This post is written for wanna-be prophets, not for church leaders. It’s useful for anyone trying to understand what is wrong with the prophetic in the church at the moment, and what the future potential is. In this post is enough information for you to figure your role out, make sense of your own history and perhaps participate and embrace what God is doing in you.
Drop the hype
I feel encouraged to share my (immature) thoughts on what it means to be a prophet, a seer or to have a prophetic gift and related issues. Rather than hype up the issue, I would instead hope to tone it all down and create a sense of normalcy in something that could be quite scary for some.
So what is a prophet? Most people in the church would probably say that a prophet is someone who conforms to this basic truth:
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. – Deut 18:18
And some would leave it there. End of blog post.
Or is it? No. It’s not that simple, I don’t think. One scripture represents only one aspect of a very complex issue which spans generations, covenants, cultures and languages.
Here are some practical reasons to illustrate that it’s not so easily understood in one verse…
God can put His words into your mouth, but have you absorbed His thoughts? Are you ready in season and out of season? Are you all things to all people? Can you explain the words to someone in a way that carries His heart, His thoughts and His intentions? It can take a lifetime to get a sense of His plans and intentions.
You may know the words of the instruction that needs to be given, but do you keenly understand the way to deliver that instruction? The way I am talking about is not kindness or meekness. That is just putting lipstick on the pig, it’s taking care of the outside of the cup rather than focussing on the inside.
When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised. Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? – Luke 11:37-40
While the church focusses on external “excellence” style a lot, I think it’s the least important issue. If you have the words of God, when you begin speaking the spiritual state around you will be impacted by those words. Your prophetic words bring the state into being.
Rain, earthquakes, peace between warring factions… these are real things that happen as you speak – and so therefore your “delivery style” is not really the thing that the people will remember! 🙂
If God is really in your church, the people will be there, no matter what the seats are like, no matter what quality PA system you have. Excellence is the least important issue, because it’s the outside of the cup – it’s merely how the cup looks.
The Lord needs to fix the inside of us and that takes a lot longer. What is it that has to change inside?
Perhaps we need to be “conformed” to Him. But what does that mean?I suspect it means to see the world as He does, to see your fallenness as a very deep need for Him, to have experienced your lack of ability to change anything, and especially to see your TREMENDOUS VALUE (John 3:16) as He does… and to see the value He places on the world (John 3:16) because in His view it’s a world worth going through hell to save.
Perhaps we need to become bolder, or become humbler, or perhaps we need to go through life experiences so that we deeply understand the issues He is sending us to represent Him on – the issues to be dealt with.
Mother Teresa became poor, so she could live the life of the people that she was called to. We may be placed face to face with our own need, so that later we will be able to intercede for the need of others who have that need.
We need to understand the value that God places on people. Banish all jokes or sarcasm about perfect churches who become imperfect when people join them. Banish all anti-people comments. Church is strictly about rehabilitating His people into His image. If a church does not rehabilitate it’s people and set out to repair the fabric of society, then it’s not a church and it will be thrown on the fire – it is not producing fruit. The only lasting fruit is love. Never forget or misunderstand that.
Think about the connection between these three teachings in Matthew 25:
- Jesus teaches about the 10 virgins and how some didn’t have “oil”. What is oil?
- Then He taught about using the talents He has given you. What should we do with those talents?
- The sheep and the goats are separated at the end – based on love
These three teachings are not separate, they are connected, they flow on from one another. Firstly, don’t lose your oil, keep using your talents to love
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ – Matt 25:34-40
This whole world is about His relationship with His people, making of the people what He wants them to be, because of that… there is the enormous issue of a prophet needing to deeply understand both sides of the issue that he is being raised up to resolve.
Non-judgementally understanding WHY we sin
This is perhaps the most important issue for a prophet to – non-judgementally – understand the needs of the abusers, as well as the needs of the abused.
If we don’t feel His heart, we can’t represent Him. One of the most significant things to understand about the bible is that it shows that while God hates sin, but He loves all sinners. He has mercy for both the oppressed and the oppressors! Yes both the raped and the rapist. The murdered and the murderer. Because both are victims. The murdered person is the more obvious victim, more immediately perceived… but the oppressor was once oppressed too.
I am not trying to make his crimes acceptable, but listen what the report by psychiatrist Adelheid Kastner says about Joseph Fritzl’s mother, that she humiliated him in childhood, creating his need to “possess a human being”. Dr Kastner says Mr Fritzl spoke of humiliating and unprovoked attacks by his mother in childhood. “His childhood made him susceptible to an emotional handicap,” she writes, creating the need for him “to possess an entire human being”. – Source BBC
Yes we need to understand the oppressed, but we also need to understand what caused the oppressor to behave in that particular way.
So what does this mean for a prophet? If God wants to reach a dispossessed people, He may dispossess you, so you deeply understand the issue of the people you are called to lead/serve.
Moses when ahead to Midian
When He brings you back to Egypt, to bring the people out, and then after they rebel, they will be led by you into where… Midian!
Do you understand the needs of the hearers? Do you understand what it’s like to walk in their shoes?
Prophet and seer in Hebrew
I can recommend this post Differences between Prophets & Seers as being well thought out and useful.
“SEER” in Hebrew
- 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” in Hebrew
- 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.
I suspect the following:
- 99% of modern day prophets are only blessed with gifts of prophecy
- 99% don’t see the end of an issue, they see the current trajectory, should nothing change – and it may change. When it changes they are not wrong, but they simply saw the outcome as it currently is, but the trajectory changed. They were not wrong.
- 10% are seers and they simply “see” in the same way as Samuel “heard” the bleating and lowing of cattle – 1 Sam 15:14
- 0.1% are actual prophets, in that they have actually been led by God – knowingly or unknowingly – to walk the walk of the people they are sent to support or defeat (or both). These are the people that are now – as I write this – being cleaned and lifted up and prepared to speak His thoughts and words to those people.
- 0.000000001% have the role (a prophetic mantle?) to represent His government and are given the power of words to raise up and cast down – Jer 1:9-10
Items 4 and 5 are the ones who have the most impact on society and these people should already know – deeply within themselves – that unless they have the revelation that Jeremiah (Jer 1:9-10) and Isaiah () and the others had – of the Lord Himself, manifestly – then they are not ready to speak out.
You already know who God plans to use you to impact – to cause a change – because you know their ways, you spent time in their leadership, you know their good sides and they bad sides. You know who you are to lead and save, because your heart pours out sadness and compassion for those people already.
You understand the issue that is to be dealt with from both sides. You understand why the oppressor needs compassion, as well as why the oppressed need to be freed. You deeply desire that the oppressor must receive compassion and you long for the time of the oppressed being downtrodden to be over.
Are all “prophets” perfect?
If someone claims to actually be a prophet, then they will never be wrong. Yes. And this is what drives me bonkers, there are so many people everywhere who claim to have heard the Lord, but they are frequently wrong.
I do not think that anyone who has ACTUALLY experienced the Holiness or Majesty or Incredibleness of God would dare to mis-quote Him. The experience of seeing Him, of experiencing Him – the very experience and the change that happens within you, that itself will cause the person to not want to misrepresent Him.
But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” – Deut 18:20
No. Let’s not put anyone to death. hehehe. No, no, no. 🙂
Let’s just acknowledge that they are not prophets and assign some other correct title to them. If you have had that experience, you will know it and you won’t want to mi-represent Him. If you are waiting for that event, you will know that you are not ready to speak yet, until you have had that.
So what should the vast majority of soon-to-be-prophets think of themselves and what can they say? And what should they think of themselves if they are frequently right in what they say?
It’s very simple. If you are truly in that category, then be bold…
Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?” “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. – 1 Sam 9:18-19
But if you do not have that relationship with God, then perhaps you are someone who has a prophetic gift and you are able to tell what can happen from this point forward, assuming the trajectory doesn’t change. Perhaps you can tell the end from the beginning, but you can’t see the route there. Be honest about who you are. Don’t oversell yourself.
This post is born out of something that God has placed on my heart:
For the sake of Jacob My servant, and of Israel My chosen, I have called you by your name. I have surnamed you, though you have not known Me. I am the Lord, and there is no one else; there is no God besides Me. I will gird and arm you, though you have not known Me – Is 45:4-5
Do you see all of what God did through Cyrus of Persia – even though he (Cyrus) didn’t know the Lord? It’s incredible what was done through Cyrus!
And for me, even though the things He tells me do happen, I know that He has said that even yet I do not know Him. If you asked me “do you know the Lord” I would say I have known Him all my life. And the promises He made to me as a teen have mostly come true. And yet He says I don’t yet know Him.
But I feel like He points me to the intimacy that Jeremiah and Abraham had with Him. THAT’S knowing Him. Rock on! 🙂 But that is not yet for me.
What it means to be a prophet vs gifts
To excersize your gift of prophecy is to be right sometimes and wrong a lot. You may speak from your heart, from your thoughts and many also mistakenly speak from sources in the supernatural. The church is largely fatigued by charlatans and therefore is already immune to your mistakes. So you can’t really do much damage while you learn and mature. Yay! 🙂
To be a prophet – this is something entirely different – it is like being Condoleeze Rice as she represents George Bush. George annointed her. George rested his government on her shoulders. If she threatens war, it’s as if George is threatening war. If she negotiates peace, it’s as if George was open to peace himself.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” – 2 Cor 5:20
Every Christian is an ambassador, but being a prophet is something on a different level. Much harder to quantify, much more counter-cultural, because if God has raised up a prophet, then He has a change that He wants which He has not been able to achieve in the same old normal ways, so now it’s time to raise someone up, harden them to everything
Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. – Is 41:10
As we will see in David, Moses and Joseph, He makes their life into an illustration of the problem AND the solution. When He raises up a prophet, something has changed and it’s not the same-old and it’s not the usual old thing. Generational change is upon us.
Prophets see the future SO CLEARLY that they live the future as if it is NOW. They can’t help it. To not live what they see is confusing. They are more comfortable in the future than here, because they are already there, they have been living it for longer than you have been aware of them. And that makes their life very hard, to live as if everyone is free of sin and death while no one is free from sin and death. To live as if it’s then, now. It’s disjointed. It’s confusing for them. And even more confusing for the people around them.
David got to know the outcasts
They have walked the walk of the people who are to be raised up. So example David spent a long time running from Saul and in caves with the outcasts that would one day be risen up by God. During that time he gathered 600 men/families (1 Sam 23:13-14) and I imagine he got to know their issues and the concerns of outcasts of society.
Joseph went to Egypt in advance
What about Joseph? He was told by God that he would lead and that his family would bow down to him. Remember that he was in a patriarchal society, so being the youngest of the family, he was culturally below his father and all his brothers. So when he told them his dream, it made sense that they were shamed and they tried to kill him.
So it was something like this…
“Hey Jospeh, I’m going to do great things through you”
“Cool Lord! Woohoo!”
“BUT. You’re going to need training. LOTS of training.”
“No worries Lord!”
“Ok guys, chuck him in the pit and sell him to Midianites and let’s get him off to Egypt to be trained for when his family and then his nation joins him in Egypt”
And so like Moses and David, Joseph went ahead of the nation and ahead of his family into Egpyt and he prepared the way. And it cost him his entire life. At a young age he lost his family and grew up in a foreign culture away from his heritage. But when the nation arrived, the way was already prepared for them by what the Lord had done through Joseph.
Moses and EGYPT – preparation1
And the same for Moses, he was chosen and then snatched up to become a Pharoah. You can read some more about archeological evidence that Moses was a pharoah here. Again it cost him his family, he was separated from his culture and so on. In the middle east your culture and family are your inheritance, your identity. The loss was very severe!
Moses and MIDIAN – preparation 2
And then Moses killed someone and ran away to Midian. Later after 20 years, Moses had a fabulous understanding of how Egypt works – which is who he would battle – and a fabulous understanding of Midian – which is where he would lead the people for 40 years!
You probably can’t see them
Can you see them? No they aren’t the glam-rock boys up front, just as Samuel thought it was tall handsome Eliab (1 Sam 16:5-13) instead of getting-in-amongst-it David out with the sheep fighting the bears and the lions.
No one would have seen Moses-the-Pharoah as being the one to later on lead the Israelites back to their country. No one would have picked Moses as THE DUDE when he was tending sheep in Midian.
I can honestly say I see so many who are in training that it’s astonishing – what you see now will be a mess. That person may still be in Midian and because they are in amongst it, they probably have the yuck of Midian upon them. And it’s ok. 🙂