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38. Christ, The Prophet

“And one of them, named Cleopas, answering said unto him, Dost thou alone sojourn in Jerusalem and not know the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said to them, What things? And they said unto him, The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.” (Luke 24:18-19).

The prophet occupies a unique position. He does not merely proclaim other people’s interpretation of God’s Word, but speaks and writes as directly from the Lord. His purpose is to bring us something entirely new from God for our correction, reproof, instruction and discipline. His eyes see what others do not, and his ears hear the words as they come from God.

More than anyone else the prophet is God’s messenger on earth. He may be loved or hated, honored or persecuted, all according to the manner in which his audience relates itself to God. He is usually hated and persecuted; frequently he is made to suffer martyrdom because the people cannot bear his message.

Jesus foretold to His disciples that they would be persecuted, and added, “For so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.”

Moses appeared before Pharaoh with God’s message to him, and showed signs according to God’s instruction. Ahab respected Elijah as much as he feared him; for this lone man of the mountain regions was stronger in words and works than the king.

It is often a difficult task for the prophet to proclaim God’s message to his generation; but if he wants to be true to his calling he has to be obedient to God. To Jeremiah the Lord said: “Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee; be not dismayed at them, lest I dismay thee before them.” (Jer. 1:17).

“Thus saith the Lord!” These were the bold and authoritative words upon which the prophet based his message. Only a prophet has a right to use such words when he makes statements beyond what is written in God’s Book. The God to whom all authority belongs gave his messengers the words they were to speak and write; these words were authoritative, not only for the prophets contemporaries, but for all ages and generations.

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One day a Prophet from Nazareth appeared, mighty in word and deed before God and all the people. He was the greatest of all the prophets and proclaimed God’s message more clearly than any others. He performed the works which He had seen of the Father, and spoke the words He had heard of Him. By His works He demonstrated God’s power, and by His words He revealed God’s will, He opened their eyes to the deepest depths in human life and to the highest pinacles of God’s wisdom and grace. Even His enemies exclaimed, “Never so man spake!”

How could it be otherwise when He by whom all things were created stood as a man among men to declare God’s Word? He was the Word that became flesh to dwell among us. He had the Spirit without measure, and taught the way of God in truth. In a tranquility born of greatness He sat on the mount with the people gathered about Him; with true prophetic insight He looked into their souls and spoke words which expressed perfectly their poverty and need. Not only that; He brought a message of cheer from God to those who are poor in spirit and who hunger and thirst after righteousness; they are called blessed, and the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

He opened the door to the true meaning of the law and the prophets. He revealed God’s will for this life and the next. He cut squarely across human opinions and commandments of men to give us the kernel of God’s truth. This He did even if it made some of the hearers to gnash their teeth and to lay plans against His life. He drew back the curtain between time and eternity and declared time and again that there is a life after death for those who believe in Him.

He told His own clearly and forcefully that He would rise from the grave on the third day. He sat with His disciples and looked over the city and the temple, these centers of God’s plan for His people; from this vantage point He painted a panoramic picture of coming events to the end of time. These are no hazy dreams of a man in search of truth; they are the simple truths of God as He gave them to the Prophet. It is the “Thus saith the Lord!” which shall abide when even heaven and earth pass away.
When we who live today are tempted to desert Jesus, we should be able to say with an even greater conviction than Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Every Christian ought frequently to remind himself of the many witnesses, as well as of the testimony of the Spirit in his own heart; these all testify that He is the Word of God. It would strengthen our faith and gladden our heart.

You and I came to Him as poor and helpless creatures. We came upon His invitation such as we were and knelt at the cross of Him who died for us. We received what He had promised; He gave us new life and put a new song in our mouth. For some of us many years have gone by since that day. We have lived with Him through the years of our youth and have fought some of life’s most bitter battles under his banner. Many things have changed during the years; one after another of our hopes have faded into nothingness. But there is one thing that has not changed; that is the Word of God. One there is who has never failed us: Jesus Christ. Every Christian can testify that His is the only comfort in life worth mentioning.

In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay,
He tells me every care on Him to roll;
He’s the “Lily of the Valley,” the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

In life’s loneliness we have found our sweetest moments with Jesus and His Word. In the secret of His presence we have received strength for our days, weeks, and years from youth to old age; we have found rest for the soul, and a friend in time of need; we have received peace in our heart and light for our path.

My own testimony is this: Every day He is becoming more precious to me. He is my life.

Now we know that the mystery of the cross is the saving power in life, and that the mercy-seat in Christ’s blood is the meeting place between the sinner and God. Now we know it, not only as a fact found in a book, but as a truth established in life — a truth which is most effective when life is most difficult.

Christ is our Prophet, mighty in word and deed.

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Now we have the knowledge necessary for salvation. All people can know, and an ever increasing number of people in the world do know, what the significance of the manger in Bethlehem is. We need neither philosophers nor theologians to tell us what the man of sorrows has done for our sinful race on Calvary’s tree. Golgotha is no longer merely a terrifying place of execution at which heathen soldiers, rabble-rousing priests and the angry mob crucified the Lord. Over this place there is a halo growing out of the Scripture truth that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We know it and can testify courageously, for the Lord has spoken.

We know the meaning of the empty tomb. We know that there is a blessed day in store for us, for the Bridegroom is coming to take His Bride from the valley of tears to Himself in heaven.

These are great blessings. But we have still greater things for which to thank God who made Christ to be a Prophet for us.

The duty of the prophet is not only to instruct. His unique function is to bring this knowledge to the innermost parts of our soul so that the Word can be united with faith in them that hear. It is impossible for us to understand completely how this union is effected, or how God’s Spirit and truth can be united with the human spirit to bring forth a new life. Here we stand before some of the deepest and most delicate aspects of our relationship to Christ as our Prophet. There is no limit to His ability of revealing the truth to us. With the Holy Spirit as interpreter He makes the most profound truths to be spiritual food for us; we can “taste and see” His truths.

Most Christians have blessed memories of the first time that the Prophet began to open their eyes; they will never forget the moments when light first began to shine, and they looked into the spiritual world. Later in life they have had many such experiences, all because Jesus is their Prophet. With this our Prophet we shall oppose the spirit of error as long as we live.

Since Jesus is our Prophet, no one has a right to add to or subtract from what He has spoken. We believe that it was He who spoke through holy men of God in the Old Testament and through the evangelists and the apostles in the New. Therefore the Bible is a holy book to us.

God’s Word shall abide eternally, and has therefore no need of our defense. Even without us the Bible will outlive all its enemies. But there is one effective defense we can make of the Bible, and this we want to do to our dying day; we must be true to its teaching and Spirit. Then wisdom will be justified of her children, and God will be honored through us.

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People of God! Let us hold fast to this Word. Let us never yield to the lying spirit who would rob us of life’s greatest treasure by making the Bible merely a human book. We have experienced too much of the truth of the Word to be deceived by the sneaky serpent of doubt. “Thus saith the Lord” should suffice for us.

When all mouths about us have been stopped, and mere human words have become worthless, and when we shall stand at the border of a new world, the Word of our Prophet will give us light through the valley of shadows. The Word will direct us into eternal life. Then we shall thank Him, not only for redeeming us through His blood, but also for His Word which made us wise unto salvation and opened the way to our heavenly home.

One radiant morn in halls of home supernal,
I’ll meet again the friend I here esteem,
In glory speak with him of life eternal,
And of the life that vanished like a dream.
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