The NATURE of Prophecy
Prophecy, by its very nature, is serious business. It deals with ultimate things, with final ends, and with eternal purposes, from God’s VIEWPOINT. Its goal is to shake and disturb, to upset the status quo, to re-capture the hearts and minds of men who have become mired in the carnality of the temporal, returning their primary focus to the eternal. It prompts renewed faith for living godly in this present world with a clear view to the next, while restoring the authority of the Scriptures.
The MESSAGE and METHOD of the PROPHET
The Prophet is God’s “emergency man.” He is uniquely prepared and called by God for ultimate times and ultimate purposes. While a Priest represents the people to God, the Prophet represents God to the people.
The prophet’s message and methods merge into a bold, often fiery, and always confrontive and piercing
WOOING and WARNING.
The Prophet represents God’s final and ultimate expression of hope and mercy before looming judgment.
The Prophet is God’s “process server,” delivering God’s “due process” of controversy with His people. Since God is a God of truth and justice as well as love and mercy, God’s nature requires that He give adequate warning before He imposes judgment, giving men and women grace time to repent. Therefore, “I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets… yet they hearkened not unto me… but hardened their necks…” (Jer. 7:25-26).
The prophet’s task is fulfilled upon delivery of the message over the time frame required by God for the “due process” of justice to be served. This is true regardless of whether even one person responds (Ezek. 2:3-7). The prophet’s heart is God’s heart – to see the heart of the people turn and repent. The prophet’s task, however, is not to turn their hearts but merely to uncompromisingly deliver the message of God’s controversy in such manner that it cannot be mistaken, misunderstood or sidestepped.
The RESPONSE to the PROPHET
The astounding record of Bible prophecy is that people almost inevitably reject the prophet’s message. From Noah to Christ, the record reveals the same pattern. As to Jesus, “He came unto his own, but his own received him not….” Rejection of the message is usually reflected in violent rejection of the messenger. Hence Jesus’ lament, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee…” (Matt. 23:37).
When the prophet and his message is rejected, God himself has been rejected. God’s justice then demands judgment, which could have been averted had the people timely responded in true repentance.
Are PROPHETS for TODAY?
ABSOLUTELY… unless, of course, God has changed His character and no longer is committed to WOO and WARN His creation, as an expression of final mercy to fulfill “due process” of justice.
Of primary concern is the belief, among some, that to admit or allow prophecy today, under the office of “Prophet,” is to add to the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, which is strictly forbidden. While the Bible warns against false prophets and false messiahs, they have always appeared and been believed over the words of the true prophet.
The words of a true prophet today will always be in perfect alignment with the Scriptures and add nothing to their authority. They will, however, woo and warn people to repent, to return to God, and to again exalt His Word as final authority for life and practice. And true to form, such a modern end-time prophet will most likely be rejected, because the people have hardened their hearts to the message.
The Apostle Paul, twice, clearly affirms the prophetic office in the church. In delineating the primary gifts given to the Body that bring fulness of spiritual and functional life, Paul lists “prophecy” first in a list of seven found in Romans 12:4-8. Again in Ephesians 4:11-15, Paul declares God has given “… some apostles; some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers” to the church, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry… till we all come in the unity of the faith… into a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ… that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
These gifts are not necessarily wrapped into one person, i.e., a pastor, but are separate and distinct OFFICES within the church. The office of prophet is not the same as the gift of prophecy described in I Corinthians 14 but rather a unique gift which God has “set some in the church” – “first apostles, secondarily prophets…” (I Cor. 12:28).
There were a number of prophets identified in the New Testament church. While clearly recognized for their prophetic office, their words are never described as on a par with Scripture. It is indeed significant that Paul declares that the entire household of God is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).
The late Leonard Ravenhill, received and believed by many as a modern day prophet, said, “God, send us prophets!” A.W. Tozer wrote:
“In the kingdom of God, God has always had his specialists whose chief concern was the moral breakdown, the decline in the spiritual health of the nation or the church. Such prophets appeared at critical moments in history to reprove, rebuke and exhort….” “Such a man is drastic, radical… and branded as extreme, fanatical, negative.” But he is “single-minded, freedom – the qualities the circumstances demand.”
When God calls a people to prepare the way of the Lord
for history’s final hour, He sends a VOICE.
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