Theme: “The Prophetic Gift”
Leading Question: What are the circumstances on earth that trigger a divine decision to send a prophetic messenger?
The following examples of prophetic messengers help us see what kind of people God uses as well as the circumstances that make the presence of a prophet advisable:
A. Abraham: Gen 20:7. The use of the word “prophet” for Abraham in his conflict with Abimelech seems strange in that Abraham was the one who had wronged Abimelech. Is such an example typical or unusual? Can we generalize from it?
B. Moses: Num 12:6-8; Deut 18:15-18; Num 34:10-12. Even though Moses was a prophet, Scripture suggests that he was more than a prophet, a notch ahead of ordinary prophets. Did his special relationship with God enhance his authority, making him more authoritative than “ordinary” prophets? What was his role among God’s people?
C. Prophetesses in Israel: Exod 15:20, 21; Judges 4:4-10; 2 Kings 22:11-20. Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah are all called “prophetess” in Scripture. One came from the time of the exodus, one from the era of the judges, and one at the end of the monarchy. What were the circumstances that led to the appointment of these women to the prophetic office? In what way did their ministry differ from that of their male counterparts?
Note: In the New Testament, Paul states: “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent” (1 Tim 2:12). Do the Old Testament examples of women who exercised authority over men suggest that inspired messages can sometimes be local rather than universal in their application? How does one know when such distinctions should be made?
D. New Testament Prophets: Luke 1:67 (Zechariah); John 1:6, 7 (John the Baptist); Acts 11:27-28 (Agabus); Acts 13:1 (Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, Saul). Is it possible to clearly distinguish the work of apostles from that of prophets in the New Testament? Does the New Testament seem to grant apostles more authority than “mere” prophets?
E. Greatest and least: Mat 11:11: John the Baptist. Jesus said that John the Baptist was the “greatest” among those born to women, yet even the least in the Kingdom was greater than he. Does that tell us anything about John’s authority or standing? What light does that shed on “prophetic authority”?