The Prophetic Declaration of Woe

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In Matthew 23, the Lord Jesus spoke seven woes over the Pharisees and Sadducees, rebuking the deceptive spirits of religion, tradition, and legalism. The word woe refers to a condition of deep suffering from misfortune, affliction, or grief. It can also speak of great sorrow or distress.

So our Lord was deeply distressed and his heart was afflicted by the actions of the Scribes. For they held onto their old ways, refusing to believe the Truth or engage in the Truth. Many would see the Lord’s reaction as mere anger, but one needs to see it in the light also of deep anguish, for the actions of the Scribes had caused suffering for so many others who might have sought the true way of our God.

It says in “Matthew 12:36: That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” So it follows that Jesus Christ Himself obviously did not speak any “idle words”. Therefore when He repeatedly said “woe unto you” to those religious leaders at that time, then Christ must have had a reason for saying those words. Ultimately, they opposed the Kingdom, thus Jesus Himself, as thus the way, the truth, and the life. In Him, there is life, there is hope and there is redemption. Woe indeed unto those who lead people away from Jesus, or down a different path, or to a false light, or to a false hope, or to a lie!

So what does the word “woe” in the New Testament mean? Whenever we see the word “woe” in the New Testament, then it is always a translation of the Greek word “ouai”. The Greek word “ouai” is used in the following ways: 1) It is used to express a denunciation; i.e. it is used to pronounce someone or something as blameworthy and evil. 2) It is used to express a severe calamity, severe distress, or affliction. 3) It is used to express great grief.

It says in “Revelation 8:13: And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound”. Here we find the word “woe” is not an expression of grief, rather, here the word “woe” is, first of all, a reference to extremely severe afflictions. There is an affliction for so many have refused the way of the Lord, thus opposed the Kingdom as in the days of the Scribes.

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Reality is if we consider what Jesus said and the pronouncement of the angel, we need to realize that more than ever the prophetic needs to arise in this time to rebuke every false idea, thought, theory, belief, program, or agenda that stands against the Kingdom of God. For indeed, such a rebuke and correction should not be one of self-delight, but rather an expression of grief, lament, and of anguish for any such thought or idea or expression of self-hype, self-exaltation, and self-glorification only brings harm, affliction, sorrow, pain or suffering.

For woe indeed unto the Church which has lost the fear of the Lord! Woe indeed unto the Church who continuously shuns the Holy Spirit, for turning her back on the Truth and seeking the dark wide road instead of the Way of the Lord. Woe indeed, for the innocent suffer, as they suffered in the days of the Scribes.

For indeed, I feel such a strong stirring in my spirit for the prophetic declaration of “woe” for great is the hypocrisy, and those who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Woe indeed is those even in our time who lead people astray with a false word, and so make the convert twice as much a son of hell as themselves. Woe indeed the blind guides, who are blinded by greed, need, and want. Woe indeed those who appear so pious and holy, yet the inside is full of extortion and self-indulgence. Woe indeed those who in their pride are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Yes, great is the hypocrisy and lawlessness. Yes, great is the murder of the spiritual innocent, for we need to be aware of the serpents and broods of vipers that poison and bring destruction.

In the Book of Jude, he speaks of the dreamers that defile the flesh, and who reject authority. He then says: “11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever … 16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”

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To Break Down and to Plant

The warning of Jude and the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 2 is a call to action, for us to be alert and to be awake. Woe, woe, woe indeed! For Peter wrote 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

Such days are upon us. The days of 2 Timothy 3 of the lovers of the Self and 1 Timothy 4 were “in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”

Now is the time for the expression of woe, for this is not just a declaration of grief and anguish, but should serve as a clear and loud warning unto the Church! Yes, repent and turn back to the Lord, seek Him, fear Him, and serve Him! Woe unto us for no longer seeking the path of holiness, of purity, of pursuing a true relationship with God. This is a declaration of warning, for indeed, in our times of rebellion, iniquity, and idolatry, we shall be left afflicted, and spiritually distraught in the light of His Glory if we fail to repent and correct our ways.

Such a declaration is the premise of 2 Corinthians 10 which declares the following: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

The prophetic mantle is after all also the fulfillment of the call upon Jeremiah when the Lord said in Jeremiah 1: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”

Yes, the prophetic is called to build, edify, encourage, bolster, and restore, but also to correct, rebuke, tear, and pull down. This tearing and pulling down is in alignment with what Paul wrote to the church in Corinthians. It should serve as an expression and a cry of grief, a call to correct and to repent, for indeed woe are those who refuse the way and the truth of the Lord! Woe unto those who seek the path of the wicked.

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Conditions of Prophetic Words

Yes, woe to the false prophets who operate in divination, for they lead people astray. For the Lord Himself spoke against such false operations in Ezekiel 13: 8 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,” says the Lord God. 9 “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord God. 10 “Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar— 11 say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. 12 Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’ ”

More than ever the command that God gave to Jeremiah must be the rallying cry for all true prophets. For it says in Jeremiah 1:8 “For you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord.

More than ever the prophets are now called to arise and stand up and go as the Lord leads them. They must not go because they feel to do so, or because of a hunch, or because of personal agendas or motives, but as the Lord leads. And they must speak only what the Lord speaks, and they must only never fear man, but only God.

Reality is that in churches there are too many prophets – commissioned or called – who are still too afraid of man, or too afraid to offend. And then you get those who are speaking out of the flesh, or the imagination, for whatever reason or motive. The truth is many prophets are still in training, called but not yet commissioned. Many are still growing spiritually, yet they are like loose cannons. For a prophet, it takes a lot of character and yielding to God.

And so when Jesus confronted the religious leaders of the time, He spoke only as led by the intent of the Father. He spoke the Truth for He is the Truth. And so the Truth confronted the Lie, and the Truth confronted the deception of the time. He spoke about the seven woes to pull and tear down the arguments and theories of these religious leaders. Yes, He rebuked the spirit of deception that ultimately shut the gates of heaven and destroyed the prophets of God. For indeed, the devil will always seek to destroy God’s servants, for they are the mouthpiece of God, speaking only the Truth to plant and to build but also to uproot and tear down.

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Prophetic Activation Through Obedience

Still today, more than ever the true prophetic voice needs to address the heresy in the church and confront the lies, the deception, the wickedness, and the apostasy that has set itself up as strongholds against the Kingdom of God. There is no more time for prophets to be afraid. No more time to run from Jezebel. No more time to play church, or to still entertain selfish motives. No more time for silence, but to cry “woe” for the strongholds of deception need to be destroyed and the innocent led back to the Father.

Of John the Baptist, he preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Of his declaration e read in Luke 3: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; 6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”

How this should be the cry and motive for the prophet of God! To prepare the way of the Lord, to make His path straight and so in the expression of Truth that all flesh shall see the salvation of God! But this can only be done in the love and truth of God when the prophet is moved with anguish and grief for the state of the Church. God is calling for true prophets that will arise and speak the Word of God in His Spirit, in Love, in Truth, and in the right season and minute. Prophets that have yielded, who have walked with God, and who will stand against every form of apostasy, rebellion, iniquity, and immoral thought and idea that seeks to destroy the Truth of the Kingdom.

For now, is the time to speak the woe of God against such demonic strongholds. For yes, the enemy is still seeking to spill the blood of the prophets, and still seeking to devour the innocent. Now is the time to speak out against those who feed the crumbs to God’s people, instead of allowing them to feast at the table of the Lord. Now is the time to speak out against the religious spirit that devours, against spiritual abuse, deception, divination, and witchcraft in the Church.

In Ezekiel 8, the Lord took the prophet in the midst of the sanctuary to show Ezekiel the great idolatry, rebellion, and apostasy. Now is the time for the prophets to open their eyes as in the days of Ezekiel in order to discern evil from good, for we have become blind, and we have allowed too many blind fools to lead people astray. Yes, now is the time for religious pride to be toppled, for indeed those who are led by the Spirit will see the Kingdom of God. How we need discernment to know the light from the dark, the good from the evil, and to know the wicked intent from the goodness of God!

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Beguiling Nature of Prophecy of Divination

There is no more time for the prophets to seek self-exaltation and importance. Now is the time to serve the Kingdom. Now is the time for the prophets to seek His face, His will, His Truth, and His Voice. And to speak as the Lord leads. To declare without fear. To uphold the Truth, yet tear down the strongholds. Now is the time to serve, love, fear the Lord, and seek His path.

In Matthew 23, the Lord said the following to the Scribes: “How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”

And so still the Lord is sending His prophets and those who speak with His wisdom. They might be persecuted and shunned, but they shall speak the Word of God. They shall declare the “woe” of grief, anguish, and affliction, and suffering, for great is the apostasy, the rebellion, and the iniquity in her midst. Yes, seek the Lord, seek His face and His will, and in God one will know it is well with your soul.

Riaan Engelbrecht

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