By Elizabeth Prata
I love prophecy. I love studying the Prophets. In fact, when I became a believer, I had not gone to church or owned a Bible or was familiar with the Bible or Christian Culture. I started studying the Bible after salvation and I went straight to the Major Prophets. I read Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, etc, first, not knowing the common way was to read the Gospels first. But then I went right on to the Minor Prophets and enjoyed Zephaniah, Obadiah, and Nahum. It took about 8 years of Old Testament reading intensively and then I turned to the NT. I mean, I heard New Testament preaching when I listened to my pastor on Sundays and the preachers I liked online, but my absorption and focus was prophets.
In addition to The Four Major Prophets who penned their prophecies and are recorded in the Bible as a standalone book: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel; and The Twelve Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, there are other men who prophesied but did not write a book of the Bible. There are a lot of them once you list them all together!
Major Prophet vs. Minor Prophet isn’t a designation of value, it’s just that the Major Prophets penned books that were longer, more involved, and had wider or even global implications. The Minor Prophets prophecies were shorter, pointed, and more discrete in scope.
Balaam was a prophet, but one who would prophesy anything for money. Nathan was a good prophet, and helped David. Samuel was a prophet, and a seer, too. We know a bit more about those guys because there are many verses devoted to their activities for the LORD.
A prophet in the Bible was one designated by God to tell His truths, His word, or his plans. Prophets are servants of God. Certainly the Lord GOD does nothing Unless He reveals His secret plan To His servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7).
There are some who prophesied just one thing, or are mentioned only once or twice. For example, Ahijah was a Shilonite. He prophesied against Jeroboam. He’s mentioned in 1 Kings 11:29–39; 12:15, 14:1–18, 15:29, 2 Chronicles 9:29, who proclaimed to Jeroboam that Jeroboam would be king over the ten northern tribes of Israel and later prophesied that Jeroboam’s family would all die because of Jeroboam engaged in idolatry.
You can see why prophets were not so popular!
Shemaiah was a prophet during the reign of Rehoboam. The Bible calls him a “man of God.” He rebuked King Rehoboam for planning to go to war against the northern kingdom (Israel) as stated in 2 Chronicles 11:2. He also prophesied that Shishak would defeat the kingdom of Judah because Rehoboam had forsaken God (2 Chronicles 12:5–7). That’s all we know. If he had any prophecies written down, they are lost because the Spirit did not cause them to be included in the canon.
In Numbers 11:26 we read that “Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp.”
Huh. So Eldad and Medad prophesied. We do not know why they did not go out to the tent, but it is clear they served God by prophesying His word to the people.
There are many more Old Testament incidences of Prophets and prophecy. Some prophesied once, thus we tend to forget their names or their prophecies. Others had lengthy ongoing ministries of foretelling such as Jeremiah or Isaiah. The ministry of foretelling (prediction) is ceased now, because we have the completed canon of scripture. All that God presently wants us to know, He has said.
Prophesying is also forthtelling, that is, proclaiming already revealed truths from His word. Typically this is done through teaching and preaching. That kind of prophesying is being done now in these days. Anyone who claims to have “a fresh word” or a “new revelation” or a dream or vision, may be sincere in thinking it came from God, but it didn’t. He has closed the canon as stated in Revelation 22:18-19. If anyone prophesies nowadays, they are is simply preaching the already delivered word. No new revelations are coming down from the Father of Lights at present.
He gave us His word through the Prophets of Old, through the Spirit inspiring men to write the NT, and what is revealed is taught today by qualified men who pastor and qualified male and female teachers diligently exposing the truths to our minds for its transformation. I will be eager to meet with all the known and unknown prophets of the Old Testament and learn of their ministries. What a great God we serve, who goes to these lengths to use men and women for His glory, and to reveal Himself to us.