God sent messengers to declare His will⤒🔗
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. Deuteronomy 18:18
The canonical prophets, whose books make up over a quarter of the Old Testament, were called by God to be organs and channels of revelation. They were men of God who stood in his council (Jer. 23:22), knew his mind, and were enabled to declare it. God the Holy Spirit spoke in and through them (2 Pet. 1:19-21; Isa. 61:1; Mic. 3:8; Acts 28:25-27; 1 Pet. 1:10-12). They knew he was doing so; hence they dared to start messages with “this is what the LORD says” or “an oracle of the LORD,” and to present Yahweh himself as the speaker of what they were saying.
Prophecy involved prediction (foretelling), but usually this was done in a context of declaring God’s warnings and exhortations to his covenant people here and now (forth-telling). The predictions had to do with the coming of God’s king and kingdom after purging judgments; the prophets’ chief concern was to exhort to repentance, in hope that for the present the judgments might be averted. They were primarily reformers, enforcing God’s law and recalling God’s people to the covenant faithfulness from which they should never have lapsed.
With their preaching to the nation went prayer for the nation: they talked to God about people just as earnestly as they talked to people about God, and they fulfilled a unique ministry as intercessors (Exod. 32:30-32 [Moses]; 1 Sam. 7:5-9; 12:19-23 [Samuel]; 2 Kings 19:4 [Isaiah]; cf. Jer. 7:16; 11:14; 14:11).
False prophets were a bane to Israel. Professionally linked with Israel’s organized worship, they said what people wanted to hear and spoke their own dreams and opinions rather than words of God (1 Kings 22:1-28; Jer. 23:9-40; Ezek. 13).
In the New Testament, one book, Revelation, announces itself as a true and trustworthy prophecy, received directly from God (actually, from God the Father through Jesus Christ: Rev. 1:1-3; 22:12-20). The ministry of the apostles brought instruction directly from God to his people, just as the Old Testament prophetic ministry had done, though the form of presentation was different. Prophets of the New Testament period were linked with the apostles in the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20; 3:5) as expositors of the fulfillment in Christ of Old Testament hopes (Rom. 16:25-27). The book of Hebrews may well be an example of this kind of prophetic ministry.
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