In Exodus 6 NKJV we read the following: 6 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” 2 And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the Lord. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord[b] I was not known to them. 4 I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. 5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. 6 Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
We find here a word from God dealing with deliverance. God was about to redeem Israel with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. What is, however, to note is what it says in verse 9: Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of the anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.
Let us pause here for a moment. Moses, the spokesperson for God, came to the people with a word of deliverance. God had heard the groaning of the people! Praise the Lord! Yet, they did not heed the Word of God. There was no joy. No celebrations. Why? Because they were still stuck in bondage, thus slavery, and they were overwhelmed with anguish, therefore suffering. So great was the slavery and the suffering, they could not embrace the Word of God.
And why do we need to embrace the Word of John? It says in John 8: 31 So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word [continually obeying My teachings and living in accordance with them, then] you are truly My disciples. 32 And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].”
Freedom, therefore, comes when we not only know the truth but walk in the truth by abiding in Jesus who is the Truth! So if we cannot heed the Word of God (and considering faith comes by hearing), therefore the truth regarding our spiritual/emotional condition, circumstance, situation, or state of being, then how can we be free? If we do not know the Truth, how then can the Truth then set us free? Moses as a prophet of God spoke Truth to the Israelites, yet they could not embrace it, thus they were at the time unable to embrace and accept their deliverance and freedom.
Do we realize how many people in this world are slaves? We are not talking in a physical sense. People are slaves to addictions, slaves to fear, slaves to insecurities, slaves to wrong mindsets, beliefs, and habits, and people are slaves to fame, fortune, greed, and power. Across the world, people are slaves to all kinds of things, even pain, anarchy, violence, and destruction. Millions of women are slaves to abuse, children are slaves to the different torments, and so many are slaves to the unrelenting destruction of unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, offense and so it goes on.
And many of those who are ‘slaves’ are even sitting in churches, for they themselves are enslaved, for so many believers are still struggling with ’inner demons’, emotional turmoil, and spiritual afflictions. And yes, so many within the church system are also enslaved to religion, traditions of man, and legalisms. For the non-believer, so many are held in bondage because of pseudo-religions, the twisted corruptions of truth as advocated by society that corrupts the mind and spirit. And then we are not even dealing with the many who are held slaves by the occult, esoteric teachings, cults, sects, and secret societies. Indeed, we live in a world of great depravity and chaos. A world of slavery!
Slavery is rife throughout the world. And with slavery comes suffering and anguish. And with suffering and anguish comes the deafening silence to heed the Word of God, thus the prophetic, therefore the ability to comprehend, understand, perceive, and act upon the Truth of God – the same Truth that sets us free. For the prophetic only deals with the Truth of God, nothing else.
If we are therefore caught in this trap of enslavement and suffering, we will continue to push away the Truth of God – thus the prophetic – which actually sets us free! This is because enslavement at its core remains spiritual in nature. The devil wants to keep people enslaved. This is why Jesus said that He has come to set the captives free. When Paul and Silas were imprisoned, they prayed and worshipped the Lord, and the prison doors opened (Acts 16:25-34). This was a prophetic action to show God’s desire for us to be free. It says in John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. God wants us to be free, from then we are free from slavery, and then we are free from bondages that breed suffering anguish, and yes fear. After all, according to John 10, the thief comes to steal, destroy, and kill.
Yet the devil wants us to deny the reality, the truth, and the affliction of our slavery and suffering. So often slavery is accompanied by denial, for we would rather embrace the bondage than accept its reality and impact. The Israelites were delivered, but wanted to return to their state of bondage! In Exodus 8 we read of how God has afflicted Egypt with the plague of frogs. We read: “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the Lord that He may take away the frogs from me and my people; and I will let the people go, so that they may sacrifice to the Lord.” 9 And Moses said to Pharaoh, “I am entirely at your service: when shall I plead [with the Lord] for you and your servants and your people, so that the frogs may leave you and your houses and remain only in the Nile?” 10 Then Pharaoh said, “Tomorrow.”
Moses had even come to bring a prophetic word of deliverance to the Pharaoh. Yet, even the Pharaoh in his slavery and anguish could not yet embrace the complete truth of the Word of God. Instead of opting for immediate deliverance and freedom, he rather chose ‘tomorrow’ as a day to be set free. How many times have we not rejected the Lord’s hand right now for deliverance, or not obeyed a Word of instruction that will bring us our deliverance and freedom? But this is the nature of enslavement. It blinds and causes distortions in our thinking and embracing the Truth.
Any form of slavery will eventually destroy (consider how pornography has destroyed marriages), steal or even kill (such as substance abuse) when not addressed and accepted as a reality by heeding the Word of God. Slavery is the work of the devil, therefore slavery is a spiritual stronghold, and with a stronghold comes a flood of other spiritual oppressions such as anguish, suffering, fear, depression, and anger.
If it is a stronghold, then by definition it is designed to keep one in bondage, by clouding your judgment, skewing reality, and setting a counterfeit state of existence. The devil wants people to be stuck in these spiritual, emotional, and even physical cages of torment, for then you begin to walk in darkness and lose sight of the light and the truth. Thus the Israelites could not heed the Word of God. They were overwhelmed with suffering and anguish.
Paul writes in Galatians 5 vs 1 (NKJV): Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. The Amplified Bible translates it as follows: It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].
Paul makes it clear that we must not return to our state of slavery, yet many believers end up back in slavery and suffering because of decisions, choices and not heeding and obeying the Lord. So many times it is our will, our way, and our truth we follow, and so the Pharaoh comes knocking and we open the door. And once you return and the cage slams shut, what a terrible ordeal of spiritual suffering to return again to the Lord!
To stand firm reminds us of Ephesians 6: 11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. 13 Therefore, put on the complete armor of God so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].
Take note, we are called to STAND UP against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. And this includes the devil getting people into bondage, slavery, and therefore into a spiritual state of anguish and suffering. With any spiritual stronghold, you will then be subjected to greater confusion, deception, and continuing oppression. The result is that you will not always be able to heed the Word of God, because of the suffering and the slavery. This allows the devil to claw even deeper into one’s thoughts and emotions, as he sows his destruction.
Spiritual/emotional/mental slavery is therefore of great concern. After all, Israel should have been overjoyed that they were about to be set free. But they were suffering because of the bondage, and so the devil had even stolen their joy. And yes, suffering and bondages afflict your mind, your state of being, and your spiritual strength and fortitude.
And so Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind, and self-control]. As we abide in the Lord, and we abide in His freedom, we walk by a sound mind, thus free from afflictions, and walk not in the bondage of fear. Indeed, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Philippians 4: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. 7 And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
For those who truly walk with God, who are yielded and submitted to the Lord, indeed they are the ones who keep walking in liberty. They will find the means not to be anxious, but in prayer and thanksgiving worship the Lord. Yet this is not always possible when one is already enslaved, and this applies to so many believers as well. For this reason, Paul said that we must not be entangled again, lest we step back into a spiritual stronghold that seeks to corrupt, steal, and destroy.
The Lord spoke years ago about how the Church even today is not heeding the prophetic Word of God, thus embracing the true prophetic move of God, because the Church is still suffering from enslavement, having allowed itself to become enslaved again to the world, religion, traditions, and idolatry. So the Church is suffering from spiritual malnourishment, held in bondage, and so the Church is not able to heed the Word of God – a word of deliverance – because of the slavery and the anguish! Even in South Africa, spiritual/emotional slavery is rife. People are still enslaved by racism, by hate, and by anger. Any wonder why so many cannot heed the Word of God.
The image the Lord showed was a concentration camp – similar to the ones during the Holocaust – of people sick, malnourished, and without stamina or strength. So it is with the church, because of enslavement, and thus we are not heeding the true Word of God that will lead us beyond the wilderness into the Promised Land.
So in the state of suffering and enslavement, God shook Egypt with His Power, just as He shook the gates that held Paul and Silas in prison. If we want to be free from slavery and suffering to heed again God’s Word, we need the conviction of the truth that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to be convicted of our bondages, slavery, and suffering! God in His power blinded Saul spiritually and opened the spiritual eyes of Paul.
For those who are walking in liberty, we need to keep on preaching and speaking Truth so that those who are in bondage may hear the Truth for faith comes by hearing. We need to keep on praying and interceding so that people may be set free by the Truth, so that the power of God may shake wrong foundations, the cages of enslavement, and the foundations of suffering! May we pray against that stronghold of slavery that cripples and bring suffering.
We must also remember that the prophetic by nature is designed and purposed to counter the counterfeit, thus the strongholds of the devil. God uses the prophetic to bring forth truth, a word of deliverance, a word of guidance, counsel, and wisdom in order for us to be free. For those in slavery and in bondage the devil does not want them to embrace the prophetic word for the word will set them free and will destroy the power of the stronghold.
It says in Matthew 10:41 (AMP): 41 He who receives and welcomes a prophet, because he is a prophet, will receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous (honorable) man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. When you, therefore, embrace the prophetic, you embrace the Word of God that brings healing, direction, upliftment, encouragement, and deliverance. Yet to embrace the prophetic means embracing both a blessing and a correction, for either is designed to uplift, liberate, edify, and loosen the chains and bonds that bind. It is therefore foolishness to reject the true prophet, thus the prophetic, for you are rejecting the Lord and the Word that can bring deliverance or edification. The prophets’ reward, after all, is the power that comes from the Word, for the Word when truly spoken by the prophet comes directly from the Lord and holds the authority to align, shift, correct, release, or shut in matters on a spiritual level.
We find for example Saul who did not heed the prophetic in 1 Samuel 13: 5 Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. 7 And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. 8 Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. 11 And Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12 then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” 13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
We read that Saul had not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, which was spoken through the prophet. Thus we are reminded that the prophet only speaks as the Lord leads and thus speaks the Word of God, thus the commandments. If Saul had embraced the prophetic, his kingdom would have been established. He, however, rejected the prophetic and so his reign as the kingdom was about to come to an end.
This was a similar case in 1 Samuel 15: 1 Samuel also said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ … 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. 10 Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, 11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night. 12 So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal.” 13 Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” 15 And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” 26 But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. 28 So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.”
So twice Saul rejected the prophetic, thus the Word of God. In the end, Saul the first king would make way for David because of disobedience. Saul was enslaved to his pride and arrogance, and so in his folly, he became rebellious and disobedient to his demise.
In Kings 18 we read of Obadiah who was the governor of Ahab’s house, yet he feared the Lord greatly and was willing to hide the prophets when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the Lord. This was a man willing to embrace and protect the prophetic. In this time and age more than ever discernment is needed for children of God to embrace the true prophetic, thus the true prophets, but at the same time to shun and counter the counterfeit ‘prophetic’ move that brings not liberty but bondage. After all, just as the true prophetic move of God brings a reward, and it brings deliverance and healing, just so the false prophetic word will only enslave and bring destruction.
It should be noted, just as the devil wants to keep children of God in bondage by deafening them to the prophetic or by causing them not to embrace the prophetic, just so the devil also wants to keep the prophets in bondage and in slavery. If a prophet cannot heed the Word of God because of slavery and anguish, how then shall a prophet be able to speak the Word of God? And so the Lord over the years continually will seduce the prophet with worldly desires and gratifications to leave the path of the Lord, or to forsake the mantle because of emotional distress, or to become spiritually blinded because of rebellion, disobedience, or walking in ignorance.
The devil knows that the Lord uses the prophetic to establish His will and order in the heart of the people, and with the prophetic come wisdom, discernment, and guidance. So the devil will continually launch an attack upon attack against the prophet to steer him off course, to discourage him, to discredit, to break his will, to destroy his peace of man, and to also get the prophet to walk in deception instead of truth. For this reason, the prophet needs to remain very close to the Lord, always heeding, always listening, always submitting and yielding lest he steps out of the will of God and into a position of the flesh and the imagination.
Remember the Scripture out of 1 Kings 18:4? It says “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.” The devil wants the prophet to hide in the cave. He wants the prophet to be in bondage be it spiritually, emotionally, or physically. He wants the prophet to be enslaved by the world, by its carnality, by its ‘charms’ and gratifications. The serpent wants the prophet to be caught up in the business of life, and distracted and led astray. A prophet who is held in bondage because of the flesh, of the mind, of religion, or even demonic oppression, will struggle to get out of the cave and to hear what God is saying to him. The devil will use any means possible to get the prophet to err and stray.
This was the case in 1 Kings 13 when we read of a prophet who cried out against the false altar. This prophet also entreated to the Lord for King Jeroboam’s hand to be restored. The king then asked the prophet to come home with him and to refresh himself, and the king was willing to give him a reward. Yet the prophet said from verse 8: “If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. 9 For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’ ” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.
The story of the prophet reminds us of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, who is the greatest prophet who ever lives as the Son of God. The devil tried to seduce him to stray from the path the Father set before the Lord, yet Jesus stayed the course. Ye the devil used temptations and seductions, just as the king tried to seduce the prophet to disobey the Lord. This is the manner of the devil – always seducing and always trying to lead the prophet astray. Take also note how Jesus did not stay in the wilderness, for if He had submitted to the temptations then the wilderness would have been his downfall, just as in the wilderness the Israelites so many times disobeyed the Lord. Yet Jesus overcame the devil and moved beyond the wilderness. Take note, the devil was not yet done with his scheming when it comes to the prophet who cried out against the altar. Yes, the prophet had withstood the first temptations, yet a second was to follow. We read from verse 11 how another older prophet who dwelt in Bethel, asked the prophet to come with him to eat. This was the same seduction of the king.
Again the prophet resisted by saying: “I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. 17 For I have been told by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.’ ” Yet the older prophet replied: “18 He said to him, “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” (He was lying to him.)
And so the prophet fell into the trap of seduction and deception. Once seated at the table the older prophet said: 21 and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, 22 but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the Lord said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ ”
In the end, the prophet was devoured by a lion. And yes, this reminds us of how the devil roams like a roaring lion, and the prophet because of his disobedience had allowed the legal right for the enemy to attack and devour. Both Samson and David killed a lion, because they were faithful to God and did not at the time allow the enemy to devour them. Indeed, the devil wants the prophet to give a foothold for the work of the devil so that prophet is ensnared by the trap of the fowler. If a prophet remains discerning, he shall avoid such traps for according to Psalm 91 the Lord delivers us from such a snare, even the prophet.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah wanted to hide in the wilderness. This is just after he watched God move mightily on Mount Carmel. In Kings 18 we read of Elijah’s confrontation with Ahab: 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Are you the one who is bringing disaster on Israel?” 18 Elijah said, “I have not brought disaster on Israel, but you and your father’s household have, by abandoning (rejecting) the commandments of the Lord and by following the Baals. 19 Now then, send word and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of [the goddess] Asherah, who eat at [Queen] Jezebel’s table.”
Elijah was a prophet full of fire from the Lord, yet suddenly after the victory on the mountain we find a prophet who had succumbed to slavery because of despondency (the prophets were killed), and he was being pursued by Jezebel. It just shows us how quickly one can fall into the trap of spiritual slavery that paralyzes and causes a state of spiritual apathy. Yes, for some or other reason, Elijah was suddenly overcome with fear and disillusionment.
So yes, a prophet may many times land in the wilderness, or in the cave, for this is natural as we are beings of emotions and life is not easy. Yet we must stay close to God, remain obedient, remain loyal and faithful, and then in God’s power and wisdom move again beyond such captivity and distractions and turmoil to continue our path of serving the Lord. Once Elijah had his moment in the wilderness, hiding and throwing a pity party, the Lord restored him with the following commission: 15 Then the Lord said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.
Similarly, once the Lord withstood the test and the seductions of the devil, He continued as the Son of God and as the prophet to declare the Truth of the Kingdom and to eventually become the Lamb that was crucified for our sins. So a prophet must not remain in the wilderness, but keep on pressing ahead, no matter how tough or hard it is. John the Baptist grew up in the wilderness, but his calling was to eventually come out from such a place to be a prophet declaring the way of the Lord.
In the case of Elijah, God Himself had to speak a word of deliverance and instruction to the prophet in order to get the prophet out of the cave and out of the wilderness to start being a prophet again. It is a dangerous thing when a prophet gets stuck in the spiritual ‘cave’, held in bondage, enslaved because of emotions, situations, or spiritual confusion. A prophet is called to walk in the glory of the Lord and speak the truth to those enslaved. True prophets of God do not hide from man or the devil. So the devil knows if he can enslave and keep the prophet hidden in the cave, the prophet might eventually become so distracted, so despondent, or so fallen away that the mandate and the task might be left behind.
He wants the prophet to remain in the wilderness, cowering and despondent, yet the prophet must move forward and in the power of God shake the gates of hell. John did not remain in the wilderness, and neither did Jesus, so the prophet by the grace of God can overcome.