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Showing posts with the label #Prophecy

Immature prophets.

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Every Christian can hear God. This being the case, every Christian can share God’s messages with others: We can prophesy. We can become prophets. It’s why the Holy Spirit was given to us Christians in the first place: So we can hear and share God. Ac 2.17-18 Now, whether every Christian listens, hears God accurately , and prophesies accurately , is a whole other deal. See, Christians are at all different levels of maturity. Some of us call it “spiritual maturity,” but there’s no functional difference between intellectual, emotional, and spiritual maturity. If we‘re one, we’re automatically one of the others. Too many Christians presume our knowledge makes us mature, instead of puffing us up like a bratty child prodigy. Likewise too many Christians presume if we’re fruitful, we needn’t be knowledgeable—which means we’re not wise, which means we ain’t all that fruity. No matter which kind of immaturity we’re talking about, immature people are gonna do dumb. They don’t know

“Prophets” who only share encouraging words.

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There’s a rather loaded word we Christians use on a frequent basis: “Word.” It refers to Jesus. It can also refer to the bible, either as a whole, or to specific statements of God in the scriptures. It can refer to the gospel, Mt 13.19 the “good word.” It can refer to any message or lesson, really: A Sunday school class, a sermon, or a prayer where the petitioner slipped a lesson into it, passive-aggressive or not. Or it can just be a short, positive saying. An “encouraging word.” A T-shirt slogan, easily short enough for text messages and Twitter. All my life I’ve heard these little sayings. Had a pastor who’d like to start each Sunday morning service with one of them: “Church, I have a word for you.” Then he’d share it. Might be a popular saying; might be a clever saying; might be a bible verse. Might expound on it a little, but it’d take him no more than 30 seconds, ’cause he was gonna pray, and then we were gonna sing. “Church, be excellent to each other, and party on,

Prophecy and preaching.

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Prophecy is when we hear God and share with others what we heard. It’s not a complicated definition. It only gets complicated when people don’t wanna define it that way. When they wanna claim prophecy is only for the very, very few (not every Christian, like Joel described Jl 2.28-29 ); that it’s a special office, and they’re one of the few officeholders, so heed them. Or when they wanna claim prophecy ended in bible times ’cause God has since turned off the miracles. Today I’m dealing with the second group, the cessationists. And if prophecy is when we share what we heard from God, but nobody hears God anymore… are there prophets anymore? Can there be prophets anymore? Some’ll say no. Which is a problematic belief. If there’s no such thing as prophets and prophecy, what’re we to do with all the verses in the scriptures where we’re encouraged to prophesy, 1Co 14.5 and discouraged from rejecting prophecy? 1Th 5.20 Do we set them aside, ’cause they no longer count in this

Plucking Jesus’s beard. Or not.

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Isaiah 50.6. Jesus fulfills a lot of Old Testament scriptures, and this advent I wanna look at the ones he particularly fulfilled from Isaiah . Some of them explicitly refer to Jesus, ’cause a future Messiah, a savior, a suffering servant, a King of kings, is precisely who Isaiah was writing about. But some of ’em actually aren’t about Jesus. They’re either about humanity in general, Israelis in general, or even Isaiah himself. But because the same or similar events happened to Jesus, he fulfilled them. His experiences fleshes out these verses. That’s what fulfillment in the bible actually means: Not that Jesus did as predicted, but that Jesus reflects these ideas better, sometimes, than the original ideas. So today’s passage is one of those reflections. It’s not about Jesus; it’s explicitly about Isaiah himself. About how, as a prophet, he gets crapped on. Isaiah 50.4-9 KWL 4 The L ORD my Master gave me an educated tongue so I might know to say a timely word to

Prophets in the bible: Read their books!

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THE PROPHETS ðə 'prɑf.əts noun, plural. Biblical writings by and about God’s Spirit-inspired messengers. 2. [ In Christian bibles and book order ] Books in the Old Testament primarily consisting of prophecies. Usually Isaiah through Malachi . 3. [ In Jewish bibles and book order ] The second major grouping of the Hebrew scriptures: Books written between 1000 and 400 BC ; Joshua through Malachi . Sometimes I refer to “the Prophets,” and I admit this can be confusing to Christians who grew up Jewish. To Jews, “the Prophets” are the middle part of their bible— Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the 12 minor prophets. But to Christians, “the Prophets” are the books with prophets’ names on them, specifically written by them, specifically full of their prophecies. Isaiah, Jeremiah (and Jeremiah’s book Lamentations ), Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi . Some

The self-anointed prophet.

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When God makes one of his kids a prophet, he doesn’t anoint us. Anointing , i.e. pouring oil over someone’s head to indicate leadership, is done in the bible to leaders. Not prophets. True, the L ORD instructed his prophet Elijah to anoint Elisha ben Šafát, 1Ki 19.16 but that’s as his successor as leader of the בְנֵֽי ־הַ נְּבִיאִ֥ים / vnéi haneviím , “the sons of the prophets,” 2Ki 2.15 a prophecy guild. Elisha was already a prophet. ’Cause how God makes prophets is to simply start talking to us. Like he did with Samuel ben Elqaná when he was a kid. 1 Samuel 3.3-10 KWL 3 Samuel laid down in the L ORD ’s sanctuary, where God’s ark was , before God’s lamp was put out. 4 The L ORD called Samuel, saying, “Look at me.” 5 Samuel ran to Eli, saying, “Look at me; you called me.” Eli said, “I didn’t call. Go back. Lie down.” Samuel walked back and laid down. 6 The L ORD called yet again: “Samuel.” Samuel stood and walked to Eli, saying, “Look at me; you called me.

What’s the difference between a seer and a prophet?

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In case you’re the sort of person who skips titles (a phenomenon I’ve seen a bunch of times, and still don’t get), I remind you this article is called “What’s the difference between a seer and a prophet?” Short answer: No difference. Same thing. 1 Samuel 9.9 KWL In the past, in Israel, a man said this when he went to seek God: “Walk, walk to the seer.” For “the prophet” today was “the seer” in the past. The Hebrew רֹאֶה / rohéh , “seer,” is the noun-form of the verb רָאָה / raháh , “to see.” It means what we mean by “seer”: A person who can see. A person whose eyeballs work, so they can point ’em at stuff and identify what they’re looking at. It’s not a complicated word. When I see rainbows, I’m a seer of rainbows. Duh. But when they used this word in the bible they obviously had an attached idea that a seer saw something more than others could. ’Cause like all legitimate prophets, seers had the Holy Spirit, who’d show ’em stuff. It’s a term which didn’t entirely die

The star coming out of Jacob.

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Christians list it among the verses predicting Jesus. It really doesn’t. Numbers 24.17. The Hebrews of the Exodus weren’t the only Hebrews in the middle east. There were other Hebrew nations, who probably spoke Hebrew same as the descendants of Israel whom Moses led. Namely: The ISHMAELITES , descended from Abraham’s oldest son Ishmael. The MIDIANITES , descended from Abraham’s sixth son Midian. (What, you didn’t know Abraham had more sons than just Isaac and Ishmael? Ge 25.1-2 Lots of people don’t. See what happens when you skip parts of the bible?) The MOABITES and AMMONITES , descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot. The EDOMITES , descended from Israel’s brother Esau. Plus Abraham’s son fourth son Yoqšan is the grandfather of “Ašurím and Letuším and Lehummím,” Ge 25.3 names which have a plural -im ending, which therefore means they’re not individuals but tribes. Israel’s family went to Egypt to dodge a famine, but Ishmael, Lot, Esau, Midian, and Yoqšan’s families had

The prophet like Moses.

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Yeah, Moses meant any prophet. But this passage especially applies to Jesus. Deuteronomy 18.15-19. In the 15th century BC , God saved the Hebrews. Their ancestors had moved to Egypt to ride out a famine, and settled in a land called Goshen. (Which we nowadays call the Sinai Peninsula, even though Sinai’s actually on the other side of the Dead Sea, in Arabia. Ga 4.25 If the maps in your bible say otherwise, the mapmakers oughta actually read their bibles.) But some years later the Egyptians decided to press the Hebrews into slavery, and that was their situation when Moses was born… and 80 years later when the L ORD sent Moses to lead ’em out of slavery. Ten plagues later, Moses led the Hebrews across the Dead Sea into Arabia, and the L ORD drowned the Egyptian army behind them. And that is what Jews today celebrate every Passover. Moses tried to lead the Hebrews to a land the L ORD originally promised to Abraham; they called it Canaan, Israelis call it Israel, Palestinia

How non-supernatural Christians define prophecy.

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How non-supernaturalist Christians confuse the gift of exhortation with the gift of prophecy. In the scriptures, a prophet is a person who hears God and shares his messages with others. Anyone can hear God, so anyone can become a prophet, and since every Christian has the Holy Spirit within them, Christians especially can become prophets. It’s kind of our birthright. Ac 2.17-18 However. In popular Christian culture, particularly among Christians who have their doubts or fears about miracles and the supernatural, “prophecy” has been redefined. To these folks, prophecy still totally refers to sharing God’s messages with others. But as for hearing that message directly from God… well that’s not part of their understanding. Either ’cause they insist God doesn’t do that anymore, or ’cause they seriously downplay anything supernatural about the way Christians get God’s messages. So to them, a “prophet” is anyone who shares God’s truths. They read ’em in the bible, preach the bible,

“But in these last days”… prophecy stopped?

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How people’s doubts got added to our bible translations. Hebrews 1.2 In the New International Version, the book of Hebrews begins like so. Hebrews 1.1-2 NIV 1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The English Standard Version translates it similarly. Hebrews 1.1-2 ESV 1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Other translations also present the similar idea: In the past God spoke through the prophets, but in the present he speaks through his Son. So the argument goes whenever cessationists wanna insist God doesn’t speak through prophets anymore. Prophets, they insist, are an Old Testament

Prophetic dreams… and whether you had one.

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Of course God can speak to us in dreams. But he hasn’t spoken to us in every dream. When we sleep, we dream. Not all of us remember our dreams; I seldom do. Psychiatrists have all sorts of theories as to why, and a really popular one is that our brains are sorting out all the memories we haven’t yet processed… and because the brain is designed to recognize patterns and find meanings in the meaningless, it sorts the memories by turning them into a narrative. The narrative won’t always make sense. Doesn’t actually have to. I believe (though I won’t claim this is infallibly true) the reason some of us hear God speak to us in our dreams, is because God’s voice is one of the unprocessed or under-processed memories we had during the day. We weren’t really giving him our full attention at the time. But we did hear him. Our subconscious picked it up, at least. And once we’re asleep, as every subconscious memory is getting dredged up and looked at, of course God’s voice is gonna be in t

“Before I formed you in the womb…”

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So you’re prolife. Doesn’t mean you get a free pass to misappropriate bible. Jeremiah 1.5 May as well state my biases up front: I’m prolife. In the United States we use this term to describe a person who doesn’t approve of aborting a pregnancy. Depending on the person, we either want the practice discouraged, banned outright, made a crime, or even made a capital crime with death penalties all around. Which goes way too far for me, because I’m prolife in the proper sense of the word: I don’t want anybody to die. Not just fetuses. The real problem with abortion is a society which claims they care about women and motherhood, but they only care about self-supporting women and mothers. When women get pregnant, hadn’t planned on it, and don‘t know how they’re gonna have the time or money to raise a child, society’s response isn’t, “How can I help? Whatever you need, just ask; I’m there.” It’s usually condemnation: “You should’ve expected this.” No moral support, no financial s

Discernment isn’t prophecy.

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If it looks like the science of deduction, or carnival mentalism, ’tain’t prophecy. Here’s a bit from “The Red-Headed League,” a Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle. “Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual labor, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing else.” Mr. Jabez Wilson started up in his chair, with his forefinger upon the paper, but his eyes upon my companion. “How, in the name of good fortune, did you know all that, Mr. Holmes?” he asked. “How did you know, for example, that I did manual labor? It’s as true as gospel, for I began as a ship’s carpenter.” “Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size larger than your left. You have worked with it, and the muscles are more developed.” “Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?” “I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you how I read that, especially as,

“…But what if that message is from the devil?”

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On psyching ourselves out of sharing. In my early days of learning what God’s voice sounds like, from time to time an idea’d pop into my head, and I’d wonder—as one should—whether the idea was mine, God’s… or Satan’s. I kinda blame my Fundamentalist upbringing. Y’see, there were a number of people in that church who insisted God doesn’t talk to people anymore, and anybody who claimed to hear from God was really hearing Satan. The effect is it makes a lot of Christians really wary of prophets. And, because the Holy Spirit actually does speak, really wary of listening to God for themselves. So I’d be at a bus stop, and the idea’d pop into my head, “Go tell that person ‘God bless you.’ ” And my knee-jerk reaction would be, “Is that God’s voice, mine, or Satan’s? After all, what if that person’s really anti-God right now, and my ‘God bless you’ prompts some sort of angry tirade? What if that person’s a cult member who sees this as an opportunity to try to convert me? What if…

“Prophecy scholars”: Neither prophets nor scholars.

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I’m Pentecostal. So whenever I see an notice or ad for an upcoming “prophecy conference,” they tend to refer to prophets. Actual prophets. Meaning people who’ve learned to listen to the Holy Spirit—and thereafter share with others what he’s told them. True, some of ’em practice some really iffy methods of identifying his voice. But when Penecostals, charismatics, and most continuationists refer to prophecy, we literally mean the same thing we see done in the bible by Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Simon Peter, and Paul of Tarsus. They heard God; they shared what they figured he told ’em; that’s prophecy. Outside Pentecostal circles—though not far outside Pentecostal circles, ’cause from time to time it gets in here—is a whole other type of “prophecy conference.” There, they aren’t at all talking about hearing God. They mean predictions about the End Times. They’re throwing a conference ’cause they wanna tell you what they think the apocalypses mean. Um… didn’t God delib

Prophesying your own issues.

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Funny how a lot of prophecies particularly apply to the person sharing it. From time to time—in bible studies, church, conferences, prayer groups, what have you—prophets get up and say a little something which “God laid on their heart,” which is Christianese for “God told ’em.” Or at least they think God told ’em. They were listening to their consciences, which is probably the easiest way to hear God. When we become Christian, the Holy Spirit gets to work on our consciences, growing good fruit in them, fixing our attitudes, poking us there whenever we misbehave. For some of us, it’s our most regular form of communication with him; we’re used to it. Many prophets have learned to listen to our consciences, in case any tugs we might feel are messages from God. So let’s say a prophet detects this idea in there: “Someone’s not so sure she believes in God. She has doubts.” Sounded to them like something the Holy Spirit would say. So they take it and run with it. “I feel in my sp

Killing false prophets: Wanna bring it back?

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Fake prophets can be really destructive. But killing them is the easy way out. When the L ORD explained to Moses how his prophets were gonna work, he wasn’t messing around. Deuteronomy 18.17-22 KWL 17 “The L ORD told me, ‘What they say is correct, 18 so I’m raising up prophets for them— from among their family, like you, and I put my words in their mouth. They speak to the people everything I command them. 19 When anyone doesn’t listen to my words which my prophet speaks in my name, I myself demand accountability from that person . 20 However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name what I’ve not commanded them to speak, or what was spoken in the name of other gods: This prophet dies. 21 When you say in your heart, “How can we identify a word which wasn’t spoken by the L ORD ?”: 22 When the prophet speaks in the L ORD ’s name, and it’s not my word— it’s not something the L ORD ’s spoken; it won’t come to anything. The prophet spoke it in pride. Do

Watch out for the fake prophets.

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Look past their messages. What fruit do they produce? Matthew 7.15-20, 12.33-35 • Luke 6.43-45 Right after Jesus’s teaching about the narrow gate, Jesus gives this warning about people who are pretending be prophets, but aren’t. What, there are fake prophets? Of course there are. You’ve met a few. A prophet hears from God and shares what God’s said. A fake prophet heard nothing , but acts as if God told ’em stuff, and fakes it as best they can. Sometimes they didn’t really hear God at all (and if they’re cessationist they’re entirely sure nobody can hear him). But they think they count as real prophets, ’cause they quote bible, which is stuff God told people. Just not recently, and to entirely different people, but still: They’re repeating God’s words, and doesn’t that count as prophecy? Well no. That’s teaching . It’s what I usually do; it’s what most preachers and scholars do. It can have a prophetic element when we’re actively listening to the Holy Spirit as we researc

Are you experienced?

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You wanna know God’s real? Start seeking God-experiences. Every so often someone’ll ask me, “How do you know there’s a God?” They’re not asking me rhetorically, “How do we know God exists?” They don’t wanna go over the apologists’ various proofs for God’s existence. In fact that’d be the fastest way to annoy them: “Well y’see, I know there’s a God because the universe works on cause-and-effect, and if we trace all the causes back to a first cause…” Yeah yeah, they’ve heard the “unmoved mover” idea before. They don’t care about that. They wanna know how I , me, K.W. Leslie, the guy who talks about God as if he’s met him personally, knows God exists. Well, that’d be how. Met him personally. No, really. No, really . See, that’s the problem with such Christians: They’re not sure “met him personally” is a valid option in this present age. Often they’ve been taught to believe in some form of cessationism where God stopped personally intervening in the universe, or interacting