Prophecy and Prophets ~ Part 3

In my last post, we examined that prophecy can be either telling the future aka fore-telling and revealing God’s Word for a particular issue aka forth-telling. In this post, I want to dig into the Spiritual Gift of Prophecy and the Office of the Prophet within the Kehilah in our time.

My go-to source for explaining the Spiritual Gifts listed in the Brit Hadashah is C. Peter Wagner. I highly recommend his “Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow.” For purposes of this post, I will limit the listing of Spiritual Gifts to Sha’ul’s proclamation:

“To one, through the Spirit, is given a word of wisdom; to another, a word of knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit; 9 to another, faith, by the same Spirit; and to another, gifts of healing, by the one Spirit; 10 to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the ability to judge between spirits; to another, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues; and to yet another, the ability to interpret tongues.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (CJB)

Wagner defines the gift of prophecy as:

“The supernatural gift that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His people through a divinely anointed utterance.”

Now, some in the Body (cessationists) maintain that the revelatory gifts such as prophecy and tongues ceased sometime between the deaths of the Apostles and the confirmation of the Brit Hadashah canon. Continuationists believe that all gifts of the Spirit continue according to the sovereign Spirit’s purposes until Yeshua returns. As my Pastor would say, these are disputable matters. I align with the continuationists.

Sha’ul has a lot to say about prophecy and tongues in chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians. When we look carefully at the phenomena he describes and his instructions on their application and evaluation, we find that it aligns more accurately with an understanding of prophecy as Spirit prompted, subordinate revelation that we should expect to be partially or fallibly reported, and therefore intended to be tested against and subject to apostolic and prophetic authoritative revelation contained in the canon of the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah.[1]

“Pursue love! However, keep on eagerly seeking the things of the Spirit; and especially seek to be able to prophesy.” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:1 (CJB) This is not an option; it’s an instruction. It’s not a suggestion it’s an imperative. We need to trust and obey after we have tested the utterance.

All the spiritual gifts are given to the Body and must be under the supervision of the Body. For us, that usually means under the authority of the Pastor and Elders in the local Kehilah.

While fore-telling may be rare in our day, forth-telling should be an everyday occurrence. The Tanakh is replete with examples of the prophets calling Isra’el to repent and return to God. That was the clear message of Yochanan the Immerser and Yeshua’s first proclamation (Mark 1:15).

When was the last time you shared the Gospel message (forth-telling)?

In my next post, I will begin an in-depth study of one of my favorite prophets ~ Yesha’yahu (Isaiah).

[1] Jon Bloom, desiringgod.org.

Prophecy and Prophets ~ Part 2

In my last post, we began this short mini-series on Prophecy & Prophets be looking at some of the named prophets in the Tanakh and Brit Hadashah. I used the definition of a prophet in the Bible from GotQuestion.org: someone who revealed God’s message through writing or speech. The operative phrase here is God’s message.

Both the Tanakh and Brit Hadashah contain many references to false prophets. Their messages are not from God but HaSatan himself. We are warned to test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~ 1 John 4:1 (CJB)

So, what is prophecy; or is it prophesy? Well, prophecy is the noun form and prophesy the verb form. Taking you back to your English instruction, prophecy is the message; prophesy is the instrument of telling the message.

Prophecy can be either telling the future aka fore-telling and revealing God’s Word for a particular issue aka forth-telling.

One of my favorite passages of fore-telling is:

“He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds, we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” ~ Isaiah 53:5-6 (NIV)

Scripture presents fore-telling as a manifestation of God’s power glorifying His Person, exalting His redemptive work in the Messiah, and setting forth the divine character of His revealed Word. We certainly observed God’s power when studying the ministries of Eliyahu and Elisha.

True prophets also have another responsibility to discharge. It was part of their commission to proclaim [prophesy] to my people what rebels they are, to the house of Ya’akov their sins. ~ Isaiah 58:1 (CJB) (see also Ezekiel 22:2; Ezekiel 43:10; Micah 3:8). They were, therefore, pastors and ministerial monitors of the people of God. It was their duty to admonish and reprove, to denounce prevailing sins, to threaten the people with the terrors of divine judgment, and to call them to repentance. Their function differed from that of the priests, the latter approaching God in behalf of humanity using sacrifices, the former coming to the people as ambassadors from God, beseeching them to turn from their evil ways and live. Gee that sounds an awful lot like our modern-day pastors.

The test of a prophet in the Tanakh, whether true or false, was not whether the predictions came true, for even the predictions of false prophets could come true. The test was rather whether the people were led in the ways of God (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Jerimiah 23:21-22,29-32). Nevertheless, if a prophet made a bold assertion that the prediction would come true and it did not, it was a false prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:22). If prophets were truly God’s messengers, their chief concern was not with foretelling events, but with leading people to repentance and obedience (Micah 3:8; 7:18; Zephaniah 2:1-3). Those tests are still true today.

Many of you may have been reading through The Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan recently and read in the final chapter His warning: “I warn everyone hearing the words of the prophecy in this book that if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues written in this book. 19 And if anyone takes anything away from the words in the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the Tree of Life and the holy city, as described in this book.” ~ Revelation 22:18-19 (CJB) Like so many passages of Scripture, that can be a tough one to interpret.

In my next post, I want to dig into the Spiritual Gift of Prophecy and the Office of the Prophet within the Kehilah in our time.

Click here for PDF version.

Prophecy and Prophets ~ Part 1 

In my last post, we concluded our exploration of the life of Elisha as we learned of Elisha’s Death. As I stated then, after studying the lives of Eliyahu and Elisha, I wanted to look at this whole concept of what is a prophet and are prophets still on the scene today. I had been intrigued with Eliyahu and Elisha because they were prominent figures in the Tanakh but had not written one of the canonical prophetic books.

Despite my verse-by-verse exploration of Revelation in the End Times Series during 2017, I don’t consider myself a “prophesy nut or expert.” I am quite satisfied that God is still on the throne and only He knows when He will return to vanquish the wicked and begin His millennial rule.

A reliable source tells me that at least two more years will be needed to reach the last known people groups on planet earth that have not heard the Gospel message, don’t have the Bible in their language and have not formed a local Kehilah. That said, why am I interested in exploring further what is a prophet and are prophets still on the scene today?

I started the research for this series not in my extensive library, but on Google. My query for a list of prophets in the Bible led me to GotQuestions. Their definition for who was a prophet is “someone in the Bible who revealed God’s message to others.” Note the past tense in that definition. Some heard directly from God and passed on the words through writing or speech. Some interpreted dreams or visions of others. The messages could be prophecies of the future, messages for the listener, or warnings for others.

Interestingly, Noach was the first name on the list. I recalled that God talked to him several times as recorded in Genesis 6-9, but I didn’t recall Noach talking to his neighbors about what God had told him. Messianic Jews 11:7 has been interpreted by some to mean that God told Noach to preach against his evil neighbors, but I don’t see that. By trusting, Noach, after receiving divine warning about things as yet unseen, was filled with holy fear and built an ark to save his household. Through this trusting, he put the world under condemnation and received the righteousness that comes from trusting.” ~ Hebrews 11:7 (CJB) OK, so his righteous living in trusting God to build the ark was a witness to his faith.

The list goes on with some notable patriarchs and others, including Avraham, Ya’akov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon, Miriam and the seventy elders of Israel (see Numbers 11:25). The list goes on to identify twenty others by name and multitude unnamed prophets before Eliyahu and Elisha arrive on the scene.

The last prophet to prophecy in Israel was Mal’akhi until the angel visited Z’kharyah, the father of Yochanan the Immerser. Mal’akhi’s message was a call to obedience and a promise of the coming Messiah. Following his oracle, there was a divine silence for 400 years.  Sometime down the road, I may do another character study on one of the other prophets in the Tanakh.

The list of named prophets in the Brit Hadashah is much shorter. As mentioned above, Z’kharyah is first on their list followed by Miryam, Elisheva, Shim’on, and Hannah all surrounding the birth of Yeshua. So much for the end of divine silence. Yochanan the Immerser spent his life exhorting people to confess their sins, turn to God and follow Yeshua. There is a multitude of others in the Brit Hadashah mentioned in the list which we look at in future posts.

In my next post, I want to dig into the references in my library to see if we can pin down a definition of prophecy and what makes someone a prophet. Not yet sure when I will get to the spiritual gift of prophecy and the office of the prophet within the Kehilah, but we will cover that as well.

Click here for PDF version.

 

 

 

What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 5

In my last post, we began to look at the issue of the Abomination of Desolation.  In this post we will conclude that topic as we continue to explore the Olivet Discourse.

The Abomination of the Desolation (cont.)

“For there will be trouble then [at the time of the abomination] worse than there has ever been from the beginning of the world until now, and there will be nothing like it again!  Indeed, if the length of this time had not been limited, no one would survive; but for the sake of those who have been chosen, its length will be limited.  At that time, if someone says to you, ‘Look! Here’s the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ don’t believe him.  For there will appear false Messiahs and false prophets performing great miracles — amazing things! — so as to fool even the chosen, if possible.  There! I have told you in advance!  So if people say to you, ‘Listen! He’s out in the desert!’ don’t go; or, ‘Look! He’s hidden away in a secret room!’ don’t believe it.  For when the Son of Man does come, it will be like lightning that flashes out of the east and fills the sky to the western horizon.  Wherever there’s a dead body, that’s where you find the vultures.” ~ Matthew 24:21-28 (CJB)

The prophet Daniel wrote, “When that time comes, Mikha’el, the great prince who champions your people, will stand up; and there will be a time of distress unparalleled between the time they became a nation and that moment.  At that time, your people will be delivered, everyone whose name is found written in the book.” (Daniel 12:1).

Great suffering is in store for God’s people throughout the years ahead.  This way of describing the future is also used by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:7).  The time would be evil and filled with suffering.  This language may sound like an exaggeration, but it is not unusual in Scripture when describing an impending disaster.  The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that when the Romans sacked Yerushalayim and devastated Judea, one hundred thousand Jews were taken prisoner and another 1.1 million died by slaughter and starvation. Continue reading “What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 5”

What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 4

In my last post, we looked at more warnings of the END TIMES.  In this post, we will begin to learn what we should do as Believers when the signs come to fruition.

Recall that Matthew 24 and 25 are known as the Olivet Discourse since Yeshua was sharing with His talmidim on the Mount of Olives.  We may interpret the Olivet Discourse, as with most Tanakh prophecies, as having a double fulfillment.  Yeshua was predicting the destruction of Yerushalayim and the END TIMES.  The references are interwoven so that themes from both the fall of Yerushalayim and the Second Coming occur as one expression of God’s judgment on unbelievers and deliverance for Believers.  However, in the first part of the prophecy, the destruction of Yerushalayim is more prominent; in the second part, the last days before Yeshua’s return are more prominent.

The Abomination of Desolation

“So when you see the abomination that causes desolation spoken about through the prophet Dani’el standing in the Holy Place (let the reader understand the allusion), that will be the time for those in Y’hudah to escape to the hills. If someone is on the roof, he must not go down to gather his belongings from his house; if someone is in the field, he must not turn back to get his coat.  What a terrible time it will be for pregnant women and nursing mothers!  Pray that you will not have to escape in winter or on Shabbat.” ~ Matthew 24:15-20

Daniel 9:27 tells of the abomination that causes desolation.  “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.  And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” ~ Daniel 9:27 (ESV)

Several times in Jewish history it was thought that Dani’el’s prophecy was being fulfilled – most notably during the days of the Maccabees when Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king, ordered that an altar to the Greek god Zeus be constructed in the Temple (167 BCE).  He also decreed that swine and other unclean animals were to be sacrificed there, that the Sabbath was to be profaned, and that circumcision was to be abolished.  The cleansing of the restored Temple led to the celebration we now know as Hanukkah.  Interestingly, that celebration is not contained in the canon of the Tanakh, but is mentioned in John 10:22-23 while Yeshua was in Yerushalayim. Continue reading “What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 4”