OceanSide church of Christ
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Bible Study – Christians vs. Prophets
Definitions of Prophet:
● [Strong] inspired man
● [BDB] spokesman, speaker,
● [Vine] one who speaks forth or openly - a proclaimer of a divine message
● [Smith’s Bible Dictionary] The ordinary Hebrew word for prophet is nabi, derived from a verb signifying, "to
bubble forth", like a fountain; hence, the word means one who announces, or pours forth, the declarations of
God. The English word comes from the Greek prophetes (profetes), which signifies, in classical Greek, one
who speaks for another, especially one who speaks for God, and so interprets his will to man; hence, its
essential meaning is "an interpreter" (e.g. Daniel).
Today we are going to explore 7 similarities between us as Christians and the Prophets of the bible.
1. ► God spoke directly to the Prophets ► God speaks indirectly to us via the inspired writers
Isaiah 1:2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken
Jeremiah 1:1-2 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah
Ezekiel 1:2-3 On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity,
the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest,
Hosea 1:2 When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: "Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord."
Does God speak directly to people today? No, He doesn’t need to. He spoke through the prophets of the Old testament and through the apostles and disciples and his own Son in the New testament, and so because we have all of those prophecies now in written form, we have no future need of additional prophets nor God speaking to men directly.
Paul drove this point home in 1st Corinthians 13:8-10 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
“Prophecies will fail”, Strong defines the word translated as fail as “to be entirely idle, useless, to abolish, cease, destroy, do away with, become of no effect, loose, bring to nought, put away, vanish away, make void.”
”That which is perfect” is a reference to the full and complete written Word of God which we now have.
To summarize - We are not inspired directly or talked to by God directly, but we are “inspired by” and “talked to” by God’s written word. So in this way we can be considered prophets because we have been “spoken to” by God through his written word.
2nd Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
2nd Peter 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue...
2. ► The prophets could predict the future ► We can know limited aspects of the future
· Noah prophesied about the flood
· Isaiah prophesied about the Assyrian captivity
· Jeremiah prophesied about the Babylonian captivity
· Jonah and Nahum prophesied about the destruction of Nineveh
· Obadiah prophesied about the destruction of Edom
· All prophets prophesied about the Messiah
· Jesus (and the apostles) prophesied about the final judgment, the end of the world, and the kingdom of heaven
Can we as Christians predict the future? Yes and No – We cannot predict the future ourselves, we can only be aware of the truthful predictions of the inspired Bible writers, but those writings enable us to know some things that will happen in the future.
Recall Mark 13:31-33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.
We need to appreciate that as readers of the bible, we are privy to future events that non-bible readers do not have knowledge of. What a blessing it is in order to be able to prepare ourselves for Judgment Day.
Some future events we can know of:
2nd Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Jude 1:14-15 ... Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
Revelation 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."
Matthew 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Matthew 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
● Triumph of God over the Devil
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
1st John 3:8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Revelation 20:10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
● Future of the Earth
2nd Peter 3:10, 13 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. – Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
● Durability of God’s word (already stated above in Mark 13:31)
3. ► The prophets were bold and spoke the truth as God revealed it to them, often to their own detriment.
► We must be bold in proclaiming the word of God
Isaiah showed his boldness, confidence and willingness to serve when he was called by God.
Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
What a good role model Isaiah is for Christians today – we should all have this “Send Me” attitude.
Jeremiah was not bold initially but overcame his low self-confidence and became God’s faithful and bold spokesman
Jeremiah 1:4-8 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD.
Jeremiah’s excuse was his youth – what are our excuses for not spreading God’s word? – Too old, too fearful, low self-confidence, not knowledgeable enough, not a good enough speaker, etc. We must overcome those self imposed limitations just as Jeremiah did.
Ezekiel 2:1-6 And He said to me , "Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you." Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me. And He said to me: "Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God.' As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse—for they are a rebellious house—yet they will know that a prophet has been among them. "And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house.
We must be bold and preach the truth, unconcerned with the consequences we may suffer.
Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion.
Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles
Act 17:22-23 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.
Definition of Superstitious
[Webster] full of idle fancies and scruples in regard to religion;
[Cyclopedia] It is generally defined to be the observance of unnecessary and uncommanded rites and practices in religion; reverence of objects not fit for worship; extravagant devotions; or religion wrongly directed or conducted. The word may be applied to the idolatry of the heathens, the traditions of the Jews, the unscriptural rites of the Catholics; etc.
Definition of Ignorant
[Strong] not to know (through lack of information or intelligence); by implication to ignore (through disinclination) - not understand.
[Thayer] to err or sin through mistake, to be wrong
► Note the meaning of ignorant as “to ignore or be disinclined to” – non-believers are not unintelligent, but
choose to ignore the bible– this definition applies to the vast majority of the unsaved.
4. ► The prophets suffered ridicule and persecution - some dying horrible deaths
► We will suffer persecution in one form or another for our faith
Definition of Persecution
[Cyclopedia] Any pain or affliction which a person designedly inflicts upon another. In its variability it is threefold:
1. Mental, when the spirit of a man rises up and malignantly opposes another;
2. Verbal, when men give hard words and deal in uncharitable censures;
3. Actual or open by the hand; such as the dragging of innocent persons before the civil tribunal.
Definition of Ridicule (verb) (from Webster)
1. To laugh at with expressions of contempt; to deride.
2. To treat with contemptuous merriment; to expose to contempt or derision by writing.
Examples of Persecution of the Prophets:
► Isaiah - Jewish tradition says that he suffered martyrdom by being sawn in two under the orders of Manasseh
► Jeremiah - According to tradition preserved in extrabiblical sources, he was stoned to death by his exasperated fellow
countrymen in Egypt.
► Other prophets died peaceful deaths but were persecuted and reviled during their lifetimes.
What does the bible say to us about persecution?
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Matthew 23:34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
Psalms 119:161 Princes persecute me without a cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your word.
5. ► The prophets were given promises. ► We as Christians were given promises.
Jeremiah 1:7-8 But the Lord said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you," says the Lord.
Jeremiah 31:33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
► It’s heartbreaking to see how bent people were and still are at rebelling against God, but they have had ample warnings.
Acts 2:39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."
► The promises of God would no longer be restricted to the Jews alone but to all peoples throughout the earth
Galatians 3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
► We are not Abrahams natural seed but his spiritual seed.
2nd Titus 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
► The little phase the promise of life, pretty much sums up the promise that God has given those who are obedient and faithful to him - ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN
John states this same idea in:
1st John 2:25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.
What more do you need to know – that is the promise in a nutshell.
6. ► The prophets triumphed in the end for their faithfulness and obedience to God
► We will triumph for eternity if we remain faithful and obedient to God
The prophets endured much suffering, ostracization, ridicule, persecution, ignoring, and sorrow in their lives. But in the end they received the gift that all God’s faithful children receive – a crown of life.
Rev 2:10-11 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.
Definition of Overcome [Thayer] - of Christians that hold fast their faith even unto death against the power of their foes, and temptations and persecutions.
1st Corinthians 15:54,57 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
... But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For a more poetic and figurative rendering of this truth:
Revelation 15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
7. ► The prophets were not appreciated by the majority, but they were appreciated by some, who heeded their
words and thus avoided destruction.
► The majority of those we try to evangelize will not appreciate or even want to hear what we have to
say, but a few might and will eventually be very thankful for our guidance.
The Old Testament and especially the books of the major and minor prophets contain the word “remnant” many times (92 in the KJV).
Definition of Remnant:
► Most of the words translated as remnant mean survivor, that which is left, a remainder or residual (surviving, final) portion, that had escaped, be left over, posterity, remaining, residue
► One of the Greek words translated as remnant means: escape, deliverance.
► Another one of the Greek words that is translated as remnant means: abundance, affluence, superiority, excellency.
These last two translations especially can be applied to Christians and aspiring Christians:
► Escape/Deliverance – we are able to escape eternal punishment for our sins and achieve deliverance through Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross
► Superiority / Excellency - because of our faith an obedience to Christ we are judged as superior and excellent by God. This should not make us conceited, but rather humble - that even though we don’t deserve it God looks past our sins and judges us as righteous, through no merit of our own, but because of our obedience to His Son.
Did the prophets get discouraged? Yes - why do you think Jeremiah has been nicknamed the weeping prophet? He was so sorrowful about the fate that he knew his people would suffer if they didn’t listen to what God was telling that he wept for them. Listen to the depth of his sorrow:
Jeremiah 9:1 - Oh, that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people!
Lamentations 2:11, 13 My eyes fail with tears, My heart is troubled; My bile is poured on the ground Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, Because the children and the infants Faint in the streets of the city. --- How shall I console you? To what shall I liken you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What shall I compare with you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is spread wide as the sea; Who can heal you?
Will we get discouraged? Yes – we will often feel like Davids in a Goliath world. Sometimes we will feel like giving up and throwing in the towel. At those time we need to remember that the prophets suffered the same emotions and frustrations – yet they persevered to the end. And God was pleased with their efforts and their obedience regardless of how many people heeded their message (which of course was really God’s message).
We need to develop a sorrow as deep as Jeremiah’s for the lost souls of this world – a sorrow and concern that will continue to motivate us to keep trying to teach people God’s truth.
If remembering the prophets doesn’t strengthen our resolve, we should meditate on Jesus. Did he throw in the towel when the going got rough? Did he say “you’ll get what you deserve, I’m not going to go through this agony for you miserable sinners?” No - he was so concerned with our souls that he endured every vile inhumanity that man could dream of to secure our salvation – without complaint, without doubt, without backing down.
If that doesn’t strengthen and inspire us to care about the souls of the lost and try to teach them the truth, I really don’t know what will.
Jesus proclaimed his mission in Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
That was the mission of the all of the prophets.
That should be mission of each of us here today.