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
- Moses, Aaron and Miriam: Old Testament Prophets
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- Read Acts 7:26-29. Who failed, Moses or the Hebrews?
- 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.)
- What is God’s answer to this? (Read Exodus 3:12. God
tells Moses that this will be a joint project.)
- Is this “joint project” idea a reason why God
gives prophets verbal messages as opposed to
giving them instructions written in stone?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.”)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Why didn’t God just heal Moses’ speaking
abilities – or tell Moses to stop whining
and just do it?
- 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.)
- 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).
- 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
- Read Numbers 12:4-8. Does the criticism matter to God?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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!)
- Zechariah: New Testament Prophet
- Read Luke 1:8-13. Was Zechariah asking God for a son?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Why would God change His approach?
- What does this suggest about the quality of the
character of these prophets? (Generally, when
quantity goes up, quality goes down.)
- With many prophets, would the accuracy of the
message increase or decrease?
- 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?
- Next week: Spiritual Gifts and Prophecy.