Prophetic Utterance

Deuteronomy 18:15       Complete Jewish Bible 

ADONAI will raise up for you a prophet like me from among yourselves, from your own kinsmen. You are to pay attention to him.”

I have been looking at this verse for some time now. What do you think of it? One of my reactions to it goes back to yesterday’s verse. People are so easily offended these days that it makes the job of a pastor a challenge. How do you say what people need to hear if they so easily take offense?

I have also noticed a general sense of bringing everyone down to a uniform level. We don’t honor experts any longer. People with advanced degrees are not called by their honorific title. We act as though we know more than our doctors, lawyers and yes, even our prophets. That increases the difficulty for clergy to offer an “expert” opinion.

First, it is important that we take responsibility for our own lives as it relates to our health and our spiritual health. We should not rely on our medical doctors or our pastors solely. It is not because they are not competent. It’s just that we have the ultimate responsibility for our lives, including our health and spiritual growth. With that caveat out of the way, there is one other point one might make about this verse. We are in a different dispensation than those to whom Deuteronomy was first directed. None the less, this verse in in our Bible for a reason. God didn’t take it out when He made the Christian Bible. He didn’t relegate it to the Jews. Therefore, it must still have some meaning for us.

In this new dispensation, we are allowed and welcome to go into the Father’s presence for ourselves. You do not need me, or any other intermediary, in order for you to have a jolly good time in the presence of the Lord. You can walk with Him, talk with Him and spend your entire day with Him. I have heard it said that anyone with a computer and a search engine can become a Bible expert. I think that comment speaks directly to this issue of what makes a spiritual leader. “Professional” clergy are probably feeling frustrated and perhaps not very appreciated. They see uncredentialed people teaching and there is some push back. My question is, how has that changed? Sure, technology is a major asset, but couldn’t you say of the old days, “Anyone with a Bible can be an expert.”

So, who should you listen to? Perhaps no one other than yourself? Afterall, you have admittance to the throne room. “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him,” (1 John 2: 27). John recognizes the Spirit within you and your own access to God’s wisdom. However, look at this comment from Hebrews 5: 12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” You are not babies, but truth be told, we all have need of learning and guidance.

Well, I have done the typical lawyer thing to you. I have argued both sides of the issue. Now, I would like to give you my thoughts on the matter. I think there is only one credential which makes someone worthy to be your teacher. It is the beginning of today’s verse, “ADONAI will raise up for you a prophet.” Only God makes a person qualified as a teacher. I don’t think having a seminary degree or an advanced degree in theology qualifies a person to be a spiritual leader, teacher or advisor and I most certainly do not think anyone should call themselves a prophet unless Yahweh, Himself, has appointed and anointed them to that role.

My greater concern is this, it’s that we wouldn’t recognize a prophet if one fell on us and further, we wouldn’t know what to do with them. I do believe God is still giving us spiritual leaders and that we are well advised to follow them, even if we don’t always agree with them, perhaps especially when we don’t agree. My concern is that we get wrapped up in the world around us and do not listen to the teachers and prophets God is sending us. Even preachers are fools, to my way of thinking, if they don’t receive teaching from other anointed preachers. I have seen ministers who only take their own counsel and, unfortunately, some of them don’t last when that happens. It can be very tragic. I don’t want that for you.

Has God dropped some prophets into your society? How about into your life? I bet He has. Sure, use your discernment regarding whose counsel you receive, but don’t be your own preacher. Go to God in your own time, definitely. Get wise counsel from Him directly. You are entitled to that and He wants the Holy Spirit to be your teacher. But, don’t discount that God is raising up prophets in this day and time and we are supposed to pay attention to them.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Judges 6: 7                   NIV

When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet.

There are times when we fail to see that the Old Testament stories and experiences hold real life lessons for us. We live in very different times. Most of us have no worries about the Midianites and therefore, have not been crying out to the Lord about them. Perhaps, though, there is something you have been crying out to the Lord about. Maybe there are some people who are a thorn in your flesh. You may have a health or financial need which needs attention. Thankfully, we have learned to pray. For the most part we have even learned to ask others to pray with us. We certainly get the impression from this scripture that the Israelites were praying to God in unison. The good news is, God answered them. He responded.

When the Jews were looking toward heaven for the Messiah, many missed his arrival on earth because they had preconceived ideas of what form their deliverance would take. We, like the Israelites facing Midian, want God to swoop in and in an instant, resolve our problem. Sometimes, though, in fact often, instead of showing His power in a miraculous solution, God sends a prophet. That is not to say that God does not still perform miracles today. He does, but sometimes the answer is not to give us a fish but rather to teach us to fish so we do not end up in the same predicament again.

You may be praying about your health, finances, work, your family or any of a number of things. God will answer you. In fact, He probably already has. The key is in recognizing the answer. God’s answer may have been to send you a prophet.

I have been trying to lose weight for many years. I read the books, did the programs. I exercised. One year I rode my bike 30 miles every morning while being sober about my diet. I didn’t lose much weight even though I rode harder and faster every week. I wished God would just touch me and fix my broken metabolism and balance my hormones, but He didn’t. He sent me a prophet, or two or three. Bit by bit the Father has led me into life solutions. He transformed my life and my weight by leading me into behavioral solutions that I could implement myself. He led me to join the YMCA and He has continued to lead me to diet prophets. I am continually learning more about how and what to eat.

Had he touched me and fixed my problems with a miracle, I would have eventually gotten myself back to the same condition because of the choices I was making. So, sometimes when you pray for something, God sends you a prophet who leads you into the promised land instead of God taking that land for you. Look around you. The Lord may have already sent your answer. He may have sent a person, or maybe a book. Our Lord will never leave us, never abandon us to our problems but He will often send the solution in a form we were not expecting. Don’t be like Israel who killed the prophets. Just because you don’t like what they have to say does not mean they aren’t the life saver you prayed for. Your answer has probably been paraded past you several times. Take some time to relax in the Lord’s presence and become sensitive to His leading. Listen to His voice. Receive His counsel. When you prayed, He may have sent a prophet.

Miracle Worker

Matthew 13: 58

And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
We think of Jesus as all powerful as well we should. The three years of his ministry were full of miracles, amazing miracles. And his miracles were not spotty as in one here and one there. He would go into a town and heal everyone that was brought to him. That’s big! But here in Matthew 13 he had gone home and he was not greeted as the great prophet. For some reason we think that people we know cannot be mightily used of God. Only those from other towns can be prophets of God. Well, Jesus encountered this phenomenon when he went home. Although the people there recognized the wisdom with which he taught, they still became offended at him just because they knew who he was. Because of their attitude, he could perform no miracles there. You see, we have a part to play in the performance of miracles. Jesus cannot create miracles that we cannot believe for. Time and time again Jesus told people that their faith had made them well. We have to work on our believers, which is the machinery of our hearts, so that when we need a miracle, we are already full of belief. After all, all things are possible to those believe.