In the scriptures, there is a clear distinction between prophets and leaders in the church. Leaders in the church are not always prophets and prophets are not always leaders in the church. (See Prophets) Whenever the spirit of the Lord inspires a prophet to act or speak for the Lord, they are called and empowered with authority of God to do as the Lord directs, (see Priesthood or Authority).
(This article is not completed and has mainly focused on the prophets of the Bible. Only a few prophets of the Book of Mormon have been included so far do to lack of research time.)
How Amos was Called to be a prophet:
7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. – Amos 3:7
Amos was one of these prophets who was called by God to prophesy to the people. By studying Amos, we can learn a number of important points regarding how the Lord calls prophets. Once we see how the Lord called Amos, we can see that he follows the same pattern throughout the scriptures as he calls other prophets.
Amos was not a prophet or a prophets son. He had no claim to authority or leadership among the Children of Israel. God called him while he was a shepherd. He was called by revelation from the Lord directly, not from a man, church or set of men.
14 ¶ Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:
15 And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. – Amos 7:14-15
All prophets have been called directly by the voice of the Lord through revelation in a similar way. Even though the priesthood and church organization was on the earth, prophets like Amos were often called by God directly to call the people to repentance.
How Samuel was called to be a prophet:
Samuel was working for a righteous High priest named Eli who prophecied to his mother that even though she was baren, she would be blessed with a child. Samuel was the child Eli prophecied. When he was about 11 years old the Lord called to him. It is notable that while Eli was a righteous high priest, the Lord did not call Samuel through Eli rather the Lord called to Samuel directly. Eli instructed Samuel to respond to the Lord and believed all that the Lord said to Samuel.
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.
8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child.
9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
11 ¶ And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.
18 And Samuel told him (Eli) every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good.
19 ¶ And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord. – 1 Samuel 3:7-20
How Jeremiah was called to be a prophet:
Jeremiah was also called by the Lord directly through personal revelation. Jeremiah was the son of the High Priest Hilkiah:
4 Then the word of the Lord came unto me (Jeremiah), saying,
5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7 ¶ But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. – Jeremiah 1:4-7
While the prophet Jeremiah was preaching, many other prophets were called by God to preach repentance to Israel:
4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalemmust be destroyed.
How Lehi was called to be a prophet:
Lehi lived in Jerusalem during the time of Jeremiah when many prophets had been called of God. He was influenced by these prophets and prayed to God on behalf of the people. His prayer resulted in a series of visions in which he saw God and understood the Lords judgments against Jerusalem. As a result of these visions, Lehi was called by God to prophesy with all the other prophets.
18 Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard. – 1 Nephi 1:18
It important to note that even though Jeremiah’s father Hilkiah was the High Priest over the church and is believed to have been a righteous man, he did not call his son Jeremiah, Lehi or any of the other prophets of his day. Each of them was called by God directly, independent of the priesthood and church organization.
Within the church structure, callings are extended by prophecy and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority. (See, Priesthood or Authority)
5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and d thereof. – Articles of Faith 1:5
Because every member of the church, (both men, women, and children), should be prophets or prophetesses before they are baptized to join the church, (see Prophet), being a prophet is not a calling within the church or under the priesthood. This allows the Lord to call prophets directly through revelation from among those who know and recognize the voice of the Lord. This has always been a wonderful process which has bypassed corrupt political and church leaders who only call and authorize people who support their wickedness. When the people or even the church have become corrupt, the Lord called prophets directly to show them their errors and call them to repentance. This provides a check and balance system which allows God to always have servants on the earth even when the church leadership has been corrupted. We see this pattern repeated again and again throughout the scriptures.
How Ezekiel was called to be a prophet:
28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
1 And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.
2 And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.
3 And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. – Ezekiel 1:28-2:3
How Moses was called to be a prophet:
4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
11 ¶ And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. – Exodus 3:4-12
How Joseph of Egypt was called to be a prophet:
Joseph had a prophetic dream and told his brothers. It was a prophecy of things that would happen many year later. This was the beginning of his life as a prophet.
5 ¶ And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
9 ¶ And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. – Genesis 37:5-9
How Noah was called to be a prophet:
7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
9 ¶ These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. – Genesis 7:7-22
Prophet’s Called by “the Word of the Lord”
In D&C 68:3-5, we read that when people speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, they speak “the word of the Lord“. This is a key phrase used repeatedly throughout the scriptures to indicate that the Lord has spoken and declared it. The phrase indicates revelation through the Holy Ghost to a person. Many Prophets are called simply by “the word of the Lord”.
How Jonah was called to be a prophet:
1 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. – Jonah 1:1-2
How Zephaniah was called to be a prophet:
1 The word of the Lord which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.
2 I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. – Zephaniah 1:1-2
How Hosea was called to be a prophet:
1 The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. – Hosea 1:1
How Joel was called to be a prophet:
1 The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.
2 Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? – Joel 1:1-2
How Zechariah was called to be a prophet:
1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
2 The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers.
3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. – Zechariah 1:1-3
How Haggi was called to be a prophet:
1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,
2 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.
3 Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying,
4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?
5 Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consideryour ways. – Haggi 1:1-5
How Habakkuk was called to be a prophet:
Habakkuk prayed to the Lord saying,
2 O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. – Habbakkuk 1:2-3
The Lord showed him a vision of the things that were coming and then told him to write the vision.
2 And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. – Habakkuk 2:2-3
Prophet’s Called by Vision
Many prophets are prophets simply because they had a vision and wrote it down.
How Nahum was called to be a prophet:
Nahum receives a vision from God and writes it down. That’s why he was a prophet.
1 The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. (He tells the vision…) – Nahum 1:1
How Obadiah was called to be a prophet:
1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. – Obadiah 1:1
How Zacharias was called to be a prophet:
Zacharias lived in the days of Jesus and John hte Baptist. Even though the church and its leadership had become corrupted, God still revealed his secrets to the prophets he called. Zacharias was a priest in the temple and therefore was a righteous priesthood holder showing that the priesthood can continue in the church even when the leadership of the church are corrupt.
5 ¶ There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judæa, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying… (many things). – Luke 1:5-79
Female Prophets or Prophetess’
Huldah the prophetess
14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.
15 ¶ And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,
16 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: (She prophesies in the name of God) – 2 Kings 22:14-16
Deborah the prophetess and the Judge
4 ¶ And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. – Judges 4:4
Anna the prophetess
Anna lived during Christ’s lifetime showing that God continued to call prophets and prophetess’ among the Jews through the ages from Moses to Christ, even when the church and its leaders had been corrupted.
36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. – Luke 2:36-37