The Predictive Element In Old Testament Prophecy -- By: Walter R. Betteridge

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 054:213 (Jan 1897)
Article: The Predictive Element In Old Testament Prophecy
Author: Walter R. Betteridge


The Predictive Element In Old Testament Prophecy

Prof. Walter R. Betteridge

A proper conception of prophecy is indispensable to a clear understanding of the Christian religion. As a revealed religion, Christianity is, in its essence, dependent upon prophecy; for, broadly considered, the prophet is the organ of revelation. In the Old and in the New Testament alike the prophet is the divine messenger who communicates to his fellow-men the messages which he has received from God. Paul as well as Isaiah, Peter as well as Jeremiah, belong to the glorious company of the prophets. Yes, even our Lord himself, though greater than the prophets, is also, in a very real sense, the greatest of the prophets. It is not unnatural, therefore, that the study of prophecy has occupied the attention of religious thinkers of all ages. The advocates of the most rigid supernatural-ism have found their strongest support in their doctrine of prophecy, while, on the other hand, the most systematic and scientific attempt ever made to disprove the supernatural character of the religion of the Old Testament is also a work on prophecy,—I refer to the book entitled “Prophets and Prophecy in Israel,” by the late Professor Kuenen of Leiden.

It is not my purpose here to discuss the question of the divine origin of the biblical religion. I would be the last to ignore the question or to underestimate its importance. No consideration of prophecy can be complete which does

not candidly face this problem and honestly attempt to solve it. But for the believer the divine origin of the Christian religion is an established fact. As Christians we accept the declaration of the apostle, that “no prophecy ever came by the will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost.”1 We admit the claim distinctly made by the prophets of both Testaments, to be divinely inspired and divinely commissioned. The messages which they delivered did not come from their own hearts. These messages are not in any sense the result of their own reasoning on the course of events, but have been communicated to their spirits by the Spirit of God. They appear as prophets not of their own will. On the contrary, they often prophesy in direct opposition to their own inclinations by virtue of the inner compulsion of the divine message which they have received; or, to express the same thought in the picturesque language of one of their own number, “The Lord Jehovah hath spoken, who can but prophesy!”2 We are justified, therefore, in defining a prophet, in the biblical sense of the word, as the man who delivers to men the...

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