Introduction: What, exactly does a prophet do? Is the job about
telling the future? Is it religious instruction? Is it finding
donkeys? Is it making us feel bad? Is it being God’s agent for all
sorts of things? Let’s dive into our Bibles and find out!
- Donkey Finders
- Read 1 Samuel 9:3-5. What does this tell us about the
character of Saul? (He was considerate of his father, he
was diligent and he was trustworthy.)
- Read 1 Samuel 9:6. Is this servant joking? Are prophets
available for donkey finding? Would God take the time to
deliver a donkey-finding message to a prophet?
- Read 1 Samuel 9:14-16. What prophet work do we find in
these verses? (God revealed to Samuel the future, He made
Samuel His agent to select and anoint a leader in answer
to the prayers of the country.)
- Read 1 Samuel 9:18-20. What prophet work do we find here?
(Donkey finding! Notice that Samuel knew the past, not
just the future. God revealed both the past and the future
to Samuel so that he could advise Saul.)
- As you consider this story, how would you describe a
prophet’s work? (The prophet is God’s agent on earth to do
the things God directs. This includes simple things like
keeping track of lost property, to major things like
directing the leadership of the country.)
- Should a modern-day prophet be active in politics?
- On what should your answer depend?
- Is it selfish to pray to God to help us with little
things, when people are praying to God to be healed
- Can we say “God has unlimited ability to answer
prayers, when I’m asking about small things I’m
not taking His attention away from those dying
of cancer?” What about the prophet Samuel? Did
he have unlimited time? (Saul enjoyed the favor
of God and God was willing to help Saul with
what was the main matter on his heart at that
- Correcting and Reminding
- Read 2 Kings 17:13. Last week we noted that Jeremiah spoke
of a distinction between prophets who said things we want
to hear and those who say things we don’t want to hear.
Are the prophets referred to in this text saying things
the people want to hear?
- Are these prophets adding new rules to what God has
already laid out? (Not here. God uses the prophets to
remind the people of His rules, and to point out how
the people have strayed from those rules.)
- Read 2 Kings 17:18-20. The people did not listen to the
prophets. What happened as a result? (Other people
- Is God just mad at His people? What about our
picture of a loving and forgiving God?
- Read 2 Kings 17:17. Why would these people sacrifice
their children? (They thought it would help them with
their gods. This is true late term abortion. To
make my life easier, I will sacrifice my child.)
- Notice again 2 Kings 17:18. What sense do you get
from the phrase “removed them from His presence?”
(God is holy. When His people rejected His warnings
and engaged in the most vile sins, He did not want
them “in His presence.” When they were out of the
presence of God bad things happened to them.)
- Is this just an “Old Testament thing?”
- Read Isaiah 30:10-11. What are the people asking when they
say “stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel?”
(God is holy. They don’t want to come face to face with a
- Does that mean this “out of My presence” is not just
an Old Testament thing as opposed to a mutual thing –
that sinners want to be outside the presence of God?
- Would Jesus want to be outside the presence of sinners? I
thought that was where He went?
- Read Matthew 9:10-12. Are the Old Testament rules out the
window? Jesus and sinners want to be in each other’s
- Is this just a temporary situation? (Read Luke 4:24-27. When people do evil, they do not want God. Jesus’
main point is that prophets are not accepted in their
hometown, but His secondary point is that the prophet
goes elsewhere. Jesus came to sinners. They came to
Him. But at some point they had to make a decision
for Jesus or for sin. In the main, Israel rejected
Jesus and His gospel went to others.)
- Read Matthew 8:11-12. Will Jesus cast people out of
His presence? (Yes. Those who reject His invitation.)
- Are we getting off our topic here? What does a sinner’s
resistance to correction have to do with the work of the
prophet? (It is a warning to us not to reject the prophet
just because the message makes us uncomfortable.)
- Let’s continue reading in Isaiah. Read Isaiah 30:12-14.
What message is the prophet giving here? How is sin
catching up with the unrepentant sinner? (The sin problem
gets so big is just figuratively explodes and takes out
the sinner. The sinner cannot be used thereafter for even
- Do you know someone like that?
- Has this happened to you?
- Read Isaiah 30:15,18. What is God’s goal for us? How are
prophets (like Isaiah) involved in that goal? (The primary
work of the prophet is to warn and correct. The goal is to
be gracious. We do not have an Old Testament/New Testament
face of God. God longs to be gracious to us, that is why
He sends His prophets to warn us of the dangers of sin. At
the same time, He is a holy God and that means that sin
cannot ultimately live in His presence.)
- What are your prophet issues? Are you struggling over
whether a modern day prophet is true or false? Ask
yourself if your struggle is primarily about your
pride? Ask yourself whether it is primarily about a
feeling of condemnation when considering the
- Read Romans 3:19-20. Is the work of a true prophet to make
you feel good or make you feel guilty? (Recall that we
determined that the “gold standard” for communications
from God is the Ten Commandments. These verses tell us
that the purpose of the law is to “silence” our pride. To
convict us of sin and to drive us to Jesus. This is
clearly an important part of the work of a prophet.)
- Read Romans 3:21. What other prophet work do we find? (The
work of the prophet is also to share the good news about
God’s grace. The warnings drive us to repentance, and that
brings the good news of grace.)
- Record Keeping
- Read 1 Chronicles 29:29-30. What other prophet work do we
find? (Recording history. Another work of the prophet is
to record the workings of God through history so that the
people can better see and understand God’s work. This
helps to give them confidence in God’s hand in their
- Reveals Mysteries
- Read Daniel 2:45-47. What prophet work do we see here?
- Why would God give this work to His prophets? (It
gives us courage and confidence about our God and His
role in shaping the future. When the things
predicted come to pass, we have confidence in our God
and His care for us.)
- Friend, are you open to accepting the work of a prophet?
Do you believe it is one way God uses to communicate to
- Next week: The Authority of the Prophets.