--We learn from Holy Scripture that it was by the agency of the Spirit of God that the prophets received the divine communication; but the means by which the divine Spirit communicated with the human spirit, and the conditions of the latter under which the divine communications were received, have not been clearly declared to us. They are however, indicated. In (Numbers 12:6-8) we have an exhaustive division of the different ways in which the revelations of God are made to man.
Direct declaration and manifestation: "I will speak mouth to mouth, apparently, and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold."
Dream. not though it must be allowed that Scripture language seems to point out the state of dream and of trance or ecstasy, as a condition in which the human instrument received the divine communications, it does not follow that all the prophetic revelations were thus made. Had the prophets a full knowledge of that which they predicted? It follows from what we have already said that they had not, and could not have. They were the "spokesmen" of God, (Exodus 7:1) the "mouth" by which his words were uttered, or they were enabled to view and empowered to describe pictures. Presented to their spiritual intuition; but there are no grounds for believing that, contemporaneously with this miracle, there was wrought another miracle, enlarging the understanding of the prophet so as to grasp the whole of the divine counsels which he was gazing into, or which he was the instrument of enunciating. Names: Of the sixteen prophets, four are usually called the great prophets, namely, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, and twelve the Minor prophets, namely, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakuk,Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. They may be divided into four groups: the prophets of the northern kingdom--Hosea, Amos, Joel, Jonah; the prophets of the southern kingdom--Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah; the prophets of the captivity--Ezekiel and Daniel; the prophets of the return--Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. They may be arranged in the following chronological order, namely, Joel, Jonah, Hoses, Amos, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Obadiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. Use of prophecy: Predictive prophecy is at once a part and an evidence of revelation; at the time that it is delivered and until its fulfillment, a part; after it has been fulfilled, an evidence. As an evidence, fulfilled prophecy is as satisfactory as anything can be; for who can know the future except the Ruler who disposes future events? and from whom can come prediction except from him who knows the future? Development of Messianic prophecy: Prediction, in the shape of promise and threatening, begins with the book of Genesis, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. Immediately upon the Fall, hopes of recovery and salvation are held out, but the manner in which this salvation is to be effected is left altogether indefinite. All that is at first declared is that it shall come through a child of woman. (Genesis 3:15) By degrees the area is limited: it is to come through the family of Shem, (Genesis 9:26) through the family of Abraham, (Genesis 12:3) of Isaac, (Genesis 25:18) of Jacob, (Genesis 28:14) of Judah, (Genesis 49:10) Balaam seems to say that it will be wrought by a warlike Israelitish King, (Numbers 24:17) Jacob, by a peaceful Ruler of the earth, (Genesis 49:10) Moses, by a Prophet like himself, i.e. a revealer of a new religious dispensation. (15:15) Nathan's announcement, (2 Samuel 7:16) determines further that the salvation is to come through the house of David, and through a descendant of David who shall be himself a king. This promise is developed by David himself in the Messianic psalms. Between Solomon and Hezekiah intervened some two hundred years, during which the voice of prophecy was silent. The Messianic conception entertained at this time by the Jews might have been that of a King of the royal house of David who would arise and gather under his peaceful sceptre his own people and strangers. Sufficient allusion to his prophetical and priestly offices had been made to create thoughtful consideration, but as yet there was, no clear delineation of him in these characters. It was reserved for the prophets to bring out these features more distinctly. In this great period of prophetism there is no longer any chronological development of Messianic prophecy, as in the earlier period previous to Solomon. Each prophet adds a feature, one more, another less clearly combine the feature, and we have the portrait; but it does not grow gradually and perceptibly under the hands of the several artists. Its culminating point is found in the prophecy contained in (Isaiah 52:13-15) and Isai 52:53 Prophets of the New Testament: So far as their predictive powers are concerned, the Old Testament prophets find their New Testament counterpart in the writer of the Apocalypse; but in their general character, as specially illumined revealers of God's will, their counterpart will rather be found, first in the great Prophet of the Church and his forerunner, John the Baptist, and next in all those persons who were endowed with the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit in the apostolic age, the speakers with tongues and the interpreters of tongues, the prophets and the discerners of spirits, the teachers and workers of miracles. (1 Corinthians 12:10,28) That Predictive powers did occasionally exist in the New Testament prophets is proved by the case of Agabus, (Acts 11:23) but this was not their characteristic. The prophets of the New Testament were supernaturally illuminated expounders and preachers.
Main reference: Smith's Bible Dictionary (1860s)
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