A prophet is someone who is able to foretell the future and accurately give a description of events that are going to befall a nation or a given people. He is a religious figure and is claimed to have received divine revelation from a supernatural entity hence, he is regarded as a sacred individual.
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In most religions, they acknowledge some individuals as prophets due to the roles they played at a specific period of time. Although most individuals did not get acceptance in their lifetime they gained the status of being prophets due to the fulfillment of their predictions. A prophet is claimed to have contact with the supernatural and contacts with this divine powers can be an overwhelming experience as most claim.
A prophet in the ancient times was believed to have a social, economic and political role as prophets were regarded to be the contact of humanity and the supernatural, with supernatural being the law giver is superior while humanity is the subject, but ensured the laws were executed perfectly.
Failure would results to punishment from the supernatural or a warning which would obviously be relayed to humanity through the prophets. Due to their significance in social life, the prophets controlled the decisions of the leaders and the people. This means that an accepted prophet had authority in the land and would shape the social, moral, economic and even political parameters of a nation.
A prophet was contacted through extraordinary visitations that were even hard for them to describe. Most of them would describe them as visions, dreams or life experiences which were symbolic of what would later come to pass (New International Version, Hosea 1:2). The first encounter with the supernatural is what is regarded as a prophet’s calling and the message given is what is regarded as the prophetic message.
The evidence of a specific prophecy would be left by the supernatural to confirm the calling. In most religions, prophets were given names that were symbolic of what they represented in that era with some being nicknamed prophets of doom due to prophesying destruction and dark days ahead.
Examples of prophets of doom included the biblical prophet Isaiah, Jeremiah and others who were awarded this title because of their prophecies of destruction. Simply put, a prophet was the voice of God in that land or the supernatural force controlling a specified nation. Those who did not come in the name of God and did not pass the message faithfully were regarded as false prophets.
As recorded in Exodus Chapter three, Moses’ encounter with God was a tremendous and an overwhelming experience. Moses who is also regarded as a prophet had a rare encounter with an angel of God as he was looking after his father-in-law’s flock in the wilderness.
God appeared to Moses in form of fire (New International Version, Exodus 3:2). After this appearance, Moses received a voice form the bush. Rationally, it is impossible for a voice to originate from a burning bush. This depicts a supernaturally controlled act and shows the uniqueness of that calling.
Moses was given a message concerning what was demanded of him in the future. The mission given to Moses had specific instructions and a promise that was pegged on the success of the mission (Exodus 3:7-17). In this encounter, God identifies himself as the sender so as to avoid ambiguity and the evidence of his existence would be the fulfillment of what God had spoken about. Moses’ call was physical in nature and the entire episode signified the holiness of the deity.
Isaiah is also one of the few prophets whose encounter with the supernatural remains a historical one (Isaiah 6:1-8). In Isaiah’s calling, he saw supernatural beings such as winged creatures, Seraphim, which are not in existence in the natural world. In Isaiah chapter 6, verse 5, the encounter has been painted as a terrifying ordeal.
Isaiah was overwhelmed by this manifestation of the presence of the supernatural, an ordeal that scared him to the extent that he is recorded to have asserted that he might have died. Like Moses, he was told of what would happen in the future. One similarity about the two prophets is that they were convinced of the supernatural representations, which is abnormal to humanity as they are indescribable to people who have never seen nor experienced them. Isaiah’s call was in form of a vision.
Another exceptional visitation was that of John the Baptist who was regarded as one of the greatest prophets prophesied by the scriptures in Isaiah 63 (John 1:23). His message was about the coming of the son of God, the messiah.
His prophecy was actually fulfilled when the one he was talking about arrived. John spoke saying that Jesus would baptize by Spirit and would be the Lamb that would take away sins of the mankind (John 1:29). Through his assertion that only he who was to come would be the one to take away the sins of mankind, John the Baptist was indirectly asserting that Jesus was himself supernatural.
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He was convinced of this fact just like Moses and Isaiah were convinced that they had contacted God in their overwhelming encounters. However, in the case of John, his mission was to fulfill earlier prophesies about the most awaited day among the Jews, the coming of the messiah. One common thing among the three prophets is that they come to offer a solution to evading the wrath of God which was imminent as a form of punishment due to diverting from the will of God.
As recorded in John 6:27, he claims that he was not even worthy enough to untie the straps of the sandals of Him that he was prophesying about. In reality, it is expected that John the Baptist was a man of moral integrity and thus if in his own comparison he found himself wanting compared to the one he was preaching about meant that he was prophesying about a high deity that had not been experienced by the Jews.
It also shows that prophets were still human and had their weaknesses and may have had their own opinions on certain facts. The independence in their opinions may have motivated them to interpret things in a different manner. In the case of John, he came to inform the people to repent and turn away from their iniquities. This was actually his message about preparing the way of him that was coming who was in real sense Jesus Christ (John 1:23)
The new International Version. Exodus 3: Moses and the Burning Bush. Bible Gate Ways. < www.biblegateways.com >
The new International Version. Isaiah 6: Isaiah’s Commission. Bible Gate Ways. < www.biblegateways.com >
The new International Version. John 1: The Word Became Bible Gate Ways < www.biblegateways.com >