Prophets and Prophecy



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The man was beaming!
“We had such a great night at our church a few nights ago,” he began. “We had a guest speaker—and not only was he a great speaker, but he was also a prophet!”
His friend answered with a question of his own. “How do you know he was a prophet?”
The man thought for a moment. “Well,” he began, “the pastor said he was a prophet, so I guess he had to be!”
How do you know if someone has the genuine gift of prophecy? And is the gift of prophecy still relevant today?

Jesus warned about false prophets in the end times. He did not, however, say that people should beware of all prophets. Jesus warned against false prophets, suggesting that He believed the genuine gift of prophecy would exist in the world.

Prophets were used by God to communicate His will to humanity. Prophets were spokespeople for God—making known God’s will and sharing messages from heaven. In Exodus 7:1, Aaron is referred to as being Moses’ “prophet,” the one who spoke on Moses’ behalf. A prophet speaks on behalf of God.

When God intended to do great things in the world, He communicated that intention to prophets to make it known to the human family.

  • God used Noah to warn the world of the coming ood. (2 Peter 2:5)

  • God spoke through Isaiah to announce that Jesus would be born of avirgin. (Isaiah 7:14)

  • Micah prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)

  • God used Jeremiah to prophesy of Israel’s 70-year Babylonian captivity. (Jeremiah 25:11)

  • Daniel prophesied that the Messiah would die (be “cut o ”). (Daniel 9:26)

  • Jesus’ anguished words on the cross were made known by David. (Psalm 22:1)

  • God used John the Baptist to foretell the coming of the Messiah. (John 1:23–27)

  • God used Paul (and others) to announce that Jesus would come again. (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)

  • God has often used prophets to demonstrate that He knows the future. (Daniel 2)

And Isaiah 46:9, 10 says, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.’”
But not all prophecy is predictive. The gift of prophecy is also used by God to provide counsel, direction and an understanding of His will.


This prophecy was partially fulfilled at the feast of Pentecost in Acts 2. The Bible indicates that God will give the gift of the Holy Spirit in great power before the return of Jesus. At this time, it can be expected that the gift of prophecy will be evident.

Whose influence enabled prophets to speak on behalf of God?

Prophecy never came by the will of man,
but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the ___________ _______________.

The gift of prophecy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:7–11) At no time did God ever suggest that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were only for a certain period of time. As long as the Holy Spirit is at work in the world, we can expect to see spiritual gifts at work for the glory of God.

At no time did God ever declare that He would no longer speak through prophets or give the gift of prophecy. God has promised blessings to those who believe in the words of the prophets, and urges us to discern between the genuine gift of prophecy and that which is false.

A. The prophet’s predictions must come to pass.
B. Someone possessing the genuine gift of prophecy will not speak contrary to the Word of God—even if what he predicts comes to pass.
C. The genuine gift of prophecy will always speak in harmony with God’s law.
D. The life of someone with the genuine gift of prophecy will reveal the character of Jesus.

In spite of their popularity, mediums and psychics do not possess the gift of prophecy, nor any other gift given of God. The practice of communicating with the dead has been speci cally outlawed in Scripture. Because “the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5), it is certain that God does not speak through those who claim to communicate with the dead. [See It Is Written Bible Study Guide #10, “The Mystery of Death.”]

When God’s people lived in rebellion and disregarded His law, He responded by withholding the gift of prophecy. The gifts of the Spirit are given to those who are earnestly seeking to live lives of surrender and obedience in harmony with God. When His people would not surrender their lives to Him and obey His law, the gift of prophecy was not given.

The gift of prophecy is not found on television talk shows or in blogs. The genuine gift of prophecy is given to operate within the confines of and in harmony with the ministry of the church. As with all spiritual gifts, the gift of prophecy is given to be a blessing to all and to help people come closer to God, in preparation for the return of Jesus.

The gift of prophecy is not intended to take the place of the Word of God. Old Testament Israel possessed the gift of prophecy, as did the early Christian church. But this did not in any way minimize the importance of the Scriptures. The gifts of the Spirit were given by God to equip His people for ministry, and to prepare the church for the return of Jesus.

Revelation 19:10 says that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” God makes it clear that the gift of prophecy is an identifying mark of His last-day church. According to God Himself, the church at the end of time must possess the genuine gift of prophecy!
As it was explained in It Is Written Bible Study Guide #21, “In Search of the Church,” God’s end-time church will:

A. Rise after AD 1798. (Revelation 12:6, 14)
B. Believe the original teachings of the Christian church. (Revelation 12:17)
C. Be a global movement. (Revelation 14:6)
D. Proclaim the everlasting gospel. (Revelation 14:6–12)
E. Believe in all of God’s commandments, including the Sabbath. (Revelation 12:17; 14:12)
F. Teach that death is a peaceful rest until the resurrection. (Revelation 14:13)
G. Believe in the words of the prophets and in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of prophecy. (Revelation 12:17; 19:10)

How did God place the gift of prophecy within His end-time church?
As God’s end-time church began to emerge, God placed His hand on a young woman named Ellen Harmon (1827– 1915) and blessed her with the gift of prophecy.
God wanted to guide the growing church, and through the writings and instruction of Ellen Harmon—who married and became Ellen White—God was able to counsel and encourage this growing group of mission-minded believers. In spite of having a very basic formal education, this young woman went on to write millions of words, dozens of books, and provide invaluable guidance to a church that would experience rapid growth around the world.
How can a person become more familiar with the genuine gift of prophecy?

The best way to become familiar with this special spiritual gift is to read what Ellen White has written. Prayerful consideration of her writings has led many people to become convicted that God has used Ellen White to communicate light, blessing and truth to the world. [Two of her most well-known books, Steps to Christ and The Great Controversy, are available from the It Is Written Store at or by calling 1-888-664-5573.]

Joel’s prophecy makes it appear that it is possible that God could raise up more individuals with the gift of prophecy. While only time can tell, it is important we remember Jesus’ warning regarding false prophets in earth’s final days (Matthew 24:24), as well as Paul’s counsel: “Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21)

Doctrinal beliefs are derived from the Bible. People blessed with the gift of prophecy are used by God to direct people to the Bible, and not to themselves. While it is true that prophets have been used by God to clarify God’s Word, the prophets themselves were not used by God to originate beliefs that have no basis in the Bible.