“I did not send these prophets, But they ran. I did not speak to them, But they prophesied. “But if they had stood in My council, Then they would have announced My words to My people, And would have turned them back from their evil way And from the evil of their deeds” (Jeremiah 23:21-22).
Yesterday I watched a message preached at a meeting of Pastors and Leaders in Singapore back in 2004 by Art Katz a Messianic Jewish speaker who went to be with the Lord some years ago now. The message was titled; “A Critique of the Prophetic Movement” which was not only timely back then but more so for today as we see multitudes of those claiming to be apostles, prophets and teachers infesting the wider Body of the Messiah who are secretly introducing their destructive heresies as they lay truth and error side by side and perpetrating their doctrines on gullible and undiscerning believers, a conspicuous feature of the last days in which we are now living (2 Peter 2:1-2).
His message challenged me personally about my own lack of spiritual integrity in the sense that I still had many things I needed to get right with the Lord even though Even though I know that the gifts and call of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29), that I needed to spend more time with the Lord, not just petitioning Him, but learning more about worshipping and staying in His presence, a spiritual discipline I really need to cultivate much more every day.
One can know God’s call and gifting and even be conscious of walking in the will of God but still be painfully aware of the fact that apart from the enabling power of the Holy Spirit one at best is a “basket case” spiritually speaking and that one’s opinions do not matter but only what God has said in His Word. Ministers of the Word of God have no authority to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6) (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32) (Proverbs 30:6) (Revelation 22:18-19). Tragically there are many so called ‘prophets’ today running around dispensing personal prophecies of one sort or another, who do not know how to rightly divide the Word of truth.
If they had really stood in God’s presence, as they claim to have done, then they would never give themselves over to the sorts of extremes and nonsense we see spreading like gangrene through the wider Body of the Messiah. Many have joined the “Happy Clappy Club” where prophecies, dreams, visions and manifestations are common place..
In the time of Jeremiah the prophet he prophesied for the Southern Kingdom of Judah in the Land of Israel, especially in the city of Jerusalem. The false prophets were numerous and telling God’s spiritually backslidden people that they would not see the sword or suffer famine and that God would give them lasting peace even though in reality they had long departed from the Lord and rejected His word being given through the prophet Jeremiah. Not only would the people be slain by the sword and experience widespread famine after Jerusalem was besieged and sacked by the Babylonians, but those prophesying falsely would also suffer the same fate. Even though God had not sent them they were into false visions, divinations and idolatries, much as we see today especially over the internet (Jeremiah 14:13-16).
These false prophets were all greedy for gain, practicing deceit and dressing the spiritual sickness of God’s people with superficial ‘dressing’ but not dealing with the real root of this spiritual sickness of unconfessed and un-renounced sinful practices. They were dressing the wounds of the people lightly. Today there is no end of clowns in the pulpits, trendily dressed preachers “strutting their stuff” up front on the platform making people feel good and using jokes and stories to make the people laugh and to feel good about themselves.
In most churches the days are long gone, when, after a sermon the people would go home with a sense of guilt and heaviness feeling their need to repent and get their personal lives right with God. This is not a guilt forced upon them by the preacher, but one that the Spirit of God has produced, not to condemn those having this sense of guilt, but that they might turn away from their sin and repent so that they can have their sins forgiven and cleansed by the blood of the Messiah resulting in times of spiritual refreshing coming upon them from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19-20). God spoke to Jeremiah about the nature of his ministry as a prophet. The Lord said to him; “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).
Notice three things that mark a true prophet of God. Firstly, God will speak through the true prophet seeking to pluck up sin by the roots and to break down hardened hearts to the Spirit of God. Secondly, God will speak through a true prophet to destroy false doctrines and to overthrow the opinions of those opposing God’s Word. Thirdly, God will speak through a true prophet to build up God’s people in their faith and to plant the seed of His Word into the soil of their hearts that they might grow spiritually, produce spiritual fruitfulness, prosper and be successful in their daily lives.
In the time of Jeremiah these false prophets were saying to the people “peace, peace” because in their deep minds and motives they wanted to bask in the praises of the people such as we see today with these false prophets and teachers peddling the Word of God for the sake of profit. Today you can see these ‘prophets’ on television and over the internet blowing on people, waving their coat over them, pushing people backwards, preaching prosperity and having it good in this world, and that those giving into their particular ministries would in turn be blessed with abundant prosperity, health and having things good in this world. This is widespread within the hyper faith prosperity and kingdom dominion camp!
These greedy shepherds we see infesting the internet and prophesying in local assemblies are in reality feeding only their own fleshly appetites and desires and “fleecing the sheep” of their own hard earned money. These greedy shysters are profiteering on the Blood of the Lamb of God, which the money changers in the Temple in the time of the Lord Jesus were guilty of doing. Of course Solomon wrote; “what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). They have always been around but multiply in the last days!
Then you have mega church pastors living in opulence, well dressed in top of the line outfits, staying in 5 star hotels, owning million dollar jets, living in million dollar mansions and speaking about their visions and dreams while dispensing personal prophecies one after another and God’s people loving it so as they did in the time of Jeremiah. As the Lord said to his servant Jeremiah; “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own authority. My people love it so, but what will you do in the end?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31). Jude tells us that for these greedy shepherds feeding only themselves have the blackest darkness reserved forever waiting for them when they die (Jude 1:13).
Satan uses the same tactics as he has always used because he knows what will work on those who are controlled by their fallen fleshly appetites, He knows what buttons to press. He just re-packages the same old stuff he knows will work! He also seeks to use these same tactics on all of us who belong to the Lord Jesus, and more so if we are seeking to live after the desires of the blessed Holy Spirit and not give in to the desires of the fallen human nature with its passions, lusts and desires.
As New Covenant believers we are all in a spiritual wrestling match and a war we must deal with every day. In fact the closer we seek to draw nearer to the Lord the more conscious we will become of the sinfulness of our own heart apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit, and that we desperately need Him moment by moment to control us. More so when we are not filled with the Spirit we will most certainly open ourselves up to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and to the pride of life which are at war with the desires of the Spirit dwelling in us (Galatians 5:16-18).
Added to this God’s name will be blasphemed among the unsaved and so His glory must be the primary motive when we repent as we seek to put away and to lay aside those weights and sins that so easily beset us as we run our race with our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus, the author and perfector (finisher) of our faith. What He starts in us He fully intends to finish, and to this end He will use all the means at His disposal both pleasant and not so pleasant, to mould us into the image of our Lord Jesus, to which we have been predestined (Romans 8:28-29).
When you look at these false apostles, prophets and teachers, they all avoid or just ignore preaching about the need for repentance, forsaking the world, the flesh with its appetites and desires, and warning against the machinations and snares of Satan. These false shepherds or hirelings never expose the works of darkness that Satan seeks to operate within the fellowship. Most of all these false shepherds never attempt any exegesis of the Word of God, because they do not know the Word of God or even know how to rightly divide the Word of truth because they are reprobates spiritually. They will often use the Bible as a prop to push their own dreams, visions and revelations and that usually by using verses out of context to bolster their opinions, dreams and visions. The one spiritual gift desperately needed within the wider Body of the Messiah today is the spiritual gift of discerning of spirits.
While visions and dreams have their place within the wider Body of the Messiah they will never be substitutes for the declaring and treading out of the nutritious spiritual grain of God’s Word spoken truthfully. As God says; “Let the prophet who has a dream retell it, but let him who has My word speak it truthfully. For what is straw compared to grain?” declares the LORD. “Is not My word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that smashes a rock?” (Jeremiah 23:28-29).
To sum up let’s look very briefly at Jeremiah 23:21-22.
“I did not send these prophets, But they ran. “I did not speak to them, But they prophesied.””
God had not spoken, nor was He speaking through the prophets in the time of Jeremiah. They were running to give the people what they imagined God was saying instead of what He was really saying to the people even while destruction was looming on the horizon. In the last days we are told that multitudes of professing believers will not put up with sound doctrine but instead will gather to themselves those who will “scratch their itching ears” with what they want to hear instead of telling the people of God what they need to hear in order to escape from the wiles of the evil one. Those who are being deceived will abandon the truth of God’s Word and turn aside to fables or stories that these so called ‘prophets’ have made up (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Like the people in the time of Jeremiah those having itching ears they want scratched love things this way and they revel in feel good, motivational sermons that in reality have no power to change them spiritually deep down on the inside, a conspicuous mark within wider Christendom in the last days in which we are now living (2 Timothy 3:1-9). How often have you seen one of these false preachers interlace his sermon with some personal dialogue with God as if God was right there with him giving personal instructions as it were. Then we read what God says…
“But if they had stood in My council, Then they would have announced My words to My people, And would have turned them back from their evil way And from the evil of their deeds.”
A true prophet of God will firstly be living in God’s presence while continuously. waiting on God, by praying and studying His Word to hear what He wants to say through His Word. He will have a sense of his own unworthiness to speak on God’s behalf but will be totally dependent of God to speak through him. He will also experience prolonged and intense spiritual attacks, not only from powers and principalities in the unseen spiritual realm, but also from those within the assembly of God’s people who like to do things their way instead of God’s way as revealed in His unchanging Word. As the apostle Peter writes; “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Sometimes the message will be edifying but at other times challenging and even a rebuke when non Biblical doctrines, actions and practices are being tolerated within the local Assembly. There is nothing glamorous about being a prophet called and anointed by God. The down side is that a prophet within the wider Body of the Messiah or within a local assembly are culpable before God if they say or prophesy anything that goes contrary to the written Word of God.
A true prophet will often sit alone even though surrounded by his fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord and often feel the weight of God’s Word that He must declare faithfully with holding nothing back. Like Jeremiah, the prophet of God cannot sit in the circle of the merrymakers (Jeremiah 15:17). God uses His called and anointed prophets to announce His Word to His people that they might not only follow after paths of righteousness that pleases God but turn God’s people away from their evil way and from their evil deeds.
C.H. Spurgeon the famous preacher of the 19th Century said; “The Word of God is the iron anvil upon which the hammers of man’s opinions are smashed.” And again he said; “A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats!” These are those who “party on” and “play to the crowd” and sit in the circle of the merrymakers!