December 18, 2015

The Annoying Prophet

The New Testament prophet is a source of fascination and interest for me as it is the nature of my calling. Of course I am not saying, “Thus saith the Lord”, but I am speaking the truth of Scripture to the best of the ability God has given me. I have found real prophets function as God’s mouthpieces for truth. They are probably better understood as truth speakers and exhorters of the brethren. Unfortunately, because man is sinful and prone to being reprobate, much of what God wants to say through His prophets is very divisive. God’s truth is not readily embraced by a world that hates Him. The trick of the prophet is to pursue the call without openly offending, becoming unbalanced in over-emphasis on emotion / experience over the authority of Scripture.

I have found that God’s messages will often counter popular trends in the Church and oppose widely accepted but errant modern beliefs. Most often though the prophet will not counter creeds and doctrine because they are biblical in origin. As a general rule, God’s people would rather believe in lies than in truth. For example, many Christians want to blame Satan when bad things happen instead of facing the truth about God’s sovereignty. Many Christians want to believe that Satan is the king of Hell instead of facing the fact that God is the One torturing His own creatures.

When you hear the term “prophecy”, you should think “special wisdom and insights from God.” The gift of prophecy is about much more than foretelling or forth-telling. When someone has the gift of prophecy, they receive an extra measure of insight from the Holy Spirit. Many real prophets sound harsh and negative in their messages. God hates rebellion, and His children are up to their necks in it. While Christians go around telling everyone to “speak the truth in love”, devoted prophets don’t have time for tiptoeing around. God opens their eyes to see how He feels about something, and then He commands them to communicate those feelings in verbal ways. When a real prophet receives a message from God, he or she can’t hold it in. Jeremiah describes the crisis well:

But if I say, “I will not mention His word or speak anymore in His Name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)

Real prophets who are called to operate in very public ways often find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place: They receive biting messages from an angry God which they really don’t want to say. I mean seriously, who wants to be the guy everyone hates for speaking the truth? But at the same time, if they don’t speak for God, they find themselves in Jeremiah’s bind. They are so intensely tormented on a soul level that they finally must speak just so they can breathe again.

So please, don’t envy prophets who God has called to publicly broadcast His messages. The real prophet’s experience isn’t anything like these self-aggrandizing buffoons you see in 3K suits on stage soaking up the applause of men while simultaneously flinging out ego-pleasing but errant predictions in the name of Jesus. Real prophecy doesn’t make you feel like someone just gave your flesh a nice massage. Real prophecy hits you on a soul level and the truths it uncovers often seem shocking and disturbing at first. Real prophets hit you with truth like a punch in the throat. Eventually you respond by either hungering for more of God or fuming with hate in response to the prophetic statement. Usually people attack the prophet directly (like Jeremiah).

The Holy Spirit is a sword which pierces into the hearts of men and drags their hidden motivations to light. In actuality it is the Spirit Who is the One speaking through the prophet. If you’re not already on good terms with Him, you aren’t going to like His messages or his messengers either.

If you are a true prophet you will appear divisive….not very loving.

Sorry, prophets by their nature are not very cuddly. I believe the words assaulted and assailable are more apropos to the prophet. Even if folks are on good terms with God, you might get pretty irritated at His prophets, because they have a way of making you feel exposed and embarrassed.

Prophecy and the New Testament prophet is really about receiving wisdom and insights from God. They are only concerned with what God’s current priorities for you are so that they can instruct you correctly. Only God sees the whole picture—the most a prophet ever receives are glimpses. To instruct you properly, a prophet must first get clear leading or “impression” from God. Maybe two people ask a prophet what God would have them do in the same sort of dilemma. The prophet might give two very different answers because he receives two very different responses from God.

When it comes to a prophet it is nearly never a case of… once people figure out that a prophet is receiving special insights from God, word spreads and soon people are trying to figure out a way to turn this person into some kind of Divine fortune teller. If a prophet is telling the truth, they will most likely be telling truths people don’t want to hear, not speaking things people do want to hear. The problem with most people is that they love to get quick and easy answers, and what’s easier than hearing God speak clearly through some human’s lips? But here is where we run into problems, for God is very jealous and He’s not a fan of you relying on some human messenger more than Him. You should be considering the Scripture along with the prophet to assure what the prophet says is aligned with God’s word. If not you are dealing with a false prophet.

A true prophets know better than to put words in God’s mouth, and they also know that God is going to discourage souls from relying on people instead of Him. It is vital for your own spiritual health that you learn how to be confident in the fact that God is leading you in your own life. Prophets that purposely call attention to themselves and refer to themselves as prophets are usually false. True prophets will be known and others will usually be the propagators of their notoriety. In other words, those that will self –refer and call themselves Prophet Such-and-such or Prophetess So-and-so are most often charlatans. 

For who among them has stood in the council (סוד, sôd) of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? [The LORD says] …“If they had stood in my council ( סוד, sôd), then they would have proclaimed my words to my people” ( Jeremiah 23:18-22 ).

What does it mean to “stand in the council of God"? Jeremiah elaborates: “to see and to hear his word … to pay attention to his word and listen .” The one essential test of a prophet— that preceded their ability to deliver a divine message— was that the prophet had to see and hear God in His council. When a prophet “stood in the council,” they had a direct encounter with God in His throne room and actually survived it w/o being consumed by His presence. Do you actually suppose most of the self-proclaimed prophets today would survive that encounter? Yeah, I didn't think so.

False prophets are ego driven, so they tend to call a lot of attention to themselves. They love to flash their titles and they love to brag about how humble they are because…well, they’re morons led of the powers of this fallen world. They just happen to be charismatic and flamboyant morons. Since they are drawing so much attention to themselves it is often harder to spot the real prophet who is becoming more rare and works to avoid drawing deliberate attention to themselves but rather to God who is the message. The truth is that the true prophet doesn’t need name-drop or solicit attention around because it is God speaking through them, but it is also God quickening the soul/souls of the one the prophecy must reach. The real prophet speaks with authority and that authority will be recognized for what it is by those that need to recognize it. His sheep know His voice.

A person also needs to realize that the idea of God speaking to you personally is very attractive but it is highly improbable. When you’re feeling crushed and down and a prophet comes out of the woodwork with a special “word” just for you, it’s very tempting to accept it as legitimate. We must never forget that things are done for God’s glory not the man's. God most often will communicate directly through the medium the New Testament often prescribes…the Scriptures. We’re to be as peaceful as doves…but also as shrewd as vipers or snakes.

The last indicator you’re are dealing with a prophet is that you might find the prophet’s style of leading extremely frustrating. He is not a leader per se but he is still leading you to the truth of God. God uses prophets to shine a light on the path of maturity and obedience so that you can then choose to go down that path with the Holy Spirit, not necessarily the prophet themselves. It is God Himself who guides you in life—the prophets He speaks to are just His instruments.

So yes, it is quite odd to have some stranger get a glimpse into our life. You must remember that God’s real prophets share His love for you and, like Him, they want your soul to thrive in His care. A prophets use the insights God gives them about you to get aligned with His view of you so that they can match yourself with Him. Prophets in no way should be pointing to themselves but towards God. The truth is that a prophet might receive a very specific revelation about you and never say anything about it to you, because God doesn’t want that information broadcast. 

A mature prophet will be able to distinguish this and know when it is proper or not proper to verbalize the knowledge or wisdom. The sign of a true immature prophet is often the opposite. They blurt out truths rather than temper them or hold them in reserve. All wisdom comes from God, and it must be used in accordance with His instructions therefore always base your discernment in Scripture and then prayer.

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