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Lesson 2: The Prophetic Gift *

Introduction: Why are the Ten Commandments the only message directly written by God in stone ( Deuteronomy 10:1-4)? If God wanted to give precise rules, you would think He would always hand the prophet instructions written on stone. Does the fact that God communicates in many ways, some of them pretty unreliable, tell us something about the nature of God's message? Could it be that the prophets are part of the message? If so, what, exactly, is the role of a prophet? Are they perfect people? Let's leap into our study of Bible prophets and find out!

  1. Moses, Aaron and Miriam: Old Testament Prophets

    1. Read Exodus 3:1-3. What do you know about the background of Moses? (Read Acts 7:20-22. Moses was someone special. At the time of his birth God intervened to save his life. God then directed circumstances so that Moses was raised and educated in the house of Pharaoh.)

      1. Given what we know about God's goals for His people, what do you think God had in mind for Moses? (Logically, Moses would become Pharaoh and then let the Hebrews go free.)

    2. Read Acts 7:23-25. Did Moses think he was doing God's will? Was Moses doing God's will?(If Moses was raised up to be the one to save his people, this "intervention" made perfect sense.)

    3. Read Acts 7:26-29. Who failed, Moses or the Hebrews?

    4. Let's get back to the burning bush. Moses walks over to it and God speaks to him. Read Exodus 3:9-11. Was the question in Acts 7:27 still ringing in Moses' mind forty years later? (Moses challenged God with essentially the same challenge put to Moses when he killed the Egyptian to start the liberation of the Hebrews.)

      1. What is God's answer to this? (Read Exodus 3:12. God tells Moses that this will be a joint project.)

        1. Is this "joint project" idea a reason why God gives prophets verbal messages as opposed to giving them instructions written in stone?

      2. Other than the passage of forty years, and a serious decline in his job status, how is Moses' situation different now than it was when he killed the Egyptian? (Moses has learned two things. First, the Hebrews are unreliable when it comes to their liberation. Second, moving ahead of God is a bad idea. This time God is specifically authorizing the details of the rescue mission.)

    5. Given the forty year delay in his life goal, you might expect Moses to say, "It's about time! Let's do it! Let's rock and roll!" Does he?(Read Exodus 6:30. No. Moses tries to decline the mission.)

      1. Is God asking Moses to be a prophet? (God is asking Moses to speak for Him. Acts 7:37-38 confirms that Moses was a prophet.)

    6. What would you say about Moses' qualifications to be a prophet? If you were on a "prophet committee" how would you evaluate Moses at this point of time? (He was given wonderful opportunities in his youth. By being impulsive he wasted his opportunity to do great things for God and his people. He has an anger management problem. He has a moral problem (he killed someone). He has not done much with his life since fleeing Egypt. Now he has a confidence problem, if not an actual inability to speak clearly and well.)

    7. Exodus 7:1-2. What role is being given to Moses here? Who is the prophet? (God says that Aaron is the prophet and Moses is "like God to Pharaoh.")

      1. This is an extraordinarily interesting insight into the work of a prophet. What role does Aaron play? What is his purpose for being in the communication loop? (Read Exodus 4:14-16 for the background on this. Aaron is a good speaker. God says that He will give the message to Moses, who will then give it to Aaron. Aaron will act as Moses' mouthpiece.)

        1. Does Aaron have an independent role in this? (Yes and no. Moses is to "put words in his mouth," but since Aaron is chosen for the job because of his eloquence, Aaron is choosing the way the words are presented.)

        2. What does this teach us about the "joint project" idea? (God allows another human, with certain needed talents, into the project. The trade-off is hearsay twice removed.)

          1. Why didn't God just heal Moses' speaking abilities - or tell Moses to stop whining and just do it?

    8. Is Aaron a perfect person? (No. Not only is there the matter of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32), there is the problem of Aaron's jealousy of Moses.)

    9. Let's read about this jealousy because it gives further light on the prophetic gift. Read Numbers 12:1-2. What point are Aaron and Miriam making? What does Moses' wife have to do with anything? (Have you ever complained about a pastor because of his wife? Aaron and Miriam thought Moses showed poor judgment in his marriage. Moses not only failed to marry a Hebrew, he married into a family with a tarnished history. You remember that Ham got in trouble with his father Noah ( Genesis 9:20-24). Ham was the father of Cush ( Genesis 10:6), from which the Cushites descended. God Himself referred in a disparaging manner to the Cushites ( Amos 9:7). Moses' marriage was not sinful. However, Moses was not forbidden to marry a Cushite ( Exodus 34:11-16).

    10. Read Numbers 12:3. Why is this point made here? (Moses was not responding to this criticism. Moses probably thought: "You think I could have married better? So what? Why is that important?")

    11. Read Numbers 12:4-8. Does the criticism matter to God? (Yes!)

      1. Let's get to the important point: how does God's typical communication with prophets differ from His communication with Moses? (It is less personal. It also seems to be less clear.)

      2. Based on God's statement here, does the normal prophet act as a "penman" or a "word-by-word repeater" for God? (It seems not.)

      3. Consider the logic of what God just said: the better the character of the prophet, the more clearly God speaks. Shouldn't that be just the reverse? The most imperfect should get a stone tablet and the most perfect a riddle, right?

        1. I think God is telling us something very important about prophets here - what is it? (The quality of the message varies with the quality of the messenger! This makes this even more of a "joint project." Now the listener is involved in deciphering the message.)

    12. Notice that in Numbers 12:1-2 both Aaron and Miriam claim to be prophets. We know this is true for Aaron, could it also be true for a woman? (Yes. Read Exodus 15:20-21. Miriam was a prophetess.)

      1. In Exodus we see that Miriam is leading the women in contemporary praise and worship - is a female prophet limited to speaking to females? (No. Read 2 Kings 22:14-16. A female prophet spoke God's message to a group of men who included the High Priest!)

  2. Zechariah: New Testament Prophet

    1. Read Luke 1:8-13. Was Zechariah asking God for a son? (Yes.)

    2. Read Luke 1:18-20. Is Gabriel offended? If so, why? (Yes, Gabriel is offended because Zechariah does not believe him. Gabriel lists his credentials (standing in the presence of God, for one)to bolster his credibility.)

    3. Scan the rest of the story found in Luke 1:57-80, but read Luke 1:67. How is it possible that unbelieving Zechariah, who offended Gabriel by questioning his honesty, gets to be a prophet? (He must have had something going for him because he was raising John the Baptist.)

    4. Read Joel 2:28-29. How widespread is the prophetic gift in this "afterward" period of time? (All sorts of people are prophets - the gift is widespread.)

      1. Why would God change His approach?

      2. What does this suggest about the quality of the character of these prophets? (Generally, when quantity goes up, quality goes down.)

        1. With many prophets, would the accuracy of the message increase or decrease?

    5. Friend, isn't it clear that God's message to humans has an emphasis on His partnership with us? Will you choose to day to be God's partner? Will you invite Him to share His message with you?

  3. Next week: Spiritual Gifts and Prophecy.

* Copr. 2009, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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