The School of Prophets
by KEN ALEXANDER
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School of Prophets
A school of prophets is a company of one or more prophets working and prophesying together under the instruction and leadership of a more experienced prophet. The term originates with Samuel in the Old Testament around 1000 B.C.E. Not only was Samuel a judge in Israel (before the monarchy) but he also trained young men to be prophets. Perhaps there was no greater force created by God than what Samuel foresaw and utilized concerning the raising up of prophets in the Land. Witchcraft had been very common in the land of Canaan, and with the school of prophets it was so completely eliminated that under the reign of Saul there were scarcely any witches or any witchcraft to be found. The school of prophets created such a powerful environment that it retarded the apostasy of Israel for a long time. They moved very much like Body (church) ministry, and in fact, the school of prophets started a great deal of the interest in the Kingdom of God that shows up in the later prophets in the Old Testament. The whole theme underlying them, of the King coming, the Kingdom and the day of the Lord largely began with the school of prophets.
Samuel dwelt in Naioth (habitations), a place near Ramah where the SOP was located (1 Sam. 19:18–23; 20:1). Some interpret the word Naioth to mean the school of prophets over which Samuel presided. The Hebrew Bible portrays Samuel in a variety of roles: priest, prophet, judge, and “seer.” Moreover, at a critical juncture in the history of the Israelite people, Samuel appears very instrumental in the establishment of the monarchy (King Saul and King David).
The birth and development of Samuel the prophet deserves mention. There was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah. He had two wives Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah was fertile and bore children. Hannah was barren. As the years went on this way Hannah became desperate to have a child. She went to Eli, the current priest, and, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thy maidservant and remember me, and not forget Thy maidservant, but wilt give Thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” The razor meant she would dedicate her son as a Nazzerite wholly dedicated to the Lord. Eli saw and heard her distress and finally told her the Lord would grant her request. Not many months later Hannah became pregnant with Samuel and in due time he was born. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the LORD.”
When the child was weaned she took him to the temple and to Eli the priest. “And she said, “Oh, my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the LORD. “For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him. “So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD” She left the child Samuel in the temple with Eli (1 Samuel 1:1-28).
Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the temple before Eli. And a word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. As Samuel was lying in his bed he heard a voice. After reporting this to Eli he heard the same voice again. Finally Samuel followed Eli’s instructions and said “Speak, for Thy servant is listening.” Thus Samuel as Samuel grew up he came to know the voice of God and became a prophet in the land of Israel. (1 Samuel 3:1-10, 20).
Samuel started and presided over the first school of prophets which was formed during the Judges era of the history of Israel. Other Schools of Prophets were formed during the ministries of Elijah, Elisha and Ezekiel. The first reference to the school of Prophets in the scriptures involved Israel’s first King Saul. Samuel, the prophet, Judge, seer anointed Saul King over Israel the Lord’s inheritance (1 Sa 10:1-2). Part of his first commands to Saul were: “You will come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is; and it shall be as soon as you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and a lyre before them, and they will be prophesying. “Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man. “And it shall be when these signs come to you, do for yourself what the occasion requires; for God is with you” (1 Sa 10:5-7).
“Then it happened when he [Saul] turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day. When they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them. And it came about, when all who knew him previously saw that he prophesied now with the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” And a man there answered and said, “Now, who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place” (1 Sa 10:9-13).
This incident is symbolic of the Lord’s baptism by John when the Holy spirit came upon Him and His ministry began (Mk 1:10, Mt 3:16, Lk 3:22). Jesus was changed by the experience as Saul was changed
We must assume that Saul was not a spiritual man or a man of God because God had to change his spirit through the experience of prophecy with the prophets. Remarkably, he would join in with the prophets in their prophesying as the Spirit of God enabled him and he would be changed into a different person. This is frequently taken to mean that Saul was converted or spiritually regenerated. However, such language for spiritual renewal is foreign to the Old Testament, and Saul’s subsequent attitudes and behavior do not bear out that this was his experience (16:14; 18:12; 28:15–16). Actually the Spirit made the inexperienced and unlettered Saul able to assume kingly responsibilities in much the same way as the judges before him were blessed (Jud. 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14).
After Saul left Samuel, the promised signs came to pass. So amazed were the witnesses to Saul’s dramatic and powerful change of character that they created a proverb which thereafter was quoted to describe a totally unexpected and unexplainable phenomenon: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” This does not suggest, of course, that Saul became part of the prophetic ministry led by Samuel, but only that he was able to exercise a prophetic gift, at least on this occasion, though never having received prophetic training. This was a remarkable and convincing sign of God’s presence and power in Saul’s life and a credit to the prophets whose spiritual atmosphere brought this about. Further evidence that Saul did not actually become a prophet lies in the stem of the Hebrew verb here. He joined in their prophesying means literally, “He acted like a prophet among them,” that is, to all outward appearances he was a prophet because he was able to enter into their activities (see The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 441). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).
This atmosphere created by the prophets wherein they could compel an otherwise ungodly man to prophecy is the same atmosphere they created in Israel to protect it and to protect God’s inheritance therein. We have the same thing in Christ and the Holy Spirit today where the prophets in the Body of Christ bring the atmosphere of the Holy Spirit into a gathering, freeing all the believers to move in freedom. The ultimate example of this is found in the prophecy: “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9; Hab 2:14). God’s atmosphere will cover the entire earth and no one will preach “Know the Lord for all shall know Him from the least to the greatest” (Jeremiah 31:34).
The School of Prophets do their spiritual work almost behind the scenes, hidden away in a place like Ramah; but the effects of their work are felt far and wide. This is the same principle enumerated by Moses in Deuteronomy 32:30: “How could one chase a thousand,
And two put ten thousand to flight”.
In other words one prophet prophesying can defeat one thousand while two can defeat ten thousand. That is a principle of the school of prophets.
The school of prophets in Elijah’s day knew he would be taken up to the Lord before it happened. Elijah used subterfuge to prevent the prophets from following him to the place of his translation. School of prophets (sometimes referred to as “sons of the prophets”) in Bethel and Jericho were involved. When the LORD was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, Elijah went with Elisha (his servant) from Gilgal to Bethel.” The sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.” They then came to Jericho and the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be still” (2 Ki 2:1-6). As it turned out many sons of the prophets knew Elijah was to be taken up but only Elisha actually saw it happen. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets stood opposite them across the Jorden at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. Only Elisha had the courage to cross the Jordan with Elijah and as a result he received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (2 Kings 2:7-14). One wonders what would have happened if all 50 prophets had followed Elijah. There could have been 50 prophets in Israel with a double portion.
The school of (sons of) the prophets are mentioned other places in the scriptures in connection with miracles. “NOW a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD; and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” Elisha performed the miracle of the flow of oil and the widow was able to sell the oil and pay her creditors (2 Kings 4:1-7).
“When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land. As the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and boil stew for the sons of the prophets”. One of the young prophets threw a wild, poisonous gord into the pot and Elisha neutralized it with some meal (2 Ki 4:38-41).
“NOW the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “Behold now, the place before you where we are living is too limited for us. “Please let us go to the Jordan, and each of us take from there a beam, and let us make a place there for ourselves where we may live.” So he said, “Go.” Then one said, “Please be willing to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I shall go.” So he went with them; and when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees”. But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water and sank. Elisha cut off a stick, threw it in the water and made the iron float (2 Ki 6:1-7).
The prophets of God were persecuted and killed. “Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly; for it came about, when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took And Ahab called Obadiah who was over the household. a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water” (1 Ki 18:3-4).
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. “Consequently, you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. “For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, in order that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation” (Luke 11:47-51). And: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! “For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” (Mt 23:37-39).
The prophets in Israel were trained to oppose the prophets of the false god Baal. Baal was the principle god of the heathen nations surrounding Israel. He was the god of the crops, rain, thunder and fertility. Elijah principally fought against the prophets of Baal and eventually rid Israel of them. “Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there” (1 Ki 18:40). Also in a confrontation at Mt. Carmel Elijah showed up and eventually slew 450 prophets of Baal in a contest to prove Baal a false god (1 Ki 18:20-40).
Some may think the school of prophets is a thing of the past but the principle works even today. Prophets can be trained under the supervision of an elder prophet, apostle, teacher or pastor. The elder prophet “reproduces” himself in the young prophet. Paul used the same principle in working with his churches. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 he said: “BE imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you”. Also: “Imitate the faith of your leaders” (Heb. 13:7); you know how you should imitate us (2 Thess. 3:7); follow our example (2 Thess. 3:9); be imitators of me (1 Cor. 4:16; 1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17); the things you have seen in me, do (Phil. 4:9); you became imitators of us and of the Lord (1 Thess. 1:6); you followed my teaching, conduct etc. (2 Tim. 3:10); you imitated the churches of God (1 Thess. 2:14); imitators of those who inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12); go and do the same as the good Samaritan (Luke 10:37); you should have had mercy on your fellow-servant as I had mercy on you (Matt. 18:33); be like men waiting for their master to return (Luke 12:36); if you were Abraham’s children, do the works Abraham did” (John 8:39)(Day, C. A. (2009). Collins Thesaurus of the Bible. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software).
Many legitimate movements of God are lost because the leader did not reproduce himself in the congregation. When the leader died his/her original vision would be lost and the church disbanded or degenerated into a lower level. Reproducing oneself should start at birth and the children trained as they grow and mature.
The school of prophets can be very effective in raising the spiritual level of a church. Evangelist prophets can come into an area or a church and through their prayer and prophecy, even performed in the background, can change that church. There are churches today who follow these ancient principles and actually have functioning schools of prophets in their midst. The basic principle of a school of prophets is simple. “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst” (Mt 18:19-20). The power of agreement is alive and well in these groups of prophets who move as one in the word and will of God.
At the present time the churches are handicapped inasmuch as the good ministries of revelation are too limited. This school of prophets at this time is not some extra boost so the brothers can go around prophesying; the churches do not have the level of revelation that they need. There is not enough discernment. There is not enough deep perception. There are not enough confirming ministries of deep revelation. Sometimes the ministries pray and get a good witness, but we need the prophets to speak two or three and let the others judge. If we are to have a I Corinthians 14 type of service, it will have to be. Every pastor feels he needs the backing of real prophets who are established. The whole purpose of the school of prophets is to bring this to pass.
The school of the prophets will also emphasize waiting upon the Lord (Isaiah 40:28-31, KJV). If people cannot wait on the Lord, there is no point in teaching them the finer points of Scripture; order and prophesying. If they cannot wait on the Lord, we will produce people who are mechanics instead of ministries. It cannot be. Waiting on the Lord is attentive listening in the spirit for the purpose of hearing the voice of the Lord. A prophet must be able to hear the still small voice of the Lord and pick it out of all the other static that clogs the airways of the spirit realm (Stevens, J. R. (1982). This Week (1974) (Vol. 5, pp. 899–916). North Hollywood, CA: Living Word Publications).
The School of Prophets worked in the days of ancient Israel. There is no reason it will not work today as well. The job is much bigger today. We are bringing down all of the spirits of the god of this age Satan. As Paul said: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12-13). The mature prophets will accomplish judgment on these evil powers.
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What a great article! I have read the Bible so many times and I cannot say I became aware of "The School of Prophets." This exposition revealed a lot to me. I read it with great interest. Thanks for sharing. I think, however, you meant principal god, instead of "principle god" in which case it should be principled and I don't think that is what you meant.