In the last part of our report we looked at the part Old Testament prophecies and New Testament fulfillment played in supporting the Christian claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah God promised to Israel. As I looked at the evidence through the worldview … Continue reading Convince Me There’s A God: The New Testament Part 5
How To Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets (Crossway, 2017) by Peter J. Gentry is an excellent book for any Christian who wants to understand the Old Testament prophets. I first encountered the prophets during an investigation into the reliability of the Old Testament. After becoming a Christian, I returned to the prophets and have enjoyed them through the years. As Hebrews reminds us – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets …” (Hebrews 1:1). That’s an amazing statement and well worth remembering as we read the prophetic writings.
Peter J. Gentry (PhD, University of Toronto) is professor of Old Testament interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Hexapla Institute. He served on the faculties of Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College, University of Toronto, Heritage Theological Seminar, and Tyndale Theological Seminary. In addition to writing How To Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets, Dr. Gentry has also written Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Crossway, 2012, with co-author Steven Wellum) and Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Crossway, 2015, with co-author Steven Wellum).
What do we see when we read through the prophets in the Old Testament? Hope? Yes. Warning? Yes. God offers hope to His people even as He warns them. Why is that? Why does God present the possibility of a bright future at the same time He tells His people how bleak things look? Why? Because that’s reality. Look at how it started:
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17
Even as God was showing Adam what an amazing life he had to live, the Lord also warned Adam that he would die if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Hope and warning at the same time. It is a theme of both Old and New Testament prophets.
As we bring our study about The Prophet’s Voice to a close, let’s look at how we might present hope and warning for our present situation.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16
Church prophets have an important charge from Jesus Christ, the Chief Prophet of the Church. It is our responsibility to “equip” God’s people for their ministry, with a view toward building up the Body of Christ, until we all come to unity of the faith and of the knowledge of Christ. It is the Lord’s desire that we continue to use the spiritual gift of prophecy until God’s people are no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but instead speak the truth in love.
Tall order, you say? You bet it is, but that’s why you have the gift. Jesus said He would build His Church and He’s doing that through you and me and all of the people He’s called to equip His people for their ministries.