For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21 (NIV).
Peter echoed Samuel in this verse. In 2 Samuel 23, the Israelite judge said “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.” Samuel was a prophet; he spoke words that God inspired him to speak on His (God’s) behalf. So, what is a prophet?
A prophet is a person chosen to speak for God. In Old Testament days, God Himself chose His prophets. Sometimes that person was a rabbi, or a teacher; think Samuel or Nathan. Others, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, were charismatic men who God chose to reveal His messages. Still others, like David and Solomon, were known leaders. In our time, there are people who term themselves “prophets” though it is unclear whether or not their commission as prophet is God-ordained or not.
No matter who the prophet was (or is), they carried a message from God. Moses spoke directly with God and led His people out of slavery. Samuel told Eli (the chief judge) that his sons were doing evil. Samuel also took God’s anointing to Saul to bless him as Israel’s first king. Nathan confronted King David about his sins and vectored David back to repentance. Daniel interpreted dreams and befriended his enemy on God’s behalf. Isaiah and Jeremiah pronounced God’s punishment for centuries of Israel defying Him. Today, we know these things happened because they are contained as accounts in God-inspired Scripture. There are many others. They’re still vital to our understanding who God is and how we, His people, should live our lives.
In 2 Timothy 3, Paul said that, “all Scripture is God-breathed.” All of it, even the uncomfortable parts (like the ones in Joshua where Israel smites the rebellious people of Canaan…or the ones where Jesus and so many others condemn sins that we overlook today). All the Bible is God’s divinely inspired word that He revealed to dozens of authors over fifteen hundred years. The Bible we read today is astoundingly identical to the earliest fragments we have of Psalms, the book of Isaiah, and many books of the New Testament. We know this from archaeological evidence.
It’s as if God wants us to know something about Him. As if He chose us to say things for Him. Imagine that.
That’s what the words God gave to the prophets tell us. They revealed aspects of God’s character, His will for us as His treasured creation, and how He wants us to live with each other. People have always struggled with this; it’s the story of mankind going back to Eden. And yet all the prophets, even up to Peter, still carried the true message that God is our Lord of love, justice, forgiveness, and life.
For further reading: 2 Samuel 23:2, Acts 1:16, Acts 3:18, 2 Timothy 3:16, 1 Peter 1:11, 2 Peter 2:1
Lord Jesus, You give us Your words through the prophets. You spoke through them to give us messages we need to hear. Thank You.
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