet operates in own sphere of God-given influence.
Third, prophets call and function from Jeremiah 1:10 which states “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant.” Therefore, prophets must root out, pull down, destroy and throw down all that is not of God before they can build and plant what is of God. On numerous accounts Moses interceded on behalf of Israel against God’s impending judgment so prophets are intercessors as well.
Your reference to the 2-3 confirming a prophecy is strictly for a corporate setting. To add a word of caution, judge prophecy carefully as God can use a false prophet to convey His message. 2 Chronicles 20:20c says, “Believe in the the LORD your God, so shall you be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.” Remember, we serve a relational God who interacts with each of us individually and corporately. David was confronted by prophet Nathan on his sin for instructing the killing of Uriah and adultery with Bathsheba. There was no need for David to confirm prophet Nathan’s words as events were personal and only the Spirit of God can see and reveal the heart of people. Psalm 51 (Sinner’s Prayer) was the result of this transgression; however, it did not prevent the generational consequences of those sins through his family.
Above, I have outlined the essential characteristics of a person called to the Office of the Prophet which I can personally attest to. I was chosen by God and I answered His call to be a prophet. According to the training and experiences, my life is exemplary of the said office. Prophet Samuel’s life illustrates preparation for the office of prophet began as early as he was weaned. Prophet Samuel was taught by Eli how to discern the voice of the Lord (1 Sam 3:9). Yes, prophecy can be changed as God sent Isaiah to tell Hezekiah “to get his house in order” because he was going to die. Hezekiah cried to the Lord with a sincere heart and God sent word that He added 15 years to his life because God desires none of His people to perish.
According to the teaching of Bishop Bill Hamon on the Office of the Prophet, God is raising up another company of prophets to address the issues that confront today’s society. God’s strategic tactics of dealing with the kingdom of darkness will always change because He’s the Master of creativity; however, that does not mean He has changed the way He communicates with His prophets. He has already set the pattern for the office of the prophet. Meaning I must continually be sensitive and spiritually attuned to His ways and pay attention to all channels He may use to send a message. There are countless lessons on compromise, deception and unrepentance especially in a society that has severely morally declined.
In closing, because these are the “end-times”, the battle has changed on the battlefield. The enemy forces are striking with such intensity that it is imperative that not just the prophets but all the five-fold ministry stay prayed up, refresh as needed and most of all, stay on their toes and keep their eyes open to continue to function with the unction for effective, efficient and successful impact for the Kingdom of God.
Thanks for your time in reading and sharing. God Bless.
Another excellent lesson. We have so many self appointed prophets who are nothing but fortune tellers and false ones even at that. I feel very sorry for the people who sold all they had really believing in this May 21 false prophecy. Thank God we have the written Word of the living God to check everything by…
Thanks for the comment. God Bless!
In the initial paragraph of this week’s publication you state that, “Jesus also warned us that even the very elect could be deceived by their trickery, Matt 24:24.” KJ
Actual quotation from Matthew’s text: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
Readers need to know that this verse indicates, “IF POSSIBLE!” In other words, God does not allow this to happen to those who are truly saved nor does he even make it possible. However, he is using this language to cause the reader to understand the intensity of deceit that will be in the world during the last days.
Those who abide in Christ and have the Holy Spirit will not be taken captive by the world. The “perseverance of the saints,” is made possible through the indwelling Holy Spirit… “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:6 KJ