Prophecy and the Prophets --Part 3

Prophecy and the Prophets
Part 3

J. Boyd Nicholson

Prophets In General

A study of the words used in the Old Testament to describe “prophets” will help us in the understanding of their qualifications and ministry.

“NABI”, meaning “to speak”, is a word translated “prophet”. Thus prophets were speakers for God, to men. The Lord said to Moses, “Thou shalt speak all that I command thee” (Ex. 7:2). Jeremiah reports, “Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth and the Lord said unto me, Behold I have put My words in thy mouth, (Jer. 1:9). David said; “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue”, (2 Sam. 23:2). So we find in the Old Testament, about 3500 times, (someone has calculated) the words, “thus saith the Lord…”

“ROEH” is another word translated “prophet” and means “a seer”, (1 Sam. 9:9 etc). The prophet not only heard the Word of the Lord, he also saw the Vision of the Lord. The book of Isaiah opens with the words, “The vision of Isaiah...”. In Numbers 12:6 we read, “The Lord said, ‘If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision and will speak unto him in a dream”.

This “seeing” is two-fold in its spectrum. It is Supernatural, that is, beyond the limits of natural and physical vision. In the New Testament we read of the organs of this sight as the “eyes of your heart”. It is also Supra-temporal, that is, when the prophet is transported for the time being, from the sphere of the temporal into the sphere of the eternal, and stands above the human conceptions of time. Thus he can see the future, either as in the past, as in Isa. 53, “He was wounded for our transgressions”, or in the present, as in Isa. 9:6 “For unto us a child is born”, or as in the future, “...and the government shall be upon His shoulder”.

“ZOPHIM” is yet another descriptive word for the prophet. It means “to watch”. So then, prophets are also watchmen. Habakkuk said; “I will enter upon my watch and set myself upon my watchtower and will watch carefully so as to see what He will say unto me”. The Lord says in Jer. 6:17 “Watchmen have I set over you…”. So they addressed themselves to the current situation of their contemporaries and were, warners of the people, the conscience of the community, and shepherds or guardians of the flock. As watchmen, they looked into the future. Isaiah said; “I stand continually upon the watchtower” (21:8).

“HOLY” was another word descriptive of prophets. They were known as “holy men”. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved”. So by reason of their special ministry and dealings with God, they were recognized to be distinct, separate, men with a difference. Yet they were none the less “MEN”. In spite of their heavenly visions, unearthy dreams, and unique dealings with God, they were still “men of like passions”. Their individuality was not set aside. God used their personality. In fact He had made their individual characteristics. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee…I knew thee…I sanctified thee…I ordained thee”. The Lord didn’t need an Elijah at that moment, a man with lightning on his brow and thunder in his voice. He wanted a man who could weep. So He made one…Jeremiah.

Of all the Old Testament Prophets however, one stands out, uniquely, Moses. What made this man superior in the prophetic office? There were three qualities to the prophetic ministry of Moses that made him preeminent above his prophetic peers.

He had Direct Communication from God. The Lord said, “Hear now my words, if there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, I will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house, with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in dark speeches,” (Num. 12:6-8).

He had Common Experience with God. What was exceptional and ecstatic with other prophets, was ordinary and usual with Moses. “And the Lord spoke unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend”, (Ex. 33:11).

Moses also had a Distinct Revelation of God. “The similitude of the Lord shall he behold” (Num. 12:8). Little wonder then that we read in Deut. 34:10 “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses”.

Another Prophet Promised

The hopes of ever seeing another prophet like the great Moses might well be clouded. After all, who could ever be closer to God than was Moses? But the promise was given, “I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee (Moses) and will put My words in His mouth…,” (Deut. 18:18). Who was that Prophet?

After the Lord Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the men said, “This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world”, (Jn. 6:14).

After the offer of living water to the thirsty, the people said; “Of a truth this is the Prophet”, (Jn. 7:40).

After the healing of the lame man in the temple gate Peter testified; “And He shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you:…For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me…”, (Acts 3:20, 22).

The Lord Jesus Christ is then this Greatest of all prophets. So does God the Father command us, “Hear ye Him…”.

The Greatest Prophet

The Supreme Revealer of God was indeed the Son of God. He told forth the Mind of God and foretold the purposes of God. He excels all other prophets by an infinite measure. He was superior to Moses in His worthiness for Glory. “For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses…”, (Heb. 3:3). He was superior to Moses in His Glorious accomplishments. “Moses verily was faithful in all His house”, but the Lord Jesus Christ builded and rules over and possesses the house (Heb. 3:5-6). He is transcedent in the Revelation He brought. He brought a new revelation of God as a Father seeking spiritual children as worshippers (Jn. 4:23). He brought the new revelation of the Church as a unity (Matt. 16:18).

He was greater than Moses in the Range of His Prophecy. He Predicted concerning the Kingdom of Heaven, His own sufferings and glory, the Jewish nation, the Church and the present age, judgements to come, the end of the age and the consummation of all things.


From the first uttered prophecy in Genesis 3:15 to the last in Rev. 22:20, the whole sweep of Prophetic Truth and the general witness of the prophets, focuses and indeed is consummated in our Glorious Lord and His purposes of Grace and Glory and Government. “To Him give all the prophets witness that through His Name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins”, (Acts 10:43). All who believe on Him, searching the Scriptures, look forward in adoring wonder to that moment when, “…He shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power…” and “…He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God…that God may be all in all”. (1 Cor. 15).