Paul recognized prophecy as one of the Spirit’s gifts. He wrote, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
“To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
“To another faith by the same Spirit . . . to another prophecy . . .
“All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses” (1 Corinthians 12.7-11).
Prophecy is one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit that are mentioned in the letter to the Corinthians. Like the other gifts, prophecy is given for the common good.
What good does the gift of prophecy do for the community of people who follow Jesus? Moses’ discussion of prophecy will help us understand this gift.
Moses and Prophecy
As we study the life of Moses, we will learn more about what is involved with prophecy.
As the time was near to enter the promised land, Moses told them that he was going to die and someone else was to take his place. The nation would not be left without a prophet.
— Deuteronomy 18.15-18 – The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.
This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.”
Then the Lord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.
A prophet is a spokesman for God. Prophecy does speak about future events, but the prophet’s primary purpose was to deliver God’s message to the people.
When the Ten Commandments were given, Moses met with God on Mount Sinai (also called Horeb) to receive them. As a prophet, he delivered this extremely important message from God to the nation.
The people were frightened by what took place on the mountain and wanted Moses to continue to meet with God, then to give them the message. Moses was sort of a “middle man” between God and the people.
The account in Exodus tells the story.
— Exodus 20.18-19 – When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance,
And said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.”
What does the prophet do for the common good of God’s people? The prophet meets with God and delivers God’s message to them.
The job of a prophet is necessary but often unpleasant. Old Testament prophets were beaten, imprisoned, threatened, and killed because they spoke God’s message to people unwilling to follow God’s guidance.
Moses and Paul emphasized the benefit for God’s people of those who are willing to meet intimately with God and speak God’s word to the people.
In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross explains that the Holy Spirit is available to teach us.
John made this point. He wrote, “As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him” (1 John 2.27).
The “anointing” John describes is the presence of the Holy Spirit who is active with we abide in a relationship with God.
True and False Prophets
We disregard the word of a prophet to our peril. The Old Testament books of the prophets are filled with examples of how people refused their message and suffered because of it.
People who do not follow God’s direction from the prophet will be held accountable for their behavior.
— Deuteronomy 18.19 – Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable.
False prophets could expect harsh punishment.
— Deuteronomy 18.20 – But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak — that prophet shall die.
James counseled teachers about the increased responsibility of their service.
He said, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3.1).
Teachers who pretend to speak for God, but who in truth speak for themselves are in a dangerous position.
Both the teachers who speak for themselves and those who lead away to another god, cause people to miss a genuine relationship with the One True God.
One question for us is how to discern a true from a false prophet. Moses gave instructions.
— Deuteronomy 18.21-22 – You may say to yourself, “How can we recognize a word that the Lord has not spoken?”
If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.
In today’s YouTube video, Rudy explains there were times when people had to wait years for a prophecy to be fulfilled. For example, it took 3,000 years for the prophecy about the re-uniting of Israel to take place.
Jesus gave us an excellent gauge for true or false prophesy. He said, “Beware of false prophets . . . You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7.15-16).
As we think about prophets and prophesy, I think our best action will be to know God intimately for ourselves and to learn from the Holy Spirit. That will give us the best opportunity to know and do God’s will.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. You can view it on the Bob Spradling channel. Rudy is an excellent Bible student and lover of God. You will enjoy his insights.
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