First Prophet? Samuel?

First Prophet? Samuel?

LAST JUDGE.

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Romanticised art supposedly some of the Judges. No prizes for guessing who the lady is then. Choose your favourites for the three men.

The title of this blog is “Samuel – The Last Judge, The first Prophet.” Really?

It cannot be argued against, that Samuel was indeed the last Judge.

When we use the term, “Judge,” we are referring to those God given, Holy Spirit raised leaders that were all divinely anointed for the benefit of the nation of Israel in that biblical volume we refer to as, “The Book of Judges,” and a few years after those days, as per the book and the person of Samuel. The title of the seventh biblical volume, and the intrinsic nature of “the Judges” themselves  has not so much to do with their wisdom in judging what we would refer to as, “courtroom,” type cases (although there are indications of that kind of function being fulfilled by one or two of their number) – as their anointing and gifting of God to set Israel, or sections of Israel, free from various types of tyranny and bondage. We are talking, quite literally of a series of both spiritual and physical fighting people.

There were several periods of repetitive significance in the book of Judges, and each of these periods of time had the same order of repetitive occurrences. Firstly, the people would habitually and purposefully sink into an idolatrous morass of evil. Next, this depression into sin would result in some other nation of idolaters invading part of the Israeli’s promised land. Thirdly, in the midst of the poverty, hardship and shame that the various occupations brought to the Israeli’s, somewhere in the heart of the twelve tribes was the memory of Yahweh, and they thus prayed from their hearts for deliverance. Finally, each time this happened a man (and on one occasion a woman) emerged from their own ranks, who had some gift, some plan and/or some commission from heaven, and some even had supernatural gifts, that would rid them of their evil taskmasters. A period of peace and rest and prosperity would then smother the nation for a while. The people would walk with God until the joy of their supernatural deliverance had subsided, and then the people got back to idolatry again, and the circle restarted. The highs and lows of this graph were of different lengths of time, just as each of  the charismatic Judges were each totally different than anybody who had gone before. These collapses and occupations by other nations was not always  nationwide in Israel.  Some of them were quite local to a single tribe.

The Book of Judges refers to twelve characters who functioned as Judges.

Othniel, Judges 3:7-11

Ehud, Judges 3:12-30

Shamgar, Judges 3:31

Deborah (and Barak) Judges 4,

Gideon, Judges 6, 7,

Tola, Judges 10:1-2

Jair, Judges 10:3-4

Jephthah, Judges 11, 12:1-7

Ibzan, Judges 12:8-10

Elon, Judges 12:11-12

Abdon, Judges 12:13-15

Samson, Judges 13, 14, 15, 16

Even though neither Eli, nor Samuel are mentioned in the book of Judges, the two of them are added to the list by scholars and academics, making fourteen judges in all.

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It was an incredibly dark and dramatic period in Israel’s history, something similar to the dark ages of the church. Several times, Israel seemed to be on the verge of, at worst, annihilation, or at least, assimilation into the godless cultures around them. It was a seriously confused time in Israel’s history.

The word translated as “Judge” could also legitimately be  translated as Deliverer, Leader, or even Saviour.

Samuel was judge in Israel during the transition between those dark and rough days that the book of Judges portrays so starkly, and the introduction of the first king that Israel had pleaded for, begging Samuel to, “negotiate with the Almighty,” and supply them with the sort of man they wanted.  So! “Last Judge” Samuel definitely was! No problem! He could not have been anything else.

FIRST PROPHET?

But, hold on now!  “First Prophet?”  Any five year old Sunday school scholar would hurry to raise their hand and excitedly exhibit their basic Bible knowledge by saying, “Excuse me, sir! What about Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph? What about Moses and Joshua? It is plainly not correct to call Samuel, “The First Prophet!” And one would have to give the child a gold star for accuracy and factual understanding. We, obviously, need to define our terms.

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So; why am I referring to Samuel as, “The First Prophet”?

Let me defer your problematic queries about this appellation being awarded to Samuel. I point the finger at somebody else who is by far superior in knowledge and authority than you or I, namely, the apostle Simon Peter. It was the apostle Peter that made this claim, not Keith Lannon.

In Acts 3 : 24, in only the second New Testament sermon ever recorded, the Apostle Peter declared, that, “From Samuel onwards …,” there was something special and particular going on in the general ministry of the prophets. He couldn’t have really deemed that Moses was not a prophet before Samuel, as he had only seconds before referred to Moses and quoted scripture that infers clearly that Moses was indeed a mighty prophet. And Moses lived centuries before Samuel. “From Samuel onwards all prophets have talked of Christ’s suffering” declared the apostle.

 

So what did Peter actually mean when he said, “from Samuel onwards?” In what way did it all start with Samuel?

In a nutshell, Samuel was the very first prophet to address the entire nation of Israel in the land of Israel. Israel as a nation, of course, could not have been in existence before Jacob was born. Although all prophets in someway refer to Christ, Samuel was the first who stepped forward and spoke what God gave him to the delivered twelv tribes living in the Promised Land, and the entire nation of Israel acknowledged him as a prophet. That context, I believe is why Peter refers to him as the “The First Prophet.”

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In his sermon in Acts 3, Peter makes vital  statements concerning the person of Christ and the kingdom of God. To teach the people that he was not  inventing his teaching, and was perfectly orthodox and consistent with their scriptures, he explains the whole issue of Christ’s suffering, death, burial, resurrection and ascension by referring to the Old Testament prophets.

Verse 18 of Acts 3 informs us that, “Those things, which God before had shown by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled” (A.V).  As I write, I have an issue  with what Peter says, for I scour through the whole of the Old Testament and there are some prophets that I study long and hard, and in my heart and mind, I cannot find references directly or indirectly, plainly or cryptically to the sufferings of Christ. Obadiah for instance. What about Elijah and Elisha as well?  My eyes are dim on this one.

It is my conviction that Samuel was the first prophet that modelled that lofty, precious, prophetic  gifting in the same manner as all those later prophets did addressing Israel, and giving prophetic instructions on how heathen gentile nations were to be treated, yet in a manner that was utterly dissimilar to those that had gone before. Moses talked with God “face to face” and dialogued with God in a different way than prophets of later days did. If we give credibility to the Book of Enoch, the “seventh from Adam” also interacted with God and with angels, with a level of intimacy on par with how we today chat with our next door close friends or neighbours.  Abraham also had several Theophanies of God and angels in his “prophetic dealings.” God actually told the Pharaoh of Egypt at one point that, “He (i.e. Abraham) is my prophet.”  There are those that fight for God, and there are those that God fights for.  God fights for His prophets. These early prophets, even though it is clear that they all received words from heaven that were pointing to Christ, did not have the same modus operandi as Samuel and all the prophets that succeeded him. Samuel was a unique and lone servant to the nation.

Samuel was the first prophet to be addressing the entire nation in the prophetic office, as received and acknowledged in that office by the whole nation of Israel. “From Samuel onwards,” there were many Hebrew prophets who did the same – and in this Samuel was clearly the prototype. It is undoubtedly correct to perceive Moses and Joshua as prophets, but Samuel was the first after the settling into the promised land to lead the nation by a prophetic gift. Joshua’s prophetic gift was always in the context of possessing the Land that was promised the Israelis.

So we assert with Peter, Samuel was the first Hebrew prophet in the land of Israel.

The prophet Samuel was the first of his kind addressing all the tribes of the nation of Israel, and acknowledge to be so by the very force of his character and gift. He was like John the Baptist who fearlessly spoke the words of God without regard to his personal image or reputation. Samuel was a spiritually minded man with unwavering absolutes. He listened to and obeyed the voice of God alone, providing a godly example for the nation of Israel to follow.

Samuel, the first prophet, emerges to preside over the rise of Saul, Israel’s first king, to be the agent of Saul’s rejection, and to anoint David as Israel’s second king and the first established head of a Hebrew royal dynasty. The book of 1 Samuel captures the work of God through the life of Samuel within the interplay of all facets of life, ie: what people refer to in the twenty first century as the socio – political forces of the day.

By this explanation, we assertively justify our title; “Samuel. The Last Judge. The First Prophet.

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Prologue

Nebi Samuel. Samuel's tomb.

Nebi Samuel. Samuel’s tomb.

PROLOGUE.

This blog is about the prophet Samuel. Samuel’s life is recorded in the Bible from First Samuel chapter 1 through to chapter 25. These pages are also about prophecy. The life of Samuel speaks to us today, as does the whole bible. I believe God wants prophecy to be manifested through the church of Jesus Christ today.  I believe that the message and life of Samuel addresses the issue of prophecy and gives us a university standard of study course in understanding prophecy and its basis, as well as prophets in general.

When God speaks to someone, it is prophetic, however minor or major the spoken word seems to be. God speaking to man is intrinsically prophecy. For instance, in the most basic expression of Gospel preaching, whether preachers are aware of it or not, they are prophesying. The prophecy is, “When you die you will miss God and go to hell, unless you receive Christ into your life by faith; in which case you will then go to be with Christ when you die.” That is a prophetic statement. Preachers prophesy that statement over the lives of millions of hearers around the world every day. It is forth-telling the word of God at that moment. It is fore-telling the future of the hearers. It is biblical. It is God’s word for people with no faith, or faith in somebody or something else other than Christ. It is the front door message, the introductory invite to meet God and change one’s destiny. It is the very testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:10 tells us that the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. Gospel preaching is intrinsically prophetic.

But most people would cry out that prophecy must have a deeper and more mysteriously “supernatural” source in order to qualify as, “real prophecy.” From what is generally conceived  of and received as prophecy they would be  correct with that complaint. But is that how God perceives it?

Explanation on how Samuel can be legitimately called, "The First Prophet."There is, “Deep, Deeper and Deepest,” in many areas of life. There are variations in the degree of inspiration in prophecy. There are variations in the ability to see and hear in the realms of the prophetic. Just as a sound and solid adult human being may be four feet six inches tall, or six feet and four inches tall, so prophets may vary in spiritual weight and/or stature. The lighter is no less a prophet for his differing aspects of anointing. One person may have an eye for detail. Another eye might see more in the distance along a distant far reaching road than another. The eyesight of both is relevant and verifiable as genuine, even though they both see and say different things when looking at the same scene.

There are prophets in the world today. There are people who should be prophets who allow the traditional teaching of their denominations to halt them in their tracks from moving forward in their gift. There has been an upsurge in the church of Jesus Christ world-wide in all things prophetic; in prophecy itself, as per the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12, and also in that “mysterious” character the prophet (or prophetess).

The spirit of prophecy has never been withdrawn from the earth since the days of Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah or Jeremiah. Prophecy is a gift from God. God desires to break in to people’s lives through personal prophecy. God is still speaking concerning the local church, the church world-wide, national events and world events. If there were prophets before the law was given, and if the law was given prophetically through angels; if prophets were required after the law was given, and after Christ had returned to heaven – why should there be any rationale in the mind of Christian people who believe in Christ and the Bible, that prophecy is not currently, “God’s way of doing things.”

Amos 3:7 says that God will not do anything without telling His prophets. I would say that God is still doing things in the world. Wouldn’t you agree. If He is still doing things He must have prophets somewhere that He is speaking to before He acts. That is the meaning of Amos 3:7.

God wants us all to know what He is saying. God speaks in generalities sometimes, as well as specifically to individuals at other times. God speaks about biblical truth, as well as about mundane and practical necessities of life. God chooses His prophets as He will, and as He always has. Trust me when I say that the Almighty is not into Hollywood and appearance. Be careful if a person acknowledged as a “prophet” comes to your town and is singularly lacking in make- up, good looks, smooth talk or a white suit. Whether you are impressed or repulsed by what you see and hear. If you get it wrong about prophets, you could be in trouble with God.

Samuel judging his people

Samuel judging his people

A man who was acknowledged as a prophet by many, spoke over me once telling me, “God loves you, and wants to prosper you!” I thanked the prophet. I thanked God. I believed what he had told me. I was uplifted and edified by the words of him who was acknowledged as a “prophet.” It was twenty plus years ago. I am not sure how to define my prosperity. I am happily still here and rejoicing in God. That is surely the best kind of prosperity. I cannot point to anything else in my life that would indicate anything out of the ordinary processes of life. I refuse to deprecate the man who spoke to me that day. Perhaps he was a prophet in training. Perhaps his spiritual vision was marred by the complexities of my life. Perhaps he saw things he was not allowed to share with me. I hold the experience in loose hands and pray for God’s blessing on the man who spoke those words over my life. I rarely share the experience because people with a negative take on such things tend to deride the gift as a useless piece of spiritual hype.

Then again, I have another experience of a prophet and his gift. I heard this prophet once address a young man whom he had never met before. It was so striking I cannot forget it. I may not recall it exactly, but the memory is still clear.  I was working as a “catcher” in a prayer line for this prophet. For the uninitiated, “a catcher,” attending prayer lines for people who require personal prayer, is a person who tries to soften the fall and the dignity of those who happen to be bowled over by the power of God when the Holy Spirit comes upon them to heal them through prayer. The prophet  pointed to one single young man, who was attending this church for the first time, and said words to this effect: “You were a college student years ago. You had a relationship with a female student. You made the young woman pregnant. When she told you that she was pregnant, you insisted that you were not mature enough to be a father to any child at that moment. You gave the young woman money to pay for an abortion. She went away distraught. You have never seen her since.” There was a pause at that moment and the young man being addressed, acknowledged the truth of what the prophet had said to him. But then the prophet spoke on. “Since your denial of your fathering the child, and your rejection of the human being in the young ladies womb, you have never found success or achievement in any way whatsoever.” The young man answered and eagerly affirmed that what the prophet had said was absolutely true, and was the very reason he had come for prayer. “I have news for you,” said the prophet. “The lady did not abort. You have a son. You will not prosper in any way whatsoever until you respond positively to the child and he calls you, “Daddy.” The young man became animated and cried aloud, “But I have no idea where she lives. She might even be abroad! I do not know how to find her, never mind if she has a child!” The prophet said that he (the young man) would find out about her right there in Lagos. To cut the story short, the prophet concerned gave the man enough money to stay in Lagos for several days, prayed over him and said, “Just walk the streets of Lagos and keep your eyes open”. Three days later he bumped into the sister of the supposed mother. The sister confirmed that he was a father. The whole story was resolved and after a while, even though neither the young man, nor the mother wanted to renew any relationship, the child saw him as his “Daddy” and the young man’s life was turned around. That was a prophet indeed.

7. Ramah to ShilohSamuel was the same kind of wild, giant, dangerous prophet.

Christianity is all about hearing from God and walking with God. If anybody is a true Christian, they themselves have heard from God. That is not the common language of Christians to say such a thing, nevertheless it is true. When a person knows and understands the correctness of repenting from their sins and taking Christ as their personal Saviour, they have heard the voice of God. That is prophetic.

It is my hope that through these pages understanding about prophets, prophecy and the need for the prophetic word will be aroused in the readers heart. Who knows? Some readers might discover their own prophetic gift whilst reading.

 

 

 

35. Awake Awake Oh Samuel And fill your horn with oil Anoint Anoint a new King to rule o’er Israel’s soil

Jealous brothers watch the oil run down David’s face.

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Preface

Eulogy to “The Last Judge. The First Prophet” – Shmuel ben Elkanah.

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A TOUCHING REPRESENTATION OF THE BOY SAMUEL REVEALING HIS FIRST PROPHETIC WORD TO THE ELDERLY ELI.

I swear I have seen him! I know what he looks like! I have caught a glimpse of his elderly gait. I have heard the tone of his voice. I hear him speak in English, even though it was ancient Hebrew he undoubtedly spoke. I have even overheard him muttering to himself concerning his own decision making processes, and his God. For these notes I have read the biblical account of his life and pondered over it again and again; it may even be in the area of three figures. I have read every book I can get my hands on that mentions him or discusses him.

Who are we talking about? For me personally – the ultimate in Old Testament biblical prophets. The supreme forerunneer of those who started their days work by declaring, “Thus says Jehovah”. The Father figure for other generations of prophets to follow. This man is the nearest thing to a benchmark amongst the widest mixture of human types that ever sought the same interest – I am talking of the incredible bunch of men we refer to as “The Old Testament Prophets”. We are discussing a man mountain – nay – a veritable continent.

I have grown to love this man despite him annoying me. He has had the lack of consideration to wake me up at night, to perplex me as to why he uttered a certain sentence, or why he did or did not do a certain action. He has, through the years, made me late for appointments while my reflective juices “squandered” time and pondered some of his rationale and motivations. He has at times kept me entwined in his bundle of life whilst my drink or food has gone cold while I merely “finished typing the thought of the moment” – for another hour.

 

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SAMUEL’S HOME AND TOMB.

I have depressed myself wondering how he responded  and felt about his corrupt children. I have been stunned at times as it continually dawned on my soul more and more that the sheer dynamic force of his righteous character and creative teaching that he brought to his generation impacted Israel for the next two or three generations. In fact there are certain aspect of his world view that still impacts us today in the 21st century New Testament church. I have been amazed at the degree of intimacy and relaxed spirituality he had with his God.

All this, and more, have left me at moments  in my prayer times crying out with acute heartache, “God give me at least some of what this man had.”

I am referring to Samuel ben Elkanah.

Samuel the prophet! Samuel the Priest! Samuel the Kingmaker! Samuel the Apostle to his generation! Samuel the Old Testament Evangelist cum revivalist! Samuel the Shepherd of a nation! Samuel the teacher of a people who, initially in his early days, were lost in idolatry and synchretism joining Yahweh with casrved idols! Samuel the Judge! Samuel the monarchical constitution writer! Samuel the personal confidante of the Almighty!

And that’s just for starters.

3We are talking of a man whose Godliness was so powerful it clearly corrected not only his own generation but the following century or so after his demise.

Oh Samuel! Samuel! I feel like a toddler having a tantrum and throwing his Teddy out of the buggy. I fell like a spoilt child who is angry because he cannot have his way. But I shall still bang on the floor with my fists and cry out to God from the depths of my guts. “Lord! Give me just a little bit of what Samuel had and was”.

The following notes started as a devotional notebook of a diary on my PC over 20 years ago and was not intended for public perusal. It grew and grew. It finished up as what I am editing here on this blog.

May God use it to communicate to you my reader, something of what I see of a man who, to my mind, towers above all the biblical men of God – even Moses. And my goal is not just to impart something concerning Samuel, but most of all, the God who Samuel served.

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