Currently I am helping with a Bible Study about some of the prophetic books of the Old Testament. Notice I am just helping, not leading. There is a study leader on video who makes her presentation, folks break up into small groups and the group leader is given the answers to hand out at the end of the discussion. I get to give the Lutheran perspective in 15 minutes at the end.
I am actually glad that I can share the quote on quote, Lutheran perspective. This not solely a Lutheran thing, it incorporates the “Historical Critical” and “Literary Critical” methods of studying God’s Word (the Bible). My responsibility is to share a vision of God’s Word that is not a, connect the dots answer book. The answers by the way according to our video presenter are quite clear, straight forward, a very narrow way of looking at God’s Word and what the prophets proclaim.
So the answer to the question; “What is a prophet?” Prophets are truth tellers, speaking to the truth of the current historical and spiritual situation of their time. Declaring to a people, what God’s will has been made known before. Sometimes the prophet speaks directly and clearly, sometimes uses dreamscapes and visions or songs and poems. But when it comes to the prophets in the Old Testament, God is speaking to a people, a nation, and a culture who have turned from God’s rules of mercy and justice to a society of greed, lies and cruelty.
The prophet’s words can sometimes, but not always transcend time. This is due to how specific an issue a prophet is speaking too, specific a situation in the life of the community. Sometimes the words of the prophet are just as significant now as they were thousands of years ago. It is the role of the teacher, pastor or Biblical scholar to study and review what the prophet is saying, sometimes we will need to go to the Hebrew or Aramaic languages to gain better understanding. It doesn’t always sound so, simple as some folks make it out to be.
The Bible did not come with answer sheets that tell us exactly what God meant by a particular saying or story. One person, a preacher, teacher or pastor doesn’t have all the answers or a monopoly on what the prophet is saying for our world today. Seldom does a prophet speak only to one of us, more often all of us and generally we are called to use our head and heart with resources and knowledge to understand what they are saying.
This Bible Study is both an opportunity and challenge. An opportunity to help us look at the incredible dynamic and life giving power that the Word of God offers all of us. A challenge to remind folks that sometimes what the Bible says is not so simple or well defined. In both cases I am glad to take on the responsibility of sharing God’s Word. I may not be a prophet, but I know some, I will be happy to share what they are saying.