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2 Kings 1 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:37 mins 18 secs

The Role of the Prophet. 2 Kings

 

In 2 Kings chapter two we see a transition that takes place of spiritual authority in Israel. Elijah the prophet who has been the spokesperson for God for the last 10-15 years is taken to be face to face with the Lord in a remarkable transition that means that he does not undergo physical death, and there is a transfer of authority from Elijah to his successor Elisha. It is Elisha's ministry that expands to an even greater ministry than that of Elijah. It reflects something that is also transpiring in Israel and that is the development of the prophetic office and we see that under Elijah something called the school of the prophets has begun to develop. This is going to lay the foundation for a small revival, at least among the people even though the leadership doesn't change much in the northern kingdom; but it is going to have its impact both in the north and in the south. In the northern kingdom we have seen that under Ahab and Jezebel it has reached the very nadir of spiritual life. They have succumbed to the fertility religions of the Canaanites and the life, the morals, the decisions and the everyday living of the people of the northern kingdom isn't any different from that of the Canaanites who had preceded them. This is what had caused God to send Elijah and His spokesperson to challenge them in their disobedience and to announce the judgment of God in the drought that has taken place, and chapter eighteen we see the challenge between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Then the subsequent and continued challenge of Elijah on the kingship of Ahab, and we have seen the fulfillment of God's promise to destroy the house of Ahab. If we look over at 2 Kings 3:1 we see the beginning of the next in line who is Jehoram the brother of Ahaziah.

 

Sandwiched between chapters one three we have the death of Elijah. It is inserted between the death of Ahaziah and the beginning of Jehoram's reign to make it stand out, to make it a focal point, because of its significance. Even though Elijah has performed several great miracles, had been a spokesperson for God and had made an impact of the northern kingdom, the northern kingdom is still apostate and in rebellion against God. Even though there was this tremendous prophet who had called down fire from heaven at Carmel and subsequently upon two groups of soldiers that had come to take him forcible to bring him before Ahab, there was no change. The change will come slowly under the ministry of his successor Elisha. Elisha's ministry continues until the 12th chapter of 2 Kings even though he is not mentioned in all of the chapters.

 

We see this transition from one prophet to another and that brings in the focus for us the ministry of the prophets. As it develops in Israel it doesn't come into its fullest form and function until after Elijah and Elisha. There is a huge transition that takes place here, especially as more and more of the kings become rebellious. That rebellion brings the ministry of the prophets to the forefront. There is a lot of misunderstanding of the significance of the prophet. Normally when we think of a prophet we think of foretelling the future. Really the prophetic sense in terms of future orientation is really secondary to the role of the prophet. So we want to look a little more at the role of the prophet in terms of being the communicator of God's Word and the one who is challenging people to obedience. There is a difference between a prophet and a teacher.

 

The prophet was a unique representative of God to the people. The priest represented the people toward God. The prophet was God's spokesperson and he addressed all layers of society—the king and the people—from the vantage point of the Mosaic covenant. The first prophet in Israel was Moses. In Deuteronomy chapter thirteen Moses had prophesied that there would be a greater prophet who would come, and this was an allusion to the Lord Jesus Christ, but it was a recognition that Moses himself was a prophet. He functioned as a prophet, as a priest and as a leader of the people. As a prophet he was responsible for delivering to the people the law, and he expounds upon the law, but he is a spokesperson for God. As a prophet he is going to then take the law which was received at Mount Sinai and in Deuteronomy we see Moses function as the prophet who is challenging the people in terms of their obligations and requirements of the law, and that if they are obedient God will bless them but if they are disobedient God will bring judgment upon them. God states that everything in terms of His relationship to Israel is going to be governed by this contractual relationship, this contract, this covenant that is laid out in the Mosaic Law, and when the people disobey then God is going to send a spokesperson—something like a prosecuting attorney—and He is going to bring the nation up on charges and outline how they have broken or violated the covenant, and what the penalty will be. That is the role of the prophet. He is God's communicator to the people and as such part of his role will involve the oversight of enscripturating God's revelation, that which is to be preserved down through the ages. We believe that the Old Testament books were all written under the oversight of a prophet. The prophet's role involved addressing the king because the king does not stand apart from the law; he is under the law, under the authority of God.   

 

There were some other things that prophets did, so this term "prophet" isn't one that fits neatly into out little categories. The word is used in some unusual ways. One of the more unusual ones is in 1 Chronicles 25:3 NASB "Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun with the harp, who prophesied in giving thanks and praising the LORD." That doesn't quite fit with out neat categories of what a prophet does. So prophecy is also related in some ways to singing and it is the expression of doctrine in terms of music. It is related to the law. If we look at the Psalms which were the words of hymns, and we think about the focus of many of the psalms, it was on the character of God but also many are meditations on the law, God's faithfulness to Israel, God's deliverance of Israel, His grace, all of which were in the context of Israel which comes back to the law. That is how the music aspect relates to prophecy. So when we think of a prophet this is a legal function that expresses itself in a lot of different ways. But we think in terms of a fundamental feature a prophet as a prosecuting attorney representing God then everything else can be organized under that function.

 

The prophet is not a teacher, he is a spokesperson for God; his message comes from God. There is a difference between a prophet and a teacher. The prophets says "Thus saith the Lord." After that he is putting in quotation marks exactly what God said. A teacher is explaining and giving instruction about what God said and how it is to be applied. In the New Testament there is a distinction between the prophets and apostles who were the foundation of the church, according to Ephesians 2:20—temporary gifts. The permanent gifts relate to the evangelist and the pastor-teacher. The New Testament prophets and apostles are for the communication of direct revelation from God whereas evangelists and pastors are explaining either the gospel (evangelist) or the whole council of God (pastor-teacher). The message of the prophet is uniquely given to him by God, some of which becomes Scripture. 2 Peter 1:20, 21; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. The word "interpretation" in 2 Peter 1 is not as we think of interpretation. It is that as God gave them a message they don't interpret it on their own terms; they are not explaining it on their own terms. It is God the Holy Spirit who is the one who is energizing and communicating through them and overseeing the process, guaranteeing that what they would write would be free from human error, free from human viewpoint, free from human opinion, and that it would only express there eternal truths of God that would then be preserved down through the ages as the Scripture. So the prophet gives a message that has been uniquely given by God. Prophets said many other things under the inspiration of God that are no in Scripture but everything they said under the ministry of the Holy Spirit would have been without error.

 

The foundation of their content, the basis for their law suit, the challenge to the people, was always their primary stipulations in the Mosaic Law. For example, Deuteronomy 6:5 NASB "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." This is the summation of all of the Mosaic Law, so when the people fell short of this, when they became involved in either idolatry or in social sins that violated or attacked other human beings (because they were in the image of God) the prophet would be sent by God to challenge them.

 

First and foremost they would challenge idolatry in all of its forms. This was summarized in Deuteronomy 4:15-18, but clearly stated in many other places. "So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth." Don't worship the created things; worship only the creator. The prophet's primary message is to challenge the people when they become involved in idolatry. The same thing is true of the believer today. We challenge thinking on the basis of any kind of human viewpoint authority, especially within our own soul. We don't go out as a prophet did but on the basis of what the prophet's say. A pastor is not a prophet but a pastor will come along and on the basis of what the prophets say in the Old Testament they can make direct application and correlation to what is happening politically, socially, economically, whatever, in any area of our lives. This is under the category of application.

 

The prophet exposes the attempts in Israel—in society, either in the political realm or among society as a whole—to trust in human strength, human devices, to find success and happiness in life. This is seen very clearly in Jeremiah 17:5-9 NASB "Thus says the LORD, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?"

 

The prophet always focuses on the divine solution. There were problems that faced the nation of Israel and there are problems that face our nation. We can makes these applications. The nation faces problems, the individual faces problems, but the only solution that matters is the divine solution. We need to trust in God, rely upon Him, because He is able and knowing our problems even before they occur He has already supplied everything we need in order to solve the problem. Jeremiah 9:23, 24 NASB "Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD."

The ultimate solution that the Lord provided is also the point of the prophet's message, i.e. through the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimately everything in the prophet's message points to the need for a God-Man savior. The point in all of their condemnation is that man cannot solve his problems on his own, but there has to be a man to solve the problems. That man must be a unique man, the God-Man. Isaiah 53:5, 6 NASB "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being {fell} upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him." So the divine solution begins by putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the great shepherd of the sheep, the one who died on our behalf. Once we are in that new relationship with Christ, are new creatures in Christ, we have access to understand the Word of God through the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit. The Word of God from Genesis to Revelation is the mind of Christ and it addresses every issue that we face in life.

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