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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Abraham, My Friend_48

Abraham, My Friend
The Making of a Praying Man_48

a prophet?

“Abraham” says God “is a prophet.” At this point there is no explanation of the title or role. It was obviously something which Abimelech would have understood, a familiar term in his day but what about ours? Perhaps it is too familiar now that the word becomes an adjective and is added to other words as ‘a prophetic platform’, a prophetic lifestyle, and others. I always become uncomfortable when Bible nouns are used as adjectives. So what is a prophet?

We have a working definition in the scriptures in the relationship between Moses and Aaron. The concept arises from Moses’ sense of inability and sets the scene immediately for all future prophets; [b] And thou shalt speak unto him, and put the words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach [u]you[/u] what [u]ye[/u] shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people; and it shall come to pass, that he shall be to thee a mouth, and thou shalt be to him as God. [/b] (Exo 4:15-16 ASV) It is an amazing statement in which God describes Moses as a god. It is important to recognize that what God is describing here is not an ability, nor a gift, nor an event, but a relationship. It uses the language of what I like to call an ‘!-thou’ relationship. In describing Aaron as Moses’ spokesman, God is actually describing Moses as God’s spokesman. It will profit us to consider these verses.

There is truth here which is hidden from those who use only modern translations. God speaks here both of ‘thou’ and ‘ye’; the first is singular as God refers to Moses, but the second is plural as God includes Aaron in His plan. We would get the sense if we added the words ‘both of you’ after ‘you’ and ‘ye’ in our passage. God was guaranteeing the whole process, both the inspiration and the transmission. Moses is to speak to Aaron and ‘put the words in his mouth’, but Moses’ words will be God’s words ‘I will be with thy mouth’. God will superintend Moses’ words as he speaks to Aaron, and will also superintend Aaron’s words when he speaks to Pharaoh. [b]I will teach you (both)[/b] says God [b]what (both) of you shall do[/b]. Moses will be inspired and Aaron will be monitored and kept true. This is the first indication of God’s methods of inspiration in the Scriptures and gives us a working model for the inspiration of Scripture itself. There are two points as which human error might have entered the scripture, inspiration and communication; God has under-written both.

Moses is to be God’s spokesman and Aaron is to be Moses’ spokesman. This is the simplest definition, the prophet is a spokesman for God; he speaks on God’s behalf. He may be a wonderful teacher or preacher, he may be a great theologian, he may be none of these; the essence is He is God’s man. “a spokesman for the President said…” We hear the words frequently and understand them to mean not only that this is a man-who-speaks, a spokes-man, but that s/he is the President’s representative. The spokesman is the voice of another; that is his glory and his caution against any superiority of attitude. He bears the authority and dignity of another; in himself he is of little significance. The greatest prophet was John Baptist and we hear this consciousness very clearly in his own witness. “who are you?” demanded his frustrated questioners, [b] He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord…”[/b] (Joh 1:23 KJV) I’m just the voice, says John. “It is of little consequence ‘who I am’ what matters is what I am saying.” There is no conflict between style and substance for the prophet.

There is an old African proverb that says ‘to hear you must be near’. The worth of the prophet will be directly proportional to his intimacy with God. He brings, not his ‘considered opinions’, but the very word of God. [b] knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit. [/b] (2Pe 1:20-21 ASV) What a wonderful phrase that is, ‘men spake from God’; God’s spokesmen. The words were not the result of a prophet’s deliberations; they were not personal interpretations of the mind of God, but they spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. This does not mean they were in ecstatic states but that the whole dynamic of their operation was in the power of the Spirit.

Amos distanced himself from the professional ‘prophets’ of his day (Amos 7:14) but he was true prophet none the less, and speaks a significant word here; [b] Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. [/b] (Amo 3:7 KJV) In the sense of their service to their Master, they are servants, but in another sense they are more. “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do” God has asked earlier. He knows he can trust Abraham with his secrets; Abraham, My Friend. I recall sitting at lunch in the home of retired missionary from India. On the wall was a simple poker work text, it said, [b]“Ye are my friends, if…”[/b] It provoked me through the whole meal. Conditional friendship? The whole passage is a great encouragement but we need that reminder of the initial condition; [b] [i]Ye are my friends, if[/i] ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. [/b] (Joh 15:14-15 KJV)

When we get to the end of Abraham’s story perhaps we should begin that of Moses. He is pre-eminently, the Prophet. Have you ever imagined Israel watching him entering the tent that he had set up outside the camp to be alone with God? [b] And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. [u]And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend…[/u][/b] (Exo 33:8-11 KJV) See the cloudy pillar keeping watch at the door so that God and Moses can be without interruption?

Moses and Aaron were not going to bring a series of suggestions or discussion points; they would bring a word born of God, inspired by God, directed by God, empowered by God, watched over by God; they were just men but they were speaking the word of God. When God’s commission became His action the word ‘spokesman’ is not used; [b] And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and [u]Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet[/u]. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. [/b] (Exo 7:1-2 KJV) This is the full extent of the team; God and a prophet; immediate revelation and the commission to pass it on. Aaron would operate in the strength of Moses authority as Moses’ prophet and Moses would operate in the strength of God’s authority.

The prophet must hear before he has anything to say. The narrator of Samuel story explains to his readers the nature of a prophet; [b] (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.) [/b] (1Sa 9:9 KJV) The prophet must see before he has anything to say. The work of the prophet begins in revelation; [b] Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. [u]If any thing be revealed to another[/u] 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. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. [/b] (1Co 14:29-32 KJV) The nature of prophesy in the local church is of a different order to canonical prophesy but the underlying principles are the same. A prophet speaks what he has heard and seen in the presence of God.

The Bible never explains the process of inspiration; it simply assumes it. There is a passage of scripture which my mind always turns to when considering these things. It is a song written by a prophet. [b]My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. [/b] (Psa 45:1 KJV) Referring to this psalm Spurgeon wrote;[i] Some here see Solomon and Pharaoh's daughter only - they are shortsighted; others see both Solomon and Christ - they are cross-eyed; well-focussed spiritual eyes see here Jesus only, or if Solomon be present at all, it must be like those hazy shadows of passers-by which cross the face of the camera, and therefore are dimly traceable upon a photographic landscape.[/i] The subject of the psalm is Christ and His bride but the author remains anonymous.

It is process of his inspiration that catches my attention. Something is a-bubbling in his heart. The translators ring the changes on his initial statement; the KJV has ‘inditing’ but others have the heart ‘being moved’, ‘overflowing’. The Message has ‘my heart bursts its banks’. The word means ‘to gush’. He is quite prepared to do the work ‘which I have made’ but it all begins with that upsurge. The Lord declared that in teaching [b] Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. [/b] (Mat 13:52 KJV) The order is significant; first the new which often refocuses and recycles the old. The old may confirm the new, but revelation must always start with the new. It is the moment of insight, not just intuition or the consequence of mental labour.

My pen, says our song-writer, is the pen of a ready writer. Of another occasion the scripture says [b] Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. [/b] (Act 1:16 KJV) This is prophecy… ‘the Holy Spirit… by the mouth of a man.’ The psalmist knew that his tongue was the instrument of a swift writer. There is no struggle here for the finely tooled phrase; it flows from him. The Message puts the whole together and, again, catches the spirit of the whole in its paraphrase; [b] My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness. I pour it out in a poem to the king, shaping the river into words: [/b] (Psa 45:1 MSG)

Prophecy is not always elegant, but it is always a flow. The stately elegance that readers of the King James Version are familiar with is the polish of its translators; the original is not always so smooth. The translators had an eye to the music and beauty of the words, often the original is more rugged, but the flow is unmistakable. The prophet Ezekiel shared his vision of the life in the Spirit; the water of the Spirit pours from the temple and brings life to everything it touches; its banks are lined with fruitfulness as the river pours on its way. The Hebrew idiom is enlightening; the word for banks is ‘lips’. The image is of a river pouring out through the lips bringing life… everywhere. [b] Death and life are in the power of the tongue…[/b] (Pro 18:21 KJV)

I add my ‘amen’ to Moses prayer [b]would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets…[/b] (Num 11:29 KJV)

Ron Bailey

 2004/12/7 11:02Profile

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