The Heavenly Prophet
By Monte Dearth
Weekly Study Archives
What is the definition of a prophet? How can you tell if a man or a woman is a prophet or not? God actually said "When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:22 - NASB). But the one(s) who are from God, people should fear.
The bible actually records the first prophet as being Samuel the man who was the last judge in Israel and the man who anointed Saul and David as king. This does not mean that others had not prophesied before this or that others were not called prophets. In fact, lets take a look at Genesis 20: "Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister. So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married. Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, Lord, wilt Thou slay a nation, even though blameless? Did he not himself say to me, "She is my sister"? And she herself said, "He is my brother." In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this. Then God said to him in the dream, Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours." (Genesis 20:1-7 - NASB). So God called Abraham a prophet, and He is a pretty good source of information when it comes to such matters. But Abraham is a patriarch and not necessarily a prophet. Patriarch actually means father.
Moses was also called a prophet. "I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die." (Deuteronomy 18:18-20 - NASB). So Moses was called a prophet, But when the Bible speaks of prophets, it is not referring to Moses. Moses was a lawgiver and judge, and not necessarily listed with the prophets, even though prophecies were involved. We even have stories of Joshua prophesying and some of the judges as well but they were not called prophets either.
I Samuel 7:15 - NASB says "Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life." Samuel was the last of the judges of the land of Israel. He tried to appoint his sons as judges but the people did not want them. They got what they asked for a king named Saul. But Samuel was also a transition man to the prophets as well. Paul said "And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land as an inheritance-- all of which took about four hundred and fifty years. And after these things He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. And then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years." (Acts 13:19-21 - NASB). And it also listed again earlier in the book of Acts. "And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days." (Acts 3:24 - NASB).
It is important to point out that while Israel was a republic, God really did not use the prophets too much. He could still work through the men and so forth. But now with the rise of the kings and their power and the continued idolatry of the people following the leadership of those kings, God felt the need to enlist Seers or prophets to try and keep the people on the right track. The prophets were there to rebuke the people and the kings to make sure they were following the word of God. Plus, all of these prophecies that are being laid out here are setting the stage for the coming of the great raised-up prophet Jesus himself. Everything from the Old Testament was setup to point to Him and His ascendancy to the throne of Spiritual Israel. Moses was called lawgiver and judge, just like Christ was. The setting up of the High Priest pointed to Jesus being made are eternal high priest. Moses and Joshua were called saviors in the same way that Jesus was called Savior. The kings were established to point to Jesus being the King. And the temple, which pointed forward to the spiritual temple, which is the church, with Jesus being the cornerstone. So the prophets ran from Samuel to Jesus. But was Jesus a prophet?
"See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth [prophets in Moses day], much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven." (Hebrews 12:25 - NASB). The prophets were the ones put forth to warn people on the earth, but now there is one who warns from Heaven Himself Jesus (The mighty raised-up prophet). You can tell this is what the writer of Hebrews had in mind all along, but did not finish the story until chapter 12. "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." (Hebrews 1:1-2 - NASB). The point is: the raised-up prophet has the last word. And when He is done speaking, no one else will be able to utter a word. "But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed in everything He says to you. And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people." (Acts 3:18-23 - NASB). The parallel passage in Acts 2:38 - NASB here changes the word return with the word immersed, which will show you what Luke means by the word return. Also, when you see the word raised-up in referring to Jesus, it is usually speaking of after His ascension. Notice the wording above: after your immersion, He will send Jesus the Christ, appointed for you the Holy Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit was not given until 50 days after Jesus death on the cross on the day of Pentecost 30 AD.
"For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father." (Ephesians 2:14-18 - NASB). The far-aways listed in the above scripture are the gentiles; those who are near are the Jews. Did Jesus preach to the gentiles while he was on earth? Well, if we believe the Bible, he could not have. Matthew 15:24 - NASB says "But He answered and said, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." So Christ only preached to the Jews while he was on earth. This peace that Paul is talking about above is a peace that is preached from heaven. And that peace that he offers is the One Spirit the indwelling Holy Spirit which was not given while Jesus was on earth.
Paul actually made mention of this in his defense to king Agrippa. "For this reason some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to put me to death. And so, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim [preach] light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." (Acts 26:21-23 - NASB). So Jesus proclaims light from His position of Glory in Heaven, to both the Jews and the gentiles. So Jesus is the raised up prophet who speaks from Heaven.
So how does Jesus speak today? He speaks to us through His word (the Old and New Testament prophets) and through His faithfully-following, truth-seeking preachers and teachers. In the Bible, the red letter material is what Jesus spoke while on earth but the black letter words is what Jesus preaches from Heaven. So the black letters are to be given as much if not more authority than the words He actually spoke because these are the words he speaks from Heaven. There was not a whole lot preaching going on back in the Old Testament times. Realizing the fall of Israel was based on the people not following the Law, the remnant in Israel established the synagogues for the reading of the Law and the Prophets. That is why Paul made the statement above about the Prophets and Moses proclaiming to King Agrippa and others that the Old Testament was fulfilled in Christ Jesus Himself.
One of the great images of this was seen at the mount of transfiguration in Matthew 17. "And six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him! And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, Arise, and do not be afraid. And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus Himself alone." (Matthew 17:1-8- NASB). Peter, James, and John actually got to see Jesus the way He is the brilliant God of light. In the above scriptures, Moses represents the Old Testament Law and Elijah represents the Old Testament prophets, and both the Law and the Prophets [Old Testament] point to Him [Jesus] who proclaims light from Heaven. This is a confidence builder for Christians because it is easy to see from the above scriptures that God has had a plan from the beginning and that plan is continuing, step by step, carefully and exactly on time, toward its fulfillment.