Saturday, December 12, 2009

A primer on the prophets (part 1 of 2)

The Word for today:
Isaiah 2 - 4

The Prophet
Emil Nolde, 1912

mark this:
  Isaiah 2:5 --
O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of the Lord.

The prophet speaks for another.  Moses, for example, was God's prophet, while Aaron was Moses' prophet. (See Exodus 7:1).

The prophet speaks for God to the people. Prophets were not a hereditary class. Each one got his call directly from God. They were called from different vocations. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were priests. Isaiah, Daniel, and Zephaniah were related to the royal families. Amos was a shepherd. The background of many of the prophets is unknown.
(The priest speaks for the people to God. They were a hereditary class, from the tribe of Levi.)

Forth-tellers and fore-tellers:
The primary role of the prophet is "forth-teller"--he proclaims God's truth.
It is only a prophet's secondary role to be a "fore-teller," predicting the future.  Some of the prophets in the Old Testament--Jonah, for example--left no recorded predictions.
Some New Testament figures and authors were also prophetic in the predictive, fore-telling sense.
But since the end of the apostolic period, the New Testament prophet has been in the role of forth-teller, speaking forth the truth on God’s behalf.

"the prophetic past tense"
So sure were the prophets of their pronouncements that, in order to emphasize the certainty of the voice of God's Spirit behind their words, they at times wrote in a special verb tense in which future events are depicted as having already occurred. See Isaiah 60:1 as an example.

Get it right, or die.
To prove his standing, the prophet had to speak into the local situation of his time to show evidence of his status as a prophet.  See Deuteronomy 18:20-22.

Some of the prophets did not write.
The primary example would be the towering Old Testament prophet, Elijah.

Some of the greatest prophets aren't thought of as prophets.
There are no greater prophets than Moses and David, but they often don't come to mind when we list "the prophets."  The greatest of the prophets--by far--can also get left off the list:  Jesus of Nazareth!

Mission and message of the prophets--
1. To try to save the nation from idolatry and wickedness…
2. failing this, to warn that the nation faced destruction…
3. but not complete destruction. A remnant will be saved…
4. Out of this remnant will come a Person who will bring all nations to God…
5. That Person will be a great Man who will one day arise in the family of David. The prophets called Him "The Branch." The family tree of David, cut down from its former days of glory and power, would have a comeback. Out of the family stock would come a Branch who would be King of Kings.

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