A prophet is a representative of God. The prophet reproves, warns, gives guidance, encourages, mediates, teaches and gives advice. He brings the word of God to the people of God and calls the people to respond. The visionary ministry begins in the being there of the Lord. This feature of the ministry is well portrayed in Jeremiah’s confrontation with the false diviners. When the prophet discerns the heart of the Lord, he addresses the word of the living God to his people. He is required to stand to face the public as he would be facing the Lord. Since his words are from the spirit of God and they are powerful and effectual.
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Various roles of prophets
In Israel prophets of the Living God were well respected since they had the variety of roles to play. A prophet is capable of acting every role sporadically, but generally, he will progress in one or two of these tasks. Prophets were not supposed to be the same however each should be a manifestation of God’s originality and vocation. The roles of prophets were according to their level in the ministry. Various prophets focused in speaking to individual offering personal prophecy. They could guide and counsel individuals. Other prophets addressed primarily to their place of worship. As they widen in this ministry, they could also give sermons to other churches. Some were called to be the prophet to nations guiding the rulers, interpreting the Laws as well as giving warnings.
In Israel, prophets were supposed to pray on behalf of the people. Prayer was an important task of the prophet. Since he had a clear image of what God was doing or about to do. He knew where prayer was needed most. The prophet could watch over Gods word and prays it into the individual. They were not to rest until the fulfillment of Gods word (Isaiah 62:6). The prophets need to be an intermediary. Moses always bridged the gap between the community and God. He often stood in the gap for the sake of the nation; before an irritated God. As a result, intercession had a vital role the life of Moses. The community has all the time looked prophets as soon as they required prayer. Still, this is being done today.
They also had a role in worship. According to St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the prophet should be given a chance to speak while the rest of the congregation meditates on the message.1 Cor 14:29-33. People are inspired to worship whenever a prophet gives a word of encouragement. 1 Chronicles 24 records a number of men set aside for the prophetic ministry to the accessory of musical apparatus as part of the sanctuary worship. Miriam, the prophetess was reading worship after closing the Red Sea.
Approximately every prophet in the Old Testament came out first as a foreteller. Through his association with the everlasting God, the prophet had access to the expectations. Prophets had the coming into God’s intention for history. Nevertheless, whatever he saw the future was always connected to the current. Prophets were responsible to give Gods warning of coming judgments so that people may turn from their wicked ways. They also spoke of Gods promises to encourage the people. This can be seen in the encounter of Hezekiah with Isaiah the prophet (2 Kings 20:1&2)
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The prophets of Israel were also responsible for the interpretation of Dreams and vision. God frequently spokes to his people in dreams. There was the need to always get the interpretation of the dreamland in most cases this was the work of Gods prophets. Daniel being Gods prophet, he was skilled in understanding dreams (Daniel 2:1-28). Some prophets also used to give warning on pending dangers. St Paul on his way to Jerusalem, he was warned by prophet Agabus on the dangers he would face there. (Acts 21:10, 11). Still, some of the prophets in Israel healed the sick. A relevant example of a prophet who had much of this gift is Elisha. He also raised a dead boy (2 Kings 4:32-35).
Main duties of prophets in Israel
As a representative or spokesperson for God, the prophet’s main duty was to speak out God’s message to the people in the chronological context of what was going on in the midst of God’s people. The broadest implication is that of forth-telling; the narrower implication is that of foretelling. In the course of proclaiming the message from God, the prophet would occasionally disclose that which pertained to the expectations, however, contrary to well-liked opinion, this was just a small part of the seer’s message. Forth-telling had to do with insight into the motivation of God; it had to exhort impact, demanding men to obey.
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Centrally, foretelling involved foresight hooked on the plan of God; it was extrapolative, either heartening the righteous in the outlook of God’s promises or forewarning in view of impending judgment. So the prophet was the exquisitely chosen orator who, having acknowledged God’s message, declared it in verbal, written or visual form to the public. For this cause, a general formula applied by the prophets was, “Thus says the Lord.” Their message can be summarized in a three-fold purpose they had in the middle of the people of God in the Old Testament: preacher, predictors and watchmen. However at the same time as the prophets functioned in different ways as they communicated God’s message, they engaged in one chief role in Israel’s spiritual system; the role of a royal diplomat or arraigning attorney, charging the nation for breach of the Mosaic contract.