Originally published on Friday, April 20, 2007
FAQ's of Prophecy
FAQ is an abbreviation for "Frequently Asked Question(s)". The term refers to listed questions and answers, all supposed to be frequently asked in some context and pertaining to a particular topic. Depending on usage, the term may refer specifically to a single frequently-asked question, or to an assembled list of many questions and their answers. Originally the term FAQ referred to the Frequently Asked Question itself and the compilation of questions and answers was known as a FAQ list or some similar expression. Today "FAQ" is more frequently used to refer to the list, and a text consisting of questions and their answers is often called a FAQ regardless of whether the questions are actually frequently asked (if asked at all). This is done to capitalize on the fact that the concept of a FAQ has become fairly familiar online - documents of this kind are sometimes called FAAQs (Frequently Asked and Anticipated Questions). I thought that in this commentary we will tackle the have frequently asked questions about prophecy.
Q. What is a prophet?
A. In the Biblical Hebrew, the noun used for prophet is "nabi." Nabi means a spokesperson or person authorized to speak for another. Another word used in the Bible is "seer." A prophet is an ordinary person that has been gifted with a gift to hear or see things others cannot see.
Q. What is the job of a prophet?
A. Again from the Hebrew, the verb "naba," which means to prophesy.
Q. What exactly is prophesying?
A. To communicate – normally orally or written - what is heard or seen.
Q. Who does the prophet represent or speaks for?
A. In the context of our discussion, the prophet represents and speaks for God. All prophets speak for their god. True prophets speak for the Living God.
Q. Who chooses the prophet?
A. God himself chooses them. He calls them. (Isaiah 6: 1- 8; Jeremiah 1: 1 – 9; Moses in Exodus 3)
Q. Are prophets different than regular human beings?
A. Not in nature. They are sinners, just like any other. They are different than other human beings in their willingness to serve God. This does not make them special. Serving God is a choice any human being can make. This does not mean that all that choose to serve will be prophets. That is God's prerogative. We read about the distribution of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12: 11 - But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Q. Are the words of the prophet the Word of God?
A. Only when he is prophesying. Normally, as a spokesperson, the prophet speaks in his own language and style. However, the essence and principle of what he says is from God. There are times when God may tell the prophet to say things exactly as instructed. This again is God's prerogative.
Q. How do you know the words of the prophet are indeed from God?
A. Many quote the verse that the prophecy must happen. However, this was not true for Jonah. Even so, God's purpose was accomplished. God does not delight in the killing of people. We read in Luke 15:7 "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." A better text is Isaiah 8:20, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
Q. Is prophecy always about the future?
A. Often it is. However, you will find that all foretelling prophecy ends up pointing to Jesus and the different phases of the plan of salvation. These prophecies are meant to encourage, as well as to educate, those who live by Faith. Most prophecy is to reveal and rebuke Sin. It is to bring people to repentance and back to God.
Q. Are there any prophets in our day?
A. As the lesson says, the fact that Jesus warned about false prophets lets us conclude that they are true ones also. Another fact is what it is written in Joel 2 about the last days,
Joel 2: 28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
We are in the last days, are we not?
Q. What happens if I reject the prophet and/or what the prophet is saying?
A. You reject God. Rejecting God has its consequences. Rejecting the prophet and or what the prophet says will result in the same consequences.