Purpose of this Session
It is important to realise that God has set these ministries into the Body for a purpose. Paul makes it clear that God has set these various ministries into His Body, and that the apostolic and prophetic call and anointing is foundational to a strong and healthy church being developed. The prophetic has often been misunderstood, and at times rejected, because abuses and extremes have brought reproach to the office. Nevertheless, the Scriptures are clear. The Prophet is required, alongside and in mutual submission to, the other ascension gifts, in order for the church to come to full maturity.
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,” (Ephesians 2:19-20 NKJV)
“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.” (1Corinthians 12:28)
The prophet in the Old Testament
Following the times of the patriarchs and Judges, the Old Testament Prophet became the predominant ministry in the spirit. From Samuel, the last of the Judges and the first of a new breed of prophet in Israel, verbal and writing prophets became God’s primary vehicle to lead, direct, rebuke, correct and train His people. The anointed prophets of Old Testament times were held in such regard that even kings (at least the ones with any sense) deferred to their counsel. David is a perfect example of this with Nathan and Gad who would regularly counsel him in the present will of God.
These men (and women such as Deborah) were described as:
i. The Man of God (1 Sam 9:6;1 King 12:22)
ii. Seers (1 Sam 9:9; 2 Chron 33:18; Amos 7:12; Isa 29:10)
iii. Teachers/Interpreters (Isa 43:27)
iv. Messengers of the Lord (Isa 43:19;mal 3:1)
v. Servants of Jehovah (Haggai 2:3)
vi. The Prophets (Hosea 12:10)
The prophets can also be classified as:
A. Oral prophets – Prophets such as Aaron, Nathan, Gad, Abijah, Elijah and Elisha, Deborah, Huldah, Isaiah’s wife, Anna (Luke 2:36-38), John the Baptist, Agabus and Silas.
B. Writing prophets – Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, John the apostle, and others are examples of writing prophets who were used of God to write the infallible scriptures.
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2Peter 1:19-21 NKJV)
Many of these writings were messianic in nature, pointing to The Prophet who would come, Jesus Christ. Writing prophets, in the sense of those who write infallible words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, no longer exist. With the close of the New Testament canon and the death of John the Apostle, this form of prophecy came to an end. A prophet may still write and record their prophetic words, but their words are not of like kind to the words of the canon, and all other prophecy is now judged by the infallible writings of the Scriptures.
Hebrew Words used to describe the prophetic
The major terms translated “prophecy” in the Old Testament are:
“raba” (used over 400 times) which means “to bubble up, to gush or to pour forth”, speaking of the ecstatic nature of prophecy, it gushes forth from the spirit like a torrent.
The second major term used to describe the prophetic utterance in the Old Testament is “nataph” meaning “to ooze; to distill gradually, to fall in drops like rain”. It speaks of the source of prophetic utterance being above, and words falling from heaven through the mouthpiece of the prophet. It also speaks of the ability for the prophetic to bring refreshment and new life.
Other words include “Chazah”; to mentally perceive, contemplate, to have a vision of and behold with the eye. The prophet has keen inward sight.
“Massa” meaning burden, and “Nebuwah” meaning a spoken or written prediction.
We see here that the prophetic is marked by visions, dreams, inward perceptions, burdens of the spirit, divinely inspired utterance, predictions of the future and heavenly speech and the distillation of God’s words, making them clear and perceptible.
The New Testament Greek word used to describe prophecy
“propheteuo”. Essentially it carries two meanings; “to speak forth or fore”
A. Forth Telling
This includes inspired preaching and teaching, and the forth telling of the mind of God into the present situation: exhortation, reproof, warning, edification and comfort. Many believers operate in the area of forth telling to some degree.
B. Fore Telling
This is the more commonly understood function of the prophetic, where prophecy comes in the form of future prediction: Communication of God’s mind and wisdom for the future, often used to inspire present holiness in the hearers.