Finding Our Way Back To Our Roots – Part Three

The best way I know of to get in touch with our prophetic roots is to go back to the foundations laid out for us in the scripture. What are those roots? Do they include prophesying about political leaders and ideologies? Some would say so since Old Testament prophets anointed and prophesied to kings. It should be noted, however, that only three kings were anointed and set in place by prophets. Samuel anointed Saul and David, and Elijah anointed Jehu, to take down Jezebel. Most of the kings assumed the throne based on the Royal Family lines.

When the prophets did speak to Israel’s kings, most often it was to correct them because of their failure to keep the covenant with God.

This message often extended to and included their court officials, religious leaders, (priests), false prophets, the rich, and then people in general. It should also be pointed out, that when these prophets prophesied against the aforementioned authorities, their message wasn’t well received and they were often, imprisoned, persecuted, and sometimes killed. It was the false prophets that supported corrupt cultures and leaders, often calling true prophets traitors and enemies of the kingdom. Jeremiah’s story perfectly encapsulates this picture. As a counterculture prophet, he spoke out against idolatry, religious nationalism, consumerism, and unjust and oppressive practices. He spoke against any alliance that led to trusting men rather than having a wholehearted trust in Jehovah to be their security.  He denounced the pursuit of power, wealth, comfort, and privilege that sustained kings, princes, prophets, and priests while the poor, the widows, the immigrants, the workers, and the marginalized were trampled underfoot, exploited, and ignored. What was his reward for being a faithful messenger? He was labeled a traitor, was beaten, imprisoned, held in stocks, and survived an assignation attempt. It could be a risky thing to hold the line on the covenant and the first and second commandments in a culture that prized privilege over justice and power over mercy. Still, Jeremiah completely fulfilled the basic role of the Old Testament prophet, which was to call the nation to “love the Lord their God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love their neighbor as themselves.” As Jesus would later declare, “All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments”, (Matt 22:40). That command became the measuring line for the prophets as Israel strayed farther from her covenant with God. In the end, as Jeremiah prophesied to the last of Judah’s kings, mercy gave way to judgment and judgment to destruction and exile. All this history takes the glamor and shine off being a prophet, and anointing ‘kings’ while people wave banners and blow shofars. Before moving on from the Old Testament prophetic roots, it should be pointed out that God has a unique history with the nation of Israel and the Old Testament prophets had their own unique place in that history. God chose Abraham out of the nations and made a covenant with him. That covenant was developed over generations through many other leaders with the constant reminder to the people that they were uniquely God’s treasure in the earth. We, as the American church and American people, do not share that same uniqueness and calling any more than any other nation apart from Israel.

While we can ‘borrow’ Old Testament stories and promises to teach us and lead us, we don’t get to appropriate Israel’s special place and history with God for blanket application to our nation and for our purposes. It might humble us a bit to realize that seventy to eighty percent of the global church lives outside of our borders and are as precious to God as we are.

Looking at Our New Testament Prophetic Roots –

There was a notable shift regarding prophetic ministry and prophets after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. After the Spirit was poured out on ‘all’ flesh, all of the church could hear God’s voice and function in the gift of prophecy, albeit, not with the same authority as the Old Testament prophets. The role of the prophet also changed. Instead of being the conscience of the nation, New Testament prophets became part of a team whose goal was to strengthen and equip the church, teach her to know Christ, and walk in established maturity. Where Old Testament prophets focused on the nation of Israel, New Testament prophets worked with apostles, pastors, evangelists, and teachers to establish the church. The focus was on the ‘Bride’, not the Governor or King. Thereis no record of New Testament prophets predicting up-and-coming political leaders or engaging in national political ideologies. John the Baptist was the ‘bridge’ prophet between the Old Testament and Jesus’ appearance. His main focus was to prepare the way for the Chief Prophet, Priest, and King, Jesus, by calling a people to repentance and humility in preparing their hearts to follow him.

But John did speak to one king. He called King Herod out for his adultery. That wouldn’t be very popular today. It cost him his head.

After Pentecost, there are some descriptions of the work of New Testament prophets in the Book of Acts, such as Agabus, Silas, and others, mostly connected to the Antioch church but there is no real job description outside of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In chapter four Paul gave a bare-bones description of the Five-Fold Ministry. They were all to focus on bringing the church into the place of first and second commandment love, equipping the saints for good works, establishing sound doctrine and unity, while teaching her to discern false doctrines, trends, and conspiracy theories, bringing the church into wholehearted love where she would become the fulness of Christ in the earth. The message that knits the Old and New Testaments together is the continuing call to love God with everything and to love people as God loves them. It’s only possible to do this through Christ. Jesus is our example, as he came to fulfill the law and the prophets. Repeatedly, we see him as the face of love, the face of mercy, the face of forgiveness, the face of sacrifice, the face of compassion, the face of God. We only see his anger stirred when dealing with religious people whose own power, privilege, place, and comfort were their priorities. Everywhere else we see mercy, compassion, and action on behalf of those neglected and looked down on by the religious and political powers of the day. He embodied the full message of the Old Testament prophets, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. John described him in Revelation 19:10 as the ultimate example of the prophet, saying that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Paul gave us the greatest summation of the testimony of Jesus in Philippians chapter two where he describes Jesus giving up heaven with all its privileges and power to come to earth and be born to parents of poverty, in a barn. Then to live life as a servant, even to the point of death on the cross, and then raised to the right hand of God. This is the example of the Prophet Jesus; selfless, sacrificial, first and second commandment life completely exemplified. This is the call on the New Testament gift and office of the prophet. He is the cornerstone, the foundation, and the root of New Testament prophecy.

He didn’t spend much time in the company of kings, the wealthy, or the religiously influential. He didn’t prophesy to political leaders because they had nothing to offer Him.

He gave himself for His Bride, and the last recorded words He spoke in Revelation were not to earthly leaders but to His church, in Revelations two and three. Most of the praise Jesus gave to the churches centered around their adherence to first and second commandment ideals, sacrificial love and devotion, and embracing the suffering that came from testing and persecution. Most of the correction centered around tolerating false doctrines, teachers, prophets, and immorality, while embracing comfort and riches over sacrifice and love; clinging to false perceptions over honest humility, confession, and repentance. There are no references to political ideologies or worldly kings. No ‘us against them’ references. Rather it is an elaboration of the Ephesians 4 picture of what the church should look like, and what fivefold ministry should produce. I believe we need prophetic voices who will begin to call for this return, who are willing to abandon their rights, their popularity, their comfort, and their place to call the church out of its comfort, out of political dependence on any leader, and back into wholehearted love for the King. Prophets who are not afraid of people, accountability, or correction. Prophets who are not tied to financial platforms of ministry, and who are not afraid of the repercussions of speaking the truth. The ‘Jeremiahs’ of the New Testament. Prophets who carry God‘s heart for mercy, compassion, justice, and love for the oppressed, and the willingness to speak the truth to the comfortable and pharisaic within the church. Prophets who will bring us back to our roots. Blessings – Jeff

Has The Prophetic Movement Shifted From Its Roots? Part Two

I concluded the last article with a summation of where the prophetic movement seemed to be headed toward the end of 2014. I began to see a shift, with an increasing practice of prophesying in the political realm about rising political leaders. This wasn’t an entirely new practice, but the emphasis on this arena and the amount of attention given to it by the church was at a higher level than I had ever observed. I watched as this movement connected increasingly with conservative right-wing politics, and later, the crystallizing force of Donald Trump. All this was taking place against the backdrop of a portion of the evangelical church choosing to align more with the Republican party, and in some quarters, an increasingly far-right-wing movement.   The pinnacle came in 2016 when many prophetic voices publicly declared that God told them Trump would win the presidential election. When he did, a large portion of the Evangelical/Charismatic church responded as if heaven was applauding and endorsing Donald Trump as the new King David, God’s anointed to save America and protect the church.

The American Evangelical Church now had a ‘God appointed’ ally on the presidential throne.

One who promised to fight for the rights of Christians and defend their values and their faith. (I’m not bashing Donald Trump here, he is just a man, a politician like so many who have come before). I’m just pointing out what anyone could have observed regarding the evangelical church’s endorsement.

One who was ushered in by the words of the prophets, who would protect the church from the evils of the world and defend the church against her liberal, immoral political enemies on the left. I noticed a rising toxicity within the church toward anyone who did not support Donald Trump, recognize him as God’s anointed, or vote Republican. I honestly heard people say things like, “If you vote Democrat, you can’t be a Christian.” There were strong insinuations that to speak against Trump was to speak against God Himself. I observed an increasing ‘us against them’ mentality emerge in much of the church with very little prophetic pushback against these attitudes or the increasing conspiracy theories supporting this line of thought. I watched compassion, empathy, and care for the poor, oppressed, and marginalized decrease. Christians identifying as democrats and anyone opposing a right-wing conservative Christianity were demonized as hell-bound, their salvation deeply questioned. Over time I became increasingly concerned that a portion of the church was abandoning the roots of the gospel message and was becoming nationalistic in its doctrine and culture. The idea of being American and Christian was almost synonymous and to disagree with the direction of the Whitehouse and the Christian right was to disagree with God himself. Many prophetic voices flowed with this current, their fanbases coming into full agreement, posting their own ‘visions’ and ‘dreams’ as confirmation. I am not speaking in favor of the left or the right, Democrats or Republicans but am simply describing a movement within a part of the church that you would have had to be blind to miss. I believe Kingdom values will always be above cultural and political values and prophetic values should align with Kingdom values above all else.     

The Crash

All of this come to a head in the 2020 elections where dozens of prophetic voices publicly predicted another victory for Trump, and part of the church that was beginning to lean towards Christian nationalism applauded these words with great excitement.  A fanbase that was as much for its American Constitutional Rights as it was for the Bible applauded and posted confirming words and dreams across social media.

Then the unthinkable happened.

After all the conservative right-wing prayers and prophecies, Donald Trump lost the election. (Yes, he did lose, the election wasn’t stolen, it’s been proven over and over). To say that the prophetic movement took a major hit would be an understatement. How could this be? How could they have gotten it wrong? How could Trump lose? Wasn’t God on our side? Someone needed to explain. It took a little while, but eventually many of those who predicted a Trump victory repented for their ‘words’ and said they got it wrong. Reasons for missing it varied, (I’m only human, I stepped out without waiting for clarification, I didn’t want to disagree with what the other prophets were saying, I felt the pressure of people to have the word, etc.). The response to their confessions from their respective fan bases further revealed the toxicity that existed and still exists within this faction of the church. Many of these prophetic voices who repented were rebuked, labeled as traitors, referred to as un-patriotic, received death threats to themselves and their families, and lost a lot of their followers and financial support. This says a lot about the state of the church and the current blend of nationalism and faith.  How do you call yourself a believer and threaten to kill someone’s family? Even now there are still those who claim to be ‘prophetic voices’ that are predicting the removal of our current president, making the way for Donald Trump to return to the White House. Those who were convinced that the prophets were right about Trump, and shouldn’t have repented, have bought into this line of thinking. In their minds, evil forces have somehow slipped in, deceived, and foiled the plan of God. This doesn’t say much for the power of a Sovereign God who raises up and brings down kings, and to whom the nations are but a ‘drop in the bucket’. Perhaps He was too distracted by the pandemic and the elections slipped by him! The dates for the second coming of Trump continue to pass with different prophetic revelations and explanations as to the delays. The result of all this is that the gift of prophecy, and prophetic ministry in general, has become despised. The hijacking of this wonderful gift and office to support political candidates and ideologies has damaged the credibility of both the office and the gift. As previously stated, multitudes have wondered why the prophets missed it, and how all of this could happen. My point here isn’t to criticize the former president or comment on the state of America. Politicians come and go, most no better or worse than their predecessors. But why at this point in history would we get it so wrong? Perhaps God allowed it to humble the church, and to humble the prophetic, and to bring us back to our roots. In first Thessalonians 5:19-21, Paul told us not to despise prophecy, but prove all things and test all things and hold fast that which is good. Which leads to the question “Why would people despise prophecy?” “What could take place that would cause people to be skeptical and cynical about a gift that has the potential to bring encouragement to so many people?” I think the answer lies not so much with the gift, but with those who have not used it wisely. At the end of the day, people despise the prophetic when it makes promises that aren’t fulfilled and brings disappointment instead of hope. This is compounded when there appears to be no accountability for words that miss it, especially when they take place on a grand public stage, on all types of media outlets, where millions can be affected by those words. Missing it on this stage isn’t like missing it in a small church service that is mostly out of the public eye, (though accountability on the small stages would be a good start). These mistakes don’t just affect the prophets or the gifted. They can affect millions of people. And once a ‘word’ leaves our mouths, it’s out there, there’s no bringing it back. Therefore, people end up despising prophecy. This explains why some who operate in the prophetic are changing the language they use to describe what they do because of the contempt that has been poured out on the prophetic for its misuse. They love the gift, and the movement, but are looking for a new language to express it because the old language, has been hijacked and used for contexts that have strayed from its basic roots. Where are we missing it? In what ways are we going wrong? Maybe we have lost touch with our prophetic roots and foundations laid out for us in the scriptures. I will explore this in Part Three of this series. Until then, stay steady, keep loving God, keep loving people, and let the Holy Spirit continue to refine your prophetic gift.