Learn to see what you are looking at.”
–Louis L’Amour (The Cherokee Trail)
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit [speaking through a self-proclaimed prophet]; instead test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets and teachers have gone out into the world.”
–1 John 4:1 (Amplified)
Richard Lindsay, a voice I respect and trust, wrote a good synopsis regarding prophecy and prophets on Facebook. If you can grab hold of it, do so. But I want to echo some of what he said, and add some to it. I am not going to repeat what he has said, except where it fits in my thoughts.
In recent weeks and months there has been much clamor in churches and in the media regarding prophecies. Some of it was true, time will tell, some of it was misguided, and some outright bogus. First of all, let me say that I believe there is the office of the prophet in the New Testament church. This is clear in Ephesians 4:11-12. The purpose of the office is to equip and edify the church.
We often have the wrong idea of the role and function of a prophet. Prophecy is simply “telling the truth.” In that definition I would hope and pray that each Sunday when the message is pronounced from the sacred desk that the minister is in a sense giving forth prophecy–telling the truth. A prophet is not a soothsayer, nor a medium with the spirits. He speaks for the truth. Most of it is for the current day, some may be for the future. Let me, at this point, pass on some of the words from Richard Lindsay.
“There are several classes of ‘prophets’ within the gathering of believers. There are the genuine speakers of prophetic words from God Himself that serve to strengthen, guide and direct the body. There are categorically identifiable false prophets who have malicious motives with what they say, claiming to be the voice of God. There are wannabe prophets who think the office of Prophet is something to be sought after, but clearly are not called of God to prophesy. Then there are prophets who may have heard something or other from God and in their exuberance to inspire, added elements of their own making to the ‘prophecy.'”
God does not want us to be confused. Check all prophecy, first of all against the Scriptures. If any part of it is contrary to what the Word of God says, discard it immediately. Second, and this is the hard part–wait. Much futuristic prophecy has a waiting period. How long the wait? We are still waiting for much of the biblical prophecy to come to pass.
One more thought, or question: Does prophecy always come to pass? Hmmm, I believe there is an “if clause.” Let me give you two examples. God came down to visit the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to see whether He should destroy them or not. Now, there is much to say about these verses (Genesis 18-19) but He does tell Abraham that He will not destroy it if there are only ten righteous people living there. Think of that–ten! Will judgment fall upon America? In some ways it already is happening, in other ways, it might depend upon how many righteous are living here. With that, if the Rapture would occur tomorrow, how many righteous would there be?
A second example is found in Jonah 3:4, “Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, ‘Forty more days, and Nineveh will be overthrown.'” (NASB) Nothing was said by Jonah about repentance. However, the people repented, God heard their cry and did not destroy the city. In my mind there is the “if clause” of repentance. God had compassion because of their repentance.
Do not disregard the voice of a prophet, however, be much in discernment over what they say. Not only their words, but the prophet themselves. What I have seen in studying the scriptures and those I have witnessed in my life who were “prophets” is that they are humble people. They did not choose to be a prophet, but did so at the calling of God. So don’t heed every voice that cries, “Thus says the Lord.” Know the Scripture, be full of the Holy Spirit, then you will not jump to conclusions and you will know the true Word of God.
Learn to see what you are looking at.”