Mondays Meditation: An Overview of Prophecy with Lisa Hunt-Wotton
Recently I’ve been meditating on the role of prophecy in this new post modern age. Often we get so many mixed messages about what prophecy is and too often I see the Old Testament style of prophecy being demonstrated and it really grates on my spirit. At the end of this article I want to chat about something that I am working through on this issue. Before I do this lets look at the Old Testament model of prophecy, the model that Jesus ushered in, and the counterfiet prophet.
The Old Testament prophets were all about speaking on behalf of God to the people of God, Israel. Before the incarnation of Christ, the people had no access to God directly and so God used appointed prophets to speak His words to the people. They would warn them of their departure from the law and His ways. The Old Testament Prophets would warn the people of their sin, call them back from idolatry and then talk about the impending punishment and devastation that would come if the people didn’t obey. It was pretty gruesome stuff.
The message was repent or perish (Ezekiel 18:31-32).
Other terms for the prophets were; seer (someone who saw visions), messenger, servant of the law, watchmen (a person who watched events and gave advance warning).
When Christ came to usher in the kingdom of God, He made a way for every person to come boldly before God the father. As we become sons and daughters of the King then we too have access into the throne room of God (to use that analogy). Therefore the role of Old Testament Prophet has changed.
Of course there are gifts of prophecy and there is also the office of prophet as mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers”. The KEY to this however is that they are a GIFT to the body of Christ.
WHY: for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; the end result of this gift is that people will be encouraged and hope will be imparted to them, and they will receive comfort. They will not be left confused or uncertain about what they should do or not do.
The counterfeit variety of New Testament prophecy, which we see so widely in society today, takes the forms of predictions to individuals or groups which claim to be direct oracles from God Himself. As I have mentioned in my articles about cults ( What is a Cult?), these leaders say that THEY are the messenger, THEY speak on behalf of God.
You are able to tell the difference been the truth and counterfiet:
1: Do you feel comforted, built up, encouraged?
Or is it delivered like an ultimatum and cannot be questioned?
2: Is the word that is given open for discussion, prayer and can be tested?
OR is it non negotiable or delivered with doom?
3: Are you left feeling peaceful, does what the person saying resonate in your spirit?
OR does it bring fear and discomfort?
4: Is it prefaced with humility and openness?
OR is it prefaced with God has told me. or The Holy Spirit has told me, or This is what God want to say to you.
5: Do you feel equipped and filled with hope to move forward?
OR are you left feeling ashamed and filled with guilt?
6: Is it a gift?
OR is it a punishment?
It gets confusing because the counterfeit sounds almost right as it is based on the model from the Old Testament. We need to remember that although some of these attributes continued into the New Testament. Jesus ushered in a new way for us to operate. One that brings life and one of inclusion, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams’ Acts 2:17. All people, men and women, old and young. He also ripped the veil in two, the barrier that once separated God from the people is now open and we all have access to a relationship with God.
Speaking to God and hearing from God is no longer an exclusive privilege of the prophets.
I have been praying and meditating on the role of the prophet as a bridge builder. This has come from some changes that have happened in my own life. I have shared this with mentors and spiritual leaders and it has also resonated with them.
Personally, I believe that we are coming to the end of the Modern Church age and that we are in a place of transition and change (see article by Dr John Drane). This often feels uncomfortable, stretching and painful. I know that this has been my experience. Change is coming and it needs to come (more to be said on this later).
Tranisition is also known as liminal space.
Liminal space is a threshold. It is a dark space, a place of transformation. It is leaving what is established and normal and moving into the in-between space. Liminal space is God space, crazy time, grief, transformation and a place of trust. Transformation comes when something else falls apart. Like Jonah it is being swallowed into the deep and being spat out onto a new shore. At some time we have all have been thrown in a pit, thrown out of the boat, thrown out of Egypt. This is liminal space.
In this space the prophet takes the role of bridge builder. They are able to build a bridge from the old space into the new space and hold the tension.. Richard Rohr says, in regard to the emerging church, that we need to be able to honour and applaud the old and also embrace and move into then new. This means appreciating and encouraging both. Bringing hope to both sides of the bridge.
A brigde holds weight, holds tension, and is walked upon. A person in this role needs to be strong enough and wise enough to hold weight, hold tension and be prepared to get walked over. You become a transition space for people to move from one space to the next. You understand both sides, believe in both sides, love both sides and can bring understanding, reconciliation and restoration to both sides.
Whether it is a relationship, an epoch or a social justice issue, bridges play the role of bringing both sides together.
We need more bridges…
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