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philologos
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 Men spake from God

Man spake from God: Chap 1; the prophets, para 1

H L Ellison was an academic from a Christian Brethren background. He wrote extensively on the Old Testament and on aspects of Brethren specialisms eg the Household Church. Like other Brethren academics he sometimes ran foul of conservatives, but his writings are very informative. He wrote book called men spake from God, the text of which is now on-line at this URL. It still provides a useful introduction to the prophetical books of the Old Testament.

In the light of the way that the terminology of 'prophetic' is used widely today, I thought it would be good to draw SIers attention to some basic features of prophecy and open up some possible discussions. I plan to introduce you to the first chapter, paragraph by paragraph. Please be discerning as you read. I do not vouch for all Ellison's opinions. (I don't even vouch for all of MY opinions, all the time ;-) )

The Prophetic Books.

In popular speech the Prophetic Books are the sixteen books of the Old Testament, from Isaiah to Malachi, including Lamentations as well. They are further sub­divided into the four Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel) and the twelve Minor Prophets.

This enumeration and sub-division is not to be found in the Hebrew Bible. It is divided into the Torah (Law), Neviim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). The second section, the Prophets, consists of eight books: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings (the Former Prophets), and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, The Twelve (the Latter Prophets). The reasons for the omission of Daniel, which belongs to the Writings, are considered in ch. XVII. For the moment it is sufficient to say that the rabbis made a correct distinction between normal prophecy and the apocalyptic visions we find in Daniel.

The distinction between Major and Minor Prophets is first found in the Latin Churches, and Augustine rightly explains that it means a difference in size, not in value (De Civitate Dei: 18. 29). Though we are not dealing with the Former Prophets in this book, we shall profit by grasping the implications of books we call historical being considered prophetic.
H L Ellison: Men Spake from God.

Even at this early stage there is important information here. Traditionally the scribes spoke of the former and the latter prophets; the latter are what we usually refer to as 'The Prophets'. but the 'former' prophets comprised;
Joshua
Judges
1 & 2 Samuel
1 & 2 Kings.
Now, hands up, who would have classified these as 'prophetic books of the Old Testament? The reason they are so designated is because it was recognized that this was a 'God's eye view' of history. That gives us an initial clue as to what the prophetic relates to.

The latter prophets were classified as
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Ezekiel
the Twelve (we call them the minor prophets. That little cluster which constantly change their position in your bible!)

You may notice that Daniel was recognized as something quite different and was included with the Writings, another group.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/10/22 5:34Profile
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 Re: Men spake from God

I suppose we need to (re)define what prophecy is...

Most people think it is (just) fortelling the future...

Although I think it is whenever God speaks to people through men (and women).


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Mark Nash

 2004/10/22 6:51Profile
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 Re:

Thanks Ron,

Think this will be most helpful in clarifying terms. Definition seems to be lacking in so many areas in this day, especially in The Faith and couldn't think of a better example than the whole area of prophecy. Really liked this line;

[i]"Since, then, the prophetic message is not merely a revel­ation of God’s will, but of God Himself"[/i]

Ironic that black and blue is usually what happens when you get punched in the eye. Kind of felt that way reading through some of this... :-(


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Mike Balog

 2004/10/22 7:09Profile
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 Re:

Hi Nasher

Quote:
Most people think it is (just) fortelling the future...

I think this is way too narrow.

Quote:
Although I think it is whenever God speaks to people through men (and women).

I think this is too wide.

an accurate definition lies somewhere between the two, I think. :-o


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Ron Bailey

 2004/10/22 8:07Profile
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 Re: Man spake from God: Chap 1; the prophets, para 2

The Functions of a Prophet.

The prophet is not defined or explained in the Old Testa­ment; he is taken for granted. This is because he has existed from the very first (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21), and has not been confined to Israel, e.g. Balaam (Num. 22:5), the prophets of Baal (IKings 18:19). There are true and false prophets among the nations, as there are in Israel. But Amos makes it clear that the prophets of Israel are a special gift of God (Amos 2:11) without real parallel among the Canaanites.

In the Bible, persons are called prophets whom we never call by that name, e.g. Enoch (Jude 14), Abraham (Gen. 20:7), the Patriarchs generally (Ps. 105:15). Moses is not so much the law-giver as the prophet par excellence (Deut. 18:15; 34:10).

All this should prepare us for the realization that the popular conception of the prophet as primarily a foreteller is alien to the thought of the Bible. Indeed, the alleged anti­thesis of the Old Testament fore-teller with the New Testament forth-teller, should have saved us from this error. The two Testaments are not two books in opposition to one another, but two parts of the same book, and speaking the same spiritual language.

The best picture of the true function of a prophet is given by Exod. 7:1f. The prophet is to God what Aaron was to Moses. When Moses stands before Pharaoh (“I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”), Aaron does all the speaking, even when the narrative might suggest otherwise, but they are Moses’ words — Exod. 4:15f, “Thou shalt be to him (Aaron) as God.” In other words, the prophet is God’s spokesman. Speaking for God may involve foretelling the future, and in the Old Testament it does, but this is secondary, not primary.

While the foretelling of the true prophet may be expected to come to pass (Deut. 18:21f), that does not neces­sarily establish his credentials (Deut. 13:1ff). Ultimately it is the spiritual quality of his message which shows whether a man is a prophet or not. In any case the foretelling of the future is never merely to show that God knows the future, or to satisfy man’s idle curiosity; there is a revelation of God attached to it. We can know the character of God better now, if we know what He will do in the future. And as the future becomes present we can interpret God’s activity the better for its having been foretold.

From this there follows that the prophet speaks primarily to the men of his own time, and his message springs out of the circumstances in which he lives. So some slight knowledge of the history and social background of the prophet are a help to the understanding of his message. But for all this, the source of the message is super-natural, not natural. It is derived neither from observation nor intellectual thought, but from admission to the council chamber of God (Amos 3:7; Jer. 23:18, 22), from knowing God and speaking with Him (Num. 12:6ff; Exod. 33:11). Though the ordinary prophet might not rise to Moses’ level, and had to be satisfied with vision or dream, yet Moses’ experience represented the ideal.

Since, then, the prophetic message is not merely a revel­ation of God’s will, but of God Himself, it follows that it has a depth beyond the prophet’s own understanding of it (I Pet. 1: 10ff), and that its significance extends beyond the prophet’s own time, though its application at a later period may be rather different. In so far as a prophetic message is a revelation of the unchanging God, it has an unchanging significance. But none-the-less we will be better fitted to grasp its significance for us now, as we understand what the message meant to those who first heard it. Our study will, therefore, ap­proach the prophets from this standpoint
H L Ellison: Men Spake from God.

Chronologically the first man said 'to prophesy' is Enoch. (Jude 1:14) His character is better revealed in the Bible than most realize. More later...


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Ron Bailey

 2004/10/22 8:13Profile
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 Re: The Functions of a Prophet.

What do we know of Enoch other than that he was the first man to prophesy?

He was the 7th generation and was the father of Methuselah and the great-grandfather of Noah.

He was a man of personal faith in God;By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Heb 11:5 KJV)

He walked with God for 300 years; a testimony of a continuing relationship. And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: (Gen 5:21-23 KJV)

He gave at least two prophecies; both predicted God's coming judgements:
1. he named his son, Methuselah, meaning 'when he is dead it will be sent'. God time-linked the Flood to Methuselah's life. The coming of the flood synchronized with the year of Methuselah's death.
2. he predicted the 'coming of the Lord with his holy ones'; And to these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jud 1:14-15 ASV)

He had an inward witness that his faith had caused him to be 'well-pleasing' to God; ...for he hath had witness borne to him that before his translation he had been well-pleasing unto God: Heb 11:5b ASV)This 'witness' also speaks of an intimate relationship with God.

He was 'translated/transferred' so that he did not experience death; By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Heb 11:5 KJV) He was one of only two people who did not experience death; the other was Elijah.

Everything in the Bible record gives us the impression of a man in deep and continuous personal communion with God. This man was the first to hear God's secrets. His life separated him from others in that he alone (the next one is Noah, another 'prophet') is said to 'walk with God'.

In later times prophets were sometimes just referred to as 'God's man' (ish elohim); a simple but profound designation. There is a story during the Welsh revival of a stranger arriving at a railway station and asking 'for the man with the Holy Spirit'; the station-master had no hesitation in sending him to Rees Howells. God's men can be recognized by those who are not God's men as well as those who are! If you had lived in Enoch's day and had said 'I am looking for God's man', you would have been sent to Enoch! Challenging isn't it?


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Ron Bailey

 2004/10/22 9:52Profile
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 Re: The Functions of a Prophet.

Abraham
We have yet to arrive at this point in Abraham's life in our Abraham; My Friend devotionals, so perhaps we can just comment briefly on Abraham as a prophet. If Enoch is the first man said 'to prophesy', Abraham is the first man to be called a prophet; And God said unto him (Abimelech)in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine. (Gen 20:6-7 KJV)

It is a remarkable comment showing that Abimelech was quite familiar with the concept of 'a prophet' although it is most likely that Abimelech was a Philistine. However, there is no way of pushing the meaning of the word back farther than this that a prophet is one who prophesies! We shall see a very clear definition of a prophet later with Aaron.

In this first reference to a prophet there is a very important link with prayer. for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee,(Gen 20:6-7 KJV.) We might have expected 'he is a pray-er, he will pray for thee' or 'he is a prophet, he will prophesy for thee', but there is a seemless flow from 'prophecy' to 'prayer'. It is clearly a spiritual axiom, known even to such as Abimelech, that 'prophets pray'. It might be helpful to ask ourselves why this should be. The link is mediation. A prophet is a mediator. We are most familiar with another kind of Bible mediator that we call a priest, but all Bible authority is mediation. Prophets, priests, kings... they are all God's middle-men. They bridge the gap between God and men. In his public role the prophets mediator role is usually man-wards, while the priest's is God-wards. They are not absolutely fixed directions for the priest was expected to bring the knowledge of God to the people and the prophet was to bring the needs of the people to God in prayer. The key and simple truth of the prophet is that God has 'his ear' and the prophet had 'God's ear'.

When you think about it, it is an amazing thing that God should say to one man 'don't ask me, ask Abraham'. We are right to attribute the power to God but God has ordained a method, and His method is men. It brings to mind the opening sentences of E M Bounds 'Power through Prayer'; "Men" he writes " are looking for better methods, God is looking for better men". Centuries later than this the Philistines used a cart to move the ark, and Israel copied them; or tried to. Disaster struck, God had ordained that the ark should be moved on the shoulders of men. There is a lesson to be learned here. The 'method' may work perfectly well for the 'world' but if the church tries to imitate that methodology the result will be death.

I have often thought it significant that prayer and prophesy come together again in a controversial text; Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 1Co 11:4-5 KJV)'praying or prophesying' that same combination. There is a simple link between prophesy and prayer; namely that both to be the genuine article are based in revelation. There is kind of prayer where we may have our agenda and come to plead our petition, but there is another realm in prayer where the process begins with God and not with the pray-er. As he waits upon God, God's will is revealed to him and he prays it, giving his 'amen' to God's desires. This is the pattern of true prayer... when ye pray say... 'thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven'. There is another part of the Corinthian letter which also shows the unbreakable link; Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. (1Co 14:29-31 KJV)Notice the verb used in the function of prophecy; if anything be revealed... That verb gives us the irreducible essence of prophecy; revelation.

It is not 'sanctified common sense', whatever that might mean. It is not accurate exposition of scriptural truth nor its application to current events. It is not good advice or counsel. It is seldom that I quote the Message!! but I think this gets the energy of the verses; The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. And why? Because it's not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God's Word. (2Pe 1:20-21 MSG) Although this verse refers to the scriptures themselves there is a principle here which encompasses all prophecy; as Ellison's book title has it 'Men spake from God'. Prophecy is revelation and the prophet sees things, by revelation, that others do not see, hence the even older word than prophet... 'seer'. (In former times in Israel, a person who wanted to seek God's word on a matter would say, "Let's visit the Seer," because the one we now call "the Prophet" used to be called "the Seer.")(1Sa 9:9 MSG)


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Ron Bailey

 2004/10/22 11:46Profile
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 Re: Men spake from God

i actully think adam was the first to prophesy dont know if he was a prophet but i think he prophesied?

gen 2.18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 19Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

[b]He would call them[/b]God gave adam that responsability

[b]whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name[/b]

My thoughts are how did adam know what to call them?
Know one knew what a lion was, so in his giving it a name he was saying this is what you will be? He prophesied
[b]whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name[/b]


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scot

 2004/10/22 12:43Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
i actully think adam was the first to prophesy dont know if he was a prophet but i think he prophesied?


You may well be right and I thought of including him but I am commenting on Ellison's book and he did not include Adam. In addition, although he certainly was the first to speak, to whom was he speaking? Which is a key point of prophecy. I don't know whether giving the animals their names was predictive of their nature or descriptive. I am sure Adam received revelation, but all revelation is not prophecy.

On balance, I'll stick with Enoch as the first biblically identifiable prophesy-er.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/10/22 12:51Profile
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 Prophesying and Praying

Hello Ron

This article puts into words that which I have been failing to express for some time now. I think you are right to point out the link between prophesying and prayer. I believe that the type of prayer is also very significant; to pray “in the Spirit” is in many ways comparable to prophesying. In both instances, utterance is guided by divine providence (the Holy Ghost).

I hope that this will not do more harm than good however; I would like to suggest that there is a correlation also between, prophesying and praying in tongues. It is not THE correlation, but it is A correlation. I say, “Praying” in tongues because, by observation, there is a very distinct difference between speaking in tongues when one is in direct communication with God in the Spirit and the exercising of the gift at one’s own discretion. Again, praying in tongues is the only way of praying in the Spirit but I feel we should keep this in mind while we are on the discussion

1 Corinthians 14:1-5 1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit IN THE SPIRIT he speaketh mysteries. 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

James




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James Gabriel Gondai Dziya

 2004/10/22 13:04Profile





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