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Monday, December 28, 2009

To Prophesy: Human Predictions or God’s Proclamations?

     Many so-called ‘Prophets of God’ on the Internet and in church pulpits throughout the country are caught up with making predictions about the end of the world, claiming they can see various signs in media that concur with their interpretation of Bible prophecies. They claim that God tells them (in the Book of Joel, especially) that in the end times they will possess certain powers to discern signs and wonders that reveal to them the imminent return of Jesus Christ, preceded by Armageddon. The biggest sign they believe came about when the State of Israel was formed in 1948.
     They claim that in the book of Acts they read that 'In the last days,' God said, 'I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,” and that many will have dreams and visions about the impending doom spoken of in the Book of Revelation. They call this “the latter rain” which is supposed to be the fulfillment of what they believe Joel stated in his book, chapter 2: verse 23.
"Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord Your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first [month] " (Joel 2:23).
     They claim that the former rain represents the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and the latter rain represents a recent (and) greater outpouring than before. It is not only going to be the rain, the former rain and the latter rain, but he is going to give to His people in these last days a double portion of the power of God!
     First of all, no mention is ever made in this verse about any double portion! Secondly, we know that the "last days" began right after The Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. But, yet, too many people will conveniently introduce their subjective perceptions, inferences and conclusions, rather than reading what God's words truly say:
     The word moderately in Joel 2:23 defines the Hebrew word, ts@daqah {tsed-aw-kaw'}, which literally means justice, righteousness and has nothing to do with proportionality! If one will check through their Strong's or any other concordance, the word, ts@daqah {tsed-aw-kaw'}, is always rendered justice, righteousness in hundreds of usage's, except here in Joel 2:23. Yet, theorists will continue to translate this word as "moderation," as if to mean God disproportionately poured out His Holy Spirit in limited measure on The Day of Pentecost. This is to minimize the glory of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

     This is why we must question most so-called visions, predictions and prophecies (that are not already recorded in God's word), especially those that contain certain (erroneously interpreted) words squeezed into their theorizing. This is dangerous stuff.
     I don't question visionaries intentions. Maybe they feel they do have a special gift of predicting future events based on their interpretation of certain Bible verses. Who knows? Joel did say young men will have visions and old men will have dreams once the Holy Spirit has been poured out. And many of the folks on the Day of Pentecost did have dreams and visions. However, I see no record in the Bible of the disciples proclaiming any new visions or specific predictions after that great day other than what was already written in OT scripture. Holy Spirit power gifts were poured out on them to edify and embolden the already existing ecclesia, a people called out to do God’s work. Those Holy Spirit gifts were poured out on The Day of Pentecost in their fullest power! (See John 3:34) 
Let us examine them, as cited in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11:

"Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines, (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)."
  William Miller, Baptist Preacher

     As a reminder, we must be able to understand the true (etymological) rendering of the word PROPHECY. Too many (well intended) Christians confuse the word PROPHECY in the above verse (10) with the word PREDICTION. There have been many people throughout history who have claimed (and made) many predictions in past times. People like Jean Dixon, Nostradamus, and Edgar Cayce (and even the renowned Baptist preacher William Miller's prediction that the Lord would return in 1843). Some predictions by the above mentioned prognosticators have come true (or were interpreted as or resembled the prediction), but not poor Bill Miller's. His date-setting predictions, as so many other preachers throughout history, have failed to see the return of Christ, much less Armageddon. We must trust the Holy Spirit to believe that many of these so-called visions and predictions derive from satanic origins.
     Let's examine the true rendering of the word, PROPHECY, according to W.E. Vine’s Greek Dictionary:

     A-1,Noun,4394,propheteia; signifies "the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God" (pro, "forth," phemi, "to speak:" see PROPHET); in the NT it is used (a) of the gift, e.g., Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; 13:2; (b) either of the exercise of the gift or of that which is "prophesied," e.g., Matt. 13:14; 1 Cor. 13:8; 14:6,22; 1 Thess. 5:20, "prophesying (s);" 1 Tim. 1:18; 4:14; 2 Pet. 1:20,21; Rev. 1:3; 11:6; 19:10; 22:7,10,18,19. "Though much of OT prophecy was purely predictive, see Micah 5:2, e.g., and cp. John 11:51, prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means, Matt. 26:68, it is the foretelling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future, see Gen. 20:7; Deut. 18:18; Rev. 10:11; 11:3. ...
     "In such passages as 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 2:20, the 'prophets' are placed after the 'Apostles,' since not the prophets of Israel are intended, but the 'gifts' of the ascended Lord, Eph. 4:8,11; cp. Acts 13:1; ...; the purpose of their ministry was to edify, to comfort, and to encourage the believers, 1 Cor. 14:3, while its effect upon unbelievers was to show that the secrets of a man's heart are known to God, to convict of sin, and to constrain to worship, 1 Cor. 14:24,25.
     "With the completion of the canon of Scripture prophecy apparently passed away, 1 Cor. 13:8,9. In his measure the teacher has taken the place of the prophet, cp. the significant change in 2 Pet. 2:1. The difference is that, whereas the message of the prophet was a direct revelation of the mind of God for the occasion, the message of the teacher is gathered from the completed revelation contained in the Scriptures." (W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

     This all brings us back to the whole issue of "Latter Rain.” This is obviously the bedrock of Pentecostalism. While I don't reject that many people have been brought near to Christ through the Pentecostal movement (as I was), I believe the word clearly states that God poured out His Holy Spirit in its fullest measure on The Day of Pentecost, and that power has been here for our asking and taking unto ourselves ever since. It is to insult the power of God (and the Holy Spirit) to believe He didn't have enough power to imbue and sustain the church to its fullest with these great gifts on the Day of Pentecost over two thousand years ago. To make claims that God has plans to "kick it up a notch," (only for certain people) is to support a theory that His power was insufficient at Pentecost, and that He poured out only a certain proportion (or dispensations) as premillennialists’ believe.
     If we do see any future (demonstrative) revivals, such as those people claim happen at evangelical conferences and rallies being held in large auditoriums and football fields throughout the nation by the likes of Kenneth Copeland, Robert Tilton, Rod Parsley, and the other Benny Hinn's of the world, they will not be of God. If we see masses of people claiming to have suddenly come to Christ due to any unique predictions by those who believe they possess the gift of (predictive) PROPHECY, it will not be of God.
     Some see a church grow in numbers and call that a revival. However, numerical growth can take place even in an unrevived organization. Even malignant tumors can grow. But revival is not numerical growth. For others, a revival is a series of special meetings. Feel Good meetings! True revival is not about feeling good; it’s about surrendering your life to God and doing good. Not doing good things to be accepted by God, but doing good things because God has accepted our belief in Him, and what He has done through Jesus Christ. True revival is not manifested by the masses coming to Him at the behest of charismatic preachers who claim to be faith healers and visionaries; and now, a myriad of former celebrities claiming they have become Christians, as well as modern day singers and musicians, however famous, talented and eloquent they may be.
     Revival begins with individual repentance on the part of God’s people: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (II Chronicle 7:14, KJV) Revival is personal and in essence is God’s people individually returning to and pursuing God. It is not about filling of beautiful church buildings or stadiums with people looking for new and or euphoric experiences, but it’s the filling of people minds and hearts with God’s presence through the power of Holy Spirit gifts.
     True revival will be individual. True revival will be in our own back yard and it will not be a revival of the masses. It will come when individual men and woman will begin to turn to God in a humble but yet greater measure. It will come about because more and more people will pursue God with greater measure and access His power to do mighty things. And, these mighty things will not be extolling fanciful predictions about people and places in this time or that time, those vain announcements designed to heap glory unto them, as if they are more holy or gifted than others. By mighty things I mean humbling ourselves before God, praying for Holy Spirit-powered gifts that will help us bring our loved ones and friends to pursue Christ; praying for our respective neighbors and community concerns within our framework of day to day living. It’s being salt in the bland world of carnality. Touching lives in ways that those we come in contact will see Christ in us, not us in Christ! It’s being lights that will illuminate the message, not (us) the messengers. Messengers that ensure God receives the glory, rather than seeing how spirit-filled we in vain glory and fleshly desire want ourselves to be seen by others.
     For people to continue to present themselves as possessing unique and esoteric dreams and visions, as if they are more special or gifted than others, is sheer flesh and seeks wordly glory. To present to others so-called predictive prophecies as if they are coming from God, couched with a King James accented vernacular (as if this gives it greater credence), claiming that God had given them new details about future (and specific) events, is vanity, sheer unadulterated flesh.
     Many who feel compelled to present these sorts of predictive utterances may have been blessed with the gift of wisdom and knowledge. Many have obviously gained much knowledge because they pursue (relentlessly) God and His word. However, I fail to believe that God respects them anymore than any other human being who is seeking God and His truth; and He obviously reveals more to those who actively pursue Him and His wisdom.
     But as we pursue Him through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are assured that His word is complete. As the Holy Spirit reveals God, His nature and His attributes, we should be inclined to praise and worship Him. But, rather than praise and worship Him for who He is and what He has done through Jesus Christ, too many are focused on trying to gain points with God by trying to impress others that they have received specific details about people, places and future events. They believe this is due to a “latter rain” (implying the Holy Spirit) is now being poured out in greater measure than on The Day of Pentecost. They fail to see that the prophecy of Joel 2:23 was fulfilled in all its glory and in all its power on that great day, over two thousand years ago!
     God is here, He is everywhere, and His power is 100 percent active. He has poured Himself out in the personification of the Holy Spirit amongst ALL flesh. It is His creation that fails to pursue this power that He has made available to those who not only believe in Him, but those who praise and worship who He is.
     There is nothing new under the sun! No new esoteric visions, no new predictions about tribulations, wars and rumors of wars and especially about the political machinations related to the country we now know as Israel in the Middle East! This prophetic/vision mentality (interpreting CNN news items as if it’s God's new revelations) is the sifting sand foundation of the Left Behind notions of the Hal Lindsey's, Tim LaHaye's, Tommy Ice's, Benny Hinn's, et al. It is a diabolical tool being used for present day political influence and gains and (most of all) to heap financial profit and vain glory on these ill-fated messengers themselves. Nothing else!
     Sadly, the normally theologically uninformed media and motion picture industry have jumped onto this premillennial dispensationalism bandwagon by producing movies such as “2012” and “The DaVinci Code” and other similar films written by religious speculators and charlatans. Joining them on television are news channels filled with gloom and doom stories as well as those who are producing documentaries on the History, Discovery and Sci-Fi Channels and other cable shows presenting programs concerning the end of the world, Aztec Calendar, Mayan, Hopi Indian and Nostradamus and other esoteric predictions contributing to the ‘apocalyptic’ feeding frenzy that is inundating Christendom today.
     True! The world could end today but the so-called predictions being made by ersatz prophets of God are not the harbingers of “latter rain” induced revivals and new messengers sent to proclaim the end of days through various and nonsensical predictions.
     To my friends and loved ones who seek spiritual validation (call it revival, if you must), I say, seek not new things but let's humble ourselves, and PURSUE GOD! Let's wait upon HIM to reinvigorate our souls through prayer and worship! Praise and worship come first. Then the Holy Spirit can find room in our hearts to receive His power gifts. That's true revival! Then we can read and study and meditate on His word together to guide us in all things that God truly wills in our earthly journey.
     After we humble ourselves, worship and pray to God, seeking His wisdom, if nothing of a predictive nature comes before us, don’t be surprised. If we don't receive any visions concerning floods will occur next week in Memphis, tornadoes in Toledo, scorching heat waves in El Paso, so be it. If we hear or read that President Barack Obama will be captured by UFO’s, Brittany Spears will marry an aborigine from Brazil, or whether Fidel Castro will have a baby in the year 2012, so be it. These novel and fascinating revelations will not be from God!
     If anyone truly believes that God has chosen them to reveal unique and dated information about specific people, places and events (that are not already recorded in the Bible), I encourage you to begin praying and worshiping God before making these public. If these events do not materialize, ask yourself if you have really been spending time with God to know who He is and what His true will in your life is for Him. I would ask you to seek God in greater measure for the gift of discernment. Remember! Not only will you be held accountable to God for your silly date-setting and non-biblically-based predictions of the future, but your message can cause new children in Christ to follow the wrong path.
     Therefore, it is rather more fruitful for ALL of us to wait on Him and continue in praise, worship and prayer. Most of all let us remember that God doesn't need us to forecast the impending horrors that lay in the imminent future as signs of His soon return. More importantly, we must remember and obey the caveat Jesus gave us in Acts 1:7:"It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority." If that warning Jesus gave us about this verse is truth, then the study of Eschatology is actually in contradistinction to the will and the word of God!    We don't need advanced knowledge of the Father's future plans. What is already written in the word of God is sufficient! We need His grace, mercy and loving kindness, and the wisdom and patience to endure all things. Therefore, we need fulfill His edicts and to worship and praise Him for what He has done in Jesus Christ, and for who He is, ALMIGHTY GOD!
                                                     ~

Due to the great importance concerning the subject of revival, the following comments made by A.W. Tozer (which we believe confirm this message), were added to this post on September 15, 2010):


 To the Individual Only!


     For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad, (2 Corinthians 5:10)
     No church is any better or worse than the individual Christians who compose it....
     One consequence of our failure to see clearly the true nature of revival is that we wait for years for some supernatural manifestation that never comes, overlooking completely our own individual place in the desired awakening. Whatever God may do for a church must be done in the single unit, the one certain man or woman. Some things can happen only to the isolated, single person; they cannot be experienced en mass. Statistics show, for instance, that 100 babies are born in a certain city on a given day. Yet the birth of each baby is for the baby a unique experience, an isolated, personal thing. Fifty people die in a plane crash; while they die together they die separately, one at a time, each one undergoing the act of death in a loneliness of soul as utter as if he alone had died. Both birth and death are experienced by the individual in a loneliness as complete as if only that one person had even known them.
     Three thousand persons were converted at Pentecost, but each one met his sin and his Savior alone. The spiritual birth, like the natural one, is for each one a unique, separate experience shared in by no one. And so with that uprush of resurgent life we call revival. It can come to the individual only. The Size of the Soul, pp14-15, by A.W. Tozer.
                                                     ~


Joe Ortiz is the author of The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation. For more information, visit his web sites by clicking here Joe Ortiz
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