What’s that you say?

What exactly is “prophecy”?

I should have guessed at some point I would be challenged to think about why I decided to market myself as the Modern Prophet and what that means compared to Hebrew Bible prophets. So here we go! As a poet, I am a fan of Merriam-Webster as the place to find words which I believe will assist me in telling my stories. Definition two: prophet states “one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight; especially:  an inspired poet”, a sentiment which resonated with my ministry. Today I shall explain what biblical prophecy is in regards to the following prophets: Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos because their prophecy is not the same as mine. Barry Bandstra defines prophecy as using ancient Israelite literature and culture to state what peril lies ahead for people if they don’t change their disrespectful behaviors. Meaning these men were not “future” predictors instead they were leaders called by the Universe to speak about social conditions and the politics of their day. Prophetic messages informed people how to live meeting the Universe’s demands (pg. 195).

 Who was Isaiah?

Isaiah was a prophet who lived in the eighth century BCE and is believed to have only written Chapters 1-39 in the book of Isaiah and scholars theorize that these Chapters have been supplemented by later writers. He had a wife and they had at least two sons. It is believed that he may have been a wealthy aristocrat and even a priest. His preaching took place in Judah (click here for map link) and he is set apart from the other two for his use of how the Universe/God related to the people and their actions (Stanley, pg. 433-434). Dr. Brooke Lester in the second half of his lecture points out that the prophets were able to speak out against governments and those in leadership because these prophets had their own wealth and stature which afforded them that ability. Let’s take a look at some scripture from Isaiah 1:1-31; 5:1-30; 10:1-27; 28:1-22. 

In Chapter 1:1-31 Isaiah reminds the people they are disobedient and not acting like they should. He talks about how those noncompliant individuals should “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your doings
    from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
    learn to do good;
seek justice,
    rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
    plead for the widow.” As he continues on in his tirade it reinforces the consequences to come if behavior changes don’t happen. Unlike laments and apocalyptic lessons which often ended positively prophecy typically does not.

Chapter 5:1-30 includes lines about drunkenness and a part where God’s wrath destroyed evildoers so that “their corpses were like refuse in the streets.” Reading this makes me wonder about those who chose not to listen. If a preacher was sharing this message out in public today I would have nightmares and lose sleep!

Here are the opening verses of Chapter 10:1-27; “Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees,
    who write oppressive statutes,
to turn aside the needy from justice
    and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be your spoil,
    and that you may make the orphans your prey!
What will you do on the day of punishment,
    in the calamity that will come from far away?
To whom will you flee for help,
    and where will you leave your wealth,
so as not to crouch among the prisoners
    or fall among the slain?
For all this his anger has not turned away;
    his hand is stretched out still.” After reading these verses d
o you feel those sentiments are applicable today?

We find in Chapter 28:1-22 another prophecy targeted at those individuals who choose to consume copious amounts of alcohol and again the consequences the Universe will be brought upon those who do not change their actions and do what is pleasing to the Universe.

Okay, who is Hosea?

According to Christopher D. Stanley, Hosea’s ministry took place in about the same time as Isaiah but he was prophesying to the north in Israel. Hosea’s background story is very likely allegory used to symbolize the Universe’s relationship with the people of Israel. The Universe demanded he marry a woman of ill repute, an unfaithful woman, (whatever THAT means). Yet if true it may explain why Hosea chose to use marriage comparisons throughout his prophecies. Not much about him is known. He may have been a priest. His wife bore three children and only one may have been his. Hosea’s style of prophecy is to focus on personal behavior and not social ills like poverty and abuse of power by the wealthy. He preaches people must return to a covenant with the Universe to be spared. Finally, Hosea feels the reason people are so off-course is because religious institutions are not doing what they need to be. (pg. 430-432) Do you feel religious institutions are creating behavior problems that can apply to our society today?

*Head's up to any warriors reading this blog if you choose to read Hosea trigger warnings are needed because domestic violence is discussed.
And what about Amos?

And last is Amos who ironically is first. Amos is the earliest known prophet written about in the Hebrew Bible. Like Hosea, he was living in Judah but was called to preach in Israel. Amos was a foreigner and because he was claiming that the rich were going to be punished by the Universe if they didn’t change their ways and provide for the poor the authorities ordered him to stop preaching. He persisted. Unlike Hosea targeting religious institutions, Amos felt the problem was with the government and wealthy leaders. They were abusing others using their wealth and power (Stanley, pg. 429-430). You may have head Amos’s famous quote, “Let justice roll down like water”. Amos strove to bring justice and warned as the others did that the Universe would punish those who didn’t change. Amos probably took many years to write and is why when the prophecy that Israel would be overrun came true the last part was written of Judah rising again, not Israel where he had been preaching. The book closes reminding the reader that salvation comes through the Universe so that people were not left in complete despair (Bandstra, pg. 288-293). How might Amos be heard in our current political time? If Amos was preaching now do you feel the wealthy would take heed? Why or why not?

What does Dr. Brooke Lester have to say about the importance of studying the prophets for us today?

In his Prophecy lecture: Part A Dr. Lester challenges students (including those not enrolled in his class) to read the scriptures as if you are analyzing them for the first time (for some of you on my blog it may be your first time and I am proud of you!) so that you might discover new ways of thinking about them. Knowing the history behind them will help us to “hear” lessons as they are applicable to us today even if these understandings of the lessons were not possible or intended for the original audience.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/

Bandstra, Barry http://barrybandstra.com/rtot4/rtot4-09-pt2.html

Bandstra, Barry http://barrybandstra.com/rtot4/rtot4-14-ch10.html

http://www.bible-history.com/maps/israel_judah_kings.html

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+1%3A1-31%3B+5%3A1-30%3B+10%3A1-27%3B+28%3A1-22&version=NRSV

Stanley, Christopher D. The Hebrew Bible A Comparative Approach. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2010.

8 thoughts on “What’s that you say?”

  1. Hi, Debi! Great job to work on three prophets, Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos, by comparing their prophecies with one another. I like your starting with the question of “what exactly is prophecy?” and approach each prophets from the definition of ‘prophecy’. You also make clear each prophet’s characteristic in their prophecy based on the course materials you accessed. I like your summary of each prophet’s main points of their prophecy. All the resources you add to your blog will be very helpful for the readers of your blog outside this class. Nice job!

  2. I enjoyed your post here- especially how much information you could pull from Bandstra. I need to go back when I get a moment this week and look for more information in Bandstra that I can relate to. I like the way you spoke about Amos as being persistent and even in the quote you provided I can see the persistence there too. I imagine people were tired of hearing from him but he kept going and kept telling people what would happen if they didn’t stop. I can think of a number of people throughout history and even now who have no been silenced when the authorities have told them to stop and instead they kept persisting.

  3. I like your comparison of your modern prophet viewpoint to that of the Hebrew Bible prophet and the definition of a prophet. I also like how you brought it all together through the common link of poetry. I would have loved to see you close with some of your own inspired poetry as an extra comparison for me the reader. 🙂

    1. What a great idea! In the meantime please feel free to check out some of my published poems found in the POET page located under About Tiaraed Warrior.

  4. Very nicely done! I liked the way you laid the three prophets out side by side (so to speak), it made comparisons so much easier to make. While I respect your right to refer to everything as “Universe”, it may be easier to understand if you talk about our God in terms we are all familiar with.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion to use “God” in place of “the Universe” which as you have noted is my language for the Creator of all. Please be aware that some members of my loving community, those outside of our class that I encourage to read my blog, do not identify as Christian and so I will continue to use what I feel is inclusive language.

  5. I like they way you engaged the reader in the discussions by asking our opinions on how prophetic statements would work today. I am torn regarding the question of whether the wealthy would heed an admonition about treating the poor better. On one hand, we live in a very capitalistic country in which we value the “work hard, get your reward” mindset. The prevailing idea being everyone who wants, should work for it. On the other hand, I have the blessing of serving a community of wealthy, yes, but extremely gracious and generous people who feel a definite calling to assist and minister to the poor. So I have to answer yes and no. But maybe the difference is that we, as followers of Christ, have the benefit of the Word along with the call of our modern-day prophets. It is a pretty cut and dried case for acceptable behavior. Great job!

  6. Compared with three prophets, I think you wrote very well. Above all, the points on interpreting the book of Hosea is really new and fresh to me. Yes! we, as warriors of Kingdom of God, should be mindful of What Hosea reproached to Israel religious leaders. Thank you for sharing your thought!

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