Full Text for Isaiah- Volume 4 - What is the definition of a prophet? (Video)

No. 4. >> I have one more question of an introductory nature. You have already referred to Isaiah as a prophet, a common word in the English language. However, now that we are about to study an actual prophet, I would like to get a firm grip on what the term means. What is the definition of a prophet? >> A prophet is someone who in biblical terms is divinely compelled to speak the Word of the Lord. One of my favorite passages which helps us define the role of a prophet is from the prophet Amos, another Eighth Century prophet, who in Chapter 3 Verse 8 says: The lion has roared. Who cannot but fear? Lord Yahweh has spoken. Who cannot but prophesy? Amos is telling us that just as someone hears a lion roar is scared to death -- lions and tigers and bears, oh, my -- so when someone hears the Word of Yahweh, the God of Israel, that person must become a prophet. Prophets didn't choose this vocational lifestyle. Prophets didn't have different options as they looked at their future. No, prophets were under a divine mandate. It's as though they had the opportunity, perhaps, to do other things with their lives. But when God spoke, they had to speak his words. Paul puts it this way in I Corinthians 9: I'm compelled to preach the Gospel. Jeremiah says that: I'm weary of holding in God's words. Indeed, I can't. I have to speak. So these are people who were compelled to be God's spokesman in the ages that they lived. Now, let's move on more specifically to this particular quote: If faith is compared to a formal banquet, then the prophets are allowed to burp. They're rude, noisy vehement. Thrusting their faces before ours. Disrupting the calm of the meal. Prophets are unwanteds. They are rudes. They speak unsettling messages, as we saw in our previous slide about alcoholism and the lack of the knowledge of God, et cetera. More specifically even than that, I want us to look at several verses in the book of Exodus. Exodus Chapter 4 Verses 14 through 16. And as you look at those verses, hopefully you have a Bible, you can open that up, you will see where God is speaking to Moses. And the role of a prophet, in this case Aaron, is going to be Moses' prophet. He's going to be the spokesman for Moses. Because Moses says: I have uncircumcised lips. But the picture then that we're painting is that Moses is going to tell Aaron what to say. And Aaron is actually called in Exodus Chapter 7 a navi in Hebrew, a prophet. So a prophet is someone who as these verses unfold in Exodus 4 and you can see, is someone who simply has words placed in his mouth. And these verses in Exodus Chapter 4, God says that Aaron is going to have words placed in his mouth. And then he will be the spokesman for Moses. More specifically in Exodus Chapter 7 Verse 1, the Lord says to Moses: See, I am appointing you as god before Pharaoh. And Aaron, your brother, will be your prophet. That's a great definition for a prophet. Someone who is a spokesperson for another. And the actual words, going back to Exodus Chapter 4, are placed in the prophet's mouth. So I emphasize the idea of mouth. Because as certainly when we look at Isaiah Chapter 6, his lips need to be cleansed because he is a mouthpiece, a spokesperson, for the Lord God of Israel. Let's now look at some specific slides here. And see a little bit more in terms of how a prophet understood himself in the Old Testament. And the slides that we see here, first of all, would have to deal with how the prophet saw himself connected with Moses and the covenant God made with Israel at Mt. Sinai. Now, we have to take a short step back to understand something. But the slide here will assist us. There in the upper hand -- the upper left of the slide, you'll see our picture for God. And he's coming down. And he is cutting literally a covenant with his people at Mt. Sinai. Specifically in Chapters 19 through 24 of the book of Exodus. This covenant has six parts to it. Let's look at these six parts. Because, again, this is the backdrop of what a prophet is. The historical, theological foundation for prophetic ministry, especially as relates to the prophet Isaiah. The first section that you see in our slide is the preamble. And this is just simply God identifying himself as the suzerin to the vassal. As the CEO to the person who is now going to enact the suzerin, the leader's, will in the world. So the preamble is simply stated classically in Exodus 20 Verse 1: I am the Lord your God. I am Yahweh. The second part of the slide is the historical prologue. In Israel the historical prologue is always the exodus. Again, just continuing for our example sake, in Exodus 20 Verse 1: I am the Lord your God. That's the preamble. Who brought you up out of the house of bondage from the land of Egypt. That's the Gospel. That's the good news. That's what God has done to redeem his people Israel. The stipulations, then, would be stated classically in the Ten Commandments. This is what you will do. This is not the imperative. This is the indicative. You will not have other gods. You will not take God's name in vain. You will not desecrate or break the Sabbath ordinance. That's the third commandment. And the rest of the commandments go on. You will not take a position of being a false witness against a neighbor. You will not lie. You will not cheat. You will not steal. You will not commit adultery. These are all, again, in the indicative. This is showing what the new life looks like after Israel is out of Egypt. Out of the house of slaves. So that's on our slide stipulations. Preservation and rereading. The fourth part of this covenant that God makes with Israel at Sinai, the preservation is to place the tablets in the Ark of the Covenant. To preserve it. To remember it. The rereading is to be done according to Deuteronomy Chapter 16 three times a year. Now, the witnesses to this relationship, that's the fifth part of this slide we're looking at, would be heaven and earth. Now, what do I mean by that? If you're beginning a relationship and you want someone to witness this, you want the witnesses to be very old. And to be all seeing and all knowing. So the witnesses to this transaction that really is transpiring before us in the book of Exodus would be heaven and earth. In a sense kind of odd. Inanimate objects being witnesses to this relationship between Yahweh and Israel. Well, again, heaven and earth would be the witnesses that have been around a long time. And heaven and earth, they are privy to seeing everything. Now, what does this mean in terms of the prophet Isaiah? We'll see in Isaiah 1 Verse 2 after the superscription, the second verse in this massive 66-chapter book goes like this: Hear, O heavens. Give an ear, O earth. So the book of Isaiah pictures Israel on trial. God is calling witnesses to the sins of his people. Heaven and earth. He is calling them because they have broken the sinaitic covenant. And who is the lawyer? Isaiah. See, that's a prophetic role. A prophet is a covenant lawsuit mediator. He comes along and says to the people of his day: You have broken this covenant that God cut, made, with the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai. The sixth part of the covenant, as you can see on this slide, would be blessings and curses. The blessing to listening to God's voice. Delighting in his good news of Exodus Gospel. The blessing to living a life of faith that is empowered by God's mercy and grace. The blessing is to stay in the land. The land flowing with milk and honey. The Promised Land. The curse is to be kicked out of the land. So prophets take this six-part treaty, six-part covenant, and use this then as the template, the theological foundation, as everything they say and do for Israel. Now, let's look at the next slide here. This may be Isaiah. But this is the role of a prophet in the Old Testament. You can see there on the backdrop of the prophet the six-part treaty that we just looked at is broken. It's shattered. People have ignored the Gospel. They have spurned the Gospel. They have closed their ears to God's message of rescue and redemption by means of Moses and Aaron and Miriam when he brought them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. So a prophet, the prophet Isaiah, says: Now the curse is coming. That sixth the part of the covenant we just looked at. God is going to send foreign armies -- here in our slide we see the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians -- to take Israel out of the land. Now, let's back up just quickly and make a few concluding comments in terms of the role of a prophet. I want you to understand that there are other earlier prophets in the Old Testament. Abraham is called a prophet. Genesis 20 Verse 7. Moses is called a prophet. Deuteronomy 34 Verse 10. Miriam and Debra are prophetesses. That's Exodus 15:20 and Judges 4 Verse 40. But when we are discussing the role of prophet, we are speaking in terms of classical prophets. So the slides we've just looked at in terms of a covenant lawsuit mediator, we're not speaking so much of what Abraham or Miriam or Moses did. We're speaking in terms of what classical prophets did. And let me define a classical prophet for you. The classical prophesies like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. But a classical prophet is someone who has his ministry during the reign of a king. See, when Abraham, Miriam, Deborah, Moses, there really wasn't a king in Israel. So they are not classical prophets. The first classical prophet comes along with the first king. Who is the first king in Israel? His name is Saul. So the first classical prophet is named Shmuel, Samuel. Samuel is kind of God's way of keeping the first king in line. And following the dictates of Deuteronomy Chapter 17, which would be the job description for the king. So beginning with Samuel, we have a series of classical prophets like Nathan and Gad and Elisha and Elijah and Ahab and Micaiah ben Imlah, et cetera. So these are all classical prophets. The first classical prophet to actually write a book is Amos. So then you have kind of a subset of classical prophets. You have Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, et cetera. They never wrote books. But then Amos, Hosea, Micah, Nahum. And then the great major prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. These are the classical prophets who actually recorded their oracles for posterity. So let's review. A prophet is a spokesman for God. God places his words in the prophet's mouth. We understand that from Exodus Chapters 4 and 7. A prophet stands in the great tradition of Israel's covenant at Mt. Sinai. And speaks in terms of these six parts that we looked at. A prophet in our class is going to be a classical prophet who actually records his oracles for the people of his day. And for people of all days. Because it was Isaiah, the prophet, who said in Chapter 40 Verse 8: The grass withers and the flower fades. But the Word of our God stands forever. This Word is in a document so that it stands forever. So that we can delight in its messages. And understand it's fulfillment in Jesus the Christ.