Do we still have prophets today?
The main thing we
need to remember when considering this question, is what the Bible says about prophets.
There are many prophets we read about in the Old Testament. Most of those mentioned by name and certainly those whose prophecies we read, were great men of God and we can learn a lot from them. The greatest prophet of all in the Old Testament was Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10). He was a very
good example of what a prophet should be. Other prophets of God had some of the following characterictics, but Moses had them all.
1. He had a special call from God (Exodus 3:1-10). Other prophets also had this call (Isaiah 6, Jeremiah 1:4-19, Ezekiel 1 - 3, Amos 7:14-15, Jonah 1:1). The prophets who took on this work themselves without God's call, were false prophets
(Jeremiah 14:14, 23:21).
2. The true prophets were able to pass on God's message, because they had spent time listening to God. They were able to understand what was happening to them and the people because God had spoken to them (the plagues in Exodus 7 - 11).
Prophets were concerned for people. The laws Moses gave to the people were the most helpful to poor people in all the ancient world (Deuteronomy 24:19-22).
4. Many of the prophets were great statesmen or leaders like Moses.
5. Prophets gave God's message to the
people and they predicted things which would happen. Moses was concerned that the people should not be caught up in paganism (Deuteronomy 18:14). He also predicted the coming of Jesus (Deuteronomy 18:15, Acts 3:21-22).
6. They used symbols to explain God's message. Moses lifted up his hands to illustrate prayer (Exodus 17:8-13). He used the brass snake in Numbers 21:8.
7. They were known to be people of prayer (Exodus 18:19, 32:30, 1 Kings 13:6, 2 Kings 19:4)
Here we should note that even though Jonah was a man of God, his prediction did not come true. The reason for this was that the people repented of their sins and when people
repent, God forgives.
Prophets were known to be men of God and different from other people (2 Kings 4:9). They told God's message because they were convinced that it was true and would never disappear (Isaiah 40:8, 55:10-11). They predicted things to come, to warn and encourage people because they knew God (Amos 3:7).
The test of a true prophet is that his prophecies must come true (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Even so there are prophets whose words come true and who are yet false, but these can be recognised as false because they lead people away from the true God (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
When we come to
the New Testament, we note that Jesus Christ accepted the teachings of the prophets thoroughly. He recognised that they had come from God. He said that John the Baptist, although he lived in New Testament times, was the last and the greatest of the Old Testament prophets (Matt. 11:11). He also said that He himself was the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies (Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:25, 27, 44). The Christian church can learn from these Old Testament prophecies (2 Peter 1:19-21).
Jesus was known as the prophet of God who not only spoke God's word, but actually was God's Word (John 1:1-14).
There were prophets in the early church (Acts 2:17-18, 19:6, 11:28 and 21:10-11) and there is a gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1). People were warned to be very
careful about what people claimed to be God's message (Matthew 7:15, 2 Peter 2:1 and 1 John 4:1-3).
Coming to the question of whether there are prophets today or not, we can say very definitely that there are people who are called by God and who speak for God. Many of them are great leaders. They are also concerned for people, especially that they will hear and receive God's
message. There may be times when prophets can give guidance to people or a local church. They can warn or encourage, but everything they say, must be in accordance with what is written in the Word of God, the Bible, because that revelation of God is complete and we cannot add to it or take away from it (Matthew 5:18, Revelation 22:18-19). It must be in line with the faith which was once and for all given to God's people (Jude 3).
But if people make predictions about things to come, which we are told no-one knows (Mark 13:32) they may be false prophets. They are also false if they lead people away from the only true God to worship other things, or live lives of immorality and especially if they have dealings with the occult or spirits. Christians do not need to find magic solutions to their problems. They have the Holy Spirit
who guides, directs, warns or encourages them in their daily lives and leads the church on in her service for God.