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What Is the Role of the Prophet?

August 24, 2022

What Is the Role of the Prophet?

What Is the Role of the Prophet?

By Brooke Holt

“Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’” Jeremiah 1:9-10

What do you think of when you hear the word prophet? Merriam-Webster begins the definition of a prophet like this, “someone who declares publicly a message that he or she believes has come from God.” That is exactly what Jeremiah heard from the Lord in this passage. The Lord would put his words into the mouth of Jeremiah, and then Jeremiah was simply to open his mouth and declare the word of the Lord. Sounds simple, yet it certainly was not easy.

Remember, Jeremiah is a young man (or even boy) upon hearing these words from the Lord. God tells Jeremiah he is giving him authority over nations and kingdoms. That is a big responsibility for a young prophet! Yet, God is clear that Jeremiah will not carry this authority alone. Instead, Jeremiah is to receive from the Lord and then reveal what has been given to him. The Lord needed a mouthpiece, and Jeremiah was his chosen vessel.

Everything in Jeremiah’s life came together in this calling from the Lord. As the Lord previously spoke to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). Despite his initial resistance, Jeremiah embraced this call of the Lord and served as a faithful prophet. It is important to note there were many unfaithful prophets in Jeremiah’s day. And these false prophets were much more popular among the people, but their words did not prove to be true.

Popular is not always faithful; well-received messages are not always God’s messages. What set Jeremiah apart from these other false prophets is Jeremiah did not add his words; he did not sugarcoat what God had given him to say. Instead, he spoke the word of the Lord with boldness and clarity. Due to the nation of Israel’s unfaithfulness in that day, there were many more words of warning and judgment than affirmation and grace. Jeremiah had to open his mouth to call God’s people back to God, convict them of sin, and remind them of God’s faithfulness. Due to the hardness of hearts and the continued rebellion of the nation of Israel, Jeremiah’s words came to fruition in the Babylonian exile. Jerusalem was destroyed, and God’s people found themselves living as captives in a foreign land.

Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet” as he lamented over Israel’s waywardness. He opened his mouth consistently to deliver the hard words of the Lord because he longed to see God’s people healed, restored, and renewed. That would not come in Jeremiah’s day though his prophetic word did look beyond the destruction and exile to a time when God would bring hope back through the Messiah. With the Lord, there is always hope!

That hope is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ and him alone. Jesus brought the ultimate prophetic word as he also fulfilled every word spoken through the words of the Old Testament prophets. We must ask ourselves today if we receive the words of Jesus, or are we like those in Jeremiah’s day who continued in their hard-heartedness and sin? The Lord continues to speak through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and those he has called to preach, teach, and prophesy today. May we have ears to hear and hearts to obey!


Are you faithfully receiving and responding to the word of the Lord in your life? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Pilgrim's path

Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.

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