The Prophet, part 2!
1st of November
Last time I stated the fact that the prophet is both a spokesman and a seer. He was so both under the Law and in our days. I wrote about Moses, Deborah and Samuel and quoted a prophesy about Jesus from Isaiah 53:4+5.
To-day I want to continue to write more about the prophet Isaiah. He was functioning in the 8th century before Christ. His book consists of 66 chapters, the same number as the books of the Bible. The first 39 chapters write mainly about God’s judgment over sin. The next 27 are mainly about the Messianic hope. The name of Isaiah means “The Lord is salvation.” Isaiah was called as a prophet in a very dramatic way. He had a vision of the Lord sitting on a throne and the train of His robe filled the temple. Seraphim stood over Him and each of them had six wings. One cried to the other: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” One of the seraphim flew to Isaiah with a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar and he touched his mouth with it and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin is purged.” (Is.6)
Isaiah got to see into Heaven, itself and that must have been so mighty that we hardly can understand it. His lips were purged. We must remember that Jesus hadn’t been to the Cross yet and atoned for our sins. Isaiah needed a cleansing in order to stand in the prophetic ministry. PURITY AND HOLINESS ARE DEMANDED OF THE PROPHETS. Everybody in the ministry needs this, but the prophets are in such a close relationship to the Lord and He is so pure. They are also the spokesmen of the Lord and their behavior must be blameless in order for people to trust them. God wants to speak through clean vessels both then and now.
When we read his prophesies, we read a lot about judgments. Do you think it was easy for Isaiah to prophesy doom over individuals and entire regions? Most people like to hear things that are itching in the ears. They do not like to listen to prophesies of judgments. If you want to become popular, do not choose to become a prophet; but can you choose? God has given us a free will, but since it is God who appoints the prophets, it is very serious to say no to Him. Do you think that a person who chooses popularity before God’s calling is happy? I do not believe so. We can shortly see what the disobedience of Jonah led to.
The Lord wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and cry out against it, but he refused to do so and went to Joppa to take a ship to Tarshish. Jonah told the men on board that he fled from the Lord. When they were on the sea, a great storm almost broke the ship to pieces. Since the men understood that this happened because of Jonah, he was thrown over board and the sea was again quiet and the men sacrificed to God. While Jonah was floating around, a big fish, maybe a whale, swallowed Jonah and he was in the belly of this fish for three days and nights. God had sent the fish and ordered him to do so. Then Jonah repented and said that he would obey the Lord. Then the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. The Lord sent Jonah to Nineveh to tell them that they would be destroyed in forty days because of their wickedness. Then the people in Nineveh repented and the Lord showed them mercy, but Jonah was very angry and displeased. We can see here that God is not pleased with stubborn prophets. He shows that by His actions, but still He gives them a new chance when they repent.
We saw that Samuel was called when he was a small boy. Now we will study one who was called when he was very young. That is the prophet, Jeremiah. His name means: “The Lord throws or maybe the Lord lays a foundation.” It is the Lord that lays the foundation for salvation. The Lord says to him as to many others that He knew him when he was in his mother’s womb. The Lord sanctified him before he was born. The Lord said to him: “I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer.1:5) Jeremiah thought that he was too young, but the Lord said that he didn’t need to fear since He was going to be with him always. Jeremiah had great visions and God explained them to him. God often speaks through dreams and visions, both when they sleep and when they are awake. This is typical for a prophet even if it might happen to others too.
Jeremiah was told to proclaim judgment over sin, but with a broken heart he also proclaimed that there is a loving and gracious God for all those who would repent. Jeremiah was not so popular and he was mocked and ridiculed and they threatened to kill him. Since Jeremiah saw what would happen to them if they did not repent, he was so passionate about their repentance. He was interceding for them in spite of their opposition. Maybe we to-day haven’t seen enough of the final judgment in order to get passionate about people’s salvation. Jeremiah had this heart.
It is a sacrifice to be a prophet. He has to be willing to sacrifice everything, even his or her life. He also has to live a holy life and God gave Jeremiah orders about his life. Jeremiah was taken to prison and he was thrown into a well, but God always saved him. There were many false prophets at that time, but God judged these.
God chooses prophets for the time they live in and they might become critics of the society. Others prophesy about the future. Some prophets are specific. Others are general. Some prophesy to a specific person and these prophesies are called personal prophesies. Others are meant for an area, a family or even for an entire nation. These prophesies might be specific, but not personal. Jeremiah prophesied over kings and governors, over the nation of Egypt and over places like Moab, Edom and Damascus. He was also proclaiming judgment over Babylon and Babylonia. These are only a few examples. You can read for yourself. God uses His prophets in the same way to-day as at that time except for the fact that the Church is more involved than in the old days.
The next prophet that I will mention is Ezekiel. The name means “God strengthens or strengthened by God” He was both a pastor and a prophet. You will find the same to-day. Quite a few shepherds have a prophetic calling too. That is the same for the other gifts of ministry. Ezekiel was used to proclaim the will of God to His captured people in Babylon. There is a red thread of changing between judgment and salvation through the whole book. God wanted to strengthen His people during this difficult time. A mighty vision of the glory of God is described in the first chapter. It is too long to describe here, but read it. God told Ezekiel that he had a difficult task since the people he spoke to were rebellious. They were not against Ezekiel, but the Lord. The Prophet is only a spokesman and they are against the One Who speaks to the vessel. I say to you who are persecuted: “It isn’t you who are persecuted, but the Lord.”
I will not repeat all of the prophesies, but point out that Ezekiel often prophesized by using symbols. That is typical for the prophets. If you are especially interested in Israel, read Ezekiel.
REMEMBER THAT THE LORD HAS MADE AN ETERNAL COVENANT WITH ISRAEL. A COVENANT THAT CANNOT BE SHAKEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!