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

    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?

      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?

    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.