OT Intro – How to Read (The Prophets)


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11 Replies to “OT Intro – How to Read (The Prophets)”

  1. Question: Did prophets consciously think that God was speaking directly through them, or is this something that later generations attributed to their messages which were in fact creations of their own intellects and nothing more?

    Answer: It is their consistent contention, and the contention of the biblical descriptions about them, that they spoke God’s word, not their own. In every case, it is God who decides who shall be a prophet. Indeed, if one were to take the office of prophecy upon himself, this would constitute evidence that he was in fact a false prophet.

    All of them came to their work as the result of an experience of a divine call. Because the word they spoke was Yahweh’s word and not their own, they prefaced it, concluded it, or even occasionally punctuated it with reminders like ‘Thus says Yahweh’. Indeed the vast majority of the time they phrased their message in the first person, quoting Yahweh directly, as if their mouth were his mouth. There is no evidence that they simply felt permitted to do this – they clearly consider themselves required to do it.

    Source: http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/journal-issues/6.1_Stuart.pdf (I realize this is not a source you have provided us to use… but I was hardcore struggling to find an answer to my question last night so…)

    Question for Webby: Prophets spoke for God and announced the future, but they announced the future for the Israelites, not for us. This was their future, but it is our past. How can we overcome the difficulty of this problem while reading the prophetic books?

    1. Question: Did prophets consciously think that God was speaking directly through them, or is this something that later generations attributed to their messages which were in fact creations of their own intellects and nothing more?

      Answer: The certainty of being inspired by God, of speaking in His name, of having been sent by Him to the people, is the basic and central fact of the prophet’s consciousness. Other people regard experience as the source of certainty; what singles out the prophet in the world of man is that to him the source of his experience is the source of his certainty. To his mind, the validity and distinction of his message lie in the origin, not only in the moment of his experience.

      When Moses was challenged by the rebellion of Korah and his followers, he called for a miracle to prove his prophetic call. “Hereby you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all of these works, and that it has not been out of my own mind” (Num. 16:28). It was, first of all, this negative certainty-that the word they proclaimed was not the product of their own minds that was fundamental to the consciousness of the prophet. It came to expression in the polemics against the prophetic pretenders, the false prophets who were again and again condemned as people who prophesy “a lying vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their own minds” (Jer. 14:14)

      Source: The Prophets by Abraham J. Heschel

      Question for Webby: Prophets spoke for God and announced the future, but they announced the future for the Israelites, not for us. This was their future, but it is our past. How can we overcome the difficulty of this problem while reading the prophetic books?

  2. Question: How were the Israelite’s expected to discern between good prophets and false prophets when both claimed to have a message from God?

    Answer: The people were drawn to the false prophets because their ‘prophecies’ often promised peace. They tried to appeal to the people. False prophets were motivated by greed, they showed arrogance and contrasted godly, moral character. The people needed to use discernment to tell who the true prophets were and look at their character and motives.
    Source: http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/

    Question for Webster: The book said that less than 2% of OT prophecy is messianic; less than 5% specifically describes the new covenant age, and less than 1% concerns events yet to come in our time. This makes it seem like the Old Testament prophecies had very little to do with Jesus and coming things, yet pastors and other people focus on the messianic prophecies and things that are still to come in our day. So are those stats true that OT prophecy focuses very little on Jesus and events still to come?

  3. Question: Why is it so important to think Oracles when reading the Prophetic Books?

    Answer: We need to be on the lookout for when one Oracle ends and another Oracle begins. This is important because most of the prophetic books were written in a run-on type of fashion often having many writings that could be strung out over several years. We need to ask ourselves when was this said? Or, to what people group is this being said to? Reading the prophetic books for face value is something we cannot do. We must dig deeper into the text and find out to whom and what is actually being said.


    Question for Webster: The book states that prophets helped enforce the law that God created for His people back then. Those same prophets also cursed and took away blessings from the people of Israel if they did not obey God. I realize this is the OT and we are not bound to these laws any longer, however; why do we not have leaders over looking us and enforcing the new law on us and punishing us if we disobey today? Page 199

  4. Question: You always hear in the Bible about these great men who are called prophets, and have the gift to foretell the future and what God’s plan is for us. Does God still use people today as prophets to help convey the message of God?

    Answer: Prophets are known as spokesmen for God. They are the mouth by which God speaks to men and what the prophet says is not from man, but from the Lord. It was written by men who received the revelation they communicated from God, no matter what its nature might be. Some pastors, yet they may not have the gift of prophecy, they still preach to the people and are spokesmen for the Lord. The great task of a prophet was to proclaim the great moral and truths which are connected with the character of God, and that’s one of the pastors goals in leading God’s church.

    Source: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/eastons-bible-dictionary/Prophet

    Question for Webster: On page 204, it talks about the Prophets being poets. What is the purpose of this and how would they use poetry?

  5. Question: It says on page 199 that the prophets presented their books in run on fashion. How can we trust things that were taken overtime and maybe out of context as prophetic truth.

    Answer: Basically I all I can say to answer this question is that we have to trust in scripture. We already know that everything in the Bible is God breathed from (2 Timothy 3:16). But we don’t really know how much the prophets took from God and how much they influenced what was written. That shouldn’t matter because of our faith to the Lord. Various verses in the bible talk about how God’s words are trustworthy. Over and over other passages in scripture talk about the trustworthiness in scripture so I believe that we should have faith in that.

    ESV Study Bible
    Bible Gateway

    Question for Webster :
    It talks about a lot of prophets and how their message wasn’t really their message but God’s. Why wouldn’t God just tell them exactly what he wanted them to say so that we could know 100% that what is being said is true?

  6. Question for me: One of the genres in prophetic literature is Announcement of Disaster. What is an example of this in the OT.

    Answer: Jeremiah 29:30-32 says “Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Send this message to all the exiles: ‘This is what the Lord says about Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, even though I did not send him, and has led you to believe a lie, this is what the Lord says: I will surely punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants. He will have no one left among this people, nor will he see the good things I will do for my people, declares the Lord, because he has preached rebellion against me.’”
    ESV Study Bible

    Question for Webster: In the bible God talks to Abraham and other people to tell them what to do. Why can’t he do that with us instead of sending someone else to tell us the prophecy?

  7. Question for me-If god wrote the bible for us then does everyone not understand the bible? Why does it take time and studying for people to understand parts of the bible?

    Answer-Gods thoughts are way beyond ours. Psalms 92:5 and Isaiah 55:8 are good examples. Some of the oracles are written in poetry which speaks in historical, cultural, and political stances that are different from ours. To help understand the bible you have to know the background information to understand what the story in the bible is explaining. It is hard to understand if you just read the bible and don’t take time to go through all the information and learn what the story is actually talking about.

    Source:Biblegateway dictionary

    Question for Webster: Why do people read the bible just to say they read the bible? why do they not study or learn the true meaning of it or to learn the history of how we got here?

  8. Question: How are the prophetic books often misunderstood? What is their primary function?

    Answer: Many Christians see the prophetic books only as predictions about the coming of Jesus. The prophets did predict the future; however, it was typically the future of Israel, Judah, and other surrounding nations, rather than our future. The primary function of these books was to speak for God. In the book, “Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church,” Walter Kaiser Jr. says that the purpose of the prophets was to speak God’s truth in the middle of a nation surrounded with idolatry, abandonment, and other sins (111). Jeremiah 1:9 emphasizes this point, ‘“Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.'”

    Source: Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church by Walter C. Kaiser Jr.

    Question for Webster: The prophetic books require careful study to understand. Do you think that their are multiple interpretations of different passages in the bible or do you think God intends to provide one meaning?

  9. Question: What does exegesis mean? How do we apply it to Scripture, especially the prophets?

    Answer: Exegesis is a process in which one studies the Bible more thoroughly through critical analysis of the text. The end goal is discover the original meaning of the text as well as the intent of the author. Some would believe that we should thoroughly understand what the Bible has to say because the Holy Spirit dwells within us already. That is not always the case. Understanding the Bible is a long process in which we must study daily to understand what it is trying to convey. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts; therefore, we can not read the Bible (especially the prophets) for surface meaning. God calls us to study his word because it is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training for righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is nearly impossible to grow closer to God without studying the words that he spoke through the prophets and authors of the Bible. Exegesis is essential to our understanding of the Bible and growth in the Lord.

    ESV Bible 2 Timothy 3:16-17
    Toward an Exegetical Theology

    Question: Do you believe that God was more just or more graceful when dealing with the Israelites and their breaking of the covenant?

  10. Question: If the Holy Spirit was inside of us and we read the Bible and don’t get it, does that mean that the Holy Spirit has left us? Or does it mean that t we are more distant?

    Answer: Paul adresses this in I Corinthians 3:2 where he tells the church in corinth, “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food. In fact, you are still not ready,”. In this he is telling them that, they are not ready to get deep in the bible yet. Not because they don’t have the holy spirit, but because they haven’t dove into it. We today have the same problem, we don’t dive into scripture as we should and then get scared when we don’t get the bible. The holy spirit hasn’t left us we just don’t dive into scripture as we should.

    NIV Commentary

    Question for Webster: If there were prophets in the Old Testament who foretold the future and talked directly to God. Could there be prophets today? I was having a conversation with someone and they were talking about the prophets today and I was confused. So is there or could there be modern day prophets?

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