I’m not a fan of the prophetic rhetoric we see every January, especially the many failed prophecies surrounding the recent Biden/Trump Presidential election. Whether annually in January or whenever our nation finds itself in a crisis, we witness the abuses and misuses of the prophetic, which I believe stems from many exegetical fallacies.
The biblical prophets didn’t seek to “predict” the future; they were repeating the words God had given them concerning the future He’d already planned. In both testaments, Biblical Prophets yielded to God’s sovereignty and providential care over all He created and His unfolding narrative through history (which is little understood by far too many today.)
I believe that if many of those prophesying today had a basic understanding of the meta-narrative of scripture, they’d remain silent. We wouldn’t be seeing the abundance of false prophetic statements we see today if more of those Prophets were sitting in God’s council before they spoke. Jeremiah had to contend with similar issues in his day.
Jeremiah 23:16 says, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” How could so many Prophets miss it even in Jeremiah’s day?
Verse 18 explains how they missed it, “But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?” Three things stand out to me from this passage as well as from the experiences of recent years
First, The commercialization of prophetic ministry tends to happen when those prophesying aren’t diligently listening for God’s counsel.
Second, A misunderstanding of the calling, purpose, and functions of Old and New Testament Prophets lends itself to the many abuses we see today.
Third, A weak foundational understanding of the continuity of scripture regarding the purposeful unfolding of God’s will on earth and the role the five-fold ascension gift ministries play in equipping and informing the Church.
When God has spoken, you can depend on it.
God alone knows the end from the beginning because He has already planned it; it’s for this reason His decrees and promises are 100% reliable. A good example repeating God’s word without understanding its context is Jeremiah 1:12. “…I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled” We hear so many people quote this verse for promises of prosperity and never give a thought to the context in which it’s spoken.
In verse 11 God shows Jeremiah an almond branch (in bloom, a reminder) and in verse 13 a boiling cauldron tilting toward them from the north (impending disaster). The passage informs Jeremiah not of prosperity but of the Judgment that is coming, and it’s God who’s sending it!
When reading Jeremiah as is with the other Prophets, we see that the Old Testament’s prophetic ministry is theologically consistent. Prophets speak to the people when spoken to by God. A “thus saith the Lord means just that – “God says,” end of story.
The Prophetic ministry in both Old and New Testaments are not about predicting future events. A prediction is mainly an educated guess about the future. Prophecy warns people about God’s pending judgment on disobedience or informs them of his blessings on their continued faithfulness, both point to what God has been saying repeatedly in the scriptures. (see Deuteronomy 28, Isaiah 8:20)
In Jeremiah’s day as today, Prophets must stand in the counsel of God and hear his word (voice). With the many consistently failed prophetic statements on social media, God’s words to Jeremiah, “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran, I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied,” is undoubtedly relevant for us today.
With God, the future isn’t an educated guess; it’s already a fact. The entire Old Testament was pointing forward to the coming Messiah; the Prophets were all aligned with what was previously written about Him when they prophesied. Jesus said as much in John 5:39, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
We need to understand that all of scripture is prophetic, from Genesis through Revelation; the inspired narrative guides us through redemptive history, what God has said, is saying, and will say. God’s original plan and purpose remain relevant because all that originated from His mouth is eternal and unchanging.
Jesus is the Focal Point of Prophetic Ministry
In Psalm 2:6-11, the Psalmist says. “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”
David’s prophetic statement from Psalm 22:27-28 follows the same narrative, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.” This passage helps us understand who’s in charge, regardless of how current events appear God’s hand is still at the controls.
Revelation 19:10 says, “At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”
Prophetic ministry always points to Christ. The O.T. Scriptures point to Christ and what He will do, the N.T. Scriptures unfold what He has done and is doing, and reminds us (the Church) of what we should be doing personally and corporately.
Biblical Prophetic ministry informs the Church of her alignment or misalignment with God’s predetermined plan for all the created order, which is progressively coming under the jurisdiction of Christ (Eph. 1:9-10 & 4:10); this fact is irrevocable.
Paul writes to the Church at Ephesus about Prophets being a part of the ascension gift ministries to the Church; their assignment is to serve the Church by equipping members for works of service, this all-important responsibility seems to be all but missing from many prophetic ministries today.
Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers must see themselves as servant-gifts given to equip the Church for the assignment we’ve received from heaven.
Many Prophets must awaken to their assignment of equipping the Church for works of service, so we may be built up together, obtaining genuine unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God – becoming mature. Biblical Prophets enable the Church to reach the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Finally, I’m happy to note that many apostolic and prophetic coalitions have discussed how to restore prophetic accountability to the Church. Accountability is a simple scriptural truth that comes with many complexities in its outworking globally. Hence the reason to continue praying for God’s kingdom influence to continue expanding as we collectively do His will on earth as He designed it in heaven.
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