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WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PROPHECY?
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PROPHECY?
1. There are many examples in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible of prophets sent by God with messages for his people. The role of "prophet" is still valid in our age and God continues to give messages to his people today. If he is going to do something really significant in nations or areas of the world, he warns his prophets about this before it takes place so that his people can be prepared.
2. From the time of Moses until the present day, there have been only two types of prophets and two types of prophecies, true ones and false ones. As a new Christian you need to cultivate discernment, through the Holy Spirit, as to which modern day prophetic words are true and those which are false.
3. Genuine prophets in Old Testament times such as Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were generally sent to the people of Israel with warnings from God. These warnings usually required them to turn away from their sinful ways. God hates worship of false gods by his people and many times prophets warned them against such activity. On other occasions, God sent his prophets to warn his people about social injustice, oppression of the poor, lack of care for widows and orphans etc. Some other prophets like Daniel and Zechariah were given visions and prophetic words about the end times, a time of great calamity and suffering for mankind sometimes referred to as "the Day of the Lord".
4. The more you read and study your Bible, the better your discernment of prophecy will be. It is through reading your Bible and praying about what you read that you will learn through the Holy Spirit about God’s nature, his character and his priorities. By building yourself up in this way you will be better prepared to discern between true and false prophetic words. Many websites contain "prophecies from God about the future". These may be words for a nation, or a city, or some other group of people. In reading these you need to ask yourself some questions. For example:
5. In the present day, "prophecy" has also taken on a larger, more personal dimension, where Christian believers may approach others with " a word from The Lord". A word of caution is needed here. Our present society in the West has an unfortunate bias towards "me, me" and some people are anxious to hear a word from God for them. Others, with genuine or misguided motives, may be keen to supply these.
6. It is no bad thing to seek God for the purpose of personal direction, admittedly. However, you need to bear in mind that some who may say: "The Lord has told me to tell you…." may not be giving you a true word from God. They may not be doing this maliciously, but if it is not truly from God then you are in danger of being seriously misled. If the person is a stranger, how can you know? Even if the person is a friend or acquaintance, how can you know if the word they give "from God" is genuine?
7. Observe closely the person's life and behaviour. Do their everyday words and actions consistently honour Jesus? Do they show a close personal walk in obedience to Jesus' teaching? Are they trustworthy in the little things of life? Do their conversations build others up or do they speak maliciously of other people?
8. Zac Poonen says:"In these days of counterfeit, when the false looks so much like the true, I have often asked myself what the one unmistakable distinguishing mark of the true servant of God is. Is it the power to do miracles? No. Demons can do miracles. Is it the ability to speak in tongues? No. Demons can copy that too. It is none of these primarily. I have come to the conclusion that it is the spirit of the Cross that marks out the true follower of Jesus. The true servant of the Lord is one who has accepted the Cross in his life-a Cross that has slain his self-esteem, self-confidence, self-centredness and everything else of himself, and that has reduced him to a nonentity. This is the only clear mark by which we can distinguish the one who is really serving the Lord from the one who is serving himself. Other evidences can be deceptive."
9. Keep in mind Jesus' own words in Matthew Chapter 7 and verses 15-20: "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus by their fruit you will recognise them."
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