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§ 1. Nature of the Prophetic Office.

According to Scriptural usage a prophet is one who speaks for another. In Exodus vii. 1, it is said, “See, I have made thee a God to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.” Moses was to be the authoritative source of the communication, Aaron the organ of communication. This is the relation of the prophet to God. God communicates, the prophet announces the message which he has received. In Exodus iv. 16, it is said of Aaron in relation to Moses, “He shall be to thee instead of a mouth.” And in Jeremiah xv. 19, it is said of the prophet,” Thou shalt be as my mouth.” In the inauguration of a prophet, or in constituting a man the spokesman of God, it is said, “I will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy xviii. 18, 19.) A prophet, therefore, is one who speaks in the name of God. He must, however, be the immediate organ of God. In one sense every one who reads or preaches the word of God may be said “to speak in his name.” The truths which he utters rest upon the authority of God; they are his words which the preacher is the organ of announcing to the people. Ministers, however, are not prophets. A broad distinction is made both in the Old and New Testaments between prophets and teachers. The former were inspired, the latter were not. Any man receiving a revelation from God, or inspired in the communication of it, is, in the Scriptures, called a prophet. Hence all the sacred writings are called prophetic. The Jews divided their Scriptures into the law and the prophets. The law, or pentateuch, was written by Moses, who was confessedly a prophet, and the other class, including all the historical, devotional, and prophetic portions (commonly so called) is also the work of prophets, i.e., of inspired men. The prediction of the future was only at incidental part of the prophet’s work, because some of the communications which he received had reference to future events.


When, therefore, the Messiah was predicted as a prophet it was predicted that He should be the great organ of God in communicating his mind and will to men. And when our Lord appeared on earth it was to speak the words of God. “The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” (John xiv. 24.) “Jesus of Nazareth which was a prophet mighty in deed and word.” (Luke xxiv. 19.)

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