In the Old Testament, the prophet would guide the king, therefore the people, by speaking the will of God, and many times the will of God will include correction, judgment, and warnings. Prophets were often ignored in the Old Testament, while even back in those days among the true prophets you found many speaking deceptions and lies. Today, nothing has changed, because God does not change (Hebrews 13:8).
Prophets are still called to lead the corporate church by speaking and declaring the will of God to the leaders (who are like the modern-day kings of old). Prophets still speak to believers. Still, today what the prophet utters may contain correction or judgment, or it may speak of encouragement, direction, or wisdom. Prophets still speak to nations, or even to a multitude of nations, declaring the will of God not just unto the Church but unto secular leaders as to warn, to guide, to direct, and to declare the heart and mind of God. Thus from the old to the new, nothing has changed in regard to the prophet.
Many will say that the prophetic of the New Testament is different from the days of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel, simply because we have a very narrow understanding of the role of the prophet. As the prophet was in the old so he is under the New Covenant. Still today, many are saying that no one should really be saying “so says the Lord”, but rather say “I feel led that this is what the Lord is saying …” We are completely misunderstanding the role of the prophet.
To the matter of what is a real prophet, consider that a prophet is a spokesperson for God. The prophet admonishes, warns, confirms, encourages, intercedes, teaches, and counsels. His primary function is to speak the heart, the mind, and the will of God in order to bring into alignment what has been out of alignment according to God’s will, truth, and Kingdom.
A prophet is called to stand in the council of the Lord. He stands before the living God. Having stood before God he is sent to stand for God, before his people, and speak His word. To prophesy is to communicate the mind and heart of God to a person, a group of people, or a territory; therefore, prophecy is linked with the promise of God over our lives. God’s promise is an announcement of His plan of salvation and blessing to His people. A promise embraces both declaration and deed.
Prophets in our time will bring the word of the Lord to the corporate church, to spiritual leaders (as Ezekiel spoke to the shepherds in Ezekiel 34), and to the believers. Prophets will give direction and vision in these situations so that God’s people know what is happening, and what they should do. This speaks of wisdom, so they may know the way ahead. For example, the prophet Gad provided guidance to David and showed him how to avoid trouble. But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth (1 Samuel 22:5).
Prophets can give direction to those who are seeking the will of God. Sometimes the prophetic word will be for the church as a whole or for the leadership of the church. The prophet thus admonishes, intercedes, teaches, and counsels. He encourages, edifies and so builds and plants. Importantly he stands on the walls to see what the Lord is doing that he may call the Body as a corporate or the believer to respond. He may even call nations or secular leaders to heed the Word of God.
The office of the prophetic has often been shrouded in mystery, or it has been misinterpreted or misunderstood over many years. Truly, it is clear that for a long time, the prophetic has been either shunned in the church, or has become absolutely snowed under by misconceptions, distortions, and falseness. For a long time, especially with the advent of the Roman Catholic Church, the prophetic office was completely shunned and suppressed. It sparked to life again during the early 1500s with the Reformation and gained momentum with the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. While this is all good and well, the devil also realized the dangers of the prophets taking their rightful place again. And so today we are inundated and overwhelmed by so many “prophetic” voices, yet many of these voices are not even speaking as the Lord leads.
Let us remember if the prophet does not speak completely and utterly as the Lord leads, then surely this cannot be a prophet. A prophet is one who is God’s spokesperson, and therefore a prophet must speak “thus says the Lord” for that is the role and the office of the prophet. The commissioned prophet, after all, should hear very clearly the voice of God and know the heart, mind, and will of the Lord. For the prophet, there are no grey areas when it comes to God’s will, His Truth, or His Ways. It is either God’s way or no way at all.
In 1 Samuel 9, we find a clear example of how a true prophet functions. This is the account of how Saul and the prophet Samuel met. At the time, Saul was looking for his father’s lost donkeys and was told in verse 6 of an honorable man of God in the city who could help him with his task. We then read (just before the actual meeting): 15 Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying, 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him, commander, over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people because their cry has come to Me.”
So here we find Samuel was in direct communication with God. He had received his command from God. We then read: 17 So when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people.” 18 Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, “Please tell me, where is the seer’s house?” 19 Samuel answered Saul and said, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20 But as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not be anxious about them, for they have been found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your father’s house?”
Finding the donkeys was not the primary objective of the meeting between Saul and Samuel, but it was for Samuel to anoint Saul as king. Samuel was completely and utterly in the will of the Lord, being constantly guided, directed, and led to fulfill God’s mandate. This is the true sign of a prophet – someone who is yielded and submitted to the perfect will of the Lord. He was listening closely to God and was not distracted by the issue of the lost donkeys. God’s will was for Saul to be anointed as king, and thus set in motion the age of the kings which included the reign of David.
Samuel was thus not thinking about himself. It was not about Samuel’s agenda or his will. For the prophet, it was about God’s purpose and plan for the meeting, which was set in motion when Saul was looking for lost donkeys. So for the prophet, it is vital to always listen closely to the Lord, to yield, and to submit as the Lord leads. For the prophet, it is all about the will of the Lord.
Take note, prophets are both men and women. There are after all nine women in the Bible who are called true prophetesses (Hebrew “nbiyah” Greek “prophetis” meaning “inspired woman”). They are Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Isaiah’s wife (Isaiah 8:3), Anna (Luke 2:36-38), and the four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9). So we need to understand still today a prophet is both male and female. For the sake purely for singularity, this study will speak of “he” in the context of the prophet, even though God has called many women today to also be mighty prophets in His Kingdom.
We also need to always remember that the greatest prophet that ever lived is our Lord Jesus, who is also the Son of God and God Himself. He is the Mystery revealed as the ancient of ways, for He is the Way, and He came to prophetically show us the way to the Kingdom, what is the Kingdom all about, the Truth of the Gospel and His very sacrifice on the cross was a prophetic action of death submitting to the life-giving power of the Blood of the Lamb, of sin being swept aside by grace and of a restoration of the lost, the broken, and the captive. And such a way as shown by the Lord as the Son of God and as a prophet speaks no longer of a mystery, but a yearning by the Father for the lost to be restored by the Blood of the mystery revealed so that we all – once lost – may tread the highway of joy and redemption.
Indeed, the Lord prophetically showed the way to the Kingdom to bring us back from disgrace to grace, from the abyss to glory, and from death to life. For the Lord showed Moses the prophet the path to freedom and so the mystery revealed, the greatest Prophet, has revealed under the Covenant of Grace the true path of our redemption.
We find the responsibility of a prophet summed up in Ezekiel 3: Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness. 4 Then He said to me: “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them … 10 Moreover He said to me: “Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears. 11 And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear, or whether they refuse.”
Ezekiel was called to ‘eat the scroll’; meaning to digest the entire Truth of God and speak only what he has digested. This means he must not speak anything else but the Word that has been planted within him. And so the prophet must receive into his heart all that the Lord speaks and hear with his ears. This reminds me of the seven letters to the churches which are repeated in the Book of Revelations to hear what the Spirit is saying. A prophet must receive, he must listen and he must speak only as the Lord leads. A prophet speaks not his opinion, or judges not by his eyes, or by what he hears, but moves solely as the Spirit leads.
The Lord also said to Ezekiel: 8 Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. 9 Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.” A prophet therefore must never be afraid of man, or be afraid of what he must speak or do, for God shall be with His servants and messengers. Ezekiel only had to obey, trust, and be faithful to the words – the scroll – he had digested.
These days the prophetic office has sadly been reduced to operating in the function of merely uttering a personal word, or meeting a personal need or want. And so, as soon as someone utters a personal word to someone, then that person has become a prophet. This is happening often, and it is allowed to take flight based on the misconceptions of what it means to be a prophet. We need to remind ourselves that a lot of times such personal word can be uttered as a result of the gift of wisdom, knowledge, or even the prophetic gift. It also can just be that the prophetic word has been uttered as the Holy Spirit moved for that singular purpose. Sadly, a lot of times such a personal word does not even come from God, never mind being a prophetic utterance.
Prophecy is, however, not solely about confirming a personal word or meeting a personal need, but it runs far deeper. While prophets are called to speak also of the future or address the past, when it is, however, not of the Lord, it becomes divination. Almost every prophet in the Old Testament appeared first as a foreteller. Through his fellowship with the eternal God, the prophet has access to the future. He is the seer who has insight into God’s purposes for history.
However, whatever he sees for the future is always related to the present. He warns of future judgments so that people will change their behavior now. He speaks of future blessings to give hope for the present. This was also the case with John who wrote the Book of Revelations. The prophet speaks thus to the present, in light of the future that God has revealed to him. Daniel was such a prophet.
Let us remember God’s intention has always been for His children to hear directly from God, and to seek the Lord’s counsel and direction. This is why the Blood of the Lamb removed the veil so that we may have access to the Lord. First and foremost we must seek God to know His will and purpose for our lives. God’s desire is not for His children to be solely led by the voice of the prophetic or those who utter by a gift or by the move of the Spirit. God desires for us to hear directly from Him and to spend time with Him in intimate fellowship. The prophetic thus confirms and guides with wisdom and revelation. Yet this is a big problem in churches these days. Many are content NOT to hear directly from God, but would rather run to someone they believe can speak a word directly to them. We must first hear from God, spend time with the Lord, and then allow God to confirm if so desired.
The devil has thus used this opportunity to sow confusion and chaos, for the simple reason that so many within the church are not grounded in the Word, or have a real relationship with God, never mind being led by the Spirit of the Lord. If you, therefore, do not know the Word, how can you test what is spoken? If you are not led by the Spirit, how can you know when someone is speaking or not speaking in the Spirit?
If you do know not the Lord intimately, how can you know how He moves or speaks? Therefore we sit with this state of apostasy in our churches, because we do not know God, or move in His Spirit or know His Word. In this environment of ignorance which is not bliss, the enemy moves and acts, confusing and sowing deception. Yet, the devil is not stopped, because there is generally a great lack of discernment in churches.
Remember, when a personal word is given, it confirms and affirms. Personal prophecy must be treated with caution. The gift of prophecy is not generally directive so it is dangerous to make life-changing decisions on the basis of a prophecy uttered by a person who has not been recognized as a prophet or who has not the gift. Prophets will sometimes give direction, but generally, this should come as a confirmation of something that God has already spoken to the person concerned. God wants to lead his people by His Spirit. He desires that every believer should learn to hear the Spirit’s voice. A message from a prophet should normally come as a confirmation of something that the Spirit has already spoken.
Getting confirmation from a prophet before we act can be really encouraging, but we need to be very careful. A personal prophecy can be misleading if we have allowed our own plans and desires to control our thinking. Ezekiel gives a surprising warning about this. When any Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the Lord will answer him myself in keeping with his great idolatry (Ezekiel 14:4). If a person has let something that they want to do become an idol of their heart, God may prophesy to them what they want to hear. If the person acts on the prophecy, it will lead to disaster. God does this to reveal the idol and recapture the person’s heart. This means that we must be careful with personal prophecy. If a prophecy confirms what we want to do, it may just be a sign that we have made our own plans into an “idol in our hearts”.
The reality is that even though under the New Covenant God speaks to all man (those willing to listen), the office of the prophet has never vanished nor has it become diminished in importance. The importance of the prophetic is underlined in 1 Corinthians 14 when Paul weighed up prophecy versus speaking in tongues: 14 Pursue [this] love [with eagerness, make it your goal], yet earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual gifts [to be used by believers for the benefit of the church], but especially that you may prophesy [to foretell the future, to speak a new message from God to the people]. 2 For one who speaks in an unknown tongue does not speak to people but to God; for no one understands him or catches his meaning, but by the Spirit, he speaks mysteries [secret truths, hidden things]. 3 But [on the other hand] the one who prophesies speaks to people for edification [to promote their spiritual growth] and [speaks words of] encouragement [to uphold and advise them concerning the matters of God] and [speaks words of] consolation [to compassionately comfort them]. 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church [promotes growth in spiritual wisdom, devotion, holiness, and joy]. 5 Now I wish that all of you spoke in unknown tongues, but even more [I wish] that you would prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater [and more useful] than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he translates or explains [what he says], so that the church may be edified [instructed, improved, strengthened].
It is because of the perception that prophets deal primarily with a personal word of clarification, direction, or even telling the future that many believe this office is no longer valid, considering we are called to first and foremost listen to God. Indeed, it is true God longs to speak to us personally, but this does not negate the office of the prophet, for the true role of the prophet is far more than just speaking a personal word into someone’s life. Yet, this is how the prophetic is perceived. A prophetic word uttered is seen as a means to a quick fix, and so people seek out prophets to find a word for a situation, an answer to a decision, a solution to a crisis, an utterance for a breakthrough, or an impartation for self-empowerment. This is indeed what the prophetic has been reduced to and how so many understand the prophetic. People might as well consult mediums or spiritists if that is their motivation and goal for seeking out the prophetic.
One can seek solutions or answers by simply consulting with God on a personal level, yet believers are simply too spiritually lethargic to spend time with God in fellowship to listen, to heed, and to pay attention. And so they would rather seek out a “prophet”, because “surely they will have the answer” and they can speak something that “will change the situation or bring about change”. Is this really what the prophetic has been reduced to? Unfortunately yes, and this is why the prophetic is no longer regarded as the voice of God to lead the Body of Christ in the will, purpose, and mandate of God. Prophets are treated like soothsayers, and people with supposed magical gifts provide personal revelations.
In the 613 Laws of Moses, we find the following laws regarding prophecy: To heed the call of every prophet in each generation, provided that he neither adds to nor takes away from the Torah (Deuteronomy 18:15), not to prophesy falsely (Deuteronomy 18:20) and not to refrain from putting a false prophet to death nor to be in fear of him (Deuteronomy 18:22). It says in 1 Thessalonian 5: 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast to what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. As in the days of the old to the days of the new, prophecy must not be despised. And still today, prophets are called to uphold God’s Truth, the order of His Kingdom, and His Ways.
A prophet absolutely loves the Truth of God. He adores the Kingdom and will stay obedient to God to speak the Truth of God, for in the Truth lie liberty and blessing. On the flip side of the coin, we must remain mindful, aware, and beware of the false word, and those who are dealing falsely.
We need to understand God does not change and He will never change. He still uses the prophets to exhort, lead, guide, strengthen, correct, shift, align, plant, tear down, pull down, restore, and speak judgment. This is why still today the Church must listen to the true prophet, for he or she will speak the heart of God, the mind, and the will of God for it shall be a word of intent and purpose to the glory of the Kingdom and not man.
He may speak to the Bride or the believer, or to nations or to secular kinds, either way, he or she speaks as the Lord leads. Still today, prophets are called to neither add nor take away from the Scriptures (Old or New Testament), twist what God says or distort the Word be it Logos or Rhema. Prophets today should still be held accountable for every word spoken, for truly true prophesy is all about glorifying God.
The Law of Moses spoke of putting to death a false prophet.
Under the New Covenant, we shall not go to such extremes, but it shows you how serious God is about those who speak falsely or who deem themselves to be a prophet but speak not by God’s authority. When a prophet truly moves in the will of God, in God’s Truth, in God’s Spirit, and moves in the office of the prophet to the glory of God, then such a prophet will speak or act in the complete and utter authority of God and the Kingdom. So what a prophet says will be, and what action is taken, it shall be.
It says in Deuteronomy 18: 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. 20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. 21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
The test for the true prophet is that is truly known by their fruit, after all, a true prophet should always be led by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God changes one’s character and brings the prophet into alignment with the character of God. After all, he speaks on behalf of God. According to Deuteronomy 18, a prophet must also be speaking Truth, which is weighed against the Scripture, and what he says must come to pass, unless there are conditions. So a prophet walks in Truth, in character, and to the glory of God.
Whatever the prophet is called to do, he does it in the office of the prophet. This is very important to understand. The prophet is not operating at times in the prophetic and other times not. No, the prophet is ALWAYS a prophet because of his mandate and calling. So if the prophet serves, he does it so in the authority of the office. If he teaches, he does so as a prophet. If the prophet counsels and encourages, it is done as a prophet.
The Word says God does nothing without speaking to His prophets. The prophet knows the heart and mind of God in a certain way and seeks to guide and steer according to the Lord’s will. Yes, there is a great mystery in the prophetic, for in the prophetic lies the authority to shift, to align, and to bring about what God is saying. And this is not always done through mere words, but even actions. The prophet discerns, knows, and sees – speaking not only of what will happen but also of what needs to be done.
2 Kings 13: 14 Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, wept over his face, and said, “O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!” 15 And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and some arrows.” So he took himself a bow and some arrows. 16 Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. 17 And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.” 18 Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times and stopped. 19 And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.”
Even at the point of death, Elisha remained a prophet, for if you are a prophet, then this is who you are. When you wake up, you are a prophet and when you sleep, you are a prophet. So Elisha remained true to who he is and acted in the office when he spoke to Joash the king of Israel. And sadly, the king failed to obey the prophet’s call. Indeed, the ways of the prophet are many times mysterious and make no sense. It says in Ecclesiastes 5: As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.
A true prophet never fears man, for a true prophet is convicted by God, and walks only in the path and the way of God. 1 Kings 18:4 tells us, “When Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them in groups of fifty in a cave and fed them with bread and water.” Glory dwellers don’t hide in caves. True prophets of God do not hide from man or the devil. A true prophet is convicted of his path, his purpose, and his mission, and thus in the power of God will endure it all for the sake of God and the eternal Kingdom.
True prophets will not back down. They will not hide. They do not cower. They will refuse to give up. This is because a prophet by nature is one who is determined, convicted, and led by the power of God to speak God’s will and God’s glory. A prophet finds his strength in God and does not heed or obey the words of man as primary instruction. No, God is the final instruction of the prophet. God‘s words are all that a prophet lives by and obeys with all that he has. This is what a true prophet is. Not a cave-dweller but someone who dwells in the presence of the Almighty.
If you begin to fear man, you end up pleasing man. A prophet of God is not called to please man but only to please God. Those who are not true prophets flatter people in authority with prophetic words that bring them personal advancement. 1 Kings 22:6-12 says, “Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, approximately four hundred men, and said to them, ‘Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to battle, or shall I wait?’
And they said, ‘Go up, for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.’ But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we can ask?’ “And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we can inquire of the Lord. But I hate him because he never prophesies good for me, but always evil.’ And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Let not the king say so.’ Then the king of Israel called an officer and said, ‘Quickly, bring Micaiah son of Imlah.’ “The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah each put on his robes and sat on his throne at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets prophesied before them. Zedekiah the son of Kenaanah made horns of iron and said, ‘Thus says the Lord: With these you shall push the Arameans until you have consumed them.’ All the prophets prophesied similarly, saying, ‘Go up to Ramoth Gilead and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the king’s hand.'”
Here we find that Micaiah offered the true word of the Lord and went to prison for it. That speaks of conviction and fearing not man but only fearing God. A true prophet will never seek to please man or entertain man’s wishes or desires or needs. A true prophet only speaks what God says.
Prophets ultimately know the heart and mind of God. They discern and they take note. And so some prophets are also described at times as watchmen or men of vision who stand on the walls of the ‘City of God’ – the Church – to see what God is doing. They look into the distance to see what is coming. They often see a long way ahead. Ezekiel for example was called to be a watchman. We read in Ezekiel 33 1-11.: The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head.
Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’ “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.
But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” ‘ Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
The prophet was called a watchman because he functioned in the spiritual realm just as the literal watchmen did in the natural realm. The natural watchmen were stationed at specific posts on the walls of the city that gave them the visibility to watch for the king or other members of the nobility to announce their coming. They were also to look for enemies from without, or disorder arising within the city, or camp of Israel. And yes, Ezekiel 34 highlights how imperative it is for the prophet to speak regarding what the Lord reveals or shows, and the prophet must speak and obey as the Spirit leads.
In Ezekiel 8 we read of how Ezekiel is ‘taken’ supernaturally into the sanctuary of the temple: 5 Then He said to me, “Son of man, lift your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, was this image of jealousy in the entrance. 6 Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations.”
Ezekiel was told by the Lord to open his eyes and to “see”, therefore to discern, to take note, and to behold. This is the general call of any prophet. The prophet ultimately can ‘see’, and thus discern anything and everything that is opposed to God, that serves as a threat against God’s Church, and that which is acting as a threat against God’s order, truth, and way. The prophet “sees” the move of God in nations, God’s plan for societies, and how cultural shifts threaten the truth of God in the minds of man.
And as the prophet discerns and ‘see’, even seeing what is happening in the spiritual, the prophet will then by the leading of the Holy Spirit address such a manner, be it a warning, be it correction, judgment, or decelerations of advice or a word of wisdom. When Paul was going up to Jerusalem the prophet Agabus warned him of the danger that he would face there (Acts 21:10,11). God often prepares his people in this way. The prophet is a watchman, who warns God’s people of coming trouble. Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground where no snare has been set? Does a trap spring up from the earth when there is nothing to catch? When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:5-7).
Therefore, with spiritual sight, a prophet must walk by discernment so that he could explain what God is doing and how he will work through these events to bring change. A prophet not only deals with speaking things and declaring God’s will, but the prophet can at times have insight into the implementation of strategies. Thus, without the true prophetic, the Church can easily become spiritually blind, even though the Church is not led solely by the prophetic, but primarily by the Lord and by the Scriptures. As an eye, a prophet explains the plan and purpose of God and tells people what God will do in the future. It says in Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he reveals his secret unto his servants the prophets. Indeed, a prophet listens and heeds the Word of God, and turns people from their evil ways back to God so that they might be saved.
It is not just about the prophet who needs to discern, since the devil prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), thus calling us to be sober and alert. Every believer who is a worshipper in spirit and truth should be discerning and taking note of threats facing them, facing the Church, or facing the Kingdom of God. In Acts 4, the believers cried out to the Lord: “29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word …”
There was a plea for the Lord to behold the threats because the believers had also discerned such dangers and perils. In John 3, the Lord spoke to Nicodemus and said to him in verse 3 “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. When we are thus led by the Spirit of God, therefore led in wisdom, knowledge, power, and strength, we shall observe, we shall discern, we shall “see” the manifestation of the Kingdom and we shall recognize the attacks and the perils. We shall “see” our own shortcomings and failures by the conviction of the Spirit of the Lord.
Elijah’s servant needed to have his eyes opened to see the full reality of his situation. This is something we all need. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17).
While all disciples need their eyes to be opened, this is critical for the prophet of the Lord, who is stationed as a watchman, as a guardian, as he is called to discern, to warn, to speak out, and to declare the will and the purpose and the intent of the Lord. Take note of Jeremiah 1 v 10: See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms … We need to thus be reminded that a prophet functions in the Kingdom of God and not according to the kingdoms of the earth.
A prophet’s action SHOULD NEVER be dictated for example by the kingdom of money (Mammon), yet this is what is happening in churches. Prophets aren’t functioning in the eternal kingdom, but have lowered themselves to become entangled with the kingdom of the earth, and thus are motivated, inspired, and driven by the ways of the world. When money, for example, motivates and influences a prophet above the Kingdom of God then you find a very dangerous situation for a prophet no longer functions in the ‘higher spiritual plateaus’ but have succumbed to the valley of distraction, spiritual shallowness, and limited spiritual sight and understanding.
A prophet realizes the reality and the truth of John 18:36: Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The kingdoms of this world will eventually all fade and perish, for they are temporary, tangible, and mortal, yet the Kingdom of God is everlasting, eternal, spiritual, and supernatural. So for the prophet, it is of utmost importance to walk in the reality of John 18, that he functions according to the Kingdom of God – a kingdom of power, of love, and of peace. The prophet is called to proclaim the Kingdom of God – the culture, the truth, its ways, and realities – here on earth and does so by declaring the will of the Lord. And so Matthew 6 becomes of great importance for the prophet – Lord let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Indeed, too many prophets are not truly operating in the Kingdom of God, for they have been dragged down to the kingdoms of the earth. They have therefore become disconnected from the eternal source of all wisdom and truth, floundering in the muck of religion, apostasy, tradition, and selfish ambitions and desires.
It is the time for the prophet to arise again, and be like an eagle that soars higher to see, discern and know. For it says in Isaiah 40: But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles … A prophet is called to be in the counsel of God, for then he shall mount up and be renewed in God’s strength. Such a prophet is not called to remain in the valley, for there he shall stumble and fall.
In the end, it is not the place of the prophet to question but to only obey. For in the act of obedience, there is authority, for the prophet is staying true to the mantle.