It seems to me that there is more and more, a dividing line in the prophetic. We all have different functions and ways of receiving what God has to say to us in this hour. And yet some are still presumptuous in what they speak and share, and many are mixing their own thoughts, or the enemies’ with God’s voice. There are voices that almost always speak of our promises and encouragement that we can access through the Holy Spirit. Thank God that we do have this; it is needed and necessary. For where would we be without hope in this world? We know that hope does not disappoint us. And yet those who just speak pleasant and pleasing words, can easily fall into the camp of a “pillow prophet.”
It’s interesting to me because “some” seem to think that the role of prophet is just to speak words of warning, and to tear down the religious divisions that are so prevalent around us today. While this is true, there is always “hope” instilled, even in the messages of warning. And while this is true, this is just a portion of what that mandate is.
One would be correct in stating that standing in the gap as a watchman, and interceding for a nation, is of importance for those who are called, and yet this is something that ALL should be doing.
One would be correct is saying that a prophet would lead us to repentence.
One would be correct in saying that those who are called to the prophetic office should also be in the business of training others, and being there for them, to guide them into all that God has called them to be.
But one would be remiss if they neglected the need for demonstrating God’s compassion, and becoming an instrument for Him, to demonstrate his character to the world around them.
One would be remiss if they thought that the prophet is one who is always welcomed and received. Actually, quite the opposite is often the case.
One would be remiss if they thought that the prophet is one who just speaks words about future events.
One would be remiss if they thought that a prophet is one who is welcomed and received by his own home town, or his friends and classmates, or even at times, his own family.
It is not a glamorous thing, nor is it something that one should actually want to be. One may suffer things that few actually understand. One will need to empty themselves of all earthly ambitions, and realize that their gifts, and intellect, or everything about them, will need to go through a deep process and preparation time. And sometimes this process may go on for ten or even twenty years or more.
Everything in their life will become turned upside down, and the way up, will always be by going down. Finally, they will see the importance of the training, and then they will come to identify with Christ alone. And yet it’s not a badge that one would wear, but a service to the body of Christ at large. And one should always be pointing back to the Father and His Son, rather than to themselves.
One may find themselves without a regular income to support their family, so that they would walk out their faith for their provision. And sometimes, others in the body may lend their financial support to them as well.
No amount of training, seeking after the “gifts,” leading a reclusive life of meditation, prayer, and service will cause one to become a prophet. No, this is something which God does in the shaping, and in the heart of man or a woman. Don’t misunderstand me, schools such as these are quite necessary and good for the “equipping of the saints,” and helpful in developing these “gifts” within a person’s life. Again though, this does not “make a prophet.”
To quote Abraham Heschel in his book THE PROPHETS, “The prophet is not a mouthpiece, but a person; not an instrument, but a partner, an associate of God. The conception of the prophets as nothing but mouthpieces, the assumption that their hearts remain unaffected, would almost compel us to apply to them the words that Jeremiah used of the people: Thou art near in their mouth And far from their heart,” Jeremiah 12:2.
The point here is that they have the “burden” of the Lord; they feel what God feels, and are not merely “mechanical mouthpieces.” Heschel goes on in saying: “To a person endowed with prophetic sight, everyone else appears blind; to a person whose ear perceives God’s voice, everyone else appears deaf. No one is just; no knowing is strong enough, no trust complete enough. The prophet hates the approximate, he shuns the middle of the road. Man must live on the summit to avoid the abyss. There is nothing to hold to except God. Carried away by the challenge, the demand to straighten out man’s ways, the prophet is strange, one-sided, an unbearable extremist:
“The prophet is sent not only to upbraid, but also to ” strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees,” Isaiah 35:3.
Almost every prophet brings consolation, promise, and the hope of reconciliation along with censure and castigation. He begins with a message of doom; he concludes with a message of hope.”
What is a prophet?
We need to consider the call of Jeremiah, “Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down,and to destroy, and to throw down,to build and to plant,” Jeremiah 1:9,10. As stated earlier, the gift of prophecy is not to be confused with the office of the Christian prophet.
The Holy Spirit may speak through any person, for edification, exhortation, or comfort. A prophet is a watchman, but not just a watchman. His task is one of standing upon the walls of the city; looking out and warning about the immanent danger of what is to come. He or she, admonishes, warns, directs, intercedes, teaches, and counsels, as well as illuminates, and corrects, (in love.) The word must not be his own, for the Lord says through Jeremiah 23:21-22:
“I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied,” and “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name,” Jeremiah: 25:32
And yet those who are prophets must not be caught-up in the bandwagons of conspiracy theories, or fear-tactics, that we often see and hear about. They must instead stand in the presence of God, and speak what is truth, without following what might be a popular warning that is being presented in some Christian circles. They may be shunned, and others may leave their side, but in time, what is said will be seen as wisdom and truth.
How many around us say that they have a dream or a revelation from God? So much is being seen and heard, and we would be wise to test what is true and what is not.
“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ 26 How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, 27 who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? 28 The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the Lord. 29 “Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? 30 Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who steal My words from each other. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the Lord, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the Lord,” Jeremiah 23:25-32.
Well, can we see what is in store for those who would speak presumably in the “name of the Lord”? What a warning to us, and what a heavy responsibility to not speak what the people would want to hear, but to speak what the Lord would have us to speak. There are words which sometimes, have been spoken, which seem to “tickle the ears.” They speak about money and gain, and “flatter” those whom they are given to. Not to say that there aren’t words from the Lord, such as these. But let us remember: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart,” Hebrews 4:12. Whatever the word is, it will discern the thoughts and intentions of the human heart, and will “lay it open,” before him who judges all.
There is a difference between Old Testament prophets, and those of the New Testament. We now have a new covenant. This covenant is one in which the Holy Spirit dwells within each believer. There are also now, no more “lone rangers” such as there were in the Old Testament. In the past, prophets received unmistakable revelation, and were 100% accurate. They didn’t need others to discern whether their message was from God or not. The only way that they could have had the message wrong, was to drastically change the message which they were given. Judgment on Old Testament prophets was such that those who spoke falsely in the name of the Lord, were stoned to death.
Instead of doing this now, the leaders are instructed to “let two or three prophets speak, and have the others judge,” 1 Corinthians 14:29. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:16:
“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”
Lastly, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the ministry gifts, (Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers), are not given as a badge of God’s approval, or sign of our consecration. And yet, more often than not, true prophets are not received in many of the churches. Their messages are not readily received, and because of this, sometimes they face rejection. But their identification must not ever be with man’s approval or disapproval, but with God alone.
They are rather, gifts of God’s grace. “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). God wants the lives of his people to “proclaim” his word; not only the “words which they speak from him.”
Ezekiel was told to lie on one side for 390 days according to the years of Israel’s sin, and then on his right side for Judah’s, (Ezekiel 4:1-8). When people’s lives are used to illustrate a purpose of God’s, then they feel his heart in the matter. God wants His servants to not only “speak” what he would have them to, but to be “like” Him. To feel his “heart-strings,” and show forth a witness of this in how they demonstrate it to the world and to the church. Remember that, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” Revelation 19:10.
We also have those voices that are warning us and preparing us for what lies ahead. We need to know what is around the corner… If one were rowing in a boat or a canoe, wouldn’t they want to know that there were rapids ahead, or something dangerous around the next bend in the river? The same is true in the prophetic.
Without those prophetic voices that warn us, we would not be prepared, and we would be blind to what is ahead of us. And yet, what is often missed, is that a true prophet will not just speak words of prophecy, but words of wisdom and deep discernment. For knowing what is true and what is not true, becomes more and more important, and discerning the presence of the enemy becomes of prime importance as the heavens are breached, and spiritual warfare is fought. We have but to look at the prophecies of Isaiah. For here we have judgment, mercy, and hope mingled together like a fine wine:
As seen in Judgment:
“Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! 2 Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. 3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: 4 And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up. 5 In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, 6 And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate. 7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. 8 For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean. 9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. 13 But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. 14 Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. 15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: 16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place,” Isaiah 28:1-17.
As seen in Mercy and Hope
“O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. 2 For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defenced city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built. 3 Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee, the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee. 4 For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. 5 Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low. 6 And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. 7 And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. 9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. 10 For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill. 11 And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands. 12 And the fortress of the high fort of thy walls shall he bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, even to the dust,” Isaiah 25:1-12.
We just must not forget that our Father warns us because He loves us. An earthly father would warn and tell his young child to not venture out into a nearby busy street to protect them. So we must remember that it is out of love that God tells us even about the dark days that are ahead… He wants us to be prepared and ready. Can we pray and intercede so that these things won’t come? I believe that we must continue to pray and intercede for our nation and world of course. I however, truly believe that we’ve gone past the point where those prayers would change what is coming. The safety net has been lifted, and judgment has begun.
“YOUR HABITATION MUST BE IN ME ALONE”
“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Isaiah 53:1-2.
“God is the habitation of his people, who find rest and safety in him,” Psalms 71:3.
(Our safe habitation is not a place hidden safely under the ground, or nestled in a grove of trees high upon a mountain pass. But rather, that place, is under the wings of the Almighty. For when the days of darkness come, that will be the only safe place found.)
“Place your trust in Me, for the time will come when you will need to enter into My Holy chamber. For as the days of darkness approach, your habitation must be found in Me alone. You will not be found safe in the storm if you are not found in Me. For in that day some will attempt to leave the cities. Some will flee to the deserts. Others will try to find refuge underground.
But I will lead my people forth on that day. I will feed them as I did in the wilderness. And when the storms blow and everything is falling apart all around you, I will be your source of protection.
When all of the lights have gone off, I will be your source of light. The oceans will churn, and the seas will rise, and the land will be flooded. But you will be brought across to dry land.
Thus would say the spirit of the Lord.”
~ Stephen Hanson
Stephen Hanson of In His Truth Ministries came to the Lord is a special way in 1975 and has been prophesying regularly since. In these end-time birthing pangs we are to be reminded that judgment must first begin with the household of God. Will we be prepared and ready?