We’ve spent some time this week discussing ways God does and does not speak to His people. We’ll continue today by talking about prophecy. We read many stories of men who God called as prophets. They couldn’t help saying what they said – God called them and put the words in their mouth (and sometimes literally shut their mouths as well). Prophets of God did more than predict the future with 100% accuracy. They also showed the condition of the people’s heart as they spoke the truth about the future as well as the present.
Today’s “prophets” aren’t like the prophets of old. Those who proclaim the truth of God to others are also prophets in the true sense of the word. These modern day prophets must meet the same standards as the prophets of old – 100% accuracy – or they are not of God.
And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. Deut 18:21-22 (ESV)
When you hear a sermon, listen to a Bible study, or even read this blog, you as hearer are called to a ministry of discernment. What this means is that you must take every word you hear and compare it to what the Bible says. Is the prophet, preacher, teacher, blogger telling you God’s truth, using the Bible as the basis of that truth? Is that person showing you the inconvenient truth, or are they simply tickling your ears and speaking of the “good” or “easy” parts of Scripture? If they tell you God is going to do something, does it come to pass?
Can you think of a time that someone claimed to be a “prophet” or even a “psychic” and gave specific, time sensitive predictions that didn’t come to pass? What did you think of that person afterwards? Why do you think that people want to listen to prophets or psychics who are wrong? Can this apply to readings of a horoscope as well? Why would we want to listen to someone who made specific predictions that didn’t come true?
Sometimes God uses circumstances to confirm that what we think we’ve heard is true. We’ve talked about God using the burning bush to confirm that He was speaking to Moses. Gideon was a warrior for God and he was confused. He wanted to make sure that he had heard God clearly, so he set out a test. He left fleece outside one evening and asked God to make it – and only it – wet to confirm what he thought he’d heard. The next night, he asked that God do the opposite. While it’s not a good idea to tell God how to confirm His word (note that Gideon didn’t demand anything), it’s nice to know that God will honor our requests to obey Him if we simply ask for clarification.
Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew. Judges 6:36-40 (ESV)
Sometimes God uses magnificent signs and wonders like a burning bush. Sometimes His confirmation is far more subtle. Our job is to obey God and walk in faith. If we’re not sure, God has ways to help us understand whether what we think we’re supposed to do is actually what He wants. He’s a big God!
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Heb 2:1-4 (ESV)
Sometimes God is subtle. Sometimes He uses burning bushes. Sometimes He sends messengers or angels. We see many instances in the Bible – the parents of Samson, Mary, the shepherds, Peter, and others. We’re not supposed to pray for angelic encounters. Some people think that they have conjured up guardian angels. As we’ve seen before, God does not want us to be a part of any conjuring or other occultic practice. If God wants us to see and/or hear an angel, He will make it happen! Remember, Satan was once an angel in heaven and he and about 1/3 of the heavenly angels were thrown out of heaven when they tried to usurp God.
In Scripture, angels usually come to people who have no other way to hear God’s word because they are isolated for one reason or another. Sometimes they are sent to make announcements. They are called ministering spirits and don’t come upon our command. They go where God wants them to go. Angels should never be worshiped. Angels aren’t the spirits of the dead. They are specifically created beings.
Do you know anyone who thinks they have communicated with an angel? How easy do you think it would be for Satan to deceive you personally with someone purporting to have “a word from God” or “a message from an angel”? Sounds silly when I ask it that way, but it’s pretty easy to get taken in by the lies of the enemy. Remember to test all spirits – preachers, bloggers, teachers, radio and television ministries, things your friends say, things you read in the paper – against the written Word of God. if it goes against that Word, it’s not true!
We’ve seen many ways that God has chosen to communicate with His people. On Monday, we will talk about the other two persons of the trinity – Jesus and The Holy Spirit – and the ways that God uses them to communicate with us.
May your weekend be blessed. See you Monday.