Was it God’s voice or your imagination?

481px-BaruchWritingJeremiah_sPropheciesRecently, a man vied for a promotion at work. He was convinced that he was the perfect fit for the new job. Some people in his church even told him that the Lord had showed them that he would be chosen for the promotion. It threw him for a loop when someone else was selected for the job. Granted, it is possible he could eventually get the promotion at some point in the future. But this situation made me wonder what we, as Christians, should think or learn when “prophecies” don’t come true.

Jeremiah 14:14 says:

“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.’”

This is a strongly worded verse. The context of the verse is a situation where the nation of Israel faced drought, famine, and war. A bunch of false prophets were telling the people of Israel that everything would be fine. The Lord wanted the people of Israel to know that they were indeed facing drought, famine, and war; the opposite of what the faux prophets were saying.

If you read between the lines of Jeremiah chapter 14, it strongly implies a caution from the Lord that both the prophets AND the people who listen to the prophets have a responsibility to confirm that a prophecy is from the Lord, good news or bad. In other words, it can be questionable for prophets to prophesy only what the people want to hear and risky for the people to crave good news so much it blinds them to unpleasant realities. Today, many Christians view the role of prophet as cool. In reality, the role of a legitimate prophet is serious business, even dangerous. It is often an unpopular role because legitimate prophets are occasionally asked by God to be heralds of bad news. There’s no shortage of wannabe prophets, but fewer people than we think are anointed by God to actually BE prophets in the church.

I suspect many would-be prophets in the church today draw prophesies from their imagination. It’s understandable since humans have a very active imagination and a powerful yearning for communication with God. But we have a sober responsibility to not utter prophesies without absolute assurance that they come from God and not our own mind. Better to say nothing than something false. Also, there is nothing wrong with getting second opinions from other mature Christians before speaking a prophecy. It is also essential to pray about a prophecy and meditate on it before speaking it out in the world.

There is one more danger for would-be prophets. The nature of being a prophet entices us because it can make us feel important in the ecosystem of the church. For instance, I might never be the esteemed senior pastor, but I can be the go-to guy if I have the gift of prophesy. After all, some of the most famous people in the Bible were prophets. It’s tempting to go down that road, even if we belong on a different and less celebrated path.

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Posted on June 6, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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