“In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.”—Acts 2:17
I can remember studying this verse back in the early 80’s with a small group of people. I wondered, aloud, “So where are these prophecies and dreams?” We were convinced then, as we are now, that we are in the last days, but there were few if any prophetic voices and none within our group. However, in the last 20-30 years there has been a change in the spiritual atmosphere such that there is now a plethora of such voices. Consider all of the prophetic words that Donald Trump would be elected, some delivered even before he declared himself a candidate. (See Kim Clement, 2014.) There were a number of prophetic voices stating that Trump would re-elected, yet that didn’t happen so many are questioning, criticizing and even judging those who so prophesied.
There are two prevailing, yet insofar as I can see, unbiblical views of the prophetic. The first is that if someone prophecies in error they are a false prophet. Secondly, that false prophets were stoned in the Old Testament. False prophets were not errant prophets, they were prophets with wrong motives, they misled the people intentionally. Hence, Elijah dispatched the prophets of Baal. And, there is nary a single verse in scripture that commands the stoning of an errant prophet. The standard under the Law of Moses is recorded in Deuteronomy 18:21-22…
“But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’ If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.”
First, there is no punishment, only the admonition not to listen to or respect the word of that prophet. Second, by that standard Jonah was a false prophet. He boldly declared as he began his three day walk through Nineveh, “Forty more days, and Nineveh will be overthrown.” It didn’t happen. Does anyone believe Jonah was a false prophet? Jesus didn’t think so (Matthew 12:39). Consider, not one of the Messianic prophecies delivered by the Old Testament prophets were fulfilled during their lifetime. Messiah Jesus showed up 400 years after the last of those prophets. Were they all false prophets? I humbly submit that we should not be too hasty to judge a prophetic word or the person who delivered it.
In Ephesians 4:11-13, delineates what has come to be known as the five-fold ministry…
“And He(Jesus) gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
No one would suggest that if anyone operating in one of the non-prophetic offices were to make a mistake or were incorrect at some point that they would be considered false apostles, false evangelists, false pastors or false teachers. However, if their motives are impure and they are using their office to forward their own agenda, or to lead people astray they should be held accountable and perhaps even considered “false”. Jesus called them wolves in sheep’s clothing. But, why should one operating in the prophetic labor under a different standard?
I suggest a more patient approach to the prophetic words, even those concerning the 2020 election. Nineveh was eventually judged, though long after Jonah gave the word that they would be judged in forty days. God may not be finished yet and His ways are definitely not our ways. Paul’s words to the Thessalonians are instructive, especially in these highly charged political days…
“But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” —-1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
The apostle Paul valued the prophetic, he wished that everyone would prophesy and urged all to pursue that gifting. (See I Corinthians 14.) Back in the day it was the sons of Issachar who could understand the times and the seasons and could tell Israel what to do (I Chronicles 12:32). These days those who operate in the prophetic can do likewise, strengthening, encouraging and comforting the faithful and providing much needed direction in these crazy times. The storm is coming, we need to hear Him. Thank God for those watchmen who listen and have the courage to speak out what they are hearing. Of course, we must all dig our own well, so-to-speak. We must train our senses to discern good and evil. We must take every thought captive to the Lord. As much as the prophetic can be a great blessing, it is not a crutch, our trust is always and only in the Lord. We walk by faith and believe that Jesus is still on the throne. God is good, He is always good.