Later on, in her very advanced years, Miriam was called a prophetess; and yet was never known to have carried a message from God to His people. Of course, Miriam is recorded to have claimed that God spoke by and or through her. But was she right in her claim? There is no evidence to the veracity of her claim.
What need was there for God to have another prophet in a woman such as Miriam, when His super-prophet, Moses, was in-charge of His business? Maybe, because Miriam was older than both Moses and Aaron, she had come to assume a mother-figure (or was it rather a father-personality?) over these octogenarians, which gave her the courage to lay claim to any capacity to prophesy.
Why would Miriam claim to be a spokesperson of God when she did not seem credible enough to lay claim to it? Of course, we all know that at one point in time, Miriam led the women’s group in Israel’s journey out of Egypt to Canaan, to sing a powerful song of praise to God. This was when the children of Israel crossed the Red sea safely, while the horse-men of Pharaoh drowned by the mighty hand of God (Exodus 15: 20-21).
This was the only occasion that Miriam came into contact with the Spirit of God. The euphoric feeling that she gained in this one-off contact with the Holy Spirit, might have carried her aloft and above all Israelite women for a long time.
This spiritually uplifting experience, must have led her to think and believe that she was a messenger of God, who was spiritually at par with her two siblings (Aaron and Moses), and that she was chosen to run errands for Him by speaking forth His Word to Israel.
After we heard Miriam sing a song of praise to God when the children of Israel crossed the Red sea, we next hear her criticize Moses for taking an Ethiopian woman to wife. How sad.
This prophetess used her tongue to criticize the true man of God, instead of praising Him for mightily using him (her own brother) in the manner He was doing! Of course, her punishment for this sin, in being hit with leprosy, was deserved (Numbers12:1-16).
I am sure that her experiences of later years would have led her to reconsider her stand and, in sober-mind, rid herself of the delusion she had that God spoke through her. She, no-doubt, must have come to repent of her sin of envy and jealousy of her younger sibling (Moses), which must have caused her to speak presumptuously.
The third and last mention of Miriam in the Bible was one which announced her death and burial (cf. Numbers 20: 1). Miriam therefore, went the way of all flesh with only one good service to God to her credit!
And yet she was considered a prophetess! This means that it was in her singing of praises to God, under the power of the Holy Spirit, in only one known occasion, that she was labeled: prophetess.
To sing under the power of the Holy Spirit therefore, means to prophesy. And it was not only Miriam who sung to earn the appellation, prophet, or in her case, prophetess.
The first king of Israel, Saul the son of Kish, was also a prophet by appellation because he sung praises to God when the Spirit of God first came upon him. In his case too, it is in this one known occasion that he was called a prophet.
Saul joined a company of prophets who, in function, were singers and instrumentalists under the unction of the Holy Spirit, to also sing. (cf. First Samuel 10: 5-13). Saul became known as a prophet because, on the day that he had the Holy Spirit of God come upon him, he joined this musical band of prophets and became as one with them in what they were doing –singing praises to God.
Note that, after Saul’s prophesying in singing, God never used him in even one instance, to carry His message to Israel his nation. And yet his name has entered the history of God’s dealings with mankind as a prophet, at one time in his life.
King David is also recorded in the Bible as a prophet when in fact there is no any evidence that he ever had a message from God to speak it forth to the people of God. Also, David never foretold of future events as many prophets of God commonly did. In what way then, was David a prophet?
David was a prophet because God anointed and used him as “the sweet psalmist of Israel”. David was in spiritual functions a singer, instrumentalist, and composer of songs: prophet. Whenever the Spirit of came upon David, he composed and or sung psalms. In Second Samuel 23: 1-3, Acts 29-31 and Hebrew 11: 32, David is revealed and confirmed as a prophet because of singing of praises to God and in the composition of psalms.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that singing under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, can also be termed: prophesying. From the Old Testament days unto the early days of the New Testament church, inspired singing of praises to God, either in clear understandable words or babbling tongues, remained the commonest manifestations of a person’s contact with the Spirit of God.
It was obviously so, for as many as seventy leaders of the house of Israel during the Old Testament days. This we read of in Numbers 11: 25-27. What could these seventy elders of Israel be doing with their vocal cords on end, prophesying without ceasing? What these elders did was the same thing Saul the son of Kish and a company of known prophets also did with their vocal cords –prophesying without ceasing.
It is not possible that on both occasions, these groups of men were delivering some message from God, without ceasing; could it? What-with all these many people using their vocal cords (and as such, all said in the Bible to be prophesying) at the same time?
What message of God could they be delivering and never ending or ceasing from that task? If at all they were delivering a special message from God, to who was it directed? The only thing they were doing was singing and making music in praise and worship of God.
May it therefore, be firmly established from the foregoing that, to prophesy also means, to sing under the unction of the Holy Spirit: thereby, not limiting prophesying to the delivering of messages from God.
In Acts 21: 9, we read of Philip the evangelist having in his home, four virgin-daughters who did (or could) prophesy. That is not to tell us that these virgins ever had a mission from God, to send His Word to any people of the world, either in times past or present then.
Of course, the work of sending the gospel message to the world was what their father was doing in all diligence, at the time we were told of their virginity and prophesying prowess (a feat usually exhibited together as a quartet?).
I am sure these virgins, pure and holy as they were, could never think of entering into any competition with their father in evangelizing the world. These virgins were singers who were always under the power of the Holy Spirit whenever they sang.
They, like Miriam, who is revealed to us in God’s Word as a prophetess; the seventy elders of the house of Israel in the Book of Numbers; king-elect Saul and his company of prophets; and the family and friends of Cornelius (Acts 10: 46), all ministered in songs of praises to God under the unction of the Holy Spirit immediately they had their first contact with the Holy Spirit. Women singers, singing under the unction of the Holy Spirit are considered to prophesy, and hence the reason why they are called prophetesses.
What about the mention in the Book of Judges in the Bible about a woman by the name Deborah, who is also referred to as a prophetess, someone might ask? Of course, many Bible readers know about this woman, who is also said to have been a judge of Israel. But many people do not know about her in much detail.
Deborah was like Miriam: a songstress. The whole chapter five of the Book of Judges is devoted to her song of praise to God, of herself, and of people she considered to be of valor. She is the only prophetess I have heard of who praised herself when she sung under the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Judges 5: 7, 12, KJV).
Deborah emerged on the national scene of Israel during a time of political and spiritual turmoil. There was at the time, no clear-cut political or spiritual leadership in Israel. At her time, Joshua, the successor of Moses had died and all the elders of Israel who saw the power of God during their wilderness journey had also passed away (Judges 2: 7-10).
At the time of Deborah, Israel was living in one of his habitual periods of disobedience. These bouts of disobedience normally caused Israel to suffer punishment at the hands of their enemies. But because of the promise of God to bless Abraham and his seed forever, anytime Israel cried out to God for help, He always sent them men-leaders to deliver them from their enemies.
During the post-Joshua era, the first of these deliverer-leaders was Othniel; a man who was evidently called, anointed and sent by God (Judges 3:9-11, KJV). The next deliverer-leader was also a man raised and sent by God who was named Ehud (Judges 3: 15-30). Next after Ehud, God raised another male-deliverer by the name Shamgar (cf. Judges 3: 31).
Deborah came onto the political scene of Israel unannounced. Unlike her predecessors, Othniel and Ehud, God did not introduce her. Immediately after her, came another deliverer raised by God to deliver His people. He was called Gideon. Gideon was elaborately introduced by God as His messenger (cf. Judges 6: 12 – 8: 32).
Odd enough, Deborah did not enjoy the testimony of God that He raised her as a deliverer to His people. There is no statement in the Bible that clearly reveals Deborah was raised-up and sent by God in the same way that Othniel, Ehud and Gideon were given glorious testimonies about their God-ordained assignments.
Maybe, she just filled a void at her own will: she called herself into action. It is most likely that, this was what she did. Just like Miriam the prophetess, the joy of having the power of the Holy Spirit upon her for singing might have led her to make bold and courageous acts like leading men to war, at a time when men were afraid to. But even then, do we not see how dependant she was on Barak, a man of valor, for her military campaigns? (cf. Judges 4: 6).
Nothing that I know about Deborah leads me to the conclusion that she was a messenger sent from God to lead His people. Her success in the war-campaigns against Gentile-king Jabin, and his captain Sisera, not withstanding, there is no reference in the Bible that God sent her.
That is not say God was not with her: since the Holy Spirit was with her and inspired her to sing, albeit of herself, and friends. Deborah too, like Miriam could not be a messenger sent by God to lead men. (—continuing part to this article is in Part Four.)
The writer is a Bible-expositor and author of the book: “BEWARE OF THIS FALSE DOCTRINE of reciting the Sinners’ Prayer for salvation”. His email address is: email@example.com
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