Jeremiah 14:14 Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.”
Jeremiah dealt with false prophets a good bit, and it often wasn’t pretty. Today in secular society we have economists and pollsters and various other pundits who make predictions all the time, and hope we don’t pay attention to what a ridiculously small percentage of those predictions are accurate. We do have people who operate as prophets in the Biblical sense, but they aren’t trumpeted on cable news. The point is, anyone who makes statements about the future should do it in humility, and doubly so if their statements are couched in spiritual terms. The New Testament pattern of genuine prophecy does include speaking of the future, but it is far more a speaking out of whatever God is saying, whether it deals with the future or not. Outside of Pentecostal/Charismatic circles the term, prophecy, is seldom used, but there is an assumption that preachers are speaking for God. The widespread use of the title, Reverend, is an indication of that. Today there are people who go by that title who, if they are speaking, can be safely assumed NOT to be speaking what God is saying! They fit into the description in this verse very well. No human prophet is infallible, but as the saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Paul had some excellent advice on the subject: “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22) Every genuine believer has the Holy Spirit to act as a filter, a gateway to admit God’s truth and shut out lies. We’ve got to ask Him, and trust Him, to do that. Sometimes God says things that don’t “tickle our ears” and delight us, so we must be careful not to reject strong words out of hand, but we conversely must not think that if it’s good, it can’t be God.
This is extremely applicable to me, because I am called as a pastor and teacher and I seek to preach prophetically. I haven’t done much predictive prophecy, but any time I open my mouth I desire that it be God speaking through me. At times I almost envy preachers who “preach through” a book of the Bible, because they never have to wonder what their next message is going to be. At the same time, they often work hard in preparing their messages, whereas I seldom spend a lot of time in direct sermon preparation, but rather “receive messages whole,” as it were, just making an outline of what I feel the Lord is saying. Most of the time when I am preaching I include things that didn’t occur to me at all when I was making the outline! I sometimes feel a little guilty at not laboring over messages, when so many great preachers have done that, but my real preparation time has been the years I have spent with a consistent devotional life, seeking the Lord every morning and talking with Him throughout each day. Usually the Lord indicates what the message is going to be fairly early in the week, and I can get mildly anxious when that doesn’t happen. It was that way this week, but yesterday as I was posting to my blog I felt a confirmation, so now I need to get that into an outline. The important thing is that I say what God wants me to say and not say anything He isn’t saying. If I will do that, I will be safely out of the group described in this verse, and the Body of Christ will be built up.
Father, thank You for this reminder. You have been saying a good bit to Cathy and me recently that hasn’t been stuff I was to speak to the congregation. Help me not close my ears to anything You are saying, but protect me from the lying onslaughts of the enemy, so that I may walk freely in Your truth and lead others to do likewise, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!