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Bible verses about Prophet as Message Carrier
(From Forerunner Commentary)

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 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)


 

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)


 

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 3:7

Combinging this scripture together with Deuteronomy 29:29—and with an example Daniel 12 when God tells the prophet that the meaning was sealed until the time of the end—we can see that He is clearly telling us He promises to reveal the understanding of prophecy on a "need-to-know" basis. When we need to know, He will tell us. That is His promise. So until that time arrives, precise understanding will be impossible. Therefore, anyone's interpretation of prophecy has to be understood as theory until the evidence arises that it is a true interpretation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 3)


 

Amos 3:7

He is not out to trick us or to trip us up. Our beloved friend and elder brother Jesus Christ echoes this to His disciples: "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15).

We can have confidence in God's promise that He will not do anything significant concerning His people without informing us first in a clear, orderly, and understandable manner. If and when He chooses to send a special end-time leader to His people—whether he be a prophet, an apostle, or one of the two witnesses (Revelation 11)—God will make sure we are able to recognize the man as His true servant.

Staff
The Prophet


 

Amos 3:7

This verse reveals a divine principle or a pattern. God does not give every detail, but His pattern of behavior is to let His people know (at least in generalities) what He is going to do. He gives enough information, but not so much that we do not have to live by faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

 




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