Prophets as Messengers

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Question
In what ways were prophets called to be messengers?
Answer
Prophets are regarded as messengers, which implies, and almost explicitly tells us, they've been given a message. In other words, a prophet isn't some lookout on the top of the main mast of a ship trying to look out into the future and see land or see something ahead. Prophets aren't straining forward to see something they can't yet see. Prophets have been given a message to deliver. Deuteronomy 13 and Deuteronomy 18 are very important for understanding the foundations of the prophetic ministry, and a lot of the criteria that Moses gives for people to judge who is a true prophet and who is a false prophet is "the one that speaks the will of God." And we see this in the calling narratives of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. In fact, in Ezekiel we see that Ezekiel is handed a scroll and told to eat the scroll, that is, he is to own, and possess, and internalize the message which God has given him. So prophets, they're not freelancers out there trying to negotiate deals between God and man. They're not lookouts trying to see into the future. They're like ambassadors. They've been given orders, and they are under orders to speak. And you see this beautifully even running into the New Testament. When Paul says this, he says, "I have not been unfaithful to the heavenly vision," he's speaking of the commission he was given by Jesus on the road to Damascus. The faithful and true prophet is the one who speaks the will of the Lord — no more, no less — because he is a man under orders.

Answer by Rev. Michael J. Glodo

Rev. Michael J. Glodo is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.