Those who have been involved or influenced with the ministry of William Branham share a viewpoint on prophecy that makes it quite difficult to witness and discuss scripture. Following in the fooststeps of Dowie, Russell, and Smith, Branham promoted the idea that the prophets of old were leaders, and any who did not follow the leader was abandoned by God. Each major event in the Bible was given the label of an "age," and each of the men in the scriptures became "prophets" for their "age."
Men who lived before the timeline of the prophets in the Old Testament were elevated to the status of "prophet," which Branham claimed to be the highest form of leadership -- higher even than the high priests under the Levitical priesthood.
As Branham taught from the Old Testament, he promoted the idea that prophets were "God's gift" to the people, and to reject that gift was to reject eternal life. All prophets were likened to Noah, and to reject the "messenger" was to shut the spiritual "door" to the ark, which represented his own ministry.
One of the fundamental milestones in Branham's life stories was the 1933 baptism, which was and is compared to the story in the Gospels where John baptized Jesus. But rather than God speaking from the heavens to announce His only Son Jesus, Branham's tale included a God who announced himself [William Branham]. By association, Branham implied that he was the "gift" for this age.
Branham's descriptions of prophets were men who could peer into the future. This, according to Branham, was a divine gift from God -- no matter which religion, herbs and spices, or even astrology produced the "gift." Balaam, for instance, had the same "annointing" that Moses had according to Branham's teaching.
To further the doctrine on prophetic leadership, Branham claimed that God only sent one prophet for each "age." To reject this single leader was to reject God, while acceptance of the man and his message was to inherit eternal salvation. This creates a problem, since there were multiple prophets prophesying at the same time during several events in the Old Testament. It would seem as though this is the reason that several books of the Bible were avoided during the recorded sermons from 1947 to 1965.
The Bible tells a much different story, and seems to expose the weakness of the prophets for a purpose. Until the Mosaic Law was given, men spoke directly to God. Abraham, for instance, walked with God fully in Grace without Law. God spoke to Sarah, and even Hagar -- no vision required.
For a period of time, God ruled and reigned supreme over the people. Men relied upon the Lord for their provision, their protection, their guidance, and their salvation, and though we find instances of visions given by God, we don't find mention of the label "prophet" until much later in scripture.
The people wanted to see a man in power, one that they could see and hear in physical form, and the Bible describes God allowing the people to elect kings into political power. Again, during this time period, we do not find men labeled "prophets," but instead "judges." Time after time, mankind fell to idolatry, adultery, and many other types of sin, and we find judges to issue correction and acts of warfare to free the people from oppression.
These kings were the leaders of Israel, long before the first prophet is mentioned. Again and again, a king would rise, bring the people into righteousness, and then fall again to worse sin. Israel continually drifted further and further away from the Old Covenant, until finally, they had trespassed against each of the commandments.
According to the Old Covenant, there were over three hundred blessings given for keeping the Law -- but there were also over three hundred curses for abandoning or breaking that Law. As the law began to fail, we start seeing the first prophets sent by God.
The most obvious error with this idea that prophets were leaders instead of voices of the Covenant is exposed when you review the timeline of the prophets compared to the timeline of Israel. You'll quickly notice that God's Voice was confirmed by the mouths of more than one human, starting in the days of King Jereoboem II. Jonah, Joel, and Amos were all speaking to God's children as the punishments began.
During the time of Babylonian captivity, this was amplified with God's voice being spoken by multiple prophets in both Babylon and Jerusalem. Daniel and Ezekiel were speaking God's Voice to those in captivity while Jeremiah, Obadiah, and Habakkuk were speaking God's Voice to the Jews in Jerusalem.
Christ, speaking of this period of time, associates the prophets with the Mosaic Law. According to the book of Luke, Jesus tells us that both the Law and the prophets were until John the baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ. Since then, the Good News, or the Gospel of the Kingdom was proclaimed."
“The Law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.
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