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The Believer and the Bible (4): The Prophets and the Scriptures

G Hutchinson, Belfast

"The Spirit of God worked within and through their [prophet’s] own personalities to reveal His truth"

(R L Saucy, Scripture – Its Power, Authority & Relevance, in Understanding Christian Theology, C Swindoll & R Zuck, Nelson, 2003)

What can we learn from the prophets of the Old Testament (OT) regarding their appreciation of the Scriptures? Consider the following:


OT prophets were divinely appointed to foretell the future and forth-tell the Word of God (Ezek 1.1-3). Their teachings were:

God-given: Through a variety of approaches (appearances, dreams, visions, miracles etc.) God spoke to His people via the prophets (Heb 1.1). A large section of the OT represents the written record of these revelations.

Spirit-sent: The Spirit of God was instrumental in using the OT prophets to record the revelations (Zech 7.12; 2 Pet 1.20-21). The same is true for the New Testament apostles (2 Pet 3.2).

Christ-centered: A large portion of OT prophecy relates to the character and coming of Messiah (Jn 1.45). We should read OT Scripture with that in mind.


A pivotal OT passage which teaches that the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God is Isaiah 55 (vv.10-11). Consider the:

Analogy: The hydrologic cycle can be traced to Scripture! A key observation is the parallel between the rain and snow descending from heaven, and the Word coming from Jehovah’s "mouth" (cp. Deut 8.3).

Application: The cycle of blessing, evident in creation, is similar to the Bible. Rain and snow have a pre-determined purpose and so too have the Scriptures. They descend from heaven, revealing the need and source of salvation, but they also educate the believer to praise God (the cycle of blessing returns to heaven).

Assurance: Four times in one verse the reader is reminded of the power of Scripture to accomplish the divine will (repetition of "shall" in Isaiah 55.11). Hebrews 4.12 is one New Testament passage which picks up on the same truth.


Aside from oral communication, the prophets recorded the Word of God in written form (Ex 24.3-4; Is 30.8; Jer 30.1-2). Note the following:

Purpose: The written Word provides a fixed reference point for God’s people in each and every generation (Deut 31.24-29). The Scriptures outline the will of God for His people.

Proximity: The commandments of the OT were provided in a format that ensured they were within reach (Deut 30.11-14). The Scriptures are heavenly in origin but God, in grace, has ensured their accessibility on earth.


The OT Scriptures follow an orderly progression but there is an important paradox to note:

Diversity: Each of the thirty-nine books of the OT falls within three sections: history, poetry or prophecy. With this division, God ensures that His Word caters for our need, irrespective of how we feel.

Unity: No part of the OT is unrelated to the Messiah (Lk 24.44). He is the chord that binds Scripture together. "The Christian has one Bible, not two; worships one God, not two; knows one way of salvation, not two" (J Blanchard).


The Scriptures were a central part of David’s life, not least when he performed the dual role of King and Prophet (Acts 2.30). Read Deuteronomy 17.14, 18-20 in conjunction with Psalm 19.7-11:

Learn the Word: Kings were instructed to "write", "read" and "learn" the Scriptures (Deut 17). David later testified (Ps 19) to the reliability of Scripture as being "perfect", "sure", "right", "pure", "clean", "for ever", "true" and "righteous".

Live the Word: Kings were to "keep" the law, and "do them" (Deut 17). David experienced the "great reward" from keeping the Scriptures (Ps 19.11).

Love the Word: In terms of their value, the Scriptures are worth more than gold. In their consumption, they are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb (Ps 19.10). Do we value the Scriptures in this way and apply them to our daily walk?


God spoke directly to His prophets (Is 8.5; Jer 36.2; Ezek 3.10) and, aside from documenting the truth, they were also charged with proclaiming it to others (Is 20.2; Jer 37.2; Ezek 38.17). There are no prophets today but we are still charged to proclaim the Word to others (1 Thess 2.13).


Jeremiah 36 is an important passage teaching the indestructibility of Scripture. Four realities are evident:

Inspiration: The prophecies of Jeremiah were not home-made but heaven-sent (vv.1-2)! Previously the prophet had been instructed that the divine Word was akin to a fire and hammer (Jer 23.29) - now he witnessed the reality of these symbols.

Proclamation: Though barred from the temple, Jeremiah instructed Baruch to proclaim the Word of God before the people (vv.6,8,10,15).

Opposition: The Scriptures convey divine truth and, for the sinner, they present teachings that make them uncomfortable and troubled (eg. King Jehoiakim, vv.22-23).

Preservation: In response to the destruction of the Word, Jeremiah was instructed to rewrite the Scriptures (with Baruch acting as his amanuensis, vv.27-32). "Man can burn a scroll, but he cannot destroy the Word of God" ("Jeremiah" (C Dyer), in The Bible Knowledge Commentary (OT), Victor Books, 1986).


Jeremiah and Ezekiel both testified to the nourishing power of the Word (Jer 15.16; Ezek 2.9-3.4). Note the following:

Consumption: The staple diet of OT prophets was the Word of God. Jeremiah fed on the Scriptures ("fed" indicates consumption – note the first OT reference in Gen 2.16). ‘We must go to Scripture as a thirsty man goes to a well; as a hungry man goes to a meal" (C H Mackintosh, "Short Papers on Scripture Subjects", Believers Bookshelf, 1995 reprint).

Application: Ezekiel was charged with a solemn message (Ezek 2.10), and he first consumed the truth before proclaiming it to others (Ezek 3.1, 4-7). Likewise we must first study Scripture, understanding its truth, before we seek to proclaim it to others.

Satisfaction: Both prophets were satisfied with the Scriptures. Jeremiah was burdened (Jer 15.10), particularly at the response of the people to the Scriptures (Jer 8.9), but he rejoiced in the Word (Jer 15.16). Ezekiel, like the Psalmist (Ps 19.10), found the Scriptures to be sweet and satisfying (Ezek 3.3).

To be continued.


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