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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington
Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

 “… which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among the nations, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;”  (Romans 1:1-6).  Again, the first occurrence of ‘Christ Faith’ in Paul’s Letter, To The Romans.

When Jesus asked the disciples “who do men say that I am?”, they responded by telling him that some were saying that he was Elijah or one of the prophets.  Paul, now writing to the Roman Church, having identified himself as ‘a slave of Jesus Christ’; ‘commissioned to dispatch in wartime’; ‘God’s news of victory’; turns now to reference his extensive knowledge of the Old Testament’s writing prophets.

An effective study of the prophet and the prophetic message is one that requires time and commitment.  As biblical history attests, it encompasses a scope of not just the life, times and faith in the Hebrew God’s calling and using individuals as a ‘mouthpiece’ for His Word exactly as received, but, the historical background of how the office of the prophet emerged as schools.  I ‘googled: prophet school history’ looking to see those faiths outside Old Testament in the ancient world that record ‘schools of prophets’ and what I got kinda stumped me— all these schools all over this country that teach and train prophets?  In America?  In times like these?  Where is the evidence of their purpose and work?

The earliest use of ‘prophetes’ has the meaning ‘to declare openly’; ‘to make known publicly’; ‘to proclaim’; but never without having received the content of what is declared directly from a god.  The prophet occupies a ‘middle man’ position in that he is the ‘spokesman’ for God to man as well as for man’s inquires of God.  The decisive feature of OT prophecy is ‘The Word’.  Transmission of this ‘prophetic word’ is most always in the FIRST PERSON and is prefaced with the saying “hear the word of The Lord…”. Several OT scholars have identified OT prophesy as being either: ‘promise or threat’.

There can be no ignorance in the meaning and purpose of The Biblical Prophetic Word when we arrive at the place of origin.  The one who calls themselves a ‘prophet’ (even in our times) must come to terms in their occupation with having definitive purpose AND understanding in the Greatest of all Prophets of Bible for whom Christianity has given it’s very foundation… Isaiah.  Seeing “Seer” that Prophecy in Bible is with very little exception, not directed towards the ‘individual life’; but towards the national life.  The so-called ‘Post Pandemic Church’ could never go ‘Business as usual when you hear Isaiah say in his VERY FIRST Chapter: “Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who deal corruptly… What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices…; Bring no more vain offerings…; Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; SEEK JUSTICE, Correct Oppressions; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

As the first to write among those canonized as New Testament, the ‘Graphais agiais’- ‘Holy writings’ for Paul IS the Old Testament with it’s heavy weight upon the books of ‘The Law’ and the books of ‘The Prophets’.  Even as Jesus laid the groundwork for the struggle with ‘The Law’ that this ‘New Church’ was experiencing in their infancy; his mission is so deeply rooted in ‘The Prophets’ that at the age of twelve he opened the Book of Isaiah ‘to declare openly’; ‘to make known publicly’; ‘to proclaim’; God’s Word of ‘promise prophecy’.

All New Testament writers had extensive knowledge of the Book of The Prophet Isaiah; but it is no small thing that Paul’s Letter to the Romans references the Prophet Isaiah’s writing more times than any other book of the New Testament.  It is the ‘promise of prophecy’ that Paul centers down upon in developing the Christology of the church. 

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