Prophets, Then and Now

by Ted Kyle

Those hoary, hairy Old Testament men of God-men who stood against the flood of wickedness in their day-were prophets in every sense of the word: they were foretellers and forth-tellers. In this, I believe,  lies a fundamental difference between those prophets and prophets of today.

In their prophetic role, these Old Testament ambassadors for Jehovah God arose almost without exception in dark days for Israel. God brought them forth to chide His people, to warn them, and sometimes even to curse them in God's name. Reading their recorded words plunges us into those scenes, which bespeak the tragedy of sin.

But occasionally, in the midst of these gloomy narratives, come brilliant rays of sunlight. It is as though the black clouds, which cast all beneath into hopeless despair, are finally seen as moving away. And through a rift in the clouds the sun appears momentarily.

These brilliant but brief interludes -and I will use Isaiah 9:6-7 as an example-showed that God was not finished with them-or with us. They reveal that there is hope, without which man cannot long endure. And they give everyone a reason to turn from their sins and seek the Lord of light.

Such is our example from Isaiah. It comes in the midst of stern denunciations of the straying nation. But what a powerful contrast it provides! "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever."             

When our God spoke through those ancient men, He spoke to all time. He spoke to us, equally with the prophets' actual hearers. We, too, find our joy in basking in that Light-revealed now as the Lord Jesus Christ. Through those Old Testament spokesmen, God laid out the broad outline of all time. He left only details to be revealed, as time passed (and passes).

So what about our day? God still employs prophets, but not to add to the future-which is already revealed in the Bibles we hold in our hands. Today, God needs forth-tellers to apply His Word to the hearts and lives of today's generations. Showing that God is still sovereign, and that His nature includes both inexhaustible love and fatherly discipline, is the principle privilege and task of our prophets of today.

Prophets, man your pulpits!

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