Joe Teisan: July 2017
WHY DO THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL STAND ALONE, ARE UNIQUE, AND WITHOUT PARALLEL IN WORLD HISTORY?
Unknown Hebrew prophets proclaiming the Lord’s will, direct and ordain the rise and fall of kings and empires. Not only have they foredetermined the course of history, but the power of their prophecies are still being felt today. These messengers of the Lord declare that the Holy, Sovereign and Unchangeable God, is the Master Planner and Controller of all human events, and of all Creation. The prophets are so Messiah-centered that Jesus has already fulfilled over 300 prophecies and 400 more are waiting to be fulfilled upon His return. “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).
Without official appointment, and totally independent, God’s spokesmen boldly appeared uninvited in king’s palaces and warned, advised, denounced, or instructed monarch and people, alike, voicing the Lord’s decrees. We learn courage watching Nathan, bravely standing before David; Elijah, going face to face with King Ahab, and Ahijah condemning King Solomon (2 Sam. 12:1-5, 1 Kings 17:1, 18:17-19, 1 Kings 11:31-33).
Are the messages of the prophets of old still needed? Think of how many today worship idols, hate each other, oppress the poor, and will believe in anything or anyone, except Jesus. When the Old Testament tells Israel to turn from idols and sin, and believe in Jehovah the Lord, it is the same as telling people to believe in Jesus, because His name means, “Jehovah the Savior” (Mt. 1:21). When asked the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart … and with all thy mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:37-40). Fulfilled prophecies are another confirmation to our hearts of what we already know, that Scripture is truly God’s inerrant Word (2 Pet. 1:21, Jer. 1:9, Ezek. 2:7, 2 Tim. 3:15-17).
Prophecies of Christ’s first coming and His Messianic Kingdom are so intermixed with events in Israel’s past, that the distinctions are pressed together and often seen as one. Only the New Testament can unscramble and assemble the puzzle. The Jews at the time of Christ could not imagine that thousands of years separated the promises in Isaiah 9:6-7.
The 16 prophetic books are written in the forceful energy and lofty cadence of Hebrew poetry with its parallelism, in which one line is echoed by another. Enjoy the beauty of parallel expressions in these examples: “O Assyria, the rod of My anger, and the staff in their hand is My indignation … Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust” (Is. 10:5, Nah. 3:18). Poetic parallel expressions greatly aid in interpretation. Refreshingly, prophecies, in many places, follow the rule that Scripture explains Scripture. For example, in Zechariah, the 8 night visions in chapters 1-6, are mostly explained. Yet, even to the prophets, many of their words were indiscernible, demanding and anticipating the Light of the World.
Following in the footsteps of those ancient messengers, we are judged by the same high standard of Deuteronomy 18:15-22. We must speak in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and our words must be 100% accurate. Jesus declares that fulfilled prophecies, His teachings, miracles and His Resurrection, prove all of His claims (Jn. 5:36, 39, 46, Lk. 4:16-21).
Joseph A. Teisan
Bethel Baptist Church