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The Old Testament is filled with prophecy. Prophecy means the direct inspiration of God to speak His words to the world. There were many prophets in the Old Testament, not only those whose names are given to the prophetic books of the Bible, but many others, including Moses, Elijah, Samuel and Nathan.
In the Old Testament, many prophecies were made concerning the history and destiny of the people of Israel and of the whole human race. Usually the prophecies told what God would do in response to the wickedness and unfaithfulness of His People. The prophecies foretold the tragedies coming to Israel because of the sins of the People. They also foretold the ultimate mercy and forgiveness of God Who is faithful to His promises, Who will not be angry forever, but Who will restore the fortunes of His People and bring all nations to His everlasting Kingdom.
The ultimate act of God’s mercy and compassion is His sending of His Son as the Messiah of Israel. Jesus, as we have seen, is the final King of God’s Kingdom which reigns forever. He is the great high priest Who brings completion and perfection to man’s priestly sacrifices to God. He is also the last and final Prophet Who ushers in the time when God creates a whole people of prophets, a whole assembly of those who are taught directly by God to know His Will and to speak His Words in the world.
Thus, in the Gospel of Saint John, it is recorded that the people recognized Jesus not merely as a prophet or one of the prophets, but as the final Prophet Whom God would send at the end of the ages.
When the people saw the sign which He had done [the feeding of the five thousand], they said, “This is indeed the Prophet Who is come into the world!” (Jn 6:14)
When they heard these words (about the living water), some of the people said, “This is really the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ” (Jn 7:40).
Saint Peter refers to the same appearance of Christ as the Prophet, in his preaching to the people outside the temple in Jerusalem.
Moses said, “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as He raised me up. You shall listen to Him in whatever He tells you. And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.” (Acts 3:22–23)
Jesus is “that prophet” whom Moses spoke about in the Old Law (Dt 18:15). But even Moses and all the prophets of old did not realize that “that prophet” would be the divine Son and the uncreated Word of God in human flesh.
Jesus, as the final Prophet, is more than a prophet. He is radically different from the prophets of old. He is the “teacher come from God” (Jn 3:2), Who “speaks as one having authority” (Mt 7:24, Mk 1:22), Who speaks not His own words, but the words of the Father Who sent Him (Jn 14: 24). But He is even more than this because He is Himself the divine Word of’ God in human flesh.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (Jn 1:1–4)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (Jn 1:14)
And from His fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known. (Jn 1:16–18)
As the Word of God in human flesh, Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the great prophets of old who wrote that in the Messiah’s time, all men would be taught directly by God.
For a brief moment I forsook you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,
says the Lord, your Redeemer.
For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
All your sons shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the prosperity of your sons.
In righteousness you shall be established;
you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
and from terror, for it shall not come near you. (Isa 54:7–8, 10, 13–14)
But this is the covenant which 1 will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer 31:33–34)
As the Prophet and the incarnate Word of God, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, and the Light of the world.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know Him and have seen Him.” (Jn 14:6–7)
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12)
Jesus shares His gift of prophecy with all who belong to Him. He gives the Holy Spirit to all of His disciples that they too might know the Father and speak His words and be themselves “the light of the world.”
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Mt 5:14–16)
…and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Mt 10:18–20)
The full possibility for men to prophesy is given in the gift of the Holy Spirit Who came to Christ’s disciples on Pentecost and continues to come upon all who in the Church are baptized into Christ. This full outpouring of the Spirit of God on all flesh was itself prophesied by Joel in the Old Testament. Thus once again, the apostle Peter bears witness:
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day: but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days
I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.’ (Acts 2:14–18)
The apostle Paul concurs with Peter as he insists that prophecy is the first of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Church of the Messiah.
Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. (1 Cor 14:1)
In the Kingdom of God, all prophecy will cease, for the final and perfect presence of God will be given. Then Christ, the Word of God, will be present in all of His divine glory, manifesting God the Father to the whole of creation.