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It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

31:8 Balaam. The sad end of Balaam indicates that no one, regardless of his great spiritual gifts, is immune from falling if he forsakes God’s revealed will for his own temporal advantage. Balaam knew God and had the gift of prophecy. Even in his self-willed compromise, he was still given marvelous revelations, uttering amazing prophecies that would be brought to fulfillment by God many centuries later. Yet, frustrated in his desire to advance his own position and wealth, and to promote his own people against God’s chosen people, he then counseled the Moabites to tempt the Israelites into adultery and idolatry with the Moabite women (Numbers 25:1-5; 31:16). He apparently sought to destroy by seduction those whom he could not destroy by might. Hence his sad end.

25:2 which prophesied. Note also I Chronicles 25:3, with reference to the sons of Jeduthun; and I Chronicles 25:5, which speaks of “the sons of Heman the king’s seer.” It appears that all these specially chosen temple musicians were also “prophets,” a term which typically implies that, at least on occasion, they were able to receive and transmit inspired revelations from God. Thus prophecy could, at that time, be in the form of musically accompanied words as well as spoken or written words.

33:23 interpreter. This is not the usual word for an interpreter of the meanings of dreams or other revelations. It is more commonly translated as “mocker”—a type of interpretation perhaps appropriate for Elihu, but hardly for the Messiah.

Introduction to Ezekiel Ezekiel and Daniel, the last among the so-called Major Prophets, were the only two prophets of the exile. Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, was a priest called also by God as a prophet. He had been taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar along with king Jehoiachin and ten thousand of the leaders and skilled craftsmen of Judah (II Kings 24:8-17). Except for occasional visions of the corruption in the temple back at Jerusalem, shortly before the final destruction of the city and the temple under Nebuchadnezzar’s third and final invasion of Judah, Ezekiel’s entire ministry was in Babylonia. Thus, his early prophecies warn of the coming destruction, while his later chapters speak of the future restoration of Israel and the future millennial temple. Some of his central chapters deal with prophecies of judgment on other nations besides Judah. It is in connection with the prophecy against Tyre that one of the most important revelations of the fall of Satan was given (Ezekiel 28:11-19). Much of Ezekiel—like Jeremiah—consists of verbatim quotations from God Himself. The introduction to the various quotes (“The word of the LORD came unto me, saying”—or equivalent) occurs some sixty times in Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a younger contemporary of Jeremiah, and may well have known him and been instructed by him before the exile. Both were priests and had the same deep dedication to God and His word. Further, it should be noted that, even though Ezekiel’s direct ministry had always been only to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the southern kingdom (the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom had been carried away into Assyria over a century before, after more than two centuries of deep apostasy), many of his prophecies envision the reunion of Judah and Israel (Ezekiel 34, 36, 37) and their restoration to the worship of the true God when Messiah comes to establish His kingdom on earth.

16:13 things to come. A prominent component of these future revelations would be—just as in the Old Testament—revelations about the future. In fact, every New Testament writer has included prophetic passages in his writings, most of all John himself, in the book of Revelation.

14:20 he rose up. This was certainly a miracle, very likely a miracle of restoration of life out of death. It is quite possible that this was the occasion in which Paul was “caught up to the third heaven” and granted marvelous “revelations” of “paradise” (II Corinthians 12:2,4,7). The disciples who saw this probably included Timothy (Acts 16:1).

12:10 prophecy. The “gift of prophecy” was especially for guidance of believers before the New Testament was completed, conveying special revelations from God whenever needed for such a purpose. Sometimes, but not usually, it included predictions of coming events. This gift would definitely cease when no longer needed (I Corinthians 13:8; Revelation 22:18), and this would also be true of tongues and knowledge (I Corinthians 13:8), and therefore probably of the other supernatural gifts, when and if they were no longer needed or might be misused for personal benefit.

14:32 subject to the prophets. The gift of prophecy was not to be exercised in a trance-like state, with the prophet being used like a robot. Each true “prophet” was in full control of his faculties, so the prophets could speak one at a time, each in proper order, with any one fully capable of stopping and deferring to another if it was clear that he also had a message from God. Although this gift is no longer needed and has probably ceased (I Corinthians 13:8), the same principle might still be applicable in a church where there is more than one pastor or teacher with the Spirit’s gift of teaching. They would not have direct revelations from God, but they all might have fresh insights that could be shared from God’s now-complete revelation, the Holy Scriptures.

5:20 prophesyings. At this time of writing, the New Testament was not yet given; in fact, this epistle was quite possibly the first New Testament book written. Consequently, the Spirit gave the gift of prophecy to chosen individuals in the churches for divinely inspired instruction of the different congregations. This gift was considered next in importance to that of the apostle (I Corinthians 12:28), because of the need for establishing these early churches on a strong Biblical and Christ-centered foundation, free from the influences of both paganism and legalism. Evidently, however, some of these prophetic revelations were uncomfortable—just as is sound Bible teaching today—and there developed a tendency for the churches to pay more heed to those with spectacular gifts such as gifts of miracles, healings and tongues. Hence it was necessary for Paul to admonish the Thessalonians to “despise not prophesyings.” Later he also gave a mild rebuke to the Corinthians for putting too much emphasis on the gift of tongues: “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:39-40). For “he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (I Corinthians 14:3). Prophesyings were thus vitally important in the apostolic churches, but they would soon cease, evidently after the New Testament was completed (see I Corinthians 13:8; Revelation 22:18-19). The gift of teaching would then take over this type of ministry, for this gift is needed in all churches of all times to convey, explain and apply the full and complete teachings of the Scriptures. The message of this verse for today’s church, therefore, is: “Despise not the teachings of the Word and those who teach them.”

10 speak evil of. This phrase is the same as “blaspheme.” While professing religion, they still dare to speak evil of God’s Word and to distort and ridicule His revelations about creation, heaven, hell and all the heavenly hosts.

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