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Bible verses about Prophets
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Just before Israel and Judah fell to the Assyrians and Babylonians, God called several prophets to warn His people and urge them to repent. In recording the events of their times, these prophets paid particular attention to the prevailing attitudes within their societies, no doubt inspired by God for the benefit of His church. If we compare their societies and attitudes with our own, we can gain insight into the problems we face in the collapse of this nation.

What was the dominant attitude of the people in Israel and Judah just before their fall? In virtually every book by these prophets, warnings against attitudes of self-sufficiency, spiritual indifference, complacency, and self-satisfaction—Laodiceanism—are a major part of God's message!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

The prophets tended to operate outside the priestly system established by God. Nowhere is this more evident than in the lives of John, Jeremiah, and Amos. Jeremiah 15:17 records the prophet's complaint about his solitude: "I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, for You have filled me with indignation." Amos provides us with his experience when receiving God's calling: "Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah: 'I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to me, "Go, prophesy to My people Israel"'" (Amos 7:14-15).

John's separation from the system is clearly noticeable in Matthew 3:7-10:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Elijah and John the Baptist


 

The Old Testament gives a strong impression that prophets arose in times of crisis, and most church members believe we are facing the crisis at the close of this age. However, the New Testament shows that God is no longer using prophets as He did before He established the church. Instead, He has given us an understanding of the dual application of what has already been written, using the apostles to fill in necessary prophecies for the sake of the church. God has given these prophecies so we can be spiritually prepared for the end-time crisis and do whatever work of witnessing of Christ's gospel He requires.

The Bible's prophets, with few exceptions, have indeed come in bunches. Most of them appeared within a 250-year period beginning about 800 BC and included a remarkable range of personalities: the visionary Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; the ethical Amos and Hosea; and the outstanding Jeremiah, who seems to be in the midst of everything.

A 130- to 150-year period began in about 620 BC, which contained Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah, and possibly Obadiah and Zephaniah. Their lives and service preceded and spanned the most tumultuous period in man's history until now. Some historians call it the "Axial Period" because history shows the rise and fall of nations created a multitude of flip-flops in terms of power and influence. New nations rose to dominating power, and older powers fell, never to rise again. Some nations disappeared from view altogether.

Axial means "having the characteristics of an axis." An axis is "a line, shaft, event, or thought on which something rotates." Rightly applying what happened immediately preceding and during the sixth century BC gives greater insight to history and, because of the duality principle, to what is happening now. The sovereign God was deeply involved, as shown through the writings of His prophets to Israel. Understanding this period from a biblical as well as a secular viewpoint is important because it is a type of what we are living through now.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophecy and the Sixth-Century Axial Period


 

Because of the way "prophet" is commonly used, there is a misconception that its basic definition is "someone who foretells the future," but this definition is too narrow. Prophet is better defined as "one who speaks for another." A true prophet, then, is a person who speaks for God, delivering a message that God has ordained him to give. In Exodus 7:1, God tells Moses that Aaron, his brother, would be his (Moses') prophet, even as Moses was God's prophet. Because of Moses' unbelief in God's ability to speak through him, God would speak to Moses, who would tell Aaron what to say to others - Pharaoh in particular (verse 2). It is the function of speaking for another, rather than the miracles they performed or their foretelling of what would befall Egypt, which defined Moses and Aaron as prophets.

Frequently, the words a prophet spoke on God's behalf were, in fact, foretelling what would happen later. However, the prophet's essential role was to speak for God, regardless of whether he did any predicting of the future. A prophet expresses the will of God in words, and sometimes he uses signs to back up what he says and to demonstrate God's power behind it.

In a similar way, a false prophet also may not be in the business of foretelling the future. A false prophet is simply someone who speaks for another but falsely. False prophets either speak for the wrong god, or they claim to have heard from the true God but do not accurately represent Him or His words. At the very least, they speak out of their own human hearts, but more likely, the "god" they are speaking for is really a demon.

It is true that, if a prophet foretells something that fails to come to pass, he is a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18:20-22), but foretelling the future correctly is not the determining factor when looking at false prophets. The real issue is whether one who claims to be representing God and speaking for Him is doing so accurately or falsely. A prophet may accurately predict an event or demonstrate supernatural power, but if he is leading people away from the true worship of the true God, he is a false prophet.

David C. Grabbe
What Is a False Prophet?


 

Exodus 4:10-16

The Old Testament uses three Hebrew words that are translated into the English word "prophet" or "seer": nabi, roeh, and hozeh.

Nabi literally means "to bubble up." It describes one who is stirred up in spirit. It is the most frequently used of the three by the Hebrew writers. When the sense of "bubbling up" is applied to speaking, it becomes "to declare." Hence, a nabi, or a prophet, is an announcer—one who pours forth the declarations of God.

Roeh means "to see" or "to perceive." It is generally used to describe one who is a revealer of secrets, one who envisions.

Hozeh also means "to see" or "to perceive," but is also used in reference to musicians. It is also used to describe a counselor or an advisor to a king. The Hebrew does not necessarily indicate that the person is a prophet, but rather an advisor—someone who has wisdom. It means "one who has insight." The translators try to indicate whether the message is spiritual. If it is spiritual, then they tend to translate hozeh as "prophet." If it does not give any indication of being spiritually generated, then they would render it "advisor" or "counselor.”

In the Greek language, a prophet is simply "one who speaks for another"—one who speaks for a god, and so interprets the god's will to the people. Hence, the essential meaning in Greek is "interpreter."

Nobody knows whether God intends that any real difference be understood from the usage of the different words, but biblical usage is more important than etymology. In the context of these scriptures, it defines a prophet about as well as possible. The conclusion is that a prophet is one who speaks for another, a representative who carries a message, an expounder of God's Word.

Overall, the Bible's usage conforms most closely to the Greek usage, one who speaks for another. But it is not limited to God. In this situation, Moses and Aaron's relationship is analogous to God and Moses'.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)


 

Exodus 7:1-2

Aaron was Moses' prophet, and Moses was God's prophet. The prophet is a message carrier from one of greater authority. In this case, Moses was in the position of God to Aaron, as well as to Pharaoh. By combining Exodus 4:10-16 with Exodus 7:1-2, the biblical usage of a prophet has a good foundation. A prophet is one who expresses the will of God in words and sometimes with signs given to confirm what is said.

Through Moses, the function of a prophet begins to be established: to cry aloud and show men their sins (Isaiah 58:1). It does not stop there, though, because they were also pastors and ministerial monitors of the peoples' conduct and attitudes. Their function differed from that of priests in that the priest approached God by means of sacrifice on behalf of the people. The prophets, by contrast, approached men as ambassadors of God, beseeching them to turn from their evil ways and live (Ezekiel 33:11).

The difference between a prophet and a priest is a matter of direction, in that one goes from God to man (the prophet), and the other goes from men to God (the priest). It is also a matter of directness. The priest is indirect, while the prophet is direct. We have things going in opposite directions here, yet both working to accomplish essentially the same thing, which is to bring man and God into a relationship with one another. This has direct application to us under the New Covenant (II Corinthians 5:20-21).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)


 

Deuteronomy 13:1-5

What is coming from the prophet's mouth? Something false. Who is this prophet speaking for, what supernatural spirit? It is not the spirit of God, but a demon speaking through a human being, inspiring and motivating him. God permits it and expects His people to put that person to the test. God expects us to be able to discern the spirit that is motivating the speaker. The test is to see whether we will remain loyal to God—loyal in terms of keeping His commandments.

Thus, the listener better have a good working knowledge of God, which returns us to II Corinthians 10:5, where Paul warns that reasonings will exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. This clarifies the devices that Satan will use to turn us aside. This also underlines our need to be able to thwart those devices. We need to have a good working knowledge of God—not things about God so much, but the knowledge of God the Person, the Being with whom we have a relationship.

Also, Deuteronomy 13 confirms that some of these false prophets will be able to do miracles, which Paul confirms in II Thessalonians 2, and John confirms in Revelation 11. What is in the New Testament is built upon what God has already shown in the Old Testament—that Satan's modus operandi will be carried through from one covenant to the other. We have to understand that such signs—the ability to do miracles—are not of themselves indications of authority from God. They must be combined with teaching that agrees with God's already revealed will.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 2)


 

Deuteronomy 13:1-5

It is a prophetic voice that speaks for God, and His prophets will always have as the basis of their prophecy the commandments of God as evidence. The message they give (predictive or not) will always be in harmony with previously revealed truth, even though the prophet may be breaking new doctrinal ground, which happens now and then.

We can see another difference between a prophet and a priest or minister. The priest or minister conserves old truth and implements new truth given by the prophet. Most of the time new truth will come through a prophet. Under the New Covenant, of course, new truth came through apostles who were about as close to prophets as one can get without being prophets. Paul makes that clear when he lists the offices in the church, listing apostles first and prophets second (Ephesians 4:11). Once we leave the Old Covenant for the New, God uses apostles to announce new truth, and the prophet is moved into a secondary position. However, throughout the Old Testament, new truth or new doctrines came through prophets.

A minister's job is to conserve what has already been given, to hold fast to what was given in the past, and to recognize that new truth comes through an apostle. There is no apostle now, so we should not expect that there will be any new truth. However, if God raises up a prophet, then we also have to recognize that new truth can come through him. He will not break God's pattern. New truth will either come through an apostle or a prophet. The prophet breaks new ground, yet he also conserves the old.

There is a difference between a minister and a prophet. A minister does not give new truth but conserves old truth. The prophet or the apostle will conserve the old and also proclaim the new.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)


 

Deuteronomy 18:15

There is no doubt that God Himself is speaking. Deuteronomy 5:1-6 shows that God is speaking to Moses specifically, and through him, to the children of Israel.

More questions arise from verse 15. What does God promise to Moses and the Israelites? He promises to raise up a Prophet. Where will he come from? Note the words "a Prophet . . . from your midst, from your brethren." He will come from the tribes of Israel; the Prophet will be born an Israelite.

What special attribute will this Prophet have? The words "like me" indicate that he will be like God Himself! The Israelites are then commanded to hear the words of this Prophet. This means we are to listen and to act upon what we hear.

Staff
The Prophet


 

Deuteronomy 18:15-18

Note the association of the word "prophet" with the phrase, "I will put my words in his mouth." This is what God told Moses He would do, so a chain of communication is set up—from God to Moses, from Moses to Aaron, and from Aaron to Pharaoh or to the people.

Contrary to what it shows in The Ten Commandments movie, the Bible suggests that Aaron did the bulk of the speaking before the people rather than Moses. This does not mean that Moses was excluded from speaking to the people, because eventually, even though it is likely that he never overcame his lack of eloquence (Exodus 4:10), he nonetheless became secure in his position as the leader. As the forty-year trial went on, he more often spoke directly to the people. When Israel finally got away from Pharaoh, Moses probably did the bulk of the speaking before the people, and Aaron faded into the background in that regard.

Every other prophet, except Christ, only built on the foundation laid in Moses. These verses particularly foretell of Christ, but it applies in principle to all the prophets that followed Moses. They all were spoken to by God, and they in turn did what Moses did: delivered the message to the ones it was addressed to.

Until New Testament times, prophets have been God's way of reaching the people. Whenever the people needed a prophet or a mediator with God, as He says in verses 16-17, God would raise up a prophet and put His words in his mouth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)


 

Deuteronomy 18:15-18

God shows in many places that those He appoints to the prophetic office will always preach the keeping of His commandments as evidence of the source of their guidance. They will teach the conservation of truth, that is, past truth, even as they break new ground in terms of doctrine.

Isaiah 8:19-20 is an expansion on Deuteronomy 18:15-18:

And when they say to you, "Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter," should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 2)


 

1 Samuel 3:1

Precious (KJV) is used in the sense of "rare." Rare things are usually precious or valuable.

The sense of this is that the priesthood at that time spoke without inspiration; there was "no open vision." Their messages carried no moral authority because God was not with them. Obviously, Eli was not a very good priest, and his sons were even worse. They did not make the truth open or clear to the people; they were not hearing the inspired Word of God. The people were no longer positively affected by the ceremonies being performed by a decadent priesthood, so through Samuel, God raised up a new moral power to correct the situation.

There does not seem to be a systemized process of succession from one prophet to another. Each prophet received his office directly from God by appointment. This is another distinction between a true prophet of God and a priest, even if a priest speaks under the inspiration of God. A prophet was directly appointed by God, whereas a priest received his office simply because he was a descendant of Aaron.

The classic prophet was a man who preached the way of God to the Israelites yet tended to be outside the established system. This becomes clear from Samuel on.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)


 

1 Kings 18:17-18

Elijah is declaring himself as one sent from God. A prophet will always have the law of God at the foundation of his message.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)


 

1 Kings 18:17

Revelation 11:10 says that the Two Witnesses will torment the people of the earth, which is why the world will celebrate when these prophets are finally killed. Here, Elijah was thought of in the same way, as a "troubler" of Israel.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 6)


 

Jeremiah 15:17

John the Baptist was like this too; he sat alone. When push came to shove, the other prophets of God, like Isaiah and Hosea, also sat alone.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 2)


 

Ezekiel 3:15

The prophet was astonished seven days! He could not believe what had happened to him. This is a characteristic prophets must have. They have to see the world and say, "What is going on here?" They are almost totally dumbfounded at the things that are happening. They have to see the disconnect between the way it should be and the way it is! One could say that this is why they are so often dumbfounded. They see things so clearly—from God's perspective—that it just dismays them to see what is occurring in the world.

When this dismay, dumbfoundedness, or astonishment is combined with the "heat of their spirit" or zeal (verse 14), they are compelled to say something about it. They have to try to correct it somehow, or at least to point it out and say, "Don't you see what is going on? This is what God says about this."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 1)


 

Ezekiel 3:16-21

The rest of the chapter relates that Ezekiel himself will be a sign through the means of being struck dumb. The only words that he could speak were what God gave him to say. This was how the people would know that God was speaking.

This shows that the servant of God is a watchman sent to warn the people. What God dwells on is sin; the prophet is to warn them of their sins. There is also an element of warning them of what is coming, but this warning message also has a personal and individual aspect to it. It is not just telling the world, "The Great Tribulation is coming, and Jesus is coming not long thereafter." There is also the part of "show My people their sins." In effect, the prophet is to say, "Look, you perverts. What you are doing is not the way it should be! This is the way God has said. You should change. Repent!" This is what Ezekiel was supposed to do with the bitterness, the anger, and the astonishment that had been building inside him for seven days. God tells him, "This is how you channel that attitude and those emotions. You preach a warning message, as a watchman."

Obviously, such a job would bring him into conflict with the people; people do not like to hear such a message. They do not like to hear that things are going down the tubes, and especially that they are personally responsible. But that is basically what the watchman's message is. Nothing changes unless it begins in the individual. The individual must change! He must repent and go God's way. As more individuals do this, society will change.

However, Ezekiel has already been told that everything he says will fall on deaf ears, so he must have a forehead of flint, an undaunted, courageous spirit, to keep repeating the message until he dies.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 1)


 

Amos 3:13-14

Israel's false religion, represented by the altars of Bethel, is at the root of her problems. The violence and injustice in Israelite society ultimately stemmed from the false teaching proclaimed from the pulpits.

For this reason, God shows that the preacher, not the civil authority, is the most vital part of the community. God set up the Levites within Israel to function as the teachers of His way of life, and He sent the prophets as watchdogs on the Levites and civil leaders. In many cases, when the king or the nation had wandered from the way, the prophets were sent to correct them (e.g., II Samuel 12:1-15; I Kings 18:17-19; II Kings 21:10-15).

At the foundation of every community is a way of life that its people live and teach their children. Does that way of life conform to the God of the Bible, or does it spring from the mind of men? If it is of men, it will not work very long. So it was in the northern kingdom of Israel after its division from the kingdom of Judah. The religion of Israel began with a man, Jeroboam I, who changed the true worship of God (I Kings 12:26-33).

  • He established a feast in the eighth month to replace the true Feast of Tabernacles in the seventh.
  • He may have replaced the Sabbath with Sunday worship.
  • He replaced the Levitical priesthood with men of his own choosing.
  • Lastly, he replaced God with golden calves in Bethel and Dan.

A religion with such a beginning was doomed to fail, bringing the nation down with it.

When religion is ungodly, its power is destructive, and every institution in the nation suffers. For instance, Amos 2:7 describes a deliberate act of ritual prostitution in a pagan temple: "A man and his father go in to the same girl, to defile My holy name." What was the rationale behind this perverse, immoral act?

Because Baal was neither alive nor a moral force, his worshippers felt they could communicate with him only by ritual actions that portrayed what they were asking him to do. Since Baal was, like almost all ancient deities, a fertility god, the human act of intercourse demonstrated that they wanted Baal to prosper them. But what was its real effect on the participants and the nation? Ritual prostitution only served to erode the family, eventually leading to the destruction of the nation.

Baal was different from his adherents merely in that he was above them. God's difference from us is that He is holy; He is moral and we are immoral. After we accept His calling, He commands us to become moral as He is.

The basis of all immorality is selfishness, the exact opposite of what God is. God wants to transform us from people who are bent on pleasing ourselves to people who show concern for others. This is the crux of our salvation through Jesus Christ. In those God calls out—those who, by faith, will voluntarily yield to Him—He is building character based on outgoing love.

Immorality lies in the desire of men to live self-centered lives independent of God, as when Adam and Eve took of the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:1-19). To become moral, we must kill our selfish egos through the use and guidance of God's Holy Spirit. When we see that our thoughts and ways are not His, we should reform and repent. By submitting to Him, we take a small step in being transformed into what He is.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Amos 7:14-17

When Amos answers, "I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fruit" (Amos 7:14), he contends that God Himself commissioned him to "prophesy to My people Israel" (verse 15). Amos was simply a faithful servant of God, with no formal training for the job God sent him to do. "So," he says, "don't tell me not to prophesy when God tells me to!" The apostles said much the same to the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:29).

Then he utters his prophetic denunciation of Amaziah (Amos 7:17). Amaziah's wife and children are included in the curse for two reasons. First, as shown earlier, a leader determines the course of those under him. Any curse that fell on Amaziah would also, to one degree or another, affect his family.

Second, it is a biblical principle that families are often unified in belief. The saying, "Blood is thicker than water," concedes that family ties often prove stronger than the influence of God's Holy Spirit. Frequently, if one leaves the church, others in the family will leave too.

As one member of the family rises or falls, so do the others. Because of his bold denunciation of God's prophet, Amaziah would suffer, and his family would suffer with him. God would see to it that this priest of Bethel would witness in a personal way the coming destruction of the nation as it fell upon his family with a vengeance.

This example, the only narrative section in the entire book, graphically illustrates the fruits of complacency and pride. God sends His prophets to ring as many warning bells as they can to wake His people up to the urgency of the times. The window of opportunity to avert the prophesied disaster is a small one, and God wants His people to use that time to seek Him and change their ways.

The prophet depicts a Laodicean society, like the United States today, from the top echelons to the lowest of beggars (Isaiah 1:5-6). Such a nation prefers form over substance, words over deeds, and tolerance over righteousness.

A sober glance around this nation speaks volumes about the downward spiral already in progress. Crime is rampant on our streets and in our homes. Government scandal and corruption are common news items. Our families are falling apart while we make speeches about "family values."

We also see Laodiceanism creeping into the church as the people begin adopting the lifestyles and attitudes of the world. When they equate material prosperity with spiritual acceptance, they become satisfied with themselves and their spiritual progress (Revelation 3:17). Seeing what Laodiceanism produces, we should never let ourselves become spiritually complacent.

The signs of the times are all around (Luke 12:54-56). It is not good enough just to see them, though. We must act upon this knowledge and truly seek God. Isaiah writes,

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

Now is the time!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Habakkuk 1:1

This is a very simple introduction. He does not say, "In the tenth year, in the tenth month of the reign of a certain king, Habakkuk the prophet, from a certain town, who was a Levite and a priest, saw a vision." He simply says, "This is what the prophet Habakkuk saw." We begin to see immediately some of Habakkuk's character. He removes himself almost entirely from the book. He is not worried about himself or his pedigree. His book is just a narrative of his conversation with God.

All we know about Habakkuk is that he was the prophet at the time. He is an obscure character, not appearing anywhere else in Scripture. In effect, there is nothing to learn except from what he says; the Bible contains no extraneous details about him. It is possible to extrapolate a few things about him. He may have been a Levite, one of the singers or musicians in the Temple, perhaps one of the sons of Asaph, because he writes a very fine song in the third chapter.

Even his name is uncertain. It seems not even to be Hebrew but foreign, an Akkadian word. Moreover, its meaning is disputed, the best guess being that Habakkuk means "embracer," almost like "hugger"—one who wrestles. In a way, that is what he does throughout the whole book. He embraces God, wrestles Him, for an answer—similar to what Jacob did—and he does not let go because he wants God to answer his troubling questions.

The date of the book is also uncertain. We know a general time, that it was probably written within twenty-five years of Jerusalem's fall in Judah, somewhere between 610-585 BC. This was right after Nineveh fell to the Babylonians in 612, and about the time that Nebuchadnezzar was besieging Tyre and before he came against Jerusalem. His first attack on Jerusalem occurred in 604, so the general consensus is that Habakkuk was probably written sometime during Nebuchadnezzar's seige of Tyre.

The awesome might of the Chaldeans was just one country away, and Judah itself was sinking further into sin. Josiah, one of Judah's best kings, had died, and his sons had come to the throne, and they had failed to hold the country together morally. Judah was beginning to fear that they would be next in the domino of nations that were falling, and they were terrified because word had reached them of what the Chaldeans, the Babylonians, did to those they conquered. Judah's day of reckoning was near, and so Habakkuk's cry to God is only a natural response of a man who loved his people and his nation.

We can see that Habakkuk's situation fits current circumstances quite closely. The fall of Israel is not too far off. This land is sinking further into sin, and no one seems to want to stand up to stop it. It could go quickly, even though we are the world's superpower. Just one terrorist who says he has a briefcase-size nuclear bomb could hold this country hostage, because no President would want to give up Houston, Denver, Seattle, Chicago, or any city in the United States to call the bluff of some terrorist group or some nation who decides that America needs to be cut down to size.

Not only that, things are happening in the church itself that make people ask questions, even of God Himself. "Why are you doing this, God?" "Why is the church disintegrating?" "Who are these people that have come in and destroyed the doctrines of the church?" "Why have You allowed it to happen?" Many of us have asked questions like these. They are the same questions Habakkuk was contemplating. He did not know what to think because what was happening did not seem to follow what he knew of God. "Why would God work this way?"

Like Habakkuk, we want to reconcile what we know of God with what is happening because we understand that He is sovereign. However, sometimes with God, it seems that two and two do not quite equal four, but with God two and two always make four. Our perspective is just not the same as His. So, we must go to God for answers when things do not seem to be going the way we expect them to. In this is the real value of this little, obscure book: It helps to answer some of these kinds of questions.

Notice that Habakkuk calls his message, his prophecy, a "burden." This is a very important word. Sometimes God's ministers, especially the prophets, had to deliver messages that people really did not want to hear. Often, speaking God's words is a burden because they are not always sweetness and light. Sweetness and light seem to come only at the end of the message, as a quick conclusion to the matter. What is so burdensome are the heavy, depressing terrible things that are the main part of the message. In addition, we all know what often happens to the messenger who bears bad news—sometimes he gets his head cut off! People who hear bad news too often take their wrath, their disappointment, their frustration out on the messenger. So it is no wonder Habakkuk says this is a burden! He bears a heavy load: He must tell his people something that they will despise, and because he says it, they will despise him. Thus, as he begins, Habakkuk says, "All right, here goes. You will not like what I have to say here, but read on." And so he presents his "burden."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk


 

John 13:19

Jesus tells us - within the context of speaking of His betrayer - how we are to approach prophecy: "Now I tell you before it comes, that WHEN IT DOES COME TO PASS, you may believe that I am He." He repeats this two other times (14:29; 16:4) so that we understand that prophecy has its greatest impact on us after it is fulfilled!

God has drummed this principle since Moses' day. The sign of a true or false prophet is whether or not their predictions happen (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). The prophet Ezekiel vividly illustrates this principle. God made him do many strange things, all of which represented points of prophecies, many of which have yet to be fulfilled. God says of him, "Thus Ezekiel is a sign to you; according to all that he has done you shall do; and WHEN THIS COMES, you shall know that I am the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 24:24).

Dozens of times in Ezekiel, God uses the phrase, "and they shall know that I am the LORD," or a variant of it. In every instance, it implies the subject understanding this after its fulfillment. For example, notice Ezekiel 22:16, where God speaks to the people of Jerusalem about their sins: "You shall defile yourself in the sight of all the nations; then you shall know that I am the LORD."

Most, if not all, of the prophets had little or no idea how and when God would fulfill their prophecies. Daniel is a classic example. Though angels explained the prophecies to him, he still did not understand.

Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?" And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" (Daniel 12:8-9).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
No Private Interpretation


 

Ephesians 2:20

The church is built upon the apostles and the prophets and the words they wrote. They not only prophesied (foretold events), but they also recorded accurate accounts of ancient history. Besides that, they taught a great deal of doctrine, the teachings we believe and after which we pattern our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)


 

Hebrews 1:1-2

We know the title given to the epistle to the Hebrews is reasonably correct, and Hebrews 1:1-2 provides the internal proof. God sent His prophets to the Hebrew Israelites, including the greatest prophet of all, Jesus Christ. There is no evidence He sent prophets to other nations with any regularity.

However, we must understand that this epistle was not written to Hebrews in general. Like the other epistles, it is directed primarily to Hebrews—Jews or Israelites—who had converted and were fellowshipping in church congregations. Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude, and Matthew were all Israelites, as were others converted through them. Note that other apostles did not send their epistles to the world; they sent them to church of God congregations. Paul explains this spiritually, writing in Romans 2:28-29, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” The “Jews” addressed are people with God's Spirit.

The epistle to the Hebrews is inspired, and Christ's words to His church were passed around to all the congregations. This epistle was most certainly not restricted only to Hebrew Christians but was fully intended for all Christians since its instruction is vital to everyone's salvation. Yet, it went first to aid the Hebrews because of what was happening at that time both spiritually and culturally within their nation because of their faith in Jesus as Savior.

The author writes in Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” This verse indicates that the Hebrew recipients were not young in the faith. Acts 8:1 records what was happening immediately after Stephen's martyrdom: “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Hebrews 10:32 reminds the epistle's original recipients about their earlier persecutions: “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings.” We can conclude that the epistle was written to a group of Christians who were not young in the faith.

Hebrews 13:24 adds: “Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you,” giving the impression that the congregation may have been relatively large. It also suggests that the epistle probably went first to the congregation in Jerusalem (Acts 11:22) and then copies were made and sent elsewhere.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Two)


 

Find more Bible verses about Prophets:
Prophets {Nave's}
Prophets {Torrey's}
 




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