The Sunday Mail
AS we put finishing touches to our Christmas celebrations, and the crossover into 2015, let’s take time to reflect on the year 2014.
Remember 14 is one of the most significant numbers in the Bible, with Biblestudy.org saying, “Being a multiple of seven, 14 partakes of its importance and, being double that number, implies a double measure of spiritual perfection. The number two with which it is combined (2×7) may, however, bring its own significance into its meaning, as it does in Matthew 1, where the genealogy of Jesus Christ is divided up and given in sets of 14 (2×7) generations, two being associated with incarnation…
“So all the generations from Abraham to David are 14 generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are 14 generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are 14 generations.” (Matthew 1:1-17, NKJV)
This columnist looks back on the year and can only say that it was by the grace of God that we hosted Divine Appointments in the country’s biggest newspaper, The Sunday Mail.
We attended events hosted by some of the biggest, some smaller, churches in the country, speaking to many men and women of God.
Every visit and interview was by divine choice, and every instalment was also by divine appointment.
I thank the Lord Almighty in Jesus Christ’s name for the unlimited grace and the immense support from our dear readers.
You spoke about various issues, with prophecy being one of them, and it remains a major talking point in and outside of the body of Christ.
We believe that it will be the same in 2015.
Contemporary prophecy now even forms part of the school curriculum for Advanced Level Divinity with paper one dealing with “Prophets of the Old Testament”, and comparisons are drawn between the pre-canonical, canonical and contemporary prophets in Zimbabwe.
One Lower Six student at a high school in Harare informed this writer that this column has become one of their secondary sources of information.
Their 2014 third term question paper included some of the following questions:
The functions of prophets in Zimbabwe differ from those of ancient Israel. Discuss.
“Nationalism influenced prophecy in Israel.” To what extent has this concept influenced churches today?
“So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethec of barley.” (Hosea 3:2) Examine this verse in relation to the concept of dowry/lobola in Zimbabwe.
In view of this, next Sunday’s edition will have a special instalment on the prophetic dispensation.
Apart from previewing the New Year church services around the country, we will also be paying special attention to what God is saying about the nation of Zimbabwe through the prophetic messages He gives His servants.
The success of next week’s instalment depends on the input of the whole body of Christ in Zimbabwe. Tell us what your church has lined up for the New Year service?
We will also review the prophecies for Zimbabwe in 2014 and whether or not they were fulfilled.
We will also examine your church’s declarations for 2014. For example, Assemblies of God, Mufakose Assembly had “Celebrating God’s Grace by Honouring the Past and Looking into the Future”, while Zaoga FIF declared it a year of “Revelation of Knowing our Inheritance”. Heartfelt International Ministries called it a year of “Divine Speed” with Christian Healing Ministries for all nations calling it the year of a “Fresh Start”, to name but a few.
Were these messages from God or mere thumb sucks?
And, what is your church’s declaration or theme for 2015? Email your contributions to: [email protected]
Prophecy is a controversial topic the world over.
David C. Grabbe of The Berean tackles the issue thus:
“If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) and ‘let us worship them’, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer.
“The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
“That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow.
“You must purge the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, NIV)
This passage begins with the assumption that the prophet does foretell the future accurately or performs some other, humanly impossible work.
Nevertheless, if that prophet’s central message is to follow a different god or to take a spiritual path that the true God has not said to take, that person is a false prophet.
God states unequivocally that misrepresenting Him incurs the death penalty, and Revelation 19:20 says that this is exactly what happens to the false prophet: He is thrown into the Lake of Fire.
The message of the false prophet is contrasted in Deuteronomy 13:3-4 with loving the true God with all of our heart and soul (life), walking after Him, fearing Him, keeping His commandments, obeying His voice, serving Him, and holding fast to Him.
These elements indicate what God wants His people to be focused on, helping to define whether a man claiming to speak for God is truly doing so or not.
Verse 4 mentions obeying God’s voice and keeping His commandments. This is a regular theme with God’s true prophets: They always have God’s law under girding their messages. When the Old Testament prophets were sent to warn or inform Israel and Judah, they always pointed out the grievous ways in which the people had transgressed God’s law.
False prophets, on the other hand, will not hold the moral line that God requires.
Lamentations 2:14 says that the false prophets “have not uncovered your iniquity, to bring back your captives, but have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions.” False prophets will not connect the dots between the sinfulness of a nation and national calamity.
They instead focus on something other than God’s standard of righteousness.
This same principle appears in Isaiah 8:19-20.
Both houses of Israel were guilty of seeking out mediums and wizards for spiritual guidance, and God’s response is very telling: “And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?
To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
God gives us a standard by which to measure the words of a prophet: the law and testimony — His Word.
If the prophet’s message contradicts what is already established as God’s Word, it is evidence that he lacks spiritual understanding. If his words do not line up with God’s law and testimony, he is not speaking the truth.
In summary, the hallmark of a true prophet is his upholding of the law of God, while false prophets dodge moral teaching and instead preach a message that appeals to the masses.
God’s truth — and His law in particular — is abhorrent to the natural mind (Romans 8:7), and thus it is quite common for God’s prophets to be killed, while the false prophets enjoy widespread popularity and support.
The current trend of outcome-based churches serves as a good example. Their leaders preach a widely popular message, and thousands of people follow them.
Yet, Jesus says in Luke 6:26, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”
Popularity is not a good measurement of God’s pleasure with a leader!
Jesus Christ, the most perfect Spokesman for God who has ever lived, only had about 120 true followers when His ministry ended (Acts 1:15).
This was not due to any failure on His part, but because His Father’s message could be wholeheartedly believed only by those whose minds God had already prepared to accept it.
“Purpose-Driven” church leaders will not preach the unadulterated Word of God because they know it is divisive. It would also thwart their goals of a large following and a large income.
Thus, their messages do not involve repentance, sound doctrine, or God’s law, except where it may serve to further whatever purpose is driving them.
Their messages do not remind people of their moral responsibilities to God and brother, and thus if they claim to speak for God or say that God sent them, we can know from biblical patterns that they are, in fact, false prophets.
Their large churches, as amazing as they might seem, are not accurate indicators of God’s involvement or blessing.