Differences between Prophets & Seers
By John Paul Jackson a very Sound Prophetic Voice
Years ago, I considered anyone who had a revelatory gift to be a “prophet”. I no longer believe this. Over the years, I have come into contact with many revelatory styles. I define these styles by the manner in which someone ministers, combined with their own God-given personalities. During my 20-year tenure, I have observed many gifted revelatory people. I was delighted to discover how radically different they are from one another. Their differences are more than just a broad array of personalities or the way revelation is delivered. How a person receives revelation from God and the type of revelation they receive may vary from person to person. This makes for quite a potpourri of visual differences when watching how someone ministers or delivers a word from the Lord.
“NOTICE THAT I HAVE NOT MADE A VALUE STATEMENT,
MAKING ONE GIFT MORE VALUABLE THAN ANOTHER”
After reflecting on these various types and styles, I have come to understand that there are unique personalities as well as variations in the respective gifts of prophets and seers. Notice that I have not made a value statement, making one gift more valuable than another. Rather, they are two of many expressions within the revelatory arena.
Differences between prophets and seers seem to be more clearly distinguished in the Old Testament. However, the lack of distinction in the New Testament does not necessarily indicate they are the same. Instead, it may simply indicate the writers did not distinguish between prophets and seers, which may reflect a difference between the Hebrew and Greek mind-sets. The Greek language does not seem to recognize a difference between the two titles.
Since the Early Church, many believers in the West have failed to make a distinction between prophets and seers. At some point, the Church also stopped recognizing the title of a seer. In a similar way, they diminished the role of a prophet and failed to note the distinction between prophets and pastors, or even prophets and evangelists. Today, however, these perceptions are rapidly changing in many places around the world.
A STARTING POINT
As a starting point, I would like to suggest using the following three approaches. These steps will lay a biblical foundation for understanding these gifts. First, we need to approach the differences between prophets and seers through translating the original Hebrew words. Second, we need to approach the differences between prophets and seers by looking at the manner in which the titles are used. Third, we need to approach the differences between prophets and seers by looking at those who were given the titles and by trying to ascertain, whether or not their titles indicated differences in their respective functions.
Perhaps we should begin by looking at some of the Hebrew words translated in Scripture as “prophet” and “seer.” The Strong’s Concordance translates these as follows:
“SEER” Hebrew (7200, 7203, 2374, 2372)
- Hebrew 7200: ra’ah, raw-aw’; to see, look, view; to realize, know, consider; to be selected; to become visible, appear, show oneself; to be seen; to cause to see, show; to be shown; to look at each other, meet with; a general word for visual perception.
- Hebrew 7203: ro’eh, ro-eh’; a seer; vision.
- Hebrew 2374: Chozeh, kho-zeh’; seer, one who receives a communication from God, with a possible focus that the message had a visual component; agreement.
- Hebrew 2372: Chazah, khaw-zaw’; to see, to look, observe, gaze, by extension: to choose (one thing or another); to have visions, to prophesy.
“PROPHET” Hebrew (5030, 5012, 5197)
- Hebrew 5030: nabiy’, naw-bee’; a prophet (true or false).
- Hebrew 5012: naba’, naw-baw’; to prophesy, speak as a prophet; prophesy has its focus on encouraging or restoring covenant faithfulness, the telling of future events encourages obedience or warns against disobedience.
- Hebrew 5197: nataph, naw-taf’; to pour down; gently fall, drip; to (drip words) preach, prophesy.
We also need to look at how the words are used. Many use the terms “seer” and “prophet” interchangeably. Furthermore, some believe that seers have not existed since the time of the Prophet Samuel (1150 B.C. – 1010 B.C.). They quote 1 Samuel 9:9: “(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: ‘Come, let us go to the seer’ for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer)”.
However, this is a shortsighted point of view and creates a dilemma: Why does Scripture continue to make a distinction between prophets and seers after the era of Samuel?
SEERS AND PROPHETS CONTINUE TO CO-EXIST
I believe that seers and prophets continue to “co-exist” throughout Scripture. Both Gad, the seer, and Nathan, the prophet, served in King David’s court (2 Samuel 24:4; 1 Chronicles 29:29). Asaph, the seer, and Isaiah, the prophet, were also contemporaries during King Hezekiah’s reign (2 Chronicles 29:30; 2 Kings 20:1).
Therefore, I believe that 1 Samuel 9:9 implies that Samuel moved from functioning as a seer to functioning as a prophet. Or, more likely that Samuel fulfilled both the functions of a seer and a prophet!
In addition, there seems to be a difference even between those who functioned as “seers”. In 1 Chronicles 29:29, the word “seer” is used twice, but it is not the same Hebrew word. “Now the acts of Kind David, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Samuel the seer (7200), in the book of Nathan the prophet (5030), and in the book of Gad the seer (2374)” (1 Chronicles 29:29). Perhaps this indicates a difference in how Samuel and Gad received revelation from God.
SAMUEL’S VS. GAD’S EXPERIENCES
Samuel had a wide variety of revelatory experiences, perhaps broader than Gad’s. Samuel was gifted in visions, knowings, and dreams. He transcended time and geographic locality to watch events that were occurring simultaneously outside of his immediate geographic location. He knew who was coming to his door before the person arrived. He even predicted weather patterns (1 Samuel 12:17).
In contrast, Gad’s revelatory gift was not as well documented. It is possible that he walked in the same level of prophetic gifting as Samuel, but there is no record of this. Scripture indicates that he carried the Lord’s rebuke to David for numbering Israel (2 Samuel 24:11-13). He also helped arrange Levitical music (2 Chronicles 9:25), and apparently wrote a history book about David’s reign (1 Chronicles 29:29).
Did people go to a seer more than to a prophet? It seemed to be common practice for the people of Israel to look to the seers for direction (1 Samuel 9:6-9). It was also common for them to bring the seer an offering for his livelihood (1 Samuel 9:7). There are also several instances where people went to the prophet for wisdom and direction from God.
In conclusion, prophets and seers still function today, as they did in biblical times. In fact we are seeing a worldwide renaissance in these types of revelatory gifts. Next month, I will offer deeper insights on these dynamic, re-emerging, and mysterious revelatory gifts.
Reprinted from The Elijah List
John Paul Jackson is the founder of Streams Ministries International and is the author of many books. John Paul lives in the Lake Sunapee region of New Hampshire.
This is another Good Article reprinted in part from the Internet By Lloyd Phillips. I do not know him or his Ministry but this may give you a better understanding of The Prophet & Seer’s office.
I am one who feels it is counter productive to redefine Biblical terms with non Biblical descriptions or definitions. Biblically a seer simply is a prophet who “sees”. Early on all prophets were called seers, but due to the false prophets misusing the term, the people of God used the word prophet, and seer was a specific term for those prophets who saw visions. 1 Sam 9:9b “for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.” 2 Chron 9:29 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat? Iddo was called a seer simply because he had visions, in opposition to Nathan who also was a prophet, but not a seer. Seers have visions and when God spoke to Jeremiah, who was a seer, He asked him,”Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” (Jer 1:11) He did not ask Jeremiah “what do you feel”, or “what do you think”. What do you see is a question for a seer. Jesus also was a seer. “Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” (John 1:48), “And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18), some understand a gift where you sense through touch as a “seeing” gift, but others see the seeing gift more accurately described Biblically as one who “sees” things. Despite current ideas, the Bible should be our source for describing the prophetic. Biblically there are three Hebrew words that are translated as a prophet, two of which are translated as a seer. There is raah which is translated seer, meaning someone who sees open visions. That same word is used for someone who sees with natural eyes. Then there is chozeh. This word emphasizes spiritual apprehension, of internal visions. And lastly nabiy which is the most common biblical word in terms of the prophetic. It means someone who has the Spirit working within them. It is a word for inspiration. Every prophet receives this type of inspiration. Every prophet will be the nabiy kind, but not every prophet will be the raah or chozeh kind. I’ll have more to say on this shortly.
Having the ability to prophesy or to receive a word of knowledge for that matter does not make one a prophet in light of the ministry of a prophet. To confuse these things, confuses comprehension and may lower the Biblical standard, as well as the understanding of the true ministry of a prophet and seer. There does seem to be a lot of interest in the prophetic, and in the calling of a seer. But inaccurate information, no matter how well intended will only confuse the issue and cause the equipping of men and women to become that much more difficult.
There are different stages of revelation. Any prophecy or prophetic word has three parts to it. The first part is the revelation, dream, or vision itself. The second is the interpretation, answering the question “what does the revelation mean?” The interpretation can come in increments, over a period of time. And the third part is the application. It can be immediate or it can be long term. In regards to dreams or visions, God might use dark sayings or He may show us plainly face to face. In Numbers 12:6 God said,”Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?” There are a diversity of ways that God speaks. He spoke to Moses face to face. Although we ‘see through a glass darkly’, if we will submit ourselves to those dreams and visions and dark sayings, if we will pursue God, He will reveal their meaning to us. He wants us to come to Him for the interpretation. He wants us to come to Him for the information. He wants us to come to Him for the application. He wants us to be dependent upon Him. A word of knowledge or a prophecy can change a life. None of us will ever prophesy all things or have all knowledge. It will not happen. We know in part and we prophecy in part. (1 Cor 13:9) We are a body. He will give one of us a part, and then He will give a part to another one. He wants us depending upon Him. As we train ourselves to come back to Him, we will begin to see God more and more face to face.
How does He communicate with you? Different than how He speaks to me because you are you. He speaks to you in a language that you understand. One that touches your heart. In Isaiah 30:21 it says, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left’”. Mostly He directs us by His peaceful voice that says, “This is the way.” In Jeremiah 32:6 Jeremiah said, “The word of the LORD came to me, saying”, (it told him what to do and he carried it out). Then in verse 8 it says, “and then I knew that this was the Word of the Lord”. Jeremiah received the word and was obedient to carry it out and believe it, but only after he obeyed did he know it was the Lord. If Jeremiah sometimes was not clear until after he had obeyed, what about us?
God spoke to Moses and said for him to go down to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let My people go, and that he would do many miracles. Moses asked for a sign to know if these things were true. God said after you go down there and all these miracles happen, Pharaoh will resist you but he will eventually let the people go and you are going to bring them back here and you are going to worship Me on this mountain. Then you will know it was Me. (Ex 3:12) That was his sign. Go do it. When you come back that will be the sign. This is not the kind of sign we like, is it? However, this is often God’s way. He expects us to walk in faith, and rewards us for doing His will. Confirmation is according to His will, and if we always require confirmation before obeying, we will one day find our selves missing God. The Lord once spoke to me “you do not need to understand in order to obey. If you wait until you understand before obeying, you will remain behind while others go forward.” God will always confirm His word, often by the fruit it produces after it is carried out and not before.
I like to describe understanding as the louvers in a blind. From one angle you cannot see out. As you change your position the view becomes unobstructed. From the new angle you can look outside and can see everything clearly. What has changed? Nothing but your position. When we go out in faith we have changed our position. We can receive from the Lord and we can say like Jeremiah did, “Now I know it is the Lord.” One of the three Hebrew words that are translated as a prophet in the Bible, raah is one that has the calling of a seer. Someone with this anointing will be someone who sees open visions and is also able to interpret them. That same word is used for someone who sees with natural eyes and understands. This level of prophet sees in the spirit with deeper understanding. There are not that many prophets in the scriptures who see open visions in proportion to the other types listed. The second type is called chozeh. This meaning emphasizes spiritual apprehension, of internal visions. The word chozeh is translated as prophet or seer but appears to be subordinate to the raah type of seer,because of the authority that comes through understanding available to the raah seer. I believe that this view is contained in the verse Is 29:10 For the LORD has poured out on you The spirit of deep sleep, And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets (chozeh); And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers (raah). Those considered seers in the higher sense, raah, are usually given a preeminence over the other types of prophets. Samuel a raah type of seer was regarded above other prophets and seers of his day. He was not only a prophet sent with a message, but often had a deeper understanding and insight to go along with the vision he carried. Daniel was esteemed above all the other prophets and wise men of his time because of the understanding which accompanied his prophetic gifts. Dan 1:17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Seers have visions.
Lastly there is the Hebrew word nabiy which is the most common biblical word in terms of the prophetic. It means someone who has the Spirit working within them. It is a word for inspiration. Every prophet receives this type of inspiration and in the New Testament all believers can and should operate at this level at least in its elementary levels. Every prophet will be the nabiy kind, but not every prophet will be the raah kind. 1 Chron. 29:29 contains all three of these Hebrew words: “Now the acts of King David, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Samuel the seer (raah), in the book of Nathan the prophet (nabiy), and in the book of Gad the seer (chozeh)”.
Any given prophet will have different longsuits in regard to these three types of inspiration. Some will see open visions, some will have angelic visitations, some dreams, visions and trances, and some or all will have inspirations and leadings of the inner witness. All who walk in the prophetic must learn nabiy inspiration. This is generally the first that we should become proficient with. I like to call this category of the prophetic, the still small voice.
Posted Mar 21, 2008