Old Testament Prophets As Types for New Testament Leaders -- By: Francis H. Geis

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 05:2 (Spring 1991)
Article: Old Testament Prophets As Types for New Testament Leaders
Author: Francis H. Geis

Old Testament Prophets As Types for New Testament Leaders

Francis H. Geis

Member, CBE Front Range Chapter

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Old Testament prophecy”? Do you have a vivid picture of Elijah, valiantly opposing King Ahab and denouncing the false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel? Or do you think of the Christmas story, where the scholars of Herod’s court tell the king that the Messiah, in fulfillment of prophecy (Micah 5:2), is to be born in Bethlehem of Judea?

I mink most of us, if asked to explain the nature and function of “Old Testament prophecy”, would define it in terms of foretelling—that is, we would say that the prophets had visions of the distant future, in which they predicted such things as the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth; the final judgment; and me new heavens and new earth. And indeed, the true prophets of God foresaw and recorded these things in their writings that have been preserved and handed on to us in Scripture. But if we view OT prophecy solely or primarily as prediction, then we have failed to understand the true nature and function of prophecy in ancient Israel.

I. The Prophet As The Communicator and Interpreter of God’s Will

As Dr. Gleason Archer has pointed out, the primary task of the OT prophet was not to predict the future, but “to tell forth the will of God which be had communicated by revelation.”1 And the following evidence tends to confirm Dr. Archer’s affirmation regarding the primary nature and function of OT prophecy.

First, there is what we may loosely describe as the “etymological” evidence. The Hebrew word naba, which means “to prophecy,” has an uncertain etymological source. Some scholars trace it back to the passive form of the Akkadian word naba, which means “to be called.”2 However, as Dr. H.E. Freeman reminds us, though the etymology of naba may be uncertain, its usage in the Old Testament itself is not. For in a number of OT texts (e.g., Exod. 7:1-2; I Kings 22:8; Jer. 9:27; Ezek 37:10), naba denotes the speaker as “one who speaks for another.” Thus the nabi (Hebrew word for “prophet”) was one who spoke for God. This is confirmed by the Septuagint (LXX), a prominent early Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament produced in Egypt around 300 B.C. It consistently translates nabi with prophates, a Greek word which means “one who speaks in behalf of another.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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