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Showing posts with the label #Prophecy

Ask prophets follow-up questions.

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Hypothetical situation here. Let’s say you’re having lunch with a friend, and the friend gets a phone call mid-lunch, and has to take it; it’s someone important. So you eat while your friend gabs on the phone a bit. Then your friend hangs up. “Sorry about that,” she says. “By the way he says hi, and wanted to tell you something.” “Okay,” you say, “let’s hear it.” “He says he knows you have a presentation coming up, and it’s gonna go really well, but he wants you to make sure you don’t wear something that’ll offend the client.” “Like what?” you say. You already know better than to wear your “It’s not drinking alone if your dog is with you” T-shirt to such meetings. “I dunno. Something offensive, I guess.” “Can you call or text him back and get specifics?” Now let’s change this story ever so slightly. ’Cause duh, it’s a parable. The friend is a prophet, and the important guy on the phone is the Holy Spirit. (You’re still you.) Unlike a phone, you never hang up; the Spir

The excuse of the false experience.

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One of the various blogs I read is by a cessationist, who insists God turned off his miracles after the bible was fully written. Y’know how sometimes names are changed to protect the innocent? I’ll change his to protect the foolish, and call him Wanjala. Wanjala claims to love the scriptures. No doubt he’s sure he does! But he simply refuses to believe ’em when they state the Holy Spirit’s supernatural gifts are meant to be the normal, everyday practice of present-day Christians. Wanjala doesn’t believe he’s ever had a God-experience, and exactly like those people who can’t bring themselves to believe I met God, he trusts his personal experiences more than he does bible. As a theological conservative he would never, ever admit to doing any such thing. But it’s precisely what he’s doing. He’s the baseline. Not the scriptures. So according to his firm belief, God Almighty is exactly like those mute idols the gentiles used to worship; 1Co 12.2 he’s not a speaking God. If we

Quenching the Spirit.

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1 Thessalonians 5.19-21. More farewell stuff from the last chapter of 1 Thessalonians ; general advice which can apply to Christians of any and every church. Each of these one-verse or one-line instructions have turned into entire sermons, lessons, and even doctrines. And in fact today I’m only gonna deal with three short verses, mainly because of what’s been taught about them… and of course what’s been mistaught. 1 Thessalonians 5.19-21 KWL 19 Don’t extinguish the Spirit: 20 Don’t void prophecies. 21 Examine everything: Hold onto what’s good. In the King James Version this becomes “Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” That’s the version I memorized as a child. Back in the 11th century, Margaret Atheling of Wessex (later, St. Margaret) was an English princess who grew up in exile in Hungary. She went to Scotland to marry King Malcolm Canmore, third of his name. The story has it she nearly drowned while cro

Messianic prophecies.

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Messianic prophecies are the scriptures in the Old Testament which are about messiah. And by messiah (Hebrew מָשׁיִחַ / mešíyakh , “anointed [one]”) the scriptures mean somebody who’s put in a high authoritative position. Like head priests Ex 40.15 or the king. 1Sa 9.16 But over time messiah simply came to mean king —the guy the L ORD chose to lead Israel, or at least Jerusalem and Judea. And when he became king, there’d be a ritual ceremony where someone dumped a hornful of oil (maybe about a liter) all over the new king, representing the L ORD pouring out his Spirit upon the king… assuming the king bothered to listen to the L ORD any. Most didn’t. So since messiah means king , every king of ancient Samaria and Jerusalem—yes, even the rotten ones like Ahab ben Omri, Jeroboam ben Nabat, and Saul ben Kish—was a messiah. Seriously. In fact every time David ben Jesse was given the chance to kill Saul, or have him killed, he’d refuse—because Saul was messiah. 1 Samuel

Watch out for fake and fruitless prophets.

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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 pretend be prophets, but aren’t. What, there are fake prophets? Of course there are. You’ve met a few. Pagans tend to define a prophet as someone who foretells or forecasts the future. But properly a prophet simply hears from God, and shares what he said. It doesn’t have to be a message about the future. Most of the time people just wanna hear that God loves them and cares for them, and has their back. Most of the prophecies I’ve ever heard, have been simply that: Reminders that God’s here, knows us very well, and isn’t going anywhere. And usually that’s all someone has to tell people in order to be a convincing fake prophet. Do a little mentalism trick which makes it look like they know things they can’t possibly have guessed, then encourage people with common Christian platitudes. “God has a great plan for your life,” or “God knows the

“Silent years”: Did God once turn off his miracles?

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It’s usually round Christmas when preachers start talking about “the silent years,” or “the 400 silent years,” and how the annunciations of John the Baptist and Christ Jesus mark the end of that era. As it’s taught, for roughly four centuries between the writing of Malachi , “the closing of the Old Testament canon,” and Gabriel’s appearance to John’s dad, the Holy Spirit was silent. He stopped talking to prophets, and had none. ’Cause if he did, these prophets would’ve written a book, right? But no prophets wrote a book, ergo no prophets. And during these “silent years,” it’s claimed the Spirit likewise stopped doing miracles. ’Cause if he had, again, someone would’ve written a book about it. But nobody wrote one, so nothing miraculous musta happened. If those 400 years weren’t silent, we’d have more books of the bible. (Um… what about the books of prophets, and of the Spirit’s activity, in the apocrypha? You realize they were written during that 400-year period. But the

Supernatural discernment: Knowing what you can’t know.

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Yesterday a coworker was trying to explain some scripture to me. It’s an interpretation I was entirely unfamiliar with, so I found it interesting. Had my doubts, but kept an open mind. It sounds a little bit plausible, so I spent some of this morning investigating it. Turns out it’s something the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach, and nobody else. So, nah. But yesterday, while he was still talking to me, before I ever looked it up and knew it was something JWs teach, I had deduced, “Y’know, I think this guy’s Jehovah’s Witness.” No, the Holy Spirit didn’t supernaturally reveal this to me. I deduced it. From the clues: It’s the Christmas season, and I had heard him mock Christmas a number of times. Admittedly I do this too with the materialism around the holiday, but JWs are particularly notorious for not observing Christmas. Big obvious red flag there. He dismissed any comments I had to make, or any corrections I offered to his proof texts. He was entirely sure he knew what he

Sock-puppet false prophecy.

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Last year I wrote about sock-puppet theology. It’s when people develop their beliefs about God all wrong because of how they came about those beliefs. Instead of doing as we’re meant to— read the scriptures, study their textual and historical context, compare them with Jesus’s character, compare them with the conclusions of other Spirit-led Christians, and of course use our commonsense —these people take much easier, non -study-based tack. They meditate on certain scriptures, use their imagination to “make the scriptures come alive,” then draw conclusions from these self-induced visions. Sometimes they’ll even talk to the people in their meditations: They’ll have a full-on conversation with, say, David ben Jesse. They’ll ask him what it was like to trust the L ORD while he was hiding out from King Saul ben Kish, whether in caves or Philistine territory. David will have a whole bunch of interesting insights. They’ll actually base their relationship with God on “David

Killing false prophets: Wanna bring it back?

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Moses ben Amram was gonna die before the Hebrews entered Canaan, so Deuteronomy tells of his last address to them before they entered that land. He reminded them of the L ORD ’s commands, had ’em reaffirm their covenant with him, then died. Up to this point, Moses had been the Hebrews’ primary prophet. If you wanted to know God’s will, and God didn’t tell you directly, you went to Moses. (Or even if God did tell you directly, you double-checked with Moses.) Moses’s death meant people were understandably anxious about losing God’s main spokesperson, but Moses reminded them he was far from God’s only spokesperson. Deuteronomy 18.15-22 NRSV 15 The L ORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. 16 This is what you requested of the L ORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the L ORD my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” 17 Then t

How do you know you heard from God?

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Let’s say I’m talking with a Christian friend about the time she had to make a great big decision. Like where to go to college, whether to move to Chicago, whether to buy her house, whether to marry her husband, whether to quit her job. You know, the usual life-changing, life-rearranging decisions which people would rather God just tell us what to do , and grant us the best possible timeline. So as my friend is describing how she came to her conclusion, she drops the inevitable, “Then God told me….” ME. “Okay but how’d you know it was God?” SHE. “Well I just knew.” ME. “Just knew? How could you ‘just know’? Because it felt like God?” SHE. “Exactly.” ME. “Well fine; I can work with that. So what’s God feel like?” SHE. “Oh, he’s indescribable.” ME. “Yeah yeah; we all know the Chris Tomlin song. Now try to describe him.” SHE. “I just felt an incredible peace about my decision. That’s how I knew it was God.” ME. “I know what you mean. I feel an incredib

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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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 stayed in the area and become their own nations. Over time some of tho

The prophet like Moses.

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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, Palestinians call it Palestine, and we call it whatever the folks we side with most c

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,