Messenger of the Lord


Chapter 3—Characteristics of the Prophets

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15). “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). MOL 26.1

For many reasons each prophet is “one-of-a-kind.” Life experiences and their own specific mission at a specific time in history shape products into an unrepeatable configuration of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual capabilities. Thus, even prophets may look at their prophetic calling in a different sense than other prophets would. Kenneth H. Wood pictured it well: “Making two cookies exactly alike is one thing; making two prophets just alike is quite another. In making a prophet, God must take the entire person—body, soul, spirit, intelligence, personality, weaknesses, strengths, education, idiosyncrasies—then endeavor through that person to proclaim His message and accomplish a special mission.” 1 MOL 26.2

Because of these individual differences and because each prophet was called to address a particular audience at a specific time in history (much of which is difficult, if not impossible, to reconstruct), the reader of the Bible as well as the writings of Ellen G. White could not do better than to focus on the message rather than on the messenger. MOL 26.3

The authority of revelation is in the message, not in the messenger. This is not to minimize the value of studying the prophet’s life. The more we know, the better we will understand the prophet’s message. But the priority of concern should be on the content of the prophet’s contribution, not on the container in which the message is carried. MOL 26.4