The Church: Heirs of the Prophets

What makes a prophet a prophet? Why does Peter in Acts 3:24–26 refer to his hearers as heirs of the prophets? And what do Numbers 12:1–9 and Deuteronomy 18:14–22 have to do with the church. Are youheirs of the prophets? A prophet fore-tells and tells forth God’s Word. His job is two-fold. But, also, prophet has religious fellowship with God. As the Lord As the Lord rebukes Miriam and Aaron for their jealousy, he points to the closeness of the fellowship between God and Moses. God graciously communicated with prophets. But he spoke face to face with Moses.

“It is evident that a religious preeminence was involved. Moses, in Numbers 11:29, expressed the desire that all of God’s people might be prophets. This clearly shows that from the first there was a religious as much as a functional value found in the appearance and exercise of the office. This appraisal runs through the entire history of prophecy from beginning to end. The divine promise in Joel 2:28–32 extends it into the eschatalogical age. Not only is Israel honored by having prophets, the greater honor is that the people are intended to become prophets.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 217).

“Moses is surpassed by our Lord Jesus Christ, who did only what God commanded Him. He was not a servant in house of His Lord; He was a Son set over the house of His Father—which is also His house, for the people of God are also His people.” (S. G. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 1, p. 342).

“Viewed against the background of prophetic promise, these early signs of Jesus’ power to rescue and repair by his Spirit reveal that the church’s life is now a first installment and preview of the peace, purity, love, and joy of the world to come, even in the midst of the old creation’s present pollution, decay, and death.” (Dennis E. Johnson, The Message of Acts in the History of Redemption, p. 56).

Peter describes God’s pepole as the heirs of the prophets. He means more than that his hearers have received what Samuel and the prophets promised, true though that is. Rather, that religious fellowship, that close relationship with God, that characterized Moses especially, but also the other prophets, has now become your relationship with God. It takes place because the Servant of the Lord has come to turn you from your wicked ways to fellowship with God. His death and resurrection are yours. And thus, also, the close fellowship between the Christ and his Father is what you are called to as an heir of the prophets.

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The Praying Prophet

Be careful, as you listen to the thunderings of Amos, that you don’t jump to conclusions about his character. He is not just an angry prophet—he pleads for mercy for Israel. The activity of Amos calls you to fear the justice of God and to throw yourself on his mercy.

Amos is the preacher of justice and retribution par excellence. . . . Jehovah, according to Amos, executed righteousness, not from any lower motive, such as safeguarding the structure of society, or converting the sinner, but from the supreme motive of giving free sway to the infinite force of his ethical indignation. (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 273).

The Wednesday evening Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church tonight focuses on Amos 7.

The Church: God’s Treasured People

What is the most awe-inspiring experience you have had? Israel had experienced much as they had been delivered from Egypt—but what God was doing at Sinai was greater. They were filled with awe and fear—but the event was wonderful. God was making them his treasured people. That is what the church today is.

“All sovereignty on earth is derivative, temporary, and limited, and in the case of abuse, more a curse than a blessing. But God is king in the absolute and true sense. The government of the universe is not democratic, not aristocratic, not republican, nor constitutional, but monarchial. To God belongs the one undivided legislative, judicial, and executive power. His sovereignty is original, eternal, unlimited, abundant in blessing. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:6). His royal realm is the whole of the universe. His are the heavens and the earth (Exod. 19:5). . . .” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2, p. 616).

“The one great promise to Abraham is ‘I will be your God, and you and your descendants will be my people’ (Gen. 17:8 paraphrase). And this is the principle content of God’s covenant with Israel as well. God is Israel’s God, and Israel is his people (Exod. 19:6; 29:46; etc.). Israel, accordingly, receives a wide assortment of blessings, not only temporal blessings, such as the land of Canaan, fruitfulness in marriage, a long life, prosperity, plus victory over its enemies, but also spiritual and eternal blessings, such as God’s dwelling among them (Exod. 29:45; Lev. 24:12), the forgiveness of sins (Exod. 20:6; 34:7; Num. 14:18; Deut 4:31; Pss. 32; 103; etc.), sonship. . . sanctification. . . and so on.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3, p. 221).

“In Exod. 19:6 God says to Israel, ‘You shall be to me a kingdom of priests,’ which likely meant that as a whole nation they were to serve as kingly mediators of divine revelation between God and the unbelieving nations (see also Isa. 43:10-13). They were not faithful in this witnessing task. Therefore God raises up a new priest-king, Jesus, and those identified with him are a ‘kingdom of priests,’ as expressed by 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10, which clearly allude to Exod. 19:6.” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 678).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

The Day of the LORD

For Amos the day of the Lord involves a contrast between light and darkness. The language echoes the beginning of creation, when the earth is formless and void. In the darkness God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. One would expect the day of the Lord, then to be a day of brilliant light. But, ironically, and contrary to popular expectation, it will be a day of darkness. It is a day of gloom and judgment because of sin, unconfessed and unrepented of.

The good news is that the concept of the day of the Lord becomes the day of the Lord Jesus Christ as he undergoes judgment in our place and brings us into his glorious light.

“We must be on guard against the small snakes in the dark corners of our hearts. The snake of our unconfessed and uncombatted sin may kill us yet!…The great killer and trampler of snakes must kill the treacherous snake of my sin through the breath of His mouth, through His Spirit.” (Herman Veldkamp, The Farmer from Tekoa, p. 176).

The Wednesday evening Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church focuses on Amos 5.

The Church: Walking before the Lord

“This covenant [with Abraham], initiated, established, defined in promises and commands, and even guaranteed to be everlasting, by the sole sovereignty of the Lord God Almighty, is nevertheless a union of God with his people. It is the same union that comes to expression in the New Testament phrase ‘in Christ.’ This is the essence of the covenant concept, the essence of all true religion. The covenant God made with the man from Ur is the union God has established with his own in Christ Jesus, himself the epitome of covenant as the incarnate God-and-man, Immanuel. There is no more glorious concept given to men than this: God with us!” (John J. Mitchell, “Abram’s Understanding of the Lord’s Covenant,” The Westminster Theological Journal, XXXII, No. 1, November 1969, p. 48).

“The ‘walking before Je­hovah’ pictures the con­stant presence of Jeho­vah to his [Abram’s] mind as walking behind him, and supervising him. The thought of the divine approval furnish­es the motive for obedi­ence. Also the force of El-Shaddai must be no­ticed. What shapes his conduct is not the gen­eral thought of God as moral ruler, but specifi­cally the thought of El-Shaddai, who fills his life with miraculous grace.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, pp. 102–103).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

When God Destroys the Shroud!

Isaiah 25 describes a magnificent banquet which the LORD of hosts prepares. The guests are “all people.” The menu is the finest of food. The location is “on this mountain,” a reference to Zion, where the temple stood. Every sacrificial offering, every fellowship meal there, anticipated the great banquet at the end of the age, the marriage feast of the Lamb.

Appropriately, in that context Isaiah looks to the day when the sovereign Lord will swallow up death itself.

He points you to the time when death will be swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54) and God will wipe away every tear (Revelation 7:17; 21:4).

“When God establishes His kingdom and reign from Zion, all the world will be blessed. What the world will receive from Him is not the paltry, disappointing philoso­phy of men, but the precious truth of the everlasting gospel. To a world covered with the darkness of sin, there will break forth the rays of true light, for in His light the world will see light. What he offers will truly sat­isfy, bless, and enrich mankind.” (E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 2, p. 193).

The next 101 Bible Study, meeting Friday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the Astoria area, focuses on Isaiah 30–31. Call 971/238-6101 for location.

An Untimely Funeral

In Amos 5 the prophet pictures the nation of Israel as a young woman lying dead–but nonetheless he delivers a funeral lament for her to hear! Israel is truly dead–yet is commanded to hear. That is a “marvelous contradiction,” as Herman Veldkamp points out:

“In marvelous contradiction, the prophet Amos told the virgin Israel, whose obituary he was reading and whom he already saw lying dead on the ground, to listen to what he was saying–as if a dead person could hear! This obvious impossibility did not stop Amos, for he knew that the impossible is possible with God.” (The Farmer from Tekoa, p. 153).

God’s gracious Word continues to speak to those who are dead in sin. Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones (Ezekiel 37) reflects the powerful co-joining of the Word and Spirit. You cannot respond in your own strength, but God graciously gives new life, enabling those he calls to turn to him.

The Wednesday evening Bible study and prayer at Trinity Presbyterian Church focuses on Amos 5 this evening.