Excerpt for God's Spokesmen by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

God's Spokesmen

A Survey of the Prophetic Ministry in the Bible

F. Wayne Mac Leod

Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, B1V 1Y5 CANADA

God's Spokesmen

Copyright © 2019 by F. Wayne Mac Leod

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook my not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or if it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favourite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Genesis: God Speaks to His People

Chapter 2 - Genesis: God Speaks Through His People

Chapter 3 – Exodus: Moses, God's Spokesman

Chapter 4 - The Law and Prophecy

Chapter 5 - Joshua, Judges, and Ruth: The Word of the Lord was Rare

Chapter 6 - Samuel

Chapter 7 - Prophecy Under the Reigns of David and Solomon

Chapter 8 - The Prophets of the Divided Kingdom

Chapter 9 - Elijah

Chapter 10 - Elisha

Chapter 11 - Jonah

Chapter 12 - Amos

Chapter 13 - Hosea

Chapter 14 - Isaiah

Chapter 15 - Micah

Chapter 16 - Nahum

Chapter 17 - Jeremiah

Chapter 18 - Zephaniah

Chapter 19 - Habakkuk

Chapter 20 - Ezekiel

Chapter 21 - Daniel

Chapter 22 - Obadiah

Chapter 23 - Haggai

Chapter 24 - Zechariah

Chapter 25 - Joel

Chapter 26 - Malachi

Chapter 27 - New Testament Prophecy in the Early Days of Jesus

Chapter 28 - Old Testament Prophecy in the Life and Ministry of Christ

Chapter 29 - Jesus as Prophet

Chapter 30 - Prophecy in the Book of Acts

Chapter 31 - Paul's Teaching on Prophecy

Chapter 32 - The Apostle John

Chapter 33 - False Prophecy

Chapter 34 - Biblical Arguments Used Against the Prophetic Ministry Today

Chapter 35 - Prophecy in the Church Today

Light To My Path Book Distribution

Chapter 1 - Genesis: God Speaks to His People

As we begin this study on the role of Biblical prophecy, it is important that I set some parameters. Prophecy, in its essence, is a revelation from God to His creation about His purpose. This may include the unveiling of future events, but prophecy is just as likely to reveal the will of God for His people in the present time.

All of Scripture fits this description as it unfolds the purpose of God for us today and our hope for the future. In this study, however, I want to focus on how God revealed His heart to individuals and the men and women He used to share that purpose. My goal, in these opening words, is not to define prophecy but to give direction to the study. I hope that as the study unfolds, the definition, purpose, and means of prophecy will become quite evident.

We begin in the first book of the Bible just after the creation of Adam and Eve. There in that Garden, the Lord spoke to the first man and his wife, revealing His purpose to them:

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2)

Notice two details in the words of the Lord, spoken to Adam and Eve.

First, God reveals His present plan for Adam and Eve. He told them that they were to eat of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God made His purpose clear in these words. He showed Adam and his wife what they could eat and what they could not eat. Were it not for this direct revelation of God, Adam and Eve would never have understood this purpose.

Second, God not only speaks about His present plan for Adam and Eve, but He also tells them what would happen in the future if they did not follow this plan. If they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die. The words of this prophecy are conditional upon the actions of Adam and Eve. In other words, the truth God was revealing to this couple did not have to come to pass if they chose to walk in obedience. If, however, they rebelled against the purpose of God, then death would follow.

We have, in these words, what I call a conditional prophecy. If certain conditions are met, then the words would come true. In this case, if Adam or Eve at from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil then they would die. If they chose not to eat from the tree, then they would continue to live.

This would not be the only time God would speak directly to this first couple. In Genesis 3 we read how Satan sought to discredit the prophetic words of the Lord by tempting Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. Eve yielded to this temptation and gave the fruit of the tree to her husband. Together they committed the first sin. Listen to the response of the Lord God to this act of disobedience:

16 To the woman he said,

I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;

in pain you shall bring forth children.

Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,

but he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife

and have eaten of the tree

of which I commanded you,

You shall not eat of it,’

cursed is the ground because of you;

in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

and you shall eat the plants

you shall eat bread,

till you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

for you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3)

That day, the Lord God revealed to Adam and Eve the results of their sin. Pain and suffering were introduced for the first time –Eve would bear children in pain. God also showed Eve that there would be brokenness in her relationship with Adam – “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” The earth would be cursed – “cursed is the ground because of you.” Finally, death would come to both the man and the woman – “to dust you shall return.” We see the fulfilment of these prophetic words in our world today.

In Genesis 4 we read how Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, would kill his brother Abel. The Lord appeared to Cain after this murder and spoke to him directly about what he had done:

8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” (Genesis 4)

The Lord revealed to Cain that the ground he worked to gain a livelihood would be cursed for him. He would become a wanderer on the earth making a living wherever he could. The prophetic words God spoke to Cain that day were words of rebuke and judgement. They pronounced his sentence.

So far, we have seen from these prophetic statements of God that prophecy reveals the purpose of God for His people. It also issues warnings of danger when they wander from the path God has laid out for them. Now we see from His words to Cain that prophecy also pronounced the judgement of God on those who wandered from Him and His plan.

As we move on in the book of Genesis, we see that prophecy also gave direction and announced blessings. In Genesis 12, for example, God declared to Abraham that He would form his descendants into a great nation:

1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12)

God told Abram to leave his country to go to a land that He would show him. God spoke directly to Abram revealing the purpose He had for him– “go… to the land that I will show you.”

Also, in these words of God to Abram was a great promise. God told him that He would bless him and all nations through him. These prophetic words of God announce great blessing to Abram and his descendants.

God would remind Abram of this prophecy several times in his life (see Genesis 12:1-2; 15:1-6; 17:1-8). The promise is repeated to Abram’s son Isaac (Genesis 26:1-5), and his grandson Jacob (Genesis 28:10-15). It was essential to God that this family understand that they were chosen to be His instruments of blessing to the nations. This was revealed to them directly from God. In the case of Jacob, as recorded in Genesis 28, we see that this revelation from God came in the form of a dream.

The revelation of this will of God for Abraham and his family would have placed them under obligation to God. Knowing that God had a purpose for them as a family, would help them to have a clear focus in life. They would be God’s people, and as such, they would live for Him and worship Him alone.

When the time approached for Sarah to conceive, God spoke to her and her husband about this.

10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him (Genesis 18)

Notice how the Lord God announced the time in which Sarah, as an old woman would give birth. When it took place as the Lord told them, they would have the assurance that this was indeed from Him. There was no obligation on the Lord’s part to tell Abraham and Sarah when this child would be born. He did so, however, to encourage them and assure them that this was from Him.

When the child Isaac was born, great jealousy arose between Sarah and her servant Hagar, who had given birth to Abraham’s son Ishmael. The intensity of this jealousy and bitterness between the two women was such that Abraham sent Hagar and his son Ishmael away. This was a tough decision for Abraham. The Lord, however, spoke directly to him about this matter:

10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. (Genesis 21)

Through these words spoken to Abraham, God promised a future for his son Ishmael and reaffirmed to Abraham that he was right to send him away. God gave encouragement and direction to Abraham through this prophetic word. Abraham was able to send Hagar and her son away, knowing that God would look after them and provide a good future for them.

As Isaac grew up and took a wife, he too would become a father. His wife Rebekah experienced many problems with her pregnancy. This worried Rebekah so much that Isaac asked the Lord about it:

21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her,

Two nations are in your womb,

and two peoples from within you shall be divided;

the one shall be stronger than the other,

the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25)

The Lord told the couple that twins were in Rebekah’s womb. These twins represented two nations who would be a war with each other. Through this prophecy, the Lord brought clarity and comfort to Rebekah by revealing what was happening.

The examples of prophecy we have examined so far in the book of Genesis have all been related to God speaking directly to His people. In these examples, we learn some valuable lessons about prophecy and its purpose.

We see first that God spoke directly to Adam and Eve to reveal to them how He wanted them to live. Prophecy in this sense is a revelation of God’s purpose and teaches us what God expects of us. There is a teaching element in prophecy.

Second, God warned His people of dangers through prophetic words. He told Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed His commands, they would die. God warned Cain before he killed his brother that “sin was crouching at his door. Its desire is for you” (Genesis 4:7). God revealed these things to Adam, Eve and Cain to keep them from falling into sin and death.

Third, when God’s people turn from Him and rebel against His purpose, God spoke prophetically to pronounce His judgement. This was the case for Adam and Eve when God told them that the result of this sin would be suffering, broken relationships, cursed ground, and death. It was also the case for Cain when God told him that the land he tilled would be cursed and that he would become a wander on the earth.

Fourth, in the passages, we have considered we see that God spoke prophetically to announce His blessing. He announced to Abram that He would make him into a great nation. He repeated this promise to Isaac and Jacob.

Fifth, God spoke prophetically in the book of Genesis to give direction to His people. He called Abram out of Ur to travel to an unknown land. He told Abraham that he was to let Ishmael and his mother Hagar go.

Finally, God’s prophetic words were used to bring His people assurance under challenging times. When Abraham was troubled about letting Hagar and Ishmael leave, God promised that He would make Ishmael into a great nation. When Rebekah struggled to understand what was going on in her womb, God reassured her that He had a purpose.

So far, we have examined how God spoke directly to various individuals in the book of Genesis. God also spoke indirectly to individuals by giving His message to one person to share with another. In the next chapter, we will see what the book of Genesis has to teach us about how God used people to speak on His behalf.

For Consideration:

What evidence do we have in the book of Genesis that God spoke directly to His people?

What is a conditional prophecy? Give an example of a conditional prophecy.

How does prophecy in the book of Genesis warn God’s people of coming danger? Give an example.

How does prophecy in Genesis give direction and comfort to the people of God? Give an example.

What was the purpose for God to speak directly to His people in the book of Genesis?

For Prayer:

Take a moment to give thanks to the Lord for the times He has very specifically lead you in the path He had for your life.

Have you ever felt the Lord speaking encouragement and comfort to your soul? Thank the Lord that He knows what you need and brings the blessing you need at the right time.

Ask God to help you to be more open to how He wants to lead and direct you today. Ask Him to forgive you for a time when you did not listen to the warnings He gave or the direction He wanted you to take.

Chapter 2 - Genesis: God Speaks Through His People

We have seen how God spoke openly and directly to His people in the book of Genesis. As we continue in Genesis, we see another aspect of the prophetic ministry. Not only did God speak directly to individuals but He also communicated His message through these individuals to others.

In Genesis 27 we read how Isaac blessed his sons Jacob and Esau. Blessings were taken seriously because of their prophetic nature. Disguised as Esau, Jacob approached his father to receive a blessing.

26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,

See, the smell of my son

is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!

28 May God give you of the dew of heaven

and of the fatness of the earth

and plenty of grain and wine.

29 Let peoples serve you,

and nations bow down to you.

Be lord over your brothers,

and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.

Cursed be everyone who curses you,

and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” (Genesis 27)

In these words, Isaac told Jacob that the Lord would bless him with the “fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine.” He prophesied that people would serve him, and whole nations would bow down to him. Even his brother Esau would bow to him. These truths were revealed to Isaac from God about his son.

When Esau came to receive his blessing from the Lord and discovered that his brother had taken it, he begged his father to bless him also. Isaac gave this blessing to him:

39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:

Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,

and away from the dew of heaven on high.

40 By your sword you shall live,

and you shall serve your brother;

but when you grow restless

you shall break his yoke from your neck.” (Genesis 27)

Isaac prophesied that Esau would struggle in life. He would live away from the “fatness of the earth.” He would fight enemies and serve his brother. The day would come, however, when he would break the burden of his brothers control over him.

As we examine the stories of Jacob and Esau, we see how these prophecies came true. The words of Isaac were not just blessings but prophetic statements about the lives of his sons. God gave him these words to show his sons what was going to happen in their lives. God would confirm these words to Jacob when He spoke to him personally in Genesis 28:10-15.

Not all who spoke prophetically were aware that they were doing so. In Genesis 22, God commanded Abraham to take his son and offer him as a burnt offering. Obedient to the Lord, Abraham took Isaac and brought him to the mountain where he laid him on the altar and prepared to offer him to the Lord as a sacrifice. Before he could do so, however, the Lord stopped him and showed him a ram stuck in a thicket by his horns. In the place of his son, Abraham offered this ram as a burnt offering.

What we need to understand about this incident is that God was not only testing His servant Abraham but also conveying a vital message through him to those who would read this story. It is generally understood that the mountain on which Abraham offered his son was where the Heavenly Father would sacrifice His Son, the Lord Jesus on the cross. Just as God substituted the ram for Abraham’s son Isaac, the Lord Jesus would sacrifice His life on our behalf on that mountain. It is unlikely that Abraham and Isaac understood the details of this prophetic act, but by their obedience, they were declaring what would happen in the years to come and how God would provide for the salvation of His people.

As we move toward the end of the book of Genesis, we meet a man by the name of Joseph. God used Joseph as a spokesman on many occasions. As a young boy, Joseph had dreams revealing what would happen in the days to come. In Genesis 37 we have two examples of this kind of dream. We have a record of the first dream in Genesis 37:5-8:

5 Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: 7 Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. (Genesis 37)

In this dream, Joseph and his brothers were binding sheaves of wheat in the field. As he watched, his brother’s sheaves gathered around him and bowed down to him. Joseph’s brothers mocked him saying: “Are you indeed to reign over us?”

The second dream was quite similar:

9 Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” 11 And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind. (Genesis 37)

In this second dream, the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to Joseph. His father understood this to mean that he and his eleven other sons would bow down to Joseph. Joseph’s brothers became angry with him, but his father kept the memory of this dream in his mind.

The day would come when each of his brothers would bow down to Joseph as the ruler of Egypt. None of them had any way of knowing how this would be fulfilled in their lives. When Joseph explained these dreams, his brothers dismissed them as foolishness. God, however, was using Joseph’s dreams to show him and his family what was to come.

This was not the only time dreams were used in the life of Joseph to convey the purpose of God. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and brought to Egypt where he would remain for the rest of his life. There in Egypt he was falsely accused of sexual abuse by his boss’ wife and thrown into prison. There in prison, he met the king’s cupbearer and baker.

One day the king’s cupbearer had a dream that affected him deeply. Joseph noticed that something was troubling him and asked what was wrong. The cupbearer told Joseph his dream.

9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream, there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine, there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” (Genesis 40)

Hearing the dream, Joseph explained its prophetic meaning to the cupbearer. He told him that in three days the king would release him from jail and restore him to his position.

The chief baker also has a dream. When he heard that Joseph had revealed the meaning of the cupbearer’s dream, he too wanted to know what his dream meant. He also shared his dream with Joseph:

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” (Genesis 40)

Joseph again interpreted the meaning of the dream, telling the baker that in three days the king would cut off his head and hang him on a tree where the birds would eat his flesh.

In time, the Pharaoh of Egypt had two dreams that troubled him. In the first of these dreams, he saw seven fat cows come up out of the Nile to feed on the reed grass. Behind them came seven thin cows. These thin cows attacked and ate the fat cows.

1 After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2 and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows, attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. 3 And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4 And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. (Genesis 41)

When Pharaoh went to sleep again, he dreamed a second dream. The dream was very similar but related this time to seven good ears of grain that were eaten up by seven thin and blighted ears.

5 And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6 And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. 7 And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold; it was a dream. (Genesis 41)

Pharaoh believed that these dreams had a prophetic meaning but could not find anyone to interpret them until the cupbearer told him how Joseph had interpreted his dream. The king released Joseph from prison to hear his dreams.

When asked by Pharaoh to interpret his dream, Joseph is quick to remind him that the interpretation was not from him but God:

15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

In speaking these words, Joseph was telling the king that the words he would speak to him were not of his own origin. He would only speak what God gave him to say. God revealed to Joseph that the dream foretold seven years of plenty in the land of Egypt followed by seven years of intense drought. Joseph challenged Pharaoh to prepare for these years of drought by selecting a man to oversee the gathering of produce in preparation for the years of famine that were to come. Through these dreams, God was revealing to Pharaoh that trials were ahead for the nation.

While the dreams of the cupbearer, baker, and Pharaoh were revealed directly to them in their sleep, they had no way of understanding them. These prophetic dreams revealed the future but needed someone to explain what God was saying through them. Joseph spoke prophetically to the people of his day through the interpretation of dreams. God would give a dream to an individual and then give Joseph the meaning of that dream. It was by this means that God revealed His purpose to these individuals.

Just before he died, Joseph gave final instructions to his bothers:

24 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” (Genesis 50)

These last words of Joseph were prophetic. In these words, Joseph told his brothers that God was going to bring them out of Egypt and give them their own land. When they left Egypt, they were to take his body with them so that he could returned to his homeland. The words were not just meant to give instructions about his death but also to encourage them and reveal the purpose of God for them as a nation.

We see from these passages that God not only spoke directly to individuals but also through His servants to others. Jacob told his sons Isaac and Esau what God had planned for their lives. Joseph explained to his family the purpose God had for them in the days to come. He also communicated the will of God for the cupbearer, baker, and Pharaoh.

We see also in this book of Genesis the means God uses to communicate His purpose. Sometimes God spoke directly to His people. He also spoke prophetically through the blessing a father gave to his son. He illustrated His plan in Christ through Abraham when He asked him to sacrifice his son on the mountain. God spoke to Joseph in dreams and used him as a prophetic interpreter of dreams.

In the book of Genesis, we learn several things about prophecy. First, we see that God was interested in communicating with His people. Second, God used His people as instruments to convey His message. Third, God was not limited to any one means to deliver this message. He spoke in different ways either directly to individuals or through His servants in whatever way He deemed best.

For Consideration:

How does Isaac speak prophetically to his sons when he blessed them? What message did he convey to them?

How did God convey a message about the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice through Abraham and his son Isaac?

Did the person who communicated prophetically always understand what they were saying or doing?

List how God communicated His purpose as discussed in this chapter. What does prophecy look like? Can we limit God to using only one method of speaking to us?

Has God ever used anyone to reveal His purpose for your life or to encourage you in His purpose? How did He do this? What method did He use to bring this encouragement or direction?

For Prayer:

Thank the Lord for the way He wants to communicate with us and reveal His purpose.

Ask the Lord to give you ears to hear what He wants to say to you and how He wants to direct your life.

Thank the Lord for the way He has used others to speak to you in times of need.

Ask God to make you willing to be an instrument in His hands to encourage or bless His people with the words He gives you to share.

Chapter 3 – Exodus: Moses, God's Spokesman

As we move to the book of Exodus the people of God were in Egypt. Their Egyptian slave masters harshly treated them. At that time, a young mother gave birth to a son by the name of Moses. He would become a powerful leader in the movement to set the nation of Israel free from Egyptian bondage.

Moses, as an Israelite, grew up in the home of Pharaoh’s daughter and had all the privileges afforded to him as her adopted son. As he grew up, however, the Lord placed a burden on his heart for the Israelites and their plight. His efforts on their behalf failed, however, when he attempted to win their favour by killing an Egyptian taskmaster. The death of this Egyptian, at the hands of Moses, brought the wrath of Pharaoh on him and he was forced to flee the nation and live in exile in the land of Midian.

After forty years, the Lord spoke to Moses and called him back to Egypt to set his people free. Moses’ call came when he saw a burning bush in the desert. The voice of God spoke out of that bush commanding him to return to Egypt. Listen to the words of God to Moses that day as recorded in Exodus 3:10-12:

10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3)

In those words, God not only gave Moses the direction He wanted him to take but also a promise of success. God promised to be with Moses and assured him that the day would come when he and his people would worship him at the mountain at which he was grazing his sheep. When that happened, Moses would know that God was faithful to His promises.

Moses heard the direction and promise of the Lord but struggled with what he was being asked to do:

10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (Exodus 4)

Moses did not feel that he could do what God had asked him to do. He told the Lord that he was not an eloquent man and could not speak. Moses understood that if he were to set the people free, he would have to convince Pharaoh to let them go. He did not feel that he had the skills necessary for this task. Moses looked to himself for the skills necessary. He is not looking to God. He had not yet come to understand that God did not need human ability and skill. God responded to Moses’ argument in verses 11 and 12:

11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (Exodus 4)

Notice what God told Moses in these verses. He would be with Moses’ mouth and teach him what he was to speak. When God is with our mouth, our words are empowered. When God teaches us what to speak, all we need to do is share what God has given us. God was showing Moses that He did not have to figure out what to say to Pharaoh. God would give him the words. He did not have to spend hours trying to prepare his logical arguments for Pharaoh. He just had to say what God gave him to say. God was simply asking Moses to be His human mouth to communicate to Pharaoh.

When Moses continued to object, God became angry with him. Despite His anger, however, God proposed a solution for Moses that he found easier to accept:

14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. (Exodus 4)

God proposed that Moses’ brother Aaron do the speaking. God would tell Moses what He wanted to speak to Pharaoh. Moses would share those words with Aaron and Aaron would pass them on to the people. Notice what God told Moses in verse 16: “he will be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.”

This discussion between God and Moses reveals to us the nature of prophecy. God shows us what we are to say, and we share what He gives us with those to whom He sends us. Prophecy is not sharing our wisdom and insights. It is sharing what God has been giving us.

Speaking God’s words did not guarantee success for Moses. He went with the words God gave him to Pharaoh. Pharaoh rejected those words:

2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go. (Exodus 5)

The Lord was with Moses’ mouth, and He taught him what to say, but those words were rejected. Being God’s spokesman did not mean that Moses or his words would be received by those to whom he spoke. This was a hard lesson for Moses to learn. When Pharaoh responded to the words of Moses by making Israel’s burden greater, Moses cried out to God:

22 Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” (Exodus 5)

Speaking God’s word was, on the one hand, an exciting ministry. Seeing how people responded to those words, was another matter. Moses had to learn that as a prophet, he would not always be accepted. His words, though they were from God, would often be rejected. This would be a painful lesson for many prophets in Scripture.

Over the course of months that followed, God would direct Moses through the unfolding of a series of ten plagues on the nation of Egypt. Ten times, Moses returned to Pharaoh with the word of the Lord and a warning of a plague if he rejected that word. As Pharaoh resisted the prophetic word of the Lord, the nation was left suffering and starving for food.

The prophetic ministry of Moses was not only directed toward Pharaoh. A good portion of the book of Exodus is devoted to the Lord’s words through Moses for the nation of Israel. In Exodus 12, for example, God instructed Moses on how to prepare for the final plague that would kill the firstborn of every home in the nation of Egypt. In these instructions God instituted the celebration of the Passover –a yearly event celebrated by the Jewish community. God’s directions for this celebration were quite precise. God shared with Moses, the kind of lamb that he was to slaughter, what he was to do with the blood of the lamb, what God’s people were to eat and how they were to eat the evening meal. Moses, as God’s mouthpiece, shared every detail with the people.

God called Moses up to the mountain in Exodus 19 and spoke with him about the requirements He had for His people. There on the mountaintop, God summarized His moral requirements in ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). He taught him how to offer sacrifices (Exodus 20:22-26), how to treat slaves (Exodus 21:1-11) and the obligation of every citizen toward each other (Exodus 21:12-35). God told Moses what He expected when a man was caught stealing from his neighbour (Exodus 22:1-4) and what He expected of those who loaned money to a friend (Exodus 22:14-15. He told Moses about the various festivals He wanted his people to practice each year and the types of offerings they were to bring to Him on those occasions (Exodus 23:10-19). Finally, God promised that He would bring His people to their own land and bless them as a nation if they walked with Him (Exodus 23:20-33).

What is significant for us to note is what Moses did with all the words the Lord spoke to him on that mountain:

3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. (Exodus 24)

As the prophetic mouthpiece of God, Moses gathered all the people and shared with them “all the words of the Lord and all the rules.” To be sure that they would be remembered, Moses took this a step further and wrote the words of the Lord down on a scroll. This is the first record of prophecy put into writing. The words of God through Moses were intended not just for that generation but for generations to come.

The ministry of Moses, as a prophet, was to communicate the purpose of God for the people. In this sense, the prophetic ministry of Moses was also a teaching ministry. Through this gift, God instructed His people in what He expected from them. These words were written down so that they could be passed on from generation to generation. Teachers would later instruct God’s people in these prophetic words and help them to understand and apply these principles. What would become Israel’s laws and regulations were given prophetically to Moses from God.

Not only did the laws and regulations of Israel come through a prophet who spoke directly with God, but we see from Exodus 25 that God instructed Moses in how to build the tabernacle and each article used in its service. God’s instructions about the items used in worship were precise. He told Moses how much gold or silver to use for each item. He gave him exact measurements for the ark of the covenant and the table used to hold the bread. From the decorations on the candlesticks to the colour and designs that were embroidered on the curtains, all these details were carefully laid out by God for Moses. Moses, in turn, would share the words of God with the people and oversee the production of each article to be sure that it was in line with the instructions God gave him. Every detail of the tabernacle came to Israel through prophecy, spoken directly to Moses from God.

Moses’ prophetic calling was not only used for teaching the people the requirements of God but also to guide them through the wilderness. As the people left the land of Egypt, God spoke to Moses to tell him the direction the people were to take:

1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so. (Exodus 14)

When Pharaoh pursued the children of Israel with his army, everything looked hopeless. God, however, instructed Moses in what to do:

15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. (Exodus 14)

No human wisdom would lead the people to expect that waters of the sea would open to them and set them free from the pursuing army. This was a word from the Lord to Moses.

When the people were without food, the Lord told Moses that he would rain down bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4). When the people grumbled because they had no water, God told Moses to take his staff and strike a rock, and it would provide water for the nation (Exodus 17:5-7). When the water in Marah was so bitter the people could not drink it. It was a word from the Lord to Moses that brought the solution (Exodus 15:22-26).

While Moses seems to be the one who heard from God and conveyed His truth to the people, it is important to note a reference to Moses’ sister Miriam in Exodus 15:

20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. 21 And Miriam sang to them:

Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;

the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”

Miriam is called a prophetess in Exodus 15:20. This appears to be the only place in Scripture that indicates that Miriam was a prophetess. We know very little about how she exercised her prophetic ministry. The context of Exodus 15:20-21 may, however, give an example of how she used her gift –through music.

As we continue our study of prophecy and the prophetic ministry, we will see other connections between music and prophecy. Suffice it to say here that this is the first connection that is made between a prophetess and music. It is not without coincidence that many of the prophetic passages of Scripture come in the form of poetry. God inspired people to communicate His word in a variety of ways. Moses wrote down the words God gave him so that they would be preserved for generations to come. Sometimes God will speak to His people through the music He has inspired, to remind them of His promises or His purpose for their lives. Like the words of Moses written down on a tablet, these prophetic words put to music are passed on for generations and sung repeatedly by God’s people.

What does Exodus teach us about prophecy and the prophetic ministry? We learn that God sometimes directed His people into His purpose by speaking directly to them. This was the case for Moses and his call at the burning bush to return to Egypt.

Secondly, prophecy is not about sharing personal ideas or thoughts, but speaking what God has given. God told Moses that He would give him the words to speak to Pharaoh. Moses did not have to study and organize these thoughts before he went to Pharaoh. He merely conveyed to Pharaoh what God had put on his lips.

Thirdly, the prophetic ministry, though it is from God, was not always accepted or appreciated. Moses learned this the hard way. Though he spoke what God gave him, Pharaoh rejected what Moses said. The lives of the Israelite slaves became more difficult before they were released. Moses had to share what God gave him to say even when it proved difficult.

Fourthly, God used the prophetic ministry of Moses to teach His people about His requirements for them as a people. He instructed Moses in the sacrifices and lifestyle He expected, and Moses taught these truths to the people just as God had shown him.

Fifthly, God used the prophetic ministry of Moses to provide solutions for His people in difficult times. When the people did not know what to do, God spoke to Moses and showed him the answer. It was the advice of the Lord that provided water from the Rock. It was the counsel of the Lord that showed the people that they were to cross the Red Sea.

Finally, we see how prophetic words were sometimes written down or memorized to preserve them for future generations. This was the case for the Law of God given to Moses. It may also have been the case for prophetic words set to music and sung by God’s people in worship.

For Consideration:

What is the connection between the Law of Israel and the prophetic ministry of Moses?

What is the difference between human logic and prophecy?

How did Moses use his prophetic calling to lead the people of God through the desert?

Can there be a connection between prophecy and music? How could music preserve the prophetic message?

Why is it essential that we understand that the Bible comes from God through His prophets and is not of human origin?

For Prayer:

Thank the Lord that the truth of Scripture has been given to us as God’s servants faithfully wrote what He told them. Thank Him that it is reliable and trustworthy because it is from Him.

Thank the Lord that He is still willing to direct and guide you personally in times of struggle and confusion.

How has God spoken to you? Have you ever been encouraged by the Lord? Has he ever directed you in the way you should go? Take a moment to thank Him for how He guides and strengthens His people.

Chapter 4 - The Law and Prophecy

As the people of God left Egypt and set out into the desert, it was Moses who led them. Moses had a powerful prophetic calling from the Lord. He was God’s national spokesman for the people. God would often speak to Moses and tell him what to say the nation.

In Leviticus 24 we have the story of a son of an Israelite mother and Egyptian father. This young man fought with a man in the Israelite camp. During the fight, it appears that this young man blasphemed the name of the Lord. He was brought to Moses and put in custody until Moses could ask the Lord what to do about him.

10 Now an Israelite woman’s son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel. And the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought in the camp, 11 and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. 12 And they put him in custody, till the will of the Lord should be clear to them. (Leviticus 24)

Moses went to the Lord to inquire about this man. The Lord told Moses in Leviticus 24:13-16:

13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14 “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. 16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. (Leviticus 24)

The Lord made it clear to Moses that day what he was to tell the people. This young man was to be stoned to death and a warning given to the entire Israelite camp that whoever blasphemed the name of the Lord would be put to death. The word that Moses heard that day came directly from God and was to guide the people in what they were to do.

We sometimes get the idea that prophecy is about future events. This is not always the case. Prophecy relates to God’s revelation of His purpose, will, and heart. Some prophecy refers to the future purpose of God, but a good part of prophecy speaks to the here and now.

A quick search for the phrase “the Lord spoke to Moses” in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy show us that the phrase is repeated about 79 times in these books. This is significant. It shows us that Moses had a significant role to play in revealing the purpose of God to his people. That purpose was not only explained in specific details, as in the case of the young man who cursed the Lord but also through the various laws God gave Moses as recorded in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. All these requirements came directly from God through His servant Moses.

We see the significance of this prophetic role of Moses when his brother and sister complained that he had married a Cushite woman (Numbers 12:1). Their complaint did not stop there, however. They went on to grumble about the prophetic ministry of Moses:

2 And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. (Numbers 12)

Miriam was described as a prophetess in Exodus 15:20. When Moses told God that he could not speak, God told him that He would make his brother Aaron his prophet (see Exodus 4:14-16). Both Miriam and Aaron felt they had a prophetic gift and calling. What they were seeing, however, is that the Lord was speaking much more through Moses. The people were looking to him to seek that Lord on their behalf. There may have been an element of jealousy here in these siblings. What is crucial for us to see, however, is that the gift of prophecy was not limited to Moses.

When the Lord heard Aaron and Miriam grumbling about Moses and his prophetic calling, He demanded that they approach Him at the tabernacle. That day Moses, Miriam and Aaron all stood before God to hear from Him. As they stood before Him, a pillar of cloud came and remained at the entrance to the tabernacle.

There in the presence of that cloudy pillar, the Lord spoke these words to Miriam and Aaron:

6 And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. 7 Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. 8 With him, I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” 9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed. (Numbers 12)

God told Miriam and Aaron that the usual way He spoke through a prophet was through dreams visions and riddles that needed interpretation. God chose, however, to talk to Moses face to face. He even revealed His form to Moses. God had a special relationship with Moses. He had called him to a very particular prophetic ministry. When God gave instructions to Moses about His law, He was very clear. There were no riddles or any chance of misunderstanding. The words of the law God gave to Moses were too important to commit to the interpretation of any human being. What God taught Moses was direct, clear and precise. This is what Moses wrote down for the people to follow.

That day God was angry with Miriam and Aaron because they were jealous and spoke harshly about the role He had given Moses. Miriam seemed particularly jealous and angry with Moses. When the cloud departed from the tabernacle, she became leprous and was separated from the people of God until was again restored to health. God protected His servant Moses from the grumbling of his brother and sister and reminded them that God chooses the people He pleases to be His representatives. This appears to be the first conflict we see in Scripture between fellow prophets. It would not, however, be the last.

In Numbers 22 we meet another prophet by the name of Balaam. He is a very different type of prophet. Balaam was not even an Israelite. From Deuteronomy 23:4 we discover that Balaam, the son of Beor was from Pethor in Mesopotamia. He was known as a prophet or diviner. Israel was not the only nation to have prophets. Many of the foreign countries of the day consulted prophets and diviners to understand the will of the gods. God warned His people about these prophets and diviners in Deuteronomy 18:

Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-29 show above.)