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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 145

The Gifts Part 50

Prophecy continued...

The first prophet of the Old Testament mentioned in the New Testament, was Isaiah, within the context of a prophecy he had given, which had been fulfilled through Christ Jesus.

Matthew 12:15-21, “But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there; and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. And He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased; I will put My spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets; a bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory. And in His name Gentiles will trust.”

In referencing the prophets of old, Peter places Samuel at the forefront of this group of elite warriors for God, reminding those listening to his words that all the prophets, foretold of the days of the coming of the Son of Man.

Acts 3:24, “Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.”

What is interesting to note, is that beginning with Samuel, we also see the creation of what came to be known as the school of the prophets, wherein men who had been called of God, could train in the law and its interpretation.

Another interesting factoid is that the Old Testament is divided into three parts, the Law of Moses, also known as the Pentateuch, the writings of the prophets, and the Psalms. The prophets of the Old Testament can also be divided into two sub categories, those who prophesied but never wrote any books, or had no books attributed to them such as Elijah or Elisha, and those who prophesied and also wrote books.

Of those prophets who wrote books, these are also commonly divided into two categories, namely the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets. Among the Major Prophets we find Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Daniel, and among the Minor Prophets we find the twelve other prophets to which books of the Bible are attributed, namely Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The prophets of the Old Testament also used three methods by which they delivered the prophetic message that God gave them. The first method the prophets used was that of speaking or uttering a prophecy, which is also what the word prophet means, namely one who speaks in the name of the Lord. The second method the prophets used was that of writing out that which God revealed to them, and the third method that was used to deliver a prophetic message was employing symbolism.

Of all the prophets of the Old Testament, Ezekiel was the one, who most often employed the use of symbolism when delivering a message from God, from eating a scroll, to cutting off and burning his own hair, to packing up and moving while they watched, there are countless examples of prophetic symbolism within the book of Ezekiel.

The office of prophet is specific to the Old Testament, and the men who were called as prophets, were instrumental in the writing of much of the Old Testament as well. The office of prophet brings forewarning, revelation, guidance, and direction. Men called to the office of prophet, operate in spiritual gifting in perpetuity, often incorporating more than one gift in their ministry.

The gift of prophecy however, is spontaneous, no longer permanent like the office of prophet, it is sporadic, infrequent, any believer who is born again can possess it, and it only means the manifestation of a singular gift, the gift of prophecy. The gift of prophecy does not see, does not hear, nor does it understand the things of God as one who is called to the office of prophet, but only serves to edify, exhort, and comfort the household of faith, as the Holy Spirit gives utterance.

Because we have combined the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy and attempted to squeeze them into one neat package, there is much confusion and uncertainty when it comes to this particular gift.

Subsequent blowback notwithstanding, I will reaffirm the following Biblical truth so that there is no misunderstanding, the purpose of the gift of prophecy, as defined in the Bible, is to edify, exhort, and comfort the congregation of God. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the purpose of the gift of prophecy is to reveal or bring forth revelation!

Yes, one who is called to the office of prophet can bring forewarning, can bring forth revelation, but such men, who are called to the office, are as sparse today as they were in the Old Testament.

All we need to do is look at the actions of some of the prophets of old to understand the kind of power that resided in them, to understand the full extent of what it was they were able to do, in order to perceive that the office of prophet involves more than just the gift of prophecy.

It is because we confuse the office with the gift that we live with the expectation of the gift of prophecy to have the same intensity, power and presence as the office of prophet, and when we do not see it, we grow disillusioned and distraught.

The revelation of past and present things, as previously discussed is manifested through the gift of the word of knowledge, and the gift of discerning of spirits, and the revelation of future things or future events is manifested through the gift of the word of wisdom.

When a brother or a sister approaches us concerning something in our past, something perhaps long forgotten or overlooked, it is the gift of the word of knowledge operating through them, and when we are told of things to come, the gift operating in the individual is the gift of the word of wisdom. Yes, it’s easy to blend all these gifts into one and label them prophecy, but a right understanding of God’s word, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit will inevitably lead us to a healthier, and more surefooted spiritual walk.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Amy S. Trosen said...

I just want to say again how much I am being helped by this study. Thank you so much for taking the time to teach it in this way.