Introduction: We have learned in our prior lessons that being a
prophet means that you communicate God’s messages to others. The
purest form of communication was when God wrote the Ten Commandments
with His own finger on stone. No chance for error in that. Next, we
learned that God spoke to Moses “face to face” (meaning Moses could
see God’s form). That is obviously a very high form of
communication. How do the other prophets obtain messages from God?
How do they package them for us? How are we to understand the
messages of those who have the gift of prophecy? Let’s dive into our
study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Sailing Prophets

    1. Read 2 Peter 1:16-18. Peter is telling his listeners why
      his stories about Jesus should be believed. What argument
      is he making? (Peter says he (and others) were eye-witnesses.)

      1. What other credential does Peter claim for Jesus,
        other than Peter personally witnessed what Jesus did?
        (God spoke in support of Jesus.)

        1. In this context is Peter a prophet? (Yes. He
          heard the voice of God and he repeats the

        2. Is Peter simply reciting God’s words? (God’s
          words would not make sense without Peter’s human
          experience and his observations of Jesus. Taken
          together you have an example of the work of a

    2. Read 2 Peter 1:19. What other argument does Peter bring to
      bear in favor of Jesus? (He points out that the prophets
      foretold Jesus’ coming.)

      1. What does Peter mean when he says the words of the
        prophets are “made more certain?” Are some prophets’
        words uncertain? (He means that they are being proven
        to be true by their fulfillment in Jesus.)

      2. Notice all the references to light: “light shining,”
        “day dawns,” and “morning star rises.” What does this
        have to do with prophecy? (Our own understanding is
        part of the total package. We have the eye-witnesses,
        we have the statement from God, we have facts which
        fit, and we have a desire to understand which is
        aided by the Holy Spirit. These things together turn
        on the “light” of understanding. We begin to see

    3. Read 2 Peter 1:20-21. What two things are not the source
      of prophecy? (The prophet’s own interpretation or will.)

      1. What does that mean? I thought we just decided that
        the prophet’s complete understanding of what God said
        about Jesus required an understanding of Jesus’
        works? (Understanding the prophecy may require that.
        But, the point here is that the writings did not have
        a human origin – they came from God. In the specific
        instance we have the word coming from heaven and the
        disciples heard it. It did not originate with them.)

      2. What mental picture do you get from this idea of the
        prophet “being carried along by the Holy Spirit?”
        (The Bible Knowledge Commentary tells us that Luke
        uses a word referring to a sail boat carried by the
        wind. It continues “[the prophets] were consciously
        involved in the process; they were neither taking
        dictation nor writing in a state of ecstasy.”)

      3. Go back and look again at 2 Peter 1:21. In light of
        what we have seen, what importance do you attach to
        the word “origin?” (The work of the prophet is a
        joint venture with God. The origin of the message,
        the decision about the topic, are not the prophet’s.
        Instead, these things come from God. But the prophet
        has a great deal to do with the message.)

      4. I love to think about prophecy being compared to
        sailing. I’m an old sailor. The direction and power
        of the wind means everything. Sure, you can sail the
        boat most directions regardless of the direction of
        the wind. But, that is difficult. The sailboat has
        the most power, the most speed, and the most
        effectiveness if the sailor allows the direction of
        the wind to dictate the direction of the boat. It is
        a team effort. Without the wind the boat goes
        nowhere. Without the sailor and the sails, the wind
        alone is ineffective.

  2. Visions Versus Research

    1. Read Luke 1:1-4. The Gospel of Luke is an important part
      of the Bible. Do you think it is inspired by the Holy

      1. This is a rare instance in which an inspired author
        tells us how he put the book together. How did he do
        it? (He read the accounts of others. He talked to
        first-hand witnesses. It seems that he made a
        judgment about the witnesses themselves(“servants of
        the word”). The fact he investigated the accounts
        shows he wanted to be sure they were accurate. He put
        the materials in logical order. It sounds like Luke
        is a reporter and a compiler!)

      2. Does this mean that Luke copied from the writings of
        others when he wrote the book of Luke? Should he
        have used footnotes?

        1. Read Jeremiah 23:30-32. Does this mean Luke was
          stealing words from others? (Unlike Luke, the
          false prophets in Jeremiah are not open about
          what they are doing. More importantly, Luke’s
          gospel is not reckless lies designed to promote
          Luke. Luke is trying to accurately reveal

    2. Read Daniel 10:4-7. What is the source of Daniel’s
      writings? (He is confronted by a heavenly being. Something
      physical is happening (those who cannot see it are
      terrorized), but Daniel calls it a vision.)

    3. Read Daniel 10:8-11. Is Daniel just seeing a picture, or
      is he being told something? (He is seeing a vision of a
      being speaking to him.)

    4. Read Daniel 10:12. How is Daniel like Luke? (Both of them
      were thinking about important spiritual matters. Both were
      trying to understand the matter. Daniel, we are told, was
      praying for understanding.)

      1. How are Luke and Daniel unalike in their writings?
        (Daniel has an amazing vision of a speaker with great
        power and glory. That speaker gives a message to
        Daniel. Luke, on the other hand, has humans speaking
        to him.)

      2. Does this background make the messages of Daniel more
        reliable than those of Luke?

        1. If you say, “no,” then how do you account for
          the differences? (Let’s go back to sailing. I’ve
          had some very intense sailing experiences and
          some very calm experiences. It is all sailing.
          God approaches and guides human prophets in
          different ways – perhaps in different degrees of
          intensity. Both Luke and Daniel tell how their
          writings came about. This teaches us that true
          prophets can have much different experiences.)

  3. False Prophets

    1. Read 2 Peter 2:1. Are false prophets obvious? (Not at
      first. Like false teachers, they “secretly introduce”
      false ideas.)

      1. What clue can we have to whether the prophet is true
        or false? (Whether they deny Jesus.)

      2. What if someone attacked Luke’s gospel on the basis
        that he used other sources – would a proper test of
        Luke be that his gospel promotes Jesus? (Yes. How a
        prophet puts together the material is not a test.)

    2. Read 2 Peter 2:2-3. How else should we judge prophets (and
      teachers)? (First, follow the money. Greed causes the
      false prophets to exploit those who follow them. Second,
      look at the results of the teaching and prophecy. The
      ways of the false prophets are “shameful” and they bring
      “the way of truth into disrepute.” The promote themselves,
      not Jesus.)

  4. Mixed Prophecies

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 7:10-13. All of this is in the Bible.
      Yet Paul tells us some of what is written is his opinion
      and some of it is God’s command. Is part of the Bible more
      reliable than other parts?

      1. I appreciate Paul noting what are God’s commands and
        what are his own opinion, does he always do this?
        What about other prophets, do they always make the
        distinctions clear?

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 7:25-26. Is Paul telling us that the
      Holy Spirit is not inspiring him here? If so, why is this
      in the Bible?

      1. Re-read 2 Peter 1:20. If the Bible does not come from
        the prophet’s own interpretation, how can we have
        Paul telling us ( 1 Corinthians 7:25) what he writes
        is his own judgment? (Paul appears to be answering a
        series of questions posed to him by the local church.
        In accord with the proper approach of a prophet, he
        lets the reader know when God has not given him a
        direct revelation. However, Paul calls himself
        “trustworthy” – so he is claiming some spiritual
        basis for his statements – without an express

      2. What does this teach us about the writings of
        prophets? (Consider again the sailing idea. Prophecy
        is a joint venture between God and humans. The mix
        between God and human may vary – but for true
        prophets the wind behind the statement is always the
        Holy Spirit. The lesson for us is that we need to
        look at the collective writings of the prophets as a
        whole to discern God’s will.)

    3. Friend, will you pray that God will give you understanding
      about the gift of prophecy? Will you pray that, as
      described in Joel 2, the gift of prophecy will be given to
      many people? Will you pay attention to the prophets that
      you have?

  5. Next week: Testing the Prophets.