Difference #5: DISPENSATIONAL EXPRESSION
OT prophets: pre-cross prophetic expression
NT prophets: post-cross prophetic expression
The Old It doesn't take very long for even the surface reader of Scripture to notice the hard-nosed and hard-hitting acidity of
the Old Testament prophets. They not only stepped on your toes, they crushed your feet to bring you to your knees! Such
righteous indignation was the foreground of Old prophetic ministry. They had a pre-cross prophetic expression. Consider even
this small, random sample:
Amos prophesied to Amaziah that his wife would become a prostitute in the city, his children would be slain, and he himself
would die in a pagan land (Am 7:17)-Amaziah's recompense for disdaining the prophet's ministry. Nahum opens his prophetic
speech by establishing an angry and vengeful Jehovah, as does Micah and Zephaniah. John the Baptist, though he appears
in the New Testament, nonetheless ministered in the last days of the Old Covenant system. Consequently, we see him
endowed not only with the spirit of Elijah, but also the spirit of all the Old prophets: hostile preaching and fixation on God's
imminent wrath. We see this in his provocative and unsettling word-picture: a razor-sharp ax ready to cut down and burn every
unrepentant Jewish soul (Lk 3:9). What is a pre-cross prophetic expression, and, why so harsh?
More than any other ministry type, prophets express the immediate attitude of God. The Spirit of prophecy manifests His own
mood through the prophet, giving him more than just a prophetic word, but also a prophetic mood that expresses the attitude
of God toward the target audience. Therefore, the Old prophets were expressing God's attitude toward humanity (including
Israel) in the pre-cross era.
In the pre-cross era, God's holy grudge against sinful mankind was still unresolved. The cross had not yet happened to pacify
and subside His anger. Since prophets manifest the immediate attitude of God, they shared in His grudge. From their calling to
their death, they carried and expressed this divine hostility-Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Micah all plainly stated the hand of the Lord
gave them a holy bitterness and anger of spirit (Jer 15:17, Eze 3:14, Mic 3:8,9). Their in-your-face messages, stern demeanor,
and super-intense ministry tactics all reflect a pre-cross prophetic expression flowing from an unsatisfied holy God.
The New Praise the Lord for the cross! Thank God with me! Jesus' marvelous act on the cross accomplished much more than
we sometimes gather. The sin debt of mankind was fully paid for. Atonement was perfected and provided. The Trinity's holy
grudge could now subside and taper. It is finished! triggered an eternal change in God's mood toward humanity, and
especially His people. Should not such an epochal event create changes in every aspect of reality, prophecy included?
Ponder the sunny demeanor of 1Corinthians 14:3 in light of the cross...New prophecy strengthens, encourages, and comforts
the people of God. Similarly, ponder the prophesying of Judas and Silas (Ac 15:32), or the Corinthian prophets (1Co 14:31),
and how they express that sunnier side of prophecy. Contrast this New prophetic aura with that of the bitter-herb savor of
Micaiah or Ahijah or Obadiah. In the Old era, righteous indignation was the prophetic foreground, expressing God's pre-cross
attitude. In the New, such indignation is the background, His grace the foreground, expressing God's post-cross attitude. See
Hebrews 12:18-24...Old prophets expressed the darkness, gloom, and terror of Mount Sinai, New prophets express the joy,
redemption, and newness of Mount Zion.
Difference #6: CULTURAL CONTEXT
OT prophets: Jewish
NT prophets: multi-ethnic global
The Old prophets ministered within a particular cultural context-Jewish. The implications of this are many, but we'll look at the
main one. The Old Testament prophets were anointed nationalists. Israel was God's select nation through whom He would
bring His truth and His Savior into the earth (Ps 147:19,20, Isa 9:6). Consequently, Israel was to remain extremely secluded
and "set apart" from the unredeemed world around them. Old prophetic ministry, then, contained a strong nationalistic
undercurrent, and this undercurrent was divinely-inspired. God was jealous to preserve and prepare His own nation to
incubate and deliver His goods to the world. Prophets expressed this divine nationalism.
The New In the New Testament era, God's preoccupation is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. This church is a multi-ethnic
global community, and therefore, has implications for prophetic ministry. Whereas the Old prophets were anointed nationalists,
the New prophets are anointed globalists.
Acts 2:17,18 connects prophetic ministry with the global outpouring of the Spirit. Acts 11:27-30 shows prophets bridging the
gap between Christian Jew and Christian Gentile. Agabus and his prophetic team travel from Jerusalem to Antioch to declare a
coming famine, which resulted in the predominantly Gentile church (Antioch) sending aid to the predominantly Jewish church
(Jerusalem/Judea). Acts 13:1-3 shows primarily Gentile prophets commissioning Barnabas and Saul, Jewish apostles, to
evangelize the Gentile world. Acts 15:22,32 show Jewish prophets, Judas and Silas, being sent to prophesy to a predominantly
Gentile congregation (Antioch). Acts 19:6 shows Ephesian-Gentiles prophesying before a Jewish apostle, as does the
Tyrian-Gentiles in 21:4. We can see Luke's consistent observation in Acts: New prophecy serves as an emulsifier for the
Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 14:4,22 that prophecy is primarily for the church. Even more so, he tells us prophets are essential
to the maturation of the church (Eph 4:11-13). Since we know the New Covenant church is multi-ethnic and global, we can see
how the New Testament prophetic gift possesses a unique globalizing power. What Moses, Nathan, and Malachi could not do,
Agabus, Judas, Silas, and every other New prophet can: unify the nations in Christ.
Difference #7: RELATIONSHIP TO THE FAITH COMMUNITY
OT prophets: adversarial relationship with the faith community
NT prophets: harmonious relationship with the faith community
The Old This is probably my favorite difference to talk about, partly because I often traverse developing prophets stuck in this
Old Testament prophets possessed an adversarial relationship with the faith community. In general, they did not have a
peaceful coexistence with the larger Israelite community. There are numerous reasons for this. One, they were God's
theocratic representatives in the pre-cross era of divine hostility. Consequently, they were caught in the middle of a tense
relationship between God and His pre-cross people. Two, Old prophets were authoritative enforcers of the Mosaic Law. They
were Jehovah's policemen, sin-seekers and heresy-hunters. Thus, they typically incurred the "bad guy" label (Hos 9:7,8, 1Ki
18:17,18, Am 7:10-13, Jer 26:7-11). Three, when they did come across sin and disobedience, they exposed it forcefully and
specifically, calling out names, places, and details. There was no gracious confrontation process we see in the New era (Mt
18:15-17, Tit 3:10). Unless you were as humble as David after Nathan torched him for his sin, you simply kept an aggravated
distance from these prophets and they from you.
The New New Testament prophets are not supposed to have an adversarial relationship with the church as the Old prophets
did with Israel. They are to have a harmonious relationship with the faith community. There is to be a balanced and compatible
co-existence. There are a few reasons for this, correlating with the reasons mentioned above.
One, New prophets are in a divinely-pacified post-cross era, and therefore, no longer caught in the middle of a tense
relationship between heaven and earth. Two, New prophets are not authoritative enforcers of a harsh Old Covenant, but
anointed dispensers of a joyfully gracious New Covenant (1Co 14:3,4,31, 2Co 3:7-11, Heb 12:18-24). Three, New prophets
might prophetically address sin, but they are not to do so in the Old manner. Prophetic corrections pertaining to individual
Christians are to be submitted to the Matthew 18:15-17 process. Prophetic corrections pertaining to elders or high church
leaders are to be submitted to the 1Timothy 5:19 process. Prophetic corrections-that are serious and non-typical-that pertain
to a church or ministry or group are to be privately submitted to the appropriate leadership for consideration and further
protocol (1Th 5:12,13, 1Co 16:15,16). This certainly does not negate audacity and boldness in prophetic correction and
rebuke (1Co 14:24,25). Not at all. Rather, it simply means the demeanor and presentation possess an undeniable post-cross
sunshine. It has a much more positive and winsome spirit.
Corrective prophetic protocol in the New era makes every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph
4:3). In fact, all prophetic initiatives in the New are to make every effort to preserve harmonious relations with the faith
community and with all people (Ro 12:18, Heb 12:14).
Difference #8: SOCIAL STYLE
OT prophets: social separation from the faith community
NT prophets: social integration into the faith community
The Old Old prophets had a separative social style. They typically remained alone or in small prophetic communes, socially
separate from the larger Israelite community (2Ki 1:9, 6:1,2, Lk 1:80, 1Sam 10:5, 19:20). The main reason for this is that they
were the very middlemen between God and Israel/humanity in the pre-cross era of divine hostility. Just as the people preferred
to not be near Sinai (Ex 20:18,19), and Sinai itself would not allow the people near (19:12,23,24), so also the Old prophets,
who carried the spirit of Sinai, required a type of separation and boundary. Their social separation illustrated God's spiritual
separation from Israel/humanity because of pre-cross sin.
The New How different is the New! New prophets are to be fully integrated into the faith community. This is fellowship. How can
a prophetic Christian fulfill all the "one anothers" in the New Testament if they are not vitally integrated? The Bible tells all
Christians to serve one another (Gal 5:13), pray for one another (Jas 5:16), encourage one another (Heb 3:13), teach one
another (Col 3:16), confess to one another (Jas 5:16), and on and on. Above all, it tells us to love one another deeply, from
the heart (1Pet 1:22). John had very strong words against those who despise fellow Christians (1Jn 2:9-11), or separate
themselves from the fellowship (v19). In light of the "one anothers", we can see New prophets are not to be social separatists.
(This certainly does not mean prophetic Christians should not have prophetic communities to support and sharpen one
another. Such is legitimate and good. We see this is in Acts 11:27, with Agabus leading such a group.)
Remember Hebrews 12:18-24? New prophets do not carry the separatist spirit of Sinai, they carry the joyful assembly spirit of
Zion. The curse has been removed from the born-again people of God because of the cross, He can now integrate Himself
fully with them (Gal 3:13,14). Prophets no longer need to illustrate the chasm separating God and His pre-cross people,
because that chasm is gone! New prophets are to illustrate this new reality through integration, fellowship, friendship.
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