Feast of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, Teacher, 373 The Hebrew word, nabi, translated "prophet" in English Bibles, has the connotation of "message bearer". The prophets were men called by God to serve as His messengers to a stubborn and unheeding people. They were always careful to point out that they were not voicing their own wisdom. Their warnings, entreaties, and promises were always prefaced by the awesome proclamation: "Thus says the Lord..." When the prophets did engage in prognostication, they usually were concerned with events which were fairly close at hand, such as the Assyrian conquest of Israel and the Babylonian conquest of Judah (both of which they foretold with deadly accuracy). But occasionally a prophet's vision ranged farther into the future, to the day when God would enter into a new covenant with his rebellious children. The hope of reconciliation was often linked with the coming of a very particular person, a Messiah or Savior. What made the prophets so sure that they had a right--nay, a duty, to speak in the name of God? It is clear from their writings that they were not megalomaniacs who confused their own thoughts with the voice of God. On the contrary, they were humble men, awe-stricken by the responsibilities thrust upon them... The prophets minced no words in their indictments of the sins of Israel and Judah, and they trod especially hard on the toes of the rich, the powerful, and the pious. The Establishment responded then as some church members are wont to respond now when a preacher speaks out on controversial public issues: "One should not preach of such things!" (Micah 2:6).