Many believers are divided about prophecy and its relevance today. Some staunchly believe that God does not speak like He used to during Old and New Testament times. There are others who would vouch that prophecy and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are very much for today.
While we try to make up our mind about this it is good to remember “Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].” James 1:17 Amplified Bible We also need to remember that “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29
God chose His prophets
No one could argue with God about who He chose to speak to. Samuel was just a boy when God spoke to him. “And the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, Samuel! Samuel! Then Samuel answered, Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.“1 Samuel 3:10 The Lord God told the little boy Samuel about His judgment on the Eli the priest and his sons.
Jeremiah was young too but God reassured him saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument], And before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own]; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
God reveals secrets to prophets
Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.“
There is an interesting story about how the king of Aram. “Now the heart of the king of Aram (Syria) was enraged over this thing. He called his servants and said to them, “Will you not tell me which of us is helping the king of Israel?” One of his servants said, “None [of us is helping him], my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” 2 Kings 6:11-12
To be a prophet is a place of privilege as the Lord reveals things that others will not know. It is also comes with great responsibility. Luke 12:48 says, “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will require and demand all the more.”
Messages of correction and judgment
As prophets heard from the Lord they faced opposition, hatred and threats of various kinds as they spoke what the Lord said because the message was not pleasant to the hearers. God often sends warnings through His prophets before He decides to do something about the sins and disobedience of the people. If the people heed the warning and repent, God relents and spares them from the impending punishment as He did in Nineveh.
“And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown! So the people of Nineveh believed in God and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth [in penitent mourning], from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” Jonah 3:4-5 Amp
When Prophets warnings are rejected
There are also instances in the Bible where people did not heed the prophet’s warning. “Until the Lord removed Israel from His sight, just as He had foretold through all His servants the prophets. So Israel went into exile.” 2 Kings 17:23
“And they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments and My statutes, in accordance with all the Law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” However they did not listen, but stiffened their necks as did their fathers who did not believe (trust in, rely on, remain steadfast to) the Lord their God.” 2 Kings 17:12-14
“For this is a rebellious people, lying sons, Sons who refuse to listen to the law and instruction of the Lord; Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions from God”; And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right! Speak to us pleasant things and smooth words, Prophesy [deceitful] illusions [that we will enjoy]. “Get out of the [true] way, turn aside from the path [of God], Stop bothering us with the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 30:9-11 Amp
The outcome of the rejection of the prophets and their message was terrible. “But they kept mocking the messengers of God and despising His words and scoffing at His prophets until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy or healing.” 2 Chronicles 36:16
God values His prophets
God cares a lot for His chosen prophets. He specifically said, “Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm.” 1 Chronicles 16:22
Psalm 20:6 speaks about how the Lord saves His chosen, “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.”
The prophet Habakkuk too wrote about how the Lord helped and sustained him saying, “The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!” Habakkuk 3:19 Amp
True prophets & false prophets
For every good thing God has given, there are also counterfeits that we need to be careful about. There are true prophets of God speak from His heart and there are false prophets who speak words that tickle the ears of hearers too.
“For the Lord, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb says this, “I am the Lord, Maker of all things, Who alone stretches out the heavens, Who spreads out the earth by Myself, Frustrating the signs and confounding the omens of boasters (false prophets), Making fools out of fortune-tellers, Counteracting the wise and making their knowledge ridiculous, Confirming the word of His servant and carrying out the plan of His messengers.” Isaiah 44: 24-26 Amp
“But I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, the [false] prophets are telling them, ‘You will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but I [the Lord] will give you lasting peace in this place.’ Then the Lord said to me, “The [counterfeit] prophets are prophesying lies in My Name. I have neither sent them nor authorized them nor spoken to them. They are prophesying to you made-up visions [pretending to call forth responses from handmade gods], a worthless divination and the deceit of their own mind.” Jeremiah 14:13-14 Amp
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Do not listen to the words of the [false] prophets who prophesy to you. They are teaching you worthless things and are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own mind and imagination and not [truth] from the mouth of the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:16 Amp
God says, “Beloved, do not put faith in every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.” 1 John 4:1
God warns false prophets
“Therefore behold (hear this), I am against the [counterfeit] prophets,” says the Lord, “[I am descending on them with punishment, these prophets] who steal My words from one another [imitating the words of the true prophets].” Jeremiah 23:30 Amp
“So My hand will be against the [counterfeit] prophets who see (make up) empty and delusive visions and who give lying prophecies. They will have no place in the [secret] council of My people, nor will they be recorded in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter into the land of Israel, that you may know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord God. It is definitely because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because when one builds a [flimsy] wall, behold, these [lying] prophets plaster it over with whitewash.” Ezekiel 13: 9-10 Amp
“Thus says the Lord God, “Woe (judgment is coming) to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit [claiming to have seen things] but have [in fact] seen nothing.” Ezekiel 13:3 Amp
There is also an instance when the punishment for a false prophet was death. Jeremiah 28:15,17 says, “Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. So Hananiah the [false] prophet died [two months later], the same year, in the seventh month.” Amp
Fulfillment and Rewards
A prophet is proved to be a ‘true prophet’ when what he or she speaks is fulfilled. “The prophets who were before me and before you from ancient times prophesied against many lands and against great kingdoms, of war and of disaster and of virulent disease. But as for the prophet who [on the contrary] prophesies of peace, when that prophet’s word comes to pass, [only] then will it be known that the Lord has truly sent him.” Jeremiah 28:8-9 Amp However, we must also remember, there are some prophecies that take a lot more time to be fulfilled.
In Matthew 10:41 God says that those who receive a prophet will receive a reward! “He who receives and welcomes and accepts a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives and welcomes and accepts a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.“
The best is yet to come where prophesying is concerned, since God said that He will pour out His Spirit on our generation! “And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels] and your young men shall see visions (divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams. Yes, and on My menservants also and on My maidservants in those days I will pour out of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels and predicting future events pertaining especially to God’s kingdom].” Acts 2:17-18
Let us submit ourselves to the LORD and get ready! The Lord has promised to do great things in our day and time!
May this be our prayer, ‘Lord have Your way in us!’