Family of Prophets

As we start in the new year, we’re rediscovering together our identity as a church family.  Family is a group of people who genuinely love, trust, care for, and look out for each other.

Our initial series of the year is beginning in an unexpected place.  When we think of families in the Bible, we might think about Adam and Eve, Jacob and his twelve kiddos, Naomi and Ruth, or even spiritually think of the church at it’s beginning in the book of Acts or even a close group like David and his mighty men. 

Instead, God is taking us to a family not often thought about.  We find these family groups in the books of Kings.  They are the family of prophets.

As we start in the new year, we’re rediscovering together our identity as a church family.  Family is a group of people who genuinely love, trust, care for, and look out for each other.

Our initial series of the year is beginning in an unexpected place.  When we think of families in the Bible, we might think about Adam and Eve, Jacob and his twelve kiddos, Naomi and Ruth, or even spiritually think of the church at it’s beginning in the book of Acts or even a close group like David and his mighty men. 

Instead, God is taking us to a family not often thought about.  We find these family groups in the books of Kings.  They are the family of prophets.

Now, depending on the translation that you read, you may find them called:

Company of prophets

Sons of prophets

School of prophets

Group of prophets

Guild of prophets

The Hebrew word used here is the word Ben.  It is a word that it used for literal children as well as generally speaking as in members of a group.  Therefore, all of these English translations are accurate.

A family of prophets.  So far as we can tell, this family of prophets began with Samuel and continued under the leadership of Elijah and then Elisha.  We know that there were at least three groups of these families, one in Naioth, Bethel, and Jericho and that they travelled around. 

Although we don’t know a whole lot more about where they each came from or how these individuals became part of these groups, the Bible reveals what we need to know about them.

They are a group of individuals who sought after God together.  They weren’t perfect, they made mistakes, but their passion for seeking after God brought them together to accomplish incredible things.  God met them where they were and powerfully anointed them so much that whenever they got around other people, they also began to prophesy!  It had to be a fun group of people to hang out with!

Before we are encouraged by some of their adventures, we’re first going to learn a little bit about prophecy.

Merriam-Webster defines prophecy as the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose.  To prophesy is to declare the will and purpose of God.  Prophecy speaks God’s potential about people, circumstances, and places.

Biblical prophecy isn’t the opinions, will, nor ideas of man, but of God.  Though this is true, God chooses to speak through man maintaining their uniqueness.  He speaks to the prophet or prophetess in a way that they understand and communicates the prophecy through them and their personality.

2 Peter 1:19-21

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Prophecy is a powerful fulfillment and expression of our third core value as a church family: Spirit-Lead.  It’s something that we should all eagerly desire and we’ll soon see why!

1 Corinthians 14:1-5

1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

Prophecy builds people up.  It strengthens others.  Prophecy encourages others.  It comforts others.

The Message translation says it this way:

1 Corinthians 14:3-5

when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you.  The one who prays using a private “prayer language” certainly gets a lot out of it, but proclaiming God’s truth to the church in its common language brings the whole church into growth and strength.

Prophecy isn’t some kind of strange, spiritual language spoken to convey God’s revelation in a mysterious way.  God intentionally chose to speak prophecy through humans so that His will and purposes would be understandable, encouraging, strengthening, and comforting.  It is to bring others into God’s presence with you.

We were created for prophecy.  We all have an innate longing and need for encouragement.  When someone carries a prophetic anointing, it is contagious!  Here is an example from an encounter with this family of prophets that we referred to earlier:

1 Samuel 19:18-23

18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19 Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied. 21 Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Seku. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?”

“Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said.

23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth.

Here we have Saul, enraged and determined to kill David.  The next thing you know, the Spirit of God invades his life and he’s walking along whistling Dixie and encouraging everyone he meets.

Think about this in a common scenario that we’ve all encountered.  You’re at work or school or at home and someone just starts spouting off.  They are going on about how bad things are and how impossible the tasks before you are.  We all know how contagious that attitude is, right? 

They are speaking hopelessness just like the valley of dry bones set before Elijah.  What did Elijah need to do to change that valley? What did God ask him to do?  Prophesy!

God places you and I in scenarios like that to be His voice.  Sure, we see what that person spouting off sees, however, you and I should be able to also see beyond the immediate circumstances to the will and purposes of God.  Then, we can speak those truths in.  We can strengthen, encourage, and comfort people in those situations.  We can be the voice that says, “We’ve got this!  Let’s take one step at a time and get this done!”

We love being around encouraging, prophetic people.  They always see the best in people.  They always see the potential in situations.  They give us the hope and courage that we need to rise up, press on, and be victorious!  That’s what this family of prophets were and that is what you and I are called to become.

Think about some of the most significant prophetic words ever spoken in the Bible.  They were simple, common words of encouragement that changed everything.  Prophetic words like “God is with you, mighty warrior!” to Gideon hiding in the winepress.  Prophetic words like “Come out!” to Lazarus causing him to rise from his grave.  When we speak simple, common words in agreement with the will and purposes of God, everything can change.  This is prophecy!

We are called by God to eagerly desire the gift of prophecy.  Would God call us to eagerly desire something that is unobtainable?  Would He call us to seek after something that He’ll never let us find?  Of course not!  Prophecy is for everyone!

Today, living in the new covenant, all believers have been given the deposit of the Holy Spirit and have the ability to be filled with the Presence of God.  However, even under the old covenant, the ability to prophecy was freely given out.

Numbers 11:24-29

24 So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but did not do so again.

26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”

Moses had the heart of God wishing for all of God’s people to prophesy by the Spirit of God.

Think about what happened here, though.  Two men were not where they were supposed to be.  They were not doing what they were supposed to be doing.  They were disobedient and in sin.  However, because they were listed as elders, they also received the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy right where they were.

We prophecy not because of our sinlessness or righteousness.  We prophecy not because of something that we’ve done right.  We prophecy because of who we are – children of God.  These two men prophesied simply because of who they were – elders. 

Our prophetic gift comes from our identity as children of God – adopted into His family of prophets.  It is all because of Jesus, the work that He did on the cross and not because of any work that we’ve done.

You are a member of the family of prophets.  You have been anointed by the Spirit of God.  Wherever you may find yourself, you have the ability to speak the will and purposes of God into any situation.  You have the ability to transform valleys of dry bones into armies of mighty warriors.  In plain language, you can strengthen, encourage, and comfort those around you – especially in hopeless situations.  You can prophesy!

Instead, God is taking us to a family not often thought about.  We find these family groups in the books of Kings.  They are the family of prophets.

Now, depending on the translation that you read, you may find them called:

Company of prophets

Sons of prophets

School of prophets

Group of prophets

Guild of prophets

The Hebrew word used here is the word Ben.  It is a word that it used for literal children as well as generally speaking as in members of a group.  Therefore, all of these English translations are accurate.

A family of prophets.  So far as we can tell, this family of prophets began with Samuel and continued under the leadership of Elijah and then Elisha.  We know that there were at least three groups of these families, one in Naioth, Bethel, and Jericho and that they travelled around. 

Although we don’t know a whole lot more about where they each came from or how these individuals became part of these groups, the Bible reveals what we need to know about them.

They are a group of individuals who sought after God together.  They weren’t perfect, they made mistakes, but their passion for seeking after God brought them together to accomplish incredible things.  God met them where they were and powerfully anointed them so much that whenever they got around other people, they also began to prophesy!  It had to be a fun group of people to hang out with!

Before we are encouraged by some of their adventures, we’re first going to learn a little bit about prophecy.

Merriam-Webster defines prophecy as the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose.  To prophesy is to declare the will and purpose of God.  Prophecy speaks God’s potential about people, circumstances, and places.

Biblical prophecy isn’t the opinions, will, nor ideas of man, but of God.  Though this is true, God chooses to speak through man maintaining their uniqueness.  He speaks to the prophet or prophetess in a way that they understand and communicates the prophecy through them and their personality.

2 Peter 1:19-21

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Prophecy is a powerful fulfillment and expression of our third core value as a church family: Spirit-Lead.  It’s something that we should all eagerly desire and we’ll soon see why!

1 Corinthians 14:1-5

1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

Prophecy builds people up.  It strengthens others.  Prophecy encourages others.  It comforts others.

The Message translation says it this way:

1 Corinthians 14:3-5

when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you.  The one who prays using a private “prayer language” certainly gets a lot out of it, but proclaiming God’s truth to the church in its common language brings the whole church into growth and strength.

Prophecy isn’t some kind of strange, spiritual language spoken to convey God’s revelation in a mysterious way.  God intentionally chose to speak prophecy through humans so that His will and purposes would be understandable, encouraging, strengthening, and comforting.  It is to bring others into God’s presence with you.

We were created for prophecy.  We all have an innate longing and need for encouragement.  When someone carries a prophetic anointing, it is contagious!  Here is an example from an encounter with this family of prophets that we referred to earlier:

1 Samuel 19:18-23

18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19 Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied. 21 Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Seku. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?”

“Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said.

23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth.

Here we have Saul, enraged and determined to kill David.  The next thing you know, the Spirit of God invades his life and he’s walking along whistling Dixie and encouraging everyone he meets.

Think about this in a common scenario that we’ve all encountered.  You’re at work or school or at home and someone just starts spouting off.  They are going on about how bad things are and how impossible the tasks before you are.  They are speaking hopelessness just like the valley of dry bones set before Elijah.  What did Elijah need to do to change that valley? What did God ask him to do?  Prophesy!

God places you and I in scenarios like that to be His voice.  Sure, we see what that person spouting off sees, however, you and I should be able to also see beyond the immediate circumstances to the will and purposes of God.  Then, we can speak those truths in.  We can strengthen, encourage, and comfort people in those situations.  We can be the voice that says, “We’ve got this!  Let’s take one step at a time and get this done!”

We are called by God to eagerly desire the gift of prophecy.  Would God call us to eagerly desire something that is unobtainable?  Would He call us to seek after something that He’ll never let us find?  Of course not!  Prophecy is for everyone!

Today, living in the new covenant, all believers have been given the deposit of the Holy Spirit and have the ability to be filled with the Presence of God.  However, even under the old covenant, the ability to prophecy was freely given out.

Numbers 11:24-29

24 So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but did not do so again.

26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”

Two men were not where they were supposed to be.  They were not doing what they were supposed to be doing.  They were disobedient and in sin.  However, because they were listed as elders, they also received the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy right where they were.

We prophecy not because of our sinlessness or righteousness.  We prophecy not because of something that we’ve done right.  We prophecy because of who we are – children of God.  These two men prophesied simply because of who they were – elders. 

Our prophetic gift comes from our identity as children of God – adopted into His family of prophets.  It is all because of Jesus, the work that He did on the cross and not because of any work that we’ve done.

You are a member of the family of prophets.  You have been anointed by the Spirit of God.  Wherever you may find yourself, you have the ability to speak the will and purposes of God into any situation.  You have the ability to transform valleys of dry bones into armies of mighty warriors.  In plain language, you can strengthen, encourage, and comfort those around you – especially in hopeless situations.  You can prophesy!