<<preacher, predictor>>

The function of the prophet as an ambassador for God, both in the OT and today, is proclaiming His Word with the intent to stimulate spiritual growth by inciting listeners to godly living, and it may involve predicting future events (Neh 8:8; Isa 58:1; Col 4:3). The message they speak is holding people accountable to God, by promoting and defending

It is a serious responsibility to be God’s spokesperson

the truth. God's job description was outlined to Moses, I will raise up a prophet like you. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him (Deut 18:18). This is the same spokesman for God approach when “The Lord said to Moses, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet [declaring God’s will]. You are to say everything I command you and Aaron your brother is to tell Pharaoh…” (Ex 7:1,2).

In the OT prophets were commissioned to bring God’s message to the people, urging them to turn from their wicked ways back to Jehovah and to communicate His laws to the Kings. (This had been the role of the judges and priests in earlier times). The OT records many prophets, and there were even schools of prophets to give instruction in the preaching of pure morality and the heartfelt worship of Jehovah (1 Sam 10:10, 19:18-23). The OT prophets were also called “men of God” or “servants of God”. They were forthright speakers boldly proclaiming what were often harsh words from God. “Whether or not they will listen, tell them this is what God says” was their mandate (1 Kgs 22:14; Ezek 3:10,11, 17-19). The Bible records the writings of 16 prophets in the books bearing their names (Lamentations also written by Jeremiah) – each containing a clear message from God calling for repentance from sin and turning to Him. The longer books are the Major Prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel.  The 12 minor or shorter prophetic books are Hosea to Malachi.

Jesus, the teacher, was also a prophet, declaring the Word of God and speaking about future events, ‘Telling it before it happens’ (Lk 13:33, 24:19; Jn 13:19). He taught that all the law (Moses’ writings) and the prophets’ messages are summed up in ‘loving God and our neighbour’ (Mt 22:40). A prophet typically brings new revelation or future prediction while a teacher clarifies and builds on what already has been revealed (Act 11:28-30; Eph 2:20, 3:5).

True prophets speak in God’s name and with His authority, declaring God’s Word – how to live in the present. They may also bring a revelation about future events if God directs them to do so (Amos 3:7; 2 Pet 1:20,21). This is not to be confused with clairvoyance, fortune telling or other physic means, where the information comes from evil spirits – obviously Christians must not use these ungodly agencies, only seeking guidance from the right source which is God.

The words spoken by prophets are to be judged, – ‘Is this from God?’ – as false prophets will lead people astray (Mt 24:11,24; 1 Jn 4:1). If the contents of their message lines up with Scripture and comes to pass, it is from God,

Be sure you have heard Him speak first

while if it is contrary to the principles of Scripture it is not of God (Deut 18:21,22). Being a prophet carries a solemn responsibility when claiming to speak in the Lord’s name (Jer 23:30-32; Ezek 13:17). Some Christians try to impress others with their ‘spirituality’ by saying, ‘God told me…’ Even if you definitely believe God has spoken, it is better to say, ‘I believe God told me…’

Only among those who know them is a prophet not honoured (Mt 13:57). Being recognised as God's mouthpiece is often more common among strangers than acquaintances.

See also: any of the named prophets, clairvoyance, false teachers/prophets, guidance (divine), preach, prophecy.