Week 9 of our 90-Day Journey, and continuing in the prophets!
Breadcrumbs For The Journey
As we continue reading the prophetic books this week, it is helpful to answer the question: “What is a biblical prophet?” Here are the key roles of the prophet given in Scripture:
1. To reveal God’s attributes and laws to people
2. To call people back to obey God’s laws and to sincere worship
3. To warn people of divine judgment of sin, both personal and national
4. To foretell future events that God wills, including the coming of the Messiah
5. To record the history of God’s dealings with humanity
6. To record the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures
Obviously, the role of prophet is really important in God’s Kingdom, and being able to tell a real prophet from a false one is crucial. Jeremiah encountered a false prophet in his ministry and said to him, “But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.” (Jer. 28:9) So, we know there were criteria that biblical prophets had to meet. Deuteronomy 18:9-22 is an important passage that defines the qualities of a prophet. Here is a summary of those criteria:
1. He must be a true Israelite (“from among their fellow Israelites”).
2. He must speak in the name of the Lord (Jehovah).
3. He must call people to living obedience to Jehovah and worship of Jehovah.
4. He must be tested and vindicated by the fulfillment of predictions made by him in the name of Jehovah, by the authority of Jehovah and in keeping with the character of Jehovah.
It is good to keep the definition and role of a prophet in mind as we read through the prophetic books. Hope you are enjoying the journey! The New Testament is just around the corner.
Tip Of The Week
Ezekiel and Daniel were both prophets during the Jewish exile, and their audience was the Jews in Babylon. Ezekiel first warns about the fall of Jerusalem, then gives oracles of hope to God’s people in the form of visions: such as the heavenly vision with spinning wheels (Ch. 1), the watchman (3:16-21), the valley of dry bones (37:1-14), and cherubim (10:9-14).
Daniel and his three friends are great representatives for God while in the Babylonian Exile and demonstrate complete faith in God through their stories of the fiery furnace and Daniel in the den of lions. Notice what they are personally willing to change in chapter 1 (like their names, their language, their clothing and culture) and what they are not willing to change (what kind of food they would eat). Popular sayings today have their origin in the Bible. At least two of those are in Daniel: “Feet of clay” in chapt. 2 and “the writing is on the wall” in chapt. 5.
Good To Know
It is good to keep in mind that these biblical books overlap each other in history. So, just as the courage of Esther may have influenced some of the royal decrees given in Ezra and Nehemiah, the influence of Daniel and his friends may also be seen in the decisions made by King Nebuchadnezzar (Babylonian), King Darius (Medes), and King Cyrus (Persian).
In addition, the title Jesus uses the most to refer to Himself in the Gospels is “Son of Man,” which is most likely taken from a heavenly vision in Daniel 7:13-14.
Activity For The Week
It is important to keep the context in mind when reading books of the Prophets. Take some time this week to look over this list of the prophets, when they were writing, and who their audience was. While you’re at it, try to come up with a way to memorize these books in their order in the Bible. If you come up with a good song or mnemonic device, please share it with the rest of us!
Pressing on with you!