This is a summary, you can view the full discussion here.
First we pondered what a prophet was:
- Someone who has a relationship with God.
- Who predicts the future.
- We noted that all scripture inspired by God is prophesy.
- Which is distinct from the gift of prophesy found in charismatic churches (particularly associated with the Pentecostal movement). This is a charism, an ability a Christian receives through the Holy Spirit working in them, in this case to allow God to speak through them to a church congregation.
- By contrast to this kind of prophesy, the biblical figure of the prophet inspired respect and often drawing political leadership and power. Yet paradoxically almost every prophet in both the Old and New Testament was killed.
- This was because prophesy was about the present as well as the future. So the prophets agitated the authorities with their caustic criticism of the established order.
We then turned to some passages from the major prophets, considering the nature of their message and our reaction to them (click on the reference to link to a Bible browser).
- This is an example of poetic writing which is common in the prophets. It makes use of apocalyptic imagery as allegory, to convey a spiritual point.
- Yet there is an explicit reference to a historical state of affairs- that the Hebrews had been rebelling against God’s laws.
- The symbolic action of shaving quite likely represents judgement and division- a punishment in response to disloyalty.
- It implies that the figure known as the Son of Man will be the one to carry out this judgement. In the New Testament this figure is identified with Christ.
- What was meant by defiling the sanctuary? Bringing another god into the sanctuary. Because each ‘god’ (or idol) was the god of a nation, there were complex implications on foreign policy for bringing another god into the sanctuary. This was a deeply political act and so it seems that it refers to judgement both in a historical sense- the judgement of the Hebrew people by their enemies in battle, and in anagogical sense -that is- looking forward to God’s plan of salvation.
- The central theme is that God scorns ritual- he wants justice and action.
- But it never says that God doesn’t want ritual in addition to justice, but only that he doesn’t want empty ritual.
- So this is another passage that is highly critical of peoples’ behaviour at the time, but it does also speak to the future. Amos predicted that the Hebrews would once more be taken into captivity (as in Egypt), as indeed did happen with the Babylonian exile, c. 600 BC.
- The central theme is that the time of punishment (the exile) is over, that the people can return home, and that there are good things to come.
- There shall be a cleansing, bringing new (softened) hearts and God’s spirit among us.
- So God shall make his name great and holy accross the world by doing this, rather than by force.
- Christians interpret this as a direct prediction of Christianity and the power that it can work.
View the Next Part of Bible for Bluffers.