A vision from a prophet

translucent_red_lein_flower_221583.jpgEzekiel 7:26: Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients.

Should New Testament Christians seek out prophets? No! Emphatic no! The bible says that as many as are led by the Holy Spirit are the children of God (Romans 8:14). We are meant to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2Peter 3:18); we are meant to not be fools but understand what the will of God is (Ephesians 5:17); we are meant to grow up, not remain spoon-fed like babes but mature in understanding (1Corinthians 14:20); not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, but grow up into the fullness of the statute of Christ (Ephesians 4:13-14). That cannot be achieved when you perpetually seek out prophets for guidance.

Paul prayed for the Ephesians that the eyes of their understanding to be opened (Ephesians 1:15-21); that they will realise and live in the full reality of the enormous power of God at work in them, which was the same which raised Jesus from the dead. He wanted them to realise that they are not ordinary.

The Old Testament order of things when it comes to prophet is different from the New Testament order of things. In the old the people of Israel do not individually have the Holy Spirit, but we do now through Jesus Christ.

We are not ordinary. The bible says that he who believes in Jesus will speak in new tongues, will cast out devils, will lay hands on the sick and they will recover (Mark 16:15-18). Talk about internal capabilities! These things that are the common patrimony of believers in Christ Jesus were scarce (or nonexistent) in the Old Testament. There was no manifestation of power of God in individual lives of Christians as we have now because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individual Christians.

The ministers of the gospel are not supposed to cultivate dependency on themselves in the people they lead. Leading people to Christ should not end when someone answers the altar call; it also should be all you do as spiritual leaders afterwards, constantly placing Christ before their eyes as the ultimate one. You are not (and cannot be) the ultimate one.

Paul writing to the Corinthians church said that he has betrothed them to one man Jesus and they should have only devotion to him (2Corinthians 11:1-3), not to a prophet, or anyone with claim to any other spiritual credential whatsoever.

Jesus has made available for his body five ministry gifts, of which the prophet is key (Ephesians 4:8-11). Therefore we cannot diminish the role of prophets in our days as members of the body of Christ. However, a careful reading of the New Testament does not suggest that the role of prophets is for Christians to obtain personal direction from God through them.

It did not happen anywhere in the New Testament. The first time we encounter the operation of prophets in the book of Acts, was in a prayer group (Acts 13:1-3). We have Judas (not the one who betrayed Jesus) and Silas whom we are told preaches (Acts 15:32), exhorting the people (not offering consultation for spiritual guidance in the name of being prophets). We also see Agabus, who spoke of an impending famine (Acts 11:27-30), and of the impending incarceration of Paul (Acts 21:10-14).

The people of God in the church in Antioch who were recipients of the former word, made a decision to gather their resources together in response to that word. But they did not “seek a vision of a prophet” as God said of rebellious Israel did in the focus verse.

Paul was not moved by the prophetic word Agabus made about him.

The target people for the prophetic word of the focus verse were rebuked by God because they draw near to God with their mouth but their heart is far from him.

God told Ezekiel that though the people come to him to him to hear the word of the Lord, they are only pretending. They only see came to him for entertainment, not for any serious thing like hearing the word of the Lord, because they will not obey it because their hearts hardened (Ezekiel 33:30-33, 36:26).

God told Jeremiah that the people who have come to him vowing that they will do whatever God says through him, are lying, they have already made up their mind on what they will do. They want to see if they can use the word of God to validate the error of their heart (Jeremiah 42:1-43:7).

Let’s apply the word of God to both prophets to our experience as Christians who seek God for ourselves, by ourselves.

We should not approach God or the things of God with levity, but with all seriousness (anything can happen). Also we need not come with any preconceived notion. We need to embrace the truth of God, as we seek him for it, and take steps accordingly in obedience.

We are born again by faith (Ephesians 2:8); our ongoing relationship with him must also be by faith (Romans 1:17. Hebrews 10:38). What that implies is that even hearing from God takes faith. It is wrong for you to prioritise hearing from prophets over hearing from God yourself, relegating the Holy Spirit in you to merely supplying you with good feeling. He wants to give you guidance in the ways of God for you, based on your personal relationship with him.

Paul wrote that eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, nor have it entered into the heart of men what God had prepared for you and I but they are revealed to us by the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned. Another reality we have is that we have the mind of Christ. That means we have the capability to see the ways of God (1Corinthians 2:9-16).

But to experience those, first of all you need to take a personal responsibility for your relationship with God (and not have a relationship with God through a proxy, either prophet or “priest”). The relationship that God wants to have with you is not a general relationship, but one-on-one.

Though you can’t see him, you should relate to him by faith. The bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), because the one who comes to God must believe that he is and a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. We should seek God, and we should have the faith/assurance that we will be rewarded with clear guidance from him, by so doing.

Secondly, you must know that God hears you when you call. Jesus speaking loudly and publicly of God said: I know that you always hear me (John 11:41-42). John wrote that we should be assured that when we ask God for anything, he hears us and gives us our request (1John 5:14-15), guidance inclusive (Psalm 31:3).

Thirdly, we should be assured that God will guide us and not be afraid that maybe he won’t, since we are his children and the bible says that as many as children of God are promised guidance by the Spirit of God. We should not see ourselves as being far from God and in need of help from anyone to hear from Him.

Fourthly, when you hear the instructions from God you need faith to step out on that word for it to bring results in our lives. The problem is: people are disobedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within (ignoring and neglecting it), because of their wilfulness.

Take the lid of what you think is possible for you in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that your faith-for-guidance muscle can be exercised on a daily basis to obey his promptings.

 

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