I wrote this article a year ago for a reading at a Sunday School Christmas program. What motivated me to write was the fact that several of my circle of family and friends had for a period of a few years received prophetic messages. These came in the form of dreams with accompanying interpretations or simply impressions which came with such force and clarity that they may as well have been audibly spoken. In addition to this, we experienced warnings through varied manifestations about specific dangers to God’s people which drove us to intercessory prayer. As I investigated the warnings, I invariably had their validity confirmed as the Holy Spirit led me to people who had more direct contact with the circumstances involving what the alerts had been about. Interestingly, at the current time many of the prophecies have been fulfilled.
I will make some comments about the gift of prophesy in the Biblical sense. Nobody ever decides to be a prophet. As God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet before his conception, so He still decides today whom He chooses to deliver His message. It is never a role chosen by an individual himself. In fact, it is unlikely that anybody would choose such a role knowing the probable rejection and persecution by men that it entails. Nor does a prophet decide when to receive a prophecy. The Biblical line, ” The Word of the Lord came to me” expresses it well. A true prophet is an obedient servant to his Lord. He only communicates the message given. More often than not, he knows that the words will be poorly received. Sometimes this means severe opposition and even death. Christ said, “Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.”
Jeremiah’s response to the traumas of his calling was thus: Jer. 20 7-10 “O Lord, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: Thou art stronger than I and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me and a derision, daily. Then I spake, I will not make mention of Him , nor speak any more in His Name. But His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.” 14-18 “Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, a man child is born unto thee; making him very glad. And let that man be as the cities which the Lord overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide; because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?”
Too many people see a prophet’s role as only one who foretells future events. A true prophet is a spokesperson for God and most of his ministry involves giving God’s message to the people of his day. Sometimes that involves encouragement. More often it is calling the religious to repentance and back to the God from Whom they have strayed. The message can be one of direction in dealing with present circumstances. It may also involve receiving warning from God regarding a situation which the natural eye cannot see.
In Biblical times there were countless false prophets for every true prophet. The ratio has not changed. Just as a prophet must be attuned to the Holy Spirit to hear from God, likewise only those who know communion with God can differentiate between the true and the false.
Since I wrote the article, I have had my fears confirmed. The Mennonite church is too entrenched in tradition to receive a word of prophesy or experience the direct leading of the Spirit of God. With great sadness I witness the ensuing confusion and lack of progress in God’s kingdom. It is in vain that God communicates through His servants when the church is too much out of sync with Him to recognize His messenger. To Mennonites, prophecy is largely a parroting of those who have speculated regarding end-time events. Our minds are closed to receiving a definite word from the Lord giving direction in the handling of current issues. We will reap the bitter harvest of our unbelief! I write these words for those who have “ears to hear”, as Scripture says.
Written November 22,, 2020