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God Has Spoken: Lesson 2

"God Has Spoken Through The Prophets"
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"The heavens declare the glory of God…the commands of the
Lord are radiant giving light to the eyes." Psalm 19:1,8

King David's Psalm speaks of nature's message about God — and it also
speaks of another message. We "see" not only by the lights God placed
in the heavens. We see also by another light, a spiritual light, "The
Commands of God." To know God, man needs more light than nature alone
gives.

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Nature Alone Is Not Enough

Nature has many valuable lessons for us. The amazing order in all
things, living and non-living, tells us of wisdom and power far, far
higher than ours. Our hearts reach upward in praise. "Laws of
nature" are always so steady, so dependable, that we are led to believe
that the great Law-Giver can also be trusted.

Nature also raises many questions. For example, since God is so
great does He care about us who are so small? Some have felt that He
is too high and too distant to be bothered. Therefore, they have turned
to things of this earth, or to other spirits, for help in times of
need.

Others feel that God is against them. They say, "If plenty of food is
a sign of God's kindness, then what does the lack of food mean? In our
times of suffering and death, has God changed from His kind ways?"
Nature by itself does not give us important details about God's
character and thinking. It does not tell us how to approach Him. It
raises the questions, but does not give the answers we need.

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The God Who Speaks

Why do some think it so strange that God speaks or communicates in
some manner? Surely plain reason tells us that He should be ABLE to
speak. Humans speak (some would say "too much"). Is the great
Creator of humans LESS able to speak? When people thought that God
failed to notice their sins, the writer of Psalms reason with them,

"Does He who implanted the ear not hear? Does He who formed the
eye not see?" Psalm 94:9

That logic can be continued, "Does He who made the tongue not speak?
Can He who gave language not use it? If God chooses to use special
messengers, can He not provide His messengers with clear speech?"
God wanted Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. When Moses had
doubts God reasoned with him in this way:

"Who gave man his mouth?…is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I
will help you speak and will teach you what to say." (Exodus
4:11-12)

Moses, of course, could speak. He worried that he could not speak
well — his words might not be clear and well-chosen. God assured
him that He, the Creator of speaking ability, could do what was
needed for a clear message. If we have worried that God's message
is poorly given or is unclear, we can stop worrying. God not only
communicates. He communicates Very Well.

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God Spoke By The Prophets

"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets
at many times and in various ways (Hebrews 1:1)."

God's love for people is such that He did not remain silent. He did
not leave us alone and ignorant. "God spoke." He could have
communicated in any number of ways. "In the past," He chose to speak
"through the prophets." Prophets were God's spokesmen, passing along
God's message to the people.

The writer of the book of Hebrews had no doubt who those prophets
were. He quoted often from them — prophets like:

MOSES (Hebrews 1:6; 8:5)
DAVID (Hebrews 1:5a,8; 4:7)
NATHAN (Hebrews 1:5b)
ISAIAH (Hebrews 2:13)
JEREMIAH (Hebrews 8:8)
HABAKKUK (Hebrews 10:37) and
HAGGAI (Hebrews 12:26)

Hebrews chapter 11 also names many prophets. We call these the "Old
Testament prophets." The book of Hebrews shows that the words given
through these prophets were not their own words, but God's words.

When Psalm 95 is used, David is recognized as its human writer.
Yet look at how it is expressed:

"God…spoke through David" (Hebrews4:7).

In Hebrews 3:7 the same words by David are said to be from God's
Spirit:

"So, as the Holy Spirit says…."

Similarly, through Jeremiah's writing,

"the Holy Spirit testifies to us…" (Hebrews 10:15).

Hebrews and other books of the Bible often speak like this. Nehemiah
9:20,30 is an example from the Old Testament. It tells how God's
Spirit was in His prophets, teaching and warning His people for many
years. In the Bible there is no doubt about it. God has spoken by
His prophets so clearly that people long after can depend on their
words. The books of Nehemiah and Hebrews were written hundreds of
years after the old prophets died. Yet they still quoted and trusted
those prophets' words as the true words of God.

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How Were God's True Prophets Recognized?

But any person can claim to be a prophet speaking for God. He may
do this to get money or power or fame. Some might even do it
sincerely, for their own 'good' reasons. This was a problem in the
past, and it is still a problem today. Many who now claim to speak
for God argue AGAINST each other. Their messages do not agree.
After speaking about God's true prophets of long ago, the apostle
Peter warns,

"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as
there will be false teachers among you (2 Peter 2:1)."

God knew there would be false prophets. He also knew that people
might have trouble knowing which speaker was true and which was
false. So God made it very clear which prophets were truly sent
by Him.

Look again at the example of Moses when God made him a prophet to
carry His message to Egypt. Moses had grown up in Egypt and had
not been known as a prophet then. How could the people possibly
know that now God had made him a prophet? The people might even
think of him as a false prophet. Moses asked God,

"What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'the
Lord did not appear to you'?" (Exodus 4:1)

In reply, God told Moses to throw his stick on the ground. By God's
power, the stick became a snake. Then He had Moses pick it up. By
God's power, it changed back into a stick.

"This," said the Lord, "is so that they may believe that the
Lord… has appeared to you." (Exodus 4:5)

God then gave Moses other miracles — just as amazing — to also
prove that he was from God. God called these "signs" (Exodus 4:8,30).

We must be aware the God's enemies also had some power. "By their
secret arts" Egypt's sorcerers and magicians copied a few things
done by Moses (Exodus 7:11). But God has ALL power, so His miracles
were always far greater. He showed the kind of power that only the
Creator has over His creation. The power in Moses was so great that
all could see that Moses was God's prophet.

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Tests For Prophets

Once God had proved the authority of Moses it was not always
necessary for true prophets after him to do all the miracles he
did. But through Moses God gave tests for future prophets. At
that time any 'prophet' failing these tests was put to death.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 has one of these tests:

"But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have
not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name
of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to
yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been
spoken by the Lord?' If what a prophet proclaims in the name
of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a
message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken
presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him."

Yet God also knew that some dreamers and leaders might foretell
events that actually happen. (This might be by luck, or by
clever powers like the Egyptian magicians had.) So, in
Deuteronomy 13, God told how to test such cases:

"If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you
and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the
sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he
says, "let us follow other gods"…you must not listen to the
words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is
testing you to find out whether you love him with all your
heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

We have seen 3 tests —

All True Prophets After Moses Were Proved True By:

1. "Signs" — if they had any — clearly showing the CREATOR'S
POWER over creation. (The weaker power of magicians was no
proof.)
2. ALL that they foretold coming true. (God NEVER lies or
makes mistakes.)
3. Agreeing with what God had revealed about Himself through
Moses. (God does not deny Himself or His own teachings.)

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Learning From The Prophets

False prophets did not have the power of God or the truth of God.
At one point or another they all failed to pass these tests. In
this way, through many centuries, God made clear who were His true
prophets, and who were not. That is why the Bible not only says
that "God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets"
(Hebrews 1:1), but it actually names those true prophets. Their
writings, called "Scripture," are God's words through His proven
prophets.

If we really seek God and His way, we will go to Scripture.
The Scripture itself claims to be the truth given by God
(2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

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Questions On God Has Spoken: Lesson Two

"God Has Spoken Through The Prophets"

CHOICE QUESTIONS

Type in the correct letter (A, B, or C) representing the correct
answer. There is only one correct answer for each Scripture given.

[] 1. {Psalm 19:8} "Light to the eyes" is given by …
(A)fire and flame, (B)holy teachers, (C)the Lord's commands.

[] 2. {Exodus 4:11-12} God said to Moses, "I will teach
you what to…"
(A)do, (B)make, (C)say.

[] 3. {Hebrews 1:1} God spoke in the past through the…
(A)priests, (B)prophets, (C)spirits.

[] 4. Hebrews 3:7 shows that David's words came from…
(A)an unknown writer, (B)his own ideas (C)the Holy Spirit.

[] 5. {2 Peter 2:1} Peter foretold that there would be…
(A)a new Spirit, (B)false teachers, (C)great trouble.

[] 6. {Exodus 4:5} God gave Moses power to do miracles
so that the people would…
(A)believe him, (B)pay him, (C)leave him.

[] 7. {Exodus 4:8, 30} God called these miracles …
(A)marvels, (B)tests, (C)signs.

[] 8. {Exodus 7:11} Egypt's magicians did a few miracles
by…
(A)God's power, (B)secret arts, tricks, (C)spirits, demons.

[] 9. {Deuteronomy 13:1-5} Some prophets who do miracles
say…
(A)"here is proof," (B)"let us follow other gods,"
(C)"my way is right."

[] 10. {2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21} The writings
of the true prophets are called…
(A)Prayer Books, (B)Rule Books, (C)Scripture.

DISCUSSION QUESTION

Your Discussion answers are required, but they will _not_ be used for
marks or grades. This allows you to give your own thinking and
opinion on some of the subjects we have studied.

1. What do you think the Bible means when it claims to be
"inspired" or "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16)? Is this
claim true?

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