When Moses was called as a prophet, he had an extraordinary visionary experience where he saw God represented as a burning bush.

When Isaiah was called as a prophet, we read of a dramatic visionary encounter with smoke filling the temple, heavenly figures called the seraphim, and more.

When Ezekiel was called as a prophet, he offered an elaborate description of divine beings that defy any normal description.

But the prophetic call of John the Baptist, who Jesus labeled as greater than any prophet before his time, is described in only seven words that are found in a very short verse in the book of Luke.

Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. (Luke 3:2)

That’s it. No sensational experience, just… the word of God came to John.

Moses produced a massive amount of scripture and future-oriented prophecy. Isaiah was anciently called “The Prince of the Prophets” because his 66 chapters of prophetic material were so influential. Between Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the other major prophets, we have another 100 long chapters of prophetic material.

Jesus said John the Baptist was the greatest prophet up until his time, and if you gather up and harmonize all the accounts of every recorded teaching of John the Baptist, the amount of material is not even as long as Isaiah chapter 1. Luke tells us that John said other things beyond what we have in the gospels, but we wonder why nobody thought that those other things were significant enough to write down.

So when we think about questions of what is a prophet, and what it means to fulfill the prophetic calling to its fullest, and so forth, we would do well to study the major prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel), and the minor prophets (Hosea, Amos, Micah, etc.), and the king-advisor prophets Samuel and Nathan, plus Moses and Elijah and others. And with all the things we learn of them, we should keep in mind what Jesus said

For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

What does that mean for our mental models about what a prophet is, and how a prophet is “supposed to” operate?

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