Most people think a prophet is someone empowered by God to foretell the future. No doubt, prophets announced God’s intentions, but forecasting future events wasn’t their primary job description. A prophet’s chief task was to serve as God’s mouthpiece to His covenant people Israel and to her enemies. So how did someone become a prophet? Was there some sort of heavenly qualification? In fact, there was.
You might think the standard for a prophet was whether their words came to pass exactly as uttered (Deut 18:15–22). But that’s actually a by-product of the real litmus test, which we read about in Jeremiah:
For who among them has stood in the council (סוד, sôd) of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? [The Lord says] … “If they had stood in my council (סוד, sôd), then they would have proclaimed my words to my people” (Jer 23:18, 22).
What does it mean to “stand in the council”? Jeremiah elaborates: “to see and to hear his word … to pay attention to his word and listen.” The one essential test of a prophet—that preceded their ability to deliver a divine message—was that the prophet had to see and hear God in His council….
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