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The Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Church

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    Specific Phases of His Work

    There are many aspects of the prophetic ministry revealed in the word of God, and certain of these will be listed, with the threefold classification as given above for our information, our instruction, and our guidance.BSPC 95.6

    1. As a for-teller. This introduces the most important phase of the work of God’s servants the prophets. They spoke “for” God. Aaron was a prophet (Exodus 7:1), but he was to exercise that gift as a “spokesman” (Exodus 4:16). Over and over again the prophet was commanded to tell forth, to speak, and to declare to the people what God had revealed to him.BSPC 95.7

    “In the highest sense the prophet was one who spoke by direct inspiration, communicating to the people the messages he had received from God.”Education, 46.BSPC 96.1

    2. As a fore-teller. This naturally introduces the predictive aspects of the prophet’s work; and, whether in Old Testament or in New Testament days, God had prophets, at some times more than others, who had this special gift. Revelations came largely through visions, either of the day or of the night, and the prophets were enabled to outline coming events, impending disaster, or even the advent of the Messiah. Some even went further, and looked forward to the establishment of the kingdom of God and the total eradication of sin from the fair universe of God. Many were the messengers of this character. Mention might be made of a few, such as Daniel, Joel, Isaiah, Zechariah, and others in the Old Testament, besides Paul, John, and Agabus in the New.BSPC 96.2

    Referring to her own work, Mrs. E. G. White has written, in the Introduction to her volume entitled The Great Controversy, the following:BSPC 96.3

    “Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the scenes of the long-continued conflict between good and evil have been opened to the writer of these pages. From time to time I have been permitted to behold the working, in different ages, of The Great Controversy between Christ, the Prince of life, the Author of our salvation, and Satan, the prince of evil, the author of sin, the first transgressor of God’s holy law.”—Page x.BSPC 96.4

    3. As a forth-teller. The two aspects of the prophet’s work just considered are in a sense specific and limited, but this section, that of being a forth teller, is of more varied and wider range. It covers many different lines of service. Let us observe a few of them:BSPC 96.5

    a. The prophet as an intercessor

    This phase of the work is mentioned concerning but few of the prophets. It is, however, characteristic of some. We might think of Abraham (Genesis 20:7), for God instructed him to pray, or intercede, in behalf of Abimelech. This, it so happens, is the first reference to a prophet in the Bible. Even before this incident we see Abraham in the capacity of an intercessor, when God revealed to him His purpose to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 18:23-33) Mention might also be made of Moses, the prophet of God, who interceded on behalf of Israel, and who was willing even to be blotted out of God’s book of remembrance if only the people might be saved. (Exodus 32:30-35.)BSPC 96.6

    b. The prophet as a giver of warning

    This was an important part of his ministry. Like the watchman, he was to warn the people from God. This called for the overshadowing of the Divine Spirit, in order that the prophet might rightly interpret conditions obtaining at the time he ministered. It was necessary for him to be able to see what the people and even the leaders could not see. God, however, in vision, gave to His servant divine illumination, so that he could discern the subtle devices of the evil one, and thus warn the people concerning the result of the course they were pursuing. Many are the Biblical examples of this phase of prophetic ministry. One only needs to read the prophecies of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the minor prophets to recognize the force of this.BSPC 97.1

    As to the nature of the work Mrs. E. G. White was called upon to do, note the following from her pen:BSPC 97.2

    “In His providence the Lord has seen fit to teach and warn His people in various ways. By direct command, by the sacred writings, and by the, spirit of prophecy has He made known unto them His will.”—Testimonies for the Church 4:12, 13.BSPC 97.3

    “I shall warn, and counsel, and reprove, and encourage, as the Spirit of God dictates, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. My duty is not to please myself, but to do the will of my heavenly Father, who has given me my work.”—Testimonies for the Church 4:232.BSPC 97.4

    c. The prophet as a giver of counsel

    There are so many instances of this in the Divine Record that reference is made to but a few instances. In addition to giving warnings to the people, the prophets were called upon to give counsel on many matters. In one place we see the prophet Nathan giving counsel to another prophet, namely, to David, the king of Israel. In this counsel he expresses the will of God regarding the building of the Temple. (1 Chronicles 17:1-4.) Then we see the prophet Gad telling David of the punishment that would come to him for his pride in taking the census of Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1-12.) The prophets Zechariah and Haggai were raised up in a crisis hour in later days. The people and the leaders needed special counsel, and to meet this need God sent to them His servants the prophets.BSPC 97.5

    Josiah consulted the prophetess Huldah before carrying forward the work of reformation in Israel. (2 Kings 22:13, 14.) Jehoshaphat went out to meet the invaders from Moab and Ammon in response to the counsel of the prophet jahaziel. (2 Chronicles 20:14-21)BSPC 98.1

    In like manner today God sends to His remnant church messages of counsel and warning through the same gift of prophecy.BSPC 98.2

    “In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the Testimonies of His Spirit. There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will and the course that He would have them pursue. But will they profit by His teachings? will they receive His reproofs and heed His warnings? God will accept of no partial obedience; He will sanction no compromise with self.”—Testimonies for the Church 4:147, 148.BSPC 98.3

    d. The prophet as a teacher

    Generally in Israel, teaching was associated with the priesthood. We read in one place that the people of God had been “without a teaching priest” (2 Chronicles 15:3); and that “Jehoiada the priest instructed” Jehoash (2 Kings 12:2). We read also that “the Levites ... taught the good knowledge of the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 30:22.BSPC 98.4

    But there were instances in which the prophet of God became a teacher in Israel. Jeremiah records the fact that God sent His “servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them.” Jeremiah 29:19. In the same book, however, he tells concerning Jehovah, “I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.” Jeremiah 32:33.BSPC 98.5

    In the Spirit of prophecy we read also concerning the teaching aspect of the prophet’s work:BSPC 98.6

    “But the name [prophet] was given also to those who, though not so directly inspired, were divinely called to instruct the people in the works and ways of God.”—Education, 46.BSPC 98.7

    e. The prophet as a denouncer of sin

    A large part of the work of God’s servants the prophets was in rebuking the wrongdoing of His people, and denouncing their iniquity. One is made deeply conscious of this trend in the spiritual experience of the church in those days. Numerous references could be given concerning this; the books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and some of the minor prophets abound in instances of this nature.BSPC 98.8

    The Spirit of prophecy comments on this part of Israel’s experience as follows:BSPC 99.1

    “Through His prophets He had sent to His chosen people message after message of earnest entreaty.”—Prophets and Kings, 333.BSPC 99.2

    “The prophets continued to protest against these evils, and to plead for right doing.”—Prophets and Kings, 282.BSPC 99.3

    “He sent His prophets to warn the guilty, denounce their sins, and pronounce judgment upon them.”Testimonies for the Church 4:12.BSPC 99.4

    “Faithfully the prophets continued their warnings and their exhortations; fearlessly they spoke to Manasseh and to his people; but the messages were scorned; backsliding Judah would not heed.”—Testimonies for the Church 4:382, 383.BSPC 99.5

    f. The prophet as a leader of sacred songs

    We see Miriam the prophetess as a song leader quite early in the experience of Israel. (Exodus 15:20.) We see other instances of such leadership in later days. The prophets Nathan and, Gad were closely associated with David, especially in making arrangements for the choral responses and the music in general, in the temple service. We read:BSPC 99.6

    “And he set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets.” 2 Chronicles 29:25.BSPC 99.7

    g. The prophet as interpreter of the past, present, and future

    This has already been dealt with to some extent, but it is mentioned here again to emphasize the nature of the work of the Spirit of prophecy in the Advent Movement. At least part of the work entrusted to the messenger of the Lord is of this character. This can be seen in her own testimony.BSPC 99.8

    “As the Spirit of God has opened to my mind the great truths of His word, and the scenes of the past and the future, I have been bidden to make known to others that which has thus been revealed, to trace the history of the controversy in past ages, and especially so to present it as to shed a light on the fast-approaching struggle of the future....BSPC 99.9

    “It is not so much the object of this book to present new truths concerning the struggles of former times, as to bring out facts and principles which have a bearing on coming events. Yet viewed as a part of the controversy between the forces of light and darkness, all these records of the past are seen to have a new significance. And through them a light is cast upon the future, illumining the pathway of those who, like the reformers of past ages, will be called even at the peril of all earthly good to witness ‘for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’”—The Great Controversy, Introduction, pp. xi, xii.BSPC 99.10

    h. The prophet as a receiver of messages that at times he knows not where or to whom to send

    This is very evident from at least one instance in the history of the kings of old. We read, “And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet.” 2 Chronicles 21:12.BSPC 100.1

    Here reference is made to a “writing” that had been prepared by the prophet Elijah. But Elijah at this time was dead. The margin of the Bible recognizes this, for the marginal note reads, “which was writ before his death.” It would seem that this manuscript had been entrusted to the care of another prophet of God. Then in later days, when the specific need arose, God gave to this prophet who had Elijah’s writing in his possession, divine enlightenment as to whom it was to be sent and also the exact time it should be sent. This is something at which we need not be surprised. The God who gave the message to one prophet could surely instruct a succeeding prophet to deliver a message written perhaps years before.BSPC 100.2

    This was so in the experience of the messenger of the Lord in the Advent cause. She herself testifies:BSPC 100.3

    “As the Lord has manifested Himself through the spirit of prophecy, ‘past, present, and future have passed before me. I have been shown faces that I had never seen, and years afterward I knew them when I saw them. I have been aroused from my sleep with a vivid sense of subjects previously presented to my mind; and I have written, at midnight, letters that have gone across the continent, and, arriving at a crisis, have saved great disaster to the cause of God. This has been my work for many years.’”—Testimonies for the Church 5:671.BSPC 100.4

    i. The prophet as a messenger of encouragement

    There was a time in the leadership of Moses when things were very trying for this man of God. He had borne long with the waywardness of Israel, and it seemed as though the limit had been reached. The people had fretted because of the food God had provided for them in the wilderness; they kept craving for the flesh pots of Egypt. Not only was the anger of the Lord kindled, but Moses was greatly displeased and discouraged. He cried out to the Lord in his extremity.BSPC 100.5

    “And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore has thou afflicted thy servant? And wherefore have I not found favor in thy sight, that thou lays the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all this people? Have I begotten them, that thou should say unto me, carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father bears the sucking child, unto the land which thou swore unto their fathers? Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? For they weep unto me, saying, give us flesh, that we may eat. I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.” Numbers 11:11-14.BSPC 101.1

    In this hour of perplexity God directed Moses to gather together seventy of the elders of Israel. These He clothed with His Spirit, and they began to prophesy. The record states, “When the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.” Verse 25.BSPC 101.2

    We read:BSPC 101.3

    “As these men in loud and ecstatic language proclaimed their faith, Moses found his confidence in Jehovah’s power and in the destiny of Israel re-established. His mind was relieved at once of the burden of responsibility and the dread of an extinction of the heavenly light he had been the means of kindling among the tribes. If there were seventy men capable of receiving the Spirit of God, there might be hundreds, even thousands. A spring of new enthusiasm is opened, and Israel’s future is again possible.”—The Book of Numbers, p. 130, in Expositor’s Bible (1908).BSPC 101.4

    So God encouraged His servant in this time of trial. Here was a case of seventy prophets encouraging another prophet in a period of great crisis. As to the prophet being a bringer of good tidings, note:BSPC 101.5

    “In the darkest days of her long conflict with evil, the church of God has been given revelations of the eternal purpose of Jehovah. His people have been permitted to look beyond the trials of the present to the triumphs of the future, when, the warfare having been accomplished, the redeemed will enter into possession of the promised land. These visions of future glory, scenes pictured by the hand of God, should be dear to His church today, when the controversy of the ages is rapidly closing, and the promised blessings are soon to be realized in all their fullness.BSPC 101.6

    “Many were the messages of comfort given the church by the prophets of old. ‘Comfort you, comfort you My people,’ was Isaiah’s commission from God; and with the commission were given wonderful visions that have been the believers’ hope and joy through all the centuries that have followed. Despised of men, persecuted, forsaken, God’s children in every age have nevertheless been sustained by His sure promises. By faith they have looked forward to the time when He will fulfill to His church the assurance, ‘I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.’”—Prophets and Kings, 722, 723.BSPC 101.7

    j. The prophet as an interpreter of the Divine Word

    The prophets of old studied the writings of the prophets who had preceded them in the prophetic office. This is seen in the case of Daniel, who gave careful thought to the prophecies of Jeremiah concerning the seventy years’ captivity of Israel in Babylon. (Daniel 9:2.) Furthermore, quite often they repeated the messages that their predecessors had given. We see an instance of this in the case of Zechariah. Notice Zechariah 1:6 and 7:7. Not only so, but we find them interpreting and amplifying the messages of previous servants of God.BSPC 102.1

    The same thing has been true in the experience of the prophetic gift in the ranks of God’s remnant people. The testimonies of the messenger of God emphasize this quite forcefully.BSPC 102.2

    “The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed. Man’s duty to God and to his fellow man has been distinctly specified in God’s word, yet but few of you are obedient to the light given. Additional truth is not brought out; but God has through the Testimonies simplified the great truths already given and in His own chosen way brought them before the people to awaken and impress the mind with them, that all may be left without excuse....BSPC 102.3

    “The testimonies are not to belittle the word of God, but to exalt it, and attract minds to it, that the beautiful simplicity of truth may impress all.”—Testimonies for the Church 5:665.BSPC 102.4

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