Bible history is filled with many people. However, the 18 prophets in the Old Testament are no doubt some of the most famous. Their role was not to tell the future. Their prophecies were more of a side effect of their main role and function. There are four major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. All are featured in books from the Bible, and Jeremiah may have written two of those books himself. The Minor Prophets are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The difference between the major and minor prophets is not an issue of importance, but rather the length of material written. Typically, we also add Elisha and Elisha to this list. All gave valuable, biblical insight that foretold important events that were to happen, that had already happened, and how those events reflected God’s plans for His people.
God Himself defined the role and function of the prophets at the beginning of Israel’s history as a nation:
(Deuteronomy 18:18-19)1NIV New International Version Translations– “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.”
The primary role of the prophets was to speak with the people about God’s Will for them. The prophets served as God’s social media and news channels, declaring whatever God commanded them to say. God chose gifted people with insight into the present and future that was more than the average person had. Their revelations and insights, however, could only be attributed to God and not human intellect. The role of the prophet continues even today. The test to see if God is really behind a prophecy and a prophet is given to us in Jeremiah 8:9, “But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.” In other words, history is to show that they were correct. This is just one of the key reasons why teaching history and protecting its integrity is critical to God’s plan for humanity. It is history that continually points us to God. Destroy history and you will lose the breadcrumbs that can lead a nation back to God!
To be called a true prophet, one must be called directly by God. Numbers 12:6 states, “he said, ‘Listen to my words: ‘When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.’” Both the prophets of yesterday and those of today must be advocates for the Truth about Jesus. All of God’s prophecies will lead someone to Jesus Christ. When the attention is not on Christ, the message is not of God. The prophetic messages of the past and those of the present have consistency with God’s Word (Scripture). As a result, God’s prophets always bring good fruit.
(Matthew 7:15-17) – “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”
The prophets of history were typically sent to warn God’s people of their wayward behavior. It is always important to remember that God’s Covenant to bless and care for His people came with a caveat. The people had to follow God’s commands and be true to His Word. Fast forwarding to the New Testament. And what is that message today? Being true to Jesus Christ. Ultimately, that is the only prophetic message that counts! It is a message that supports Christ’s Church and creates disciples to share the Gospel’s message with a fallen world. Any true prophet of today edifies, builds, comforts, exhorts, and uplifts Christ’s Church through her/his testimony and messages.
(2 Corinthians 11:3-4) – “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
False prophets have always been around. The Apostle Paul warned those in Corinth of that very fact in his letter noted above. False Prophets prevent people from knowing God and knowing His Truth. False prophets teach people to follow and/or depend on other gods, the gods of denominations, prosperity, worldly riches, money, and even government. Jesus gave the world one plan of salvation to build one church, and that is the only Church He recognizes. The risk we face today is that the intolerance for God is growing. No one seems to be concerned about the consequences of earthly life without God and Jesus Christ. We are busy erasing God’s history, changing God’s Truth, and abandoning the boundaries and authority of our Creator.
(2 Timothy 4: 3-4) – “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
To guard against the risks associated with false wisdom and false prophecy, consider these Truths:
- Jesus did not teach about a Gospel of worldly prosperity; He taught about a new world of service, sacrifice, and eternal prosperity.
- Jesus never hesitated to call out sin. No one except our God can define what is sinful or not! No one, no church, or no government can redefine what is right and what is wrong in the eyes of God.
- Jesus preached a need for repentance as one of the steps to avoid eternal separation from God’s eternal joy. No repentance, no joy! Sorry but there is no easy way out of sin. You need to stop, and you need to change!
- The true gospel is also very plain, No Jesus, No Salvation! Good works get you stone statues in this world!
- God’s Word has no “holes.” Any alleged contradictions in Scripture are due to the intellectual limitations of humanity. God passed us His full wisdom. Unfortunately, the nature of our mind has been to always to pervert the truth. The real truth is found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
“It is my duty to say to you that the need was never greater for new revelation than now…The doctrine of inspiration is lost. Miracles, prophecy, the holy life, exist as ancient history [only]. Men have come to speak of revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead. It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) | The Complete Essays and Other Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Do you know anyone who claims to be a contemporary prophet?
- Ideas to Explore: Can their role be matched against the five points listed above? What is their score? Is it a job for them or can you say that it is an “appointment” from God?
- For many years, denominations have been redefining what our Bible has called sinful behavior. How do you personally reconcile what they are doing?
- Ideas to Explore: Does redefining a biblical sin to a non-sin get anything for mankind? What forces are driving these changes? Is there any evidence in Scripture that this is OK?
- How does the war against history affect people’s belief in God?
- Ideas to Explore: Diminishes the value of the Bible. Allows people to repeat mistakes. Affects upcoming generations. What are your ideas?
- What do you think is driving the hatred of history?
- Ideas to Explore: Racism, atheism, ignorance, power (the desire for more).
- 1NIV New International Version Translations