It seems every time I open Facebook, someone has sent me a new video of a prophecy about our country. Honestly, I usually ignore them (sorry), but last week I watched two. After listening to these men, both pastors, I immediately noticed three very different things about their prophecy. And that prompted this article and reading plan.
Prophecy can be dangerous, so how do we know who to believe? Social media has opened up a platform for anyone to share their vision. There are so many voices out there vying for our attention. Who do we listen to?
The keys I’m sharing with you are important to implement when you receive any biblical counsel. This ranges from our own dear sisters in Christ to our pastor’s sermons, to blog posts like mine. These keys are good filters to run the messages through when discerning if it’s from God or not.
Let’s face it. We’re all sooooo human. We will mess up. I have no doubt in my mind that the “prophets” I watched meant well, but not all prophets are created equal, my friends. We must be wise and discerning.
What the Bible Says about Prophecies
All exhortation and prophecy must be based on Scripture. That includes my blog post. (Smile.) Any biblical teaching needs to start with the Bible. So . . let’s find out what the Bible says about prophecy, not just what Andy Lee experienced the other day. Always filter what you read and hear through the Word.
But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.1 Corinthians 14:3 NIV
Okay, at first glance, this verse looks like prophecy should always be bubbles and butterflies. But further investigation proves a different interpretation. I dug past our translations because the prophets of the Old Testament usually (if not always) brought words of warning as well as promise. When a scripture seems to counter any other part of the Bible, I go study because the Old Testament and the New go together. A verse must be interpreted with the full counsel of scripture. One will not negate the other. This is what I found:
The word I found that connected the Old Testament prophets was Paraklesis. In the NIV it’s translated as “encouraging” but the definitions of Paraklesis includes exhortation.
That is how the KJV translates this word. Exhortation can mean: urgent request, appeal, or plea. Prophetic words, according to 1 Corinthians 14:3 will include these aspects:
- Urgent request or plea
- Encouragement and comfort
Comparing Prophets of Old
I had to go back to the prophets of the Bible. What were their prophecies like? I think of the Old Testament prophets as always bringing grave warning and calls for repentance, and they did. But their messages weren’t all doom. There was always an element of hope and promise. Here’s three examples of biblical prophets:
Amos: In Amos chapter 9, the prophet proclaims the destruction of Israel, but in verse 11 of the same chapter he promises the restoration of Israel and the remnant of believers.
Jonah: God sent Jonah to proclaim judgement and destruction on Nineveh. We know the story of Jonah running away, getting swallowed by a big fish, and then doing what God told him to do. We also know the people repented and prayed, and God forgave them and relented from His wrath. I believe, even though the Bible doesn’t tell us, Jonah’s words of exhortation included instructions for repentance and the promise and hope of forgiveness and a second chance.
John the Baptist: Scripture tells us, ” In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” His words held both exhortation and promise.
Jesus also prophesied: He said, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24: 10-14 NIV) This is a powerful scripture. It certainly feels timely for us now. Jesus exhorts with warning, yet He gives hope and promise.
3 Keys to True Prophecy
Based on my study of the biblical prophets, the scriptures, and my own experience the other day, these are the three keys that will help you discern prophecies.
Balance: Prophecy will include words of warning with hope and promise. The first prophecy I listened to was all doom and gloom. It was frightening! Fear is always a red flag for me if the word only induces fear and does not offer a solution or hope. In the same way, if a word from the Lord given through the lips of a friend or authority in your life produces condemnation and oppression, it is not from God either, Romans 8:1. The Lord’s conviction will bring freedom, grace, and strength. Here’s an article I’ve written on oppressive “words from the Lord.” The second prophecy I watched did give warning of difficult things happening in our country, but it was balanced with what we as the church need to do and hope and promise.
Includes Scripture: The first prophecy I watched there was no scripture related to the dreams, no conversation with the Lord asking what they meant. The “prophet” did his own interpretation. The second prophecy I heard involved a vision, but the man asked the Lord for revelation and understanding. He received scripture from the Lord that further explained his vision.
Fruitful: This was the kicker for me. After watching the first video, I felt terrible. A sense of dread and question hovered over me, but after the second video something amazing happened. The words of the prophecy filled me with the Spirit. I had been listening to the message while cooking dinner. After it was over, I prayed a powerful prayer over my husband (rather than the usual dinner prayer.) It was a wow moment. The message produced good fruit in my life that continues.
One More Key to Discern Prophecy
Finally, other messages and scripture will confirm a sound word from God. I’ve listened to one other prophecy and my pastor’s sermon since last week’s prophets. Both of these messages confirmed the good prophecy. Elements of their message verified what the pastor proclaimed.
However, please, please, please, stay grounded in the Word. Compare everything you read and hear to Scripture. It’s wonderful when others agree, but our foundation, our plumb line is God’s Word. We can’t discern all the voices around us if we are not familiar with His. Join me this week as we study scriptures about prophecy.
1 Corinthians 13:2
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
Prompt: It all boils down to this: Love. It’s something we all could improve on and something our country terribly needs now, especially the church. Bride of Christ, how can we show love today?
1 John 4:1
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Prompt: The context of this scripture is dealing with a false teaching that Jesus was not a man but only Spirit. The false prophets speak very closely to the truth. They often mix truth with a small twist or perversion of the truth. This is why studying the Word is so important. Write down anything you’ve heard recently that you’ve questioned, and do some Bible study today.
2 Kings 20:5
Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord.’
Prompt: I love the revelation of the heart of God in this passage. The Father is faithful. He is kind and His love relentless. He is the same God as the one who healed Hezekiah. Write down a prayer today for healing of our land for three days at least, and if possible spend some time in prayer on your knees asking for healing of others and our country.
Acts 19: 5-6
On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
Prompt: We need the Holy Spirit to fill us more and more each day. Ask for more of His Spirit. Spend time worshiping Him and listening to Spirit-filled teachers.
1 Cor 14: 29-33
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
Prompt: This is such an interesting scripture, a glimpse of the first century church. There are several nuggets here. Write down what speaks to you. Some of them may prompt you to do some further study! (They do me.)
Hey! Hey! Here’s the free printable!
YouTube Channel Update
Well, it’s taken longer than anticipated. I ran into a little issue. So, I will be pushing back the launch of the BiteofBreadBible TV channel a few weeks. Hopefully I’ll be rolling by Augustish. I’m trusting God’s timing. This just means the Facebook Live videos on Wednesday nights at 7:30 ET will continue! Join us this week as we discuss modern day prophets. Just follow me on FB and meet me on my timeline at 7:30.
I’m praying for you. I hope to see you Wednesday!