The Role of Biblical Prophets

July 5, 2023
By: Allen Parr

In the Old Testament, God instituted different offices among the people of Israel. One of these offices was that of priest. A priest spoke to God on behalf of the people, among other duties. But another office, the office of prophet, involved speaking to the people on behalf of God, and prophetic messages usually had one or more of the following purposes.

The Role of Biblical Prophets

One of the prophet’s primary functions was to expose the sinful practices of the people, especially their idolatry, the practice of worshiping other gods.

The people of Israel frequently fell into the sin of worshiping other gods in place of the one true God. The prophets were quick to call them out on it. The prophets also called out the horrible sin of child sacrifice. To put this in context, some of the pagan nations surrounding Israel sacrificed their children to idols. Israel began to adopt this practice, and God called on the prophets to warn the people: “When you offer your gifts, sacrificing your children in the fire, you still continue to defile yourselves with all your idols today. So, should I let you inquire of me, house of Israel? As I live—this is the declaration of the Lord God—I will not let you inquire of me!” (Ezekiel 20:31).

Jeremiah rebuked the people for the same sin: “They have built the high places of Baal in Ben Hinnom Valley to sacrifice their sons and daughters in the fire to Molech—something I had not commanded them. I had never entertained the thought that they do this detestable act causing Judah to sin!” (Jeremiah 32:35).

Prophets Today

As we assess those who claim to be prophets today, we must ensure that they follow in the footsteps of the Old Testament prophets. A considerable portion of their message should be dedicated to exposing the sinful practices that our society faces—including abortion, sexual sin, and social injustices—and calling people to holiness. While this doesn’t need to be the only focus of their message, given the role of the Old Testament prophets, we should see that same emphasis with anyone who claims to be a prophet today.


Father, thank You for sending prophets to Your people, and please help me to heed Your message. Amen.

 Key Verses

Micah 5:13

Jeremiah 1:16

Habakkuk 2:19

Isaiah 1:17


Adapted from Allen Parr’s book Misled: 7 Lies That Distort the Gospel (and How You Can Discern the Truth).

Allen Parr

Allen Parr is a national speaker, YouTuber, author, ordained minister, husband, and father. He is the cofounder (with his wife, Jennifer) of Let’s Equip, a nonprofit organization that equips Christians and Christian organizations with courses and curriculum to aid in biblical literacy and spiritual growth. Allen is a proud graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, where he earned his master of theology degree in 2004. He has served on staff at several churches in various positions, including worship pastor and pastor of Christian education. His popular YouTube channel, The BEAT (Biblical Encouragement And Truth) with Allen Parr, reaches millions of believers with encouragement to live out their true calling as Christians. He and Jennifer and their two children live in Texas.

Related Articles

The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

Some Bible readers assume that the Spirit’s activity in Scripture is limited to the New Testament. But actually He is just as active in... Read More

Jeremiah’s Faith

Some might consider Jeremiah the model of faithfulness, while others might think of him as an example of failure and […] Read More

The Importance of Preaching the Word

A friend once told me about a time when his spirit felt empty. He had been attending a church where the sermons, while entertaining, were... Read More

Sign Up for the Latest Blog Posts from Thomas Nelson

By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) providing information about products and services of HCCP and its affiliates. You may unsubscribe from these email communications at any time. If you have any questions, please review our Privacy Policy or email us at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *