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Monday, September 21, 2015

Prophets, Priests, Kings, and Coffee

We're starting our new study at Coffee Break tomorrow, and we're launching into the Old Testament this time, with a view to finding out more about the Minor Prophets. But, of course, that kind of raises questions like "What's a prophet?" and "Why should we listen to them now?"... which raises the parallel question, "When were they prophets and why did people listen, or not listen, to them then?"

So here are the questions for our first study. Enjoy.

Rumor has it we’re going to study the minor prophets this year, so perhaps we could start by asking ourselves a few simple questions. Please write your answers before reading any further:

1.       What is a prophet?

2.       What’s the difference between a minor prophet and any other kind of prophet?

3.       Do prophets write books?

So much for definitions. Here are some background questions. Again, please write your answers before reading further:

1.       Who do you think of as the earliest and latest prophets in the Bible?

2.       List all the minor prophets you can remember (without looking them up).

3.       Which prophet are you most looking forward to learning about, and why?

Now let’s open our Bibles and clarify our definition of prophet before we study prophets.

1.       Do all prophets write books (the references might help)? (Read 1 Kings 17:1, 2 Samuel 12:7-14)

2.       Do prophets have to use words? (Read Ezekiel 4:1-4, Acts 21:10-11)

3.       Do prophets know what they’re going to say, or how to interpret what they say? (Read Acts 21:12, Numbers 23:7-12)

4.       Is prophecy a life-long gift? (Read 1 Samuel 10:5-7)

5.       Can prophecy be political? (Read 1 Kings 22:7-9, Ezekiel 34:1-4)

6.       Is prophecy all about the future? (Read Hosea 6:6)

7.       Do prophets have to be right when they tell the future? (Read Jonah 3:4-5, 1 Corinthians 14:29,  Deuteronomy 18:22)

8.       Do prophets always tell the truth? (Read 1 Kings 22: 13-14, Micah 3:5-8, Nehemiah 6:10-13, Matthew 7:15-16, 1 John 4:1) Note, Micah includes seers and diviners as prophets.

9.       What professions might prophets be called from? (1 Samuel 3:20, Amos 1:1. Which others can you find?)

Have you revised your idea of what a prophet is, or who the earliest and latest prophets might be? If so, how and why?

The big question of course, if we’re going to study minor prophets, is where should we start and end. We want to include the history and geography, recognize parallel teachings, and see who was speaking to whom, when and why. Hopefully we’ll see a coherent story emerge of God’s interaction with real people in a real world.
According to one list, the best known Old Testament prophets, in order, are 

·         Samuel, Elijah, Micaiah, Elisha, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Isaiah, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Obadiah, Isaiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Daniel, Malachi, Joel, Zechariah,

with Isaiah still being written at the same time as Joel, Jeremiah at the same time as Ezekiel, etc.

1.       Which of these do you think of as “minor prophets” and why?

2.       What might a “school” of prophets be?

3.       Were Moses, King Saul, John the Baptist, Peter... prophets? Who else do you want to add to this list?

4.       Why might I want to include major prophets as we study the minor prophets?

5.       Why might I want to start our study with Samuel and end with John the Baptist?

6.       List any parallels you can think of between Samuel and John.

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