WHAT DID JESUS HAVE IN MIND WHEN HE DIED TO ESTABLISH THE CHURCH?
Several weeks ago, I asked the following questions, “What is our prophetic witness?” and “Where is our prophetic voice?” At the core of prophetic witness and prophetic voice is the word “prophetic.” This word is grounded in the history of the prophets of the Old Testament.
The word prophet comes from the Greek word prophētēs, which is made up of two Greek words, prό meaning “To tell beforehand, before, in front of” and phēmi’ meaning “to tell, to speak.” A prophet, therefore, is a foreteller of future events.
The role of the prophet was much different from the role of the priest. Simply put, the prophet stood before the people on behalf of God, while the priest stood before God on behalf of the people. The prophet was the voice of God sharing with the people “Thus says the LORD.” Additionally, while the priests were comforting the afflicted, the prophets were afflicting the comfortable. It was the prophet, after seeing what God saw, spoke what God said, and challenged the people to do what God desired. Accordingly, the prophets were not the most favored among the people.
Because of the intimate relationship that the prophet had with God, and because the prophet foresaw what God revealed, the prophet, as the foreteller of future events, spoke on behalf of God. The prophet was God’s mouthpiece, spokesperson, representative, ambassador, delegate, messenger, envoy, etc. Although the prophets were not favored among the people, they sustained a cherished relationship with God.
Moses was called by God to be a prophet, and is a significant example of what it meantto have an intimate relationship with God and speak on the behalf of God. In Deuteronomy 34:10, God said of Moses, “10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”
Following are examples of prophets who heard from God, then spoke for God: [Ezekiel] “7 You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they arerebellious.” (Ezekiel 2:7). [Amos] “7 Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:7, 8). [Balaam] “ 8And he said to them, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the Lord speaks to me…” (Numbers 22:8). [Deborah] “6 She sent and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you, ‘Go, take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali…” (Judges 4:6).
The prophets pronounced a prophetic word of judgment to those who were rebellious to God’s purposes and plans. Additionally, the prophets presented a prophetic word of hope to those who had sunken into the deep valley of hopelessness and despair, and needed to know that God was with them and would deliver them.