Summary: Being prophetic meant foretelling and forthtelling
“The Prophetic Voice”
Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
When I was assigned to a Combat Engineer battalion, I walked over to the Headquarters Company one afternoon and knocked on the door of the Company Commander. I was there to tell him (tactfully) that his leadership style was lacking. He was pushing his soldiers to the point where, if we went to war, he would likely be the first casualty. Low morale was beginning to have a negative affect on our mission. We had a saying, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Unfortunately some Commanders and First Sergeants are convinced that coercion and intimidation will result in mission accomplishment (I suspect this attitude isn’t exclusive to the Army). My job was to be “prophetic” at times, telling people things they didn’t want to hear. One of my Commanders admitted that my function in the unit was to keep everyone “honest and ethical”.
We’re going to spend several Sundays looking at the lives of some of the most disturbing people who have ever lived—the Old Testament prophets. When you consider divine revelation, everything in the Bible is prophetic. The history of Israel was, in itself, a revelation of God. We think of prophets as tellers of the future, but many prophets in the Bible do no foretelling. They were called by God to speak to His people an authoritative word. They were significant in what they said and what they were.
Through the prophets God spoke to us--
Ø Through the prophets we learn much about the
purpose and plan of God. For instance, from Isaiah God provides a significant reason why He spoke through these select individuals: “That they may know…that there is none besides Me” (45:6).
Ø Through the prophets God warned against the superstitious beliefs of idol worshippers. -Through the prophets God revealed that He is the Lord of history.
Ø Through the prophets the Jewish nation understood their role in history as a “chosen people”; an important function of the prophetic message was to communicate to Israel what it meant to be Israel. What does it mean to be God’s people? The prophets provide the answer.
Ø Through the prophets the invisible God becomes audible.
Prophets were chosen spokespersons, who delivered God’s word in His behalf. The term “prophet” has several meanings: to “proclaim”, even to “bubble forth” or “pour forth words”. The clear understanding is that prophets did not speak for themselves; they were “called” to proclaim God’s truth. Occasionally a prophet is called a “seer” (literally, a “beholder”). This word refers to how they received the divine message. When they served as messengers, they were conveying the divine word they received—not their own opinions.. Scripture identifies 55 prophets, but there were hundreds more. There were both men and women prophets, and we read of at least one Gentile (non-Jewish), Baalam (Numbers 22). Only a comparatively few prophets wrote books of the Bible.
The prophets of Israel had 3 important functions: