“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)
The truth about the one Creator God ought to be self evident to every human person. However, human sin and self-centeredness has caused people to choose not to hear and see the obvious. That’s why God has raised up and inspired prophets through the ages to point out to those who are ready what they’ve been failing to perceive through the universe around them. We tend to think of prophecy as foretelling, but Bible scholars have been consistent in pointing out that its more usual role is forthtelling – explaining to people the meaning and reality they’ve been missing.
In our continuing study of the Old Testament, we’ve come to the place where we will be looking at the pivotal role prophets have played in God’s fuller revelation of himself to humanity. This week Pastor Connie will help us understand the rather severe message of Obadiah, one of the twelve “Minor Prophets” in the Old Testament. After that, we’ll look at all four “Major Prophets” (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel), as well as some other representative Minor Prophets.
But prophecy in the Bible goes beyond those books written by people identified as prophets. Some of the greatest prophets during the time of the judges and the kings spoke out forcefully, but did not leave a written record — Samuel (whom we usually label a judge), Nathan, Elijah and Elisha stand out. Also, numerous other early leaders, known primarily for other roles, were said to have prophesied, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Deborah and David.
The spoken words of the prophets as they pointed people to the one God of Creation culminated in the most profound Word ever spoken:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were created through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” (John 1:1-3)
As in the Old Testament, we see the prophetic Word connecting with the declaration of the glory of God in Creation.
After Jesus left this earth, prophecy was among the gifts poured out by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, along with speaking in tongues. Some bystanders understood that this prophecy had a similar function as did ancient prophecy:
“Utterly amazed, they asked, ‘Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each one hears them in his own native language, . . . declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues?'” (Acts 2:7-11)
The ‘”heavens declare the gory of God” continually through nature; it is the prophet’s role to “declare the wonders of God in our own tongues,” that is, to each person in every age and every culture.”
Toward the end of the New Testament, there is a wonderful summary statement in the introduction to the Letter to the Hebrews:
“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
Once again, the revelation of God in Creation is seen as being interpreted and magnified through the word of prophecy. Whether the prophets of the Old Testament, the key prophetic Word in Jesus, or the prophetic preaching of the Gospel ever since, the heart of the Gospel in every age is that the one true God of Creation loves his Creation intensely.
— Pastor George Van Alstine