The head of a bald eagle with the header 'Old Testament prophet' on it.

In the Old Testament there was a concentration of prophecy in the limited few, who God had chosen to speak to, and who were commissioned by him to speak his word. Old Testament prophets were often few and far between, and at times the word of the Lord was rare 1 Sam 3:1. They gave prophetic guidance to those who came asking, often for a fee 1 Sam 9:8. Some OT prophets were lone voices who lived in the wilderness.
Samuel changed all of this and instituted training and gathered the prophets into schools
1 Sam 19:20, probably at Bethel, Gigal, Mizpah and Ramah 1 Sam 7:16-17. In these and others schools e.g. Jericho, a spokesman would arise and speak the word of the Lord: 1 Sam 19:20; 1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:2-5.

The term “Thus says the Lord” was used, to a large degree, to distinguish the God of the Bible from other deities that abounded and surrounded the children of Israel. It should not be needed to give authority to our words today in church as these should be weighed and judged (click here for a section on judging prophecy) and using “Thus says the Lord” tends to inhibit this– although its equivalent may soon be needed in public!

 

The Spirit of the Lord came upon them

The Spirit of the Lord would normally come upon a prophet from the outside, it did not dwell within, even in Moses the greatest of the OT prophets:

Numbers 11:25 “Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him (Moses) and placed him upon the seventy elders. And it came about that when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied.”

The only prophet who was an exception to this was Ezekiel. Twice it is said that the Holy Spirit entered him:

“As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me.” Ezekiel 2:2

“The Spirit of God then entered me and made me stand on my feet, and He spoke with me and said to me...” Ezekiel 3:24

This is probably why he alone of the prophets spoke of the coming time when the Holy Spirit would dwell within:

“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” Ezekiel 36:27

“I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD have spoken and done it.” Ezekiel 37:14

Next.
1. Introduction - friendship with God.
2. Friendship is higher than service.
3. OT prophet. The Spirit came upon them.
4. God wanted prophecy for all in the OT.
5. The wrath of God.
6. God is a merciful judge.
7. John the Baptist - the prophet between the OT and NT
8. NT prophet. The Spirit within we can all prophesy!
9. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.
10. Spiritual gifts are for building not destroying.
11. What you speak to rises up.
12. Prophesy truth not facts.
13. The primary purpose of prophecy in the NT.
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