What is a prophet?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”2234″ img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]The prophetic to this point has been seen mostly on stage, ministering to the audience in front of the stage and at home group meetings.

But prophecy is much more than that! In the Old Testament alone . . .

It was part of their commission to show the people of God ‘their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins’ (Isaiah 58:1). They were, therefore, pastors and ministerial monitors of the people of God. It was their duty to admonish and reprove, to denounce prevailing sins, to threaten the people with the terrors of divine judgment, and to call them to repentance. They also brought the message of consolation and pardon. They were the watchmen set upon the walls of Zion to blow the trumpet and timely warning of approaching danger.[1] Often the prophetic element shone out in the prophet’s preaching and writing.[2]

While Elijah and Elisha were both prophets, their ministries provided two different expressions and functions of the prophetic—two of many.

In addition to presenting the word of the Lord, Elijah called down a three-year drought on rebellious Israel. Most spectacular, perhaps, was his challenge to show whose sacrifice the Lord would accept—his or Israel’s. When Israel’s was rejected, Elijah called down the fire of the Lord, which “consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water than was in the trench.” Then, Elijah rounded up the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah and slaughtered them.

Finally, at the end of his ministry, as he walked with Elisha, “a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”[3]

Elisha’s prophetic ministry was dramatically different and at least twice as extensive.

Both parted the Jordan, multiplied oil for a widow and raised a widow’s son from the dead. But where Elijah ministered principally to the king and queen, Elisha ministered mostly to the people and the communities of prophets.

He purified bad water for the people of Jericho. He purified poisoned soup and multiplied bread for the prophets. He healed Naaman’s leprosy and cursed his servant with it. He made an iron ax head float in the river and struck blind a band of Aramaeans.

But as different as the two were in their ministry, “They had in common the heart and soul of prophecy: the uncompromising championship of the word of God in human affairs.”[4]


[1] Ibid., p. 891.

[2] Unger, Merrill F., “The Nature of Prophecy,” Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 893.

[3] 2 Kings 2:11, NKJV.

[4] Hobbs, T. R., 1 and 2 Kings, Waco: Word Publishing, 1989, pp. 39-40.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]