“The Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land’” (vv. 1–2). – Exodus 7:1-7
The Christian faith proclaims the truth about God and His work to the world. We saw this in various ways last year during our study of the major biblical doctrines proclaimed in the Heidelberg Catechism. This year, we are going to devote our daily Bible studies to the lives and messages of the men who may be considered the chief human proclaimers or preachers of the Lord’s truth during the old covenant period—the Old Testament prophets.
Prophet, as a term and an office, tends to be widely misunderstood. Many people think of prophets as those who predict the far-off future, men and women who have supernatural insight into what will happen in centuries yet to come. Of course, many of the Old Testament prophets did have such perception. We think of men such as Isaiah, who foresaw in detail the Messiah’s atonement and resurrection more than 750 years before the events on Calvary (Isa. 53). Consider also Daniel, who predicted the rise and fall of Alexander the Great more than two hundred years prior to Alexander’s conquests (Dan. 11:1–4).
Nevertheless, predicting the future was not the Old Testament prophets’ major responsibility. Our English word prophet is usually a translation of the Hebrew term nabi, which means “to call” or “to proclaim.” Prophet also translates other Hebrew words that mean “servant of the Lord” and “watcher” or “seer.” From these terms, as well as the actual content of the prophetic books, we learn that those who were called to be prophets under the old covenant were appointed to bring the people of Israel special messages from God and to watch over the Israelites to ensure that they kept the terms of their covenant with the Lord.
Essentially, the Old Testament prophets were spokesmen for God. Today’s passage reveals their task. God compares Moses, the model for all the old covenant prophets (Deut. 34:10), to Himself and appoints Aaron to be Moses’ prophet. In receiving words from Moses—“God”—and speaking them to Pharaoh, Aaron—the “prophet”—was to call the king to repent, to recognize the one true Lord of all, and to free the Israelites from slavery (Ex. 7:1–2). All of the Old Testament prophets who followed would do the same, calling the covenant people to repent, serve God, and obey His holy Word.
Because God has fully and finally revealed Himself in His Son, we believe that the Lord does not call people to the office of prophet today (Heb. 1:1–4). That does not mean, however, that there is no one to be God’s spokesperson today. Preachers who faithfully preach the Word of God do speak for Him insofar as their messages are faithful to the Bible. When the preacher delivers a sermon that is faithful to Scripture, we are bound to heed it.
Passages for Further Study
- Deuteronomy 18:15–22
- Amos 3:7
- James 5:10
- Ephesians 2:11–21
- “To Fulfill All Righteousness” Article by Knox Chamblin
- Prophet Devotional
- Prophets to the Nations Devotional