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In this post, we are talking to legitimate prophets of God who sincerely care about honoring Him. We are not talking to all of you pathetic posers who go around putting words in God’s mouth that He never said. If you think it’s clever to use God’s Name and reputation to get a fan club for yourself on earth, then nothing we’re going to say in this post applies to you. Realize that even if you are saved, God has some fabulous ways of nailing you in eternity for your defiance on earth. God is extremely protective over His flock, and those who intentionally mislead them on earth without repenting are going to be in for some very devastating surprises.
Now that we’ve clarified who it is we’re speaking to, let’s get down to business. God’s dedicated prophets are vastly outnumbered by blaspheming windbags in this world, so if you’re feeling alone in your particular patch of geography, you might very well be. But you are not alone on the globe. There are still prophets who are devoted to God in this world, it’s just hard for us to find each other since we aren’t setting up shrines to ourselves on the internet and flashing titles in public.
This calling is not easy, and to shape you up to be strong in this role, God is going to slam you over some pretty uncomfortable bumps. Every real prophet needs to learn how to stand tall even after God has made him look like a complete fool in the eyes of other people. In this post, we’ll talk about how you should respond after God tells you to prophesy a message that He then fails to follow through on.
When you are the real deal, you treat God’s Name like the sacred thing that it is, and your worst nightmare is misrepresenting Him in public. You don’t open your mouth until you’re sure about what you’re doing, or until God’s patience runs out and He drives the words out of you. This is all fine and well, but what is your confidence rooted in? When God delivers a specific, future defining prophecy through you, are you then waiting on pins for it to come true so that you can feel confirmed in your calling? Of course you are—all prophets do this at first. But this is something we must learn to stop doing because trying to rest your confidence in God on His logical follow through is guaranteed to make you crash and burn. Your confidence as a prophet of God must be rooted on what’s going on between your soul and Him—not on external events. If you are the real deal, then you KNOW that God called you into this role. If you are wise, you’ve already pleaded with Him not to let you go astray and you’ve surrendered yourself entirely into His hands. If there’s any group that can’t afford to NOT fully surrender, it is those who God calls to speak for Him. There is no room for rebellion in this calling, because God will not tolerate His Name and Person being intentionally maligned by those He appoints as leaders over His flock. We need to be getting perfect scores on every assignment He puts in front of us, and the only way to do that is to make sure we are holding nothing back in the submission department. But once we have taken care of business with the Holy Spirit, then we need to stand on the wonderful reassurances that He gives us. If you have asked God to have His total way with your mouth, then that is what He will have. It doesn’t matter how weird and nonsensical some message rolls out, you have to stand on your total submission to God and His faithfulness to you.
God is a multitasker and He wants to be able to use you for a wide range of tasks. Prophets are called on by God to serve three main functions. First, we communicate deeper insights about who He is and what He wants—the purpose here is to edify the flock and guide obedient souls towards a deeper walk with God. Second, we expose rebellion and educate souls about God’s definition of sin (which is far broader than their own)—the purpose here is to drive rebels back towards repentance. Third, we warn people about what God is planning to do in the future so that they can look to Him to prepare them properly. Now of course we don’t do any of this on our own—we only speak to the flock when God speaks to us, but most of His messages will fall into one of these three categories.
For devoted prophets, the future speaking category is the most difficult. Convicting people is certainly no picnic, but we prophets are endowed with an intense zeal for God to be glorified. Being in touch with His wrath gives us the energy and courage we need to stand boldly before those who are defying Him and tell them off. After all, we are loyal to God, and we certainly won’t stand back and smile while He is being maligned. But the future business is much more awkward. For starters, people already have an unhealthy lust for future knowledge. Too often they will be attracted to our messages for all the wrong reasons. Instead of listening to what God is saying and considering the spiritual ramifications of His words, they want to focus on how we prophets got our hands on such privileged information. Utter rot, but this is what we have to contend with: people who want to focus on us instead of on what God is saying. And of course it doesn’t help that the flock has become over saturated with false prophecies, thanks to all of these blabbermouths in our midst. God’s messages do not stand out to them as they should because they think we’re just one more in a long line of fortune tellers. So while we understand how significant it is that God is giving us all a heads up about what’s coming, we’re often unable to get anyone else to treat His messages as the priceless gifts that they are. Too often our words are just thrown onto the heap of false prophecies the flock has already heard, and the whole pile is forgotten as soon as some other entertaining speaker stands up in their midst. But of course none of this is your problem—it’s not on you to make people listen to God. You are just His mouthpiece.
Timing is the real nightmare when it comes to prophesying the future, because God loves to be vague in this area. As soon as we say something is going to happen, everyone wants to know precisely when. We’re curious as well, but God often refuses to give specifics. Now of course people want you to commit yourself so they can whip out Deut. 18:21-22 and tell you if you’re a legitimate prophet or not. But you don’t need other people to tell you this, because you already know what you are. Once God says you are His prophet, that’s what you are, and the Scriptural tests become irrelevant because there is no test for prophecy which God has given that He hasn’t also contradicted. The simple reality is that you cannot add to God’s messages for Him. Your educated guesses aren’t worth a hill of beans, and we mustn’t muddy the waters by tagging our own human assumptions onto the end of the Holy Spirit’s words. We can only give the flock what He has given us to tell them. If they feel it’s not enough, tough. If God’s messages raise questions which we are not able to answer, then clearly God wants souls to seek Him directly on the matter. We always want to encourage souls to seek their own confirmation from the Holy Spirit, anyway, for our whole purpose as prophets is to keep the flock tightly clustered around their true Shepherd. We’re like barking sheep dogs which keep circling the flock and chasing the strays back towards God. We form a protective perimeter between the flock and the wolves which want to devour them. Naturally we feel our function is very important to the well-being of the flock, and naturally we feel we can’t succeed in our roles if the flock does not respect us. So when God comes along and intentionally discredits us in their eyes, we can’t help feeling confused, upset, and, well, betrayed.
If God has just made you look like a complete fool by having you predict a specific event which He then didn’t follow through on, the first thing you need to understand is that this isn’t some kind of punishment, nor is He declaring His rejection of you. When you are devoted to serving God, it’s hard not to feel devastated the first time He pulls the rug out from under you. Naturally your first instinct is to assume you misunderstood Him. But here you need to be careful not to lose your grip on reality. Look back over the series of events and pay special attention to what your heart attitude was. Were you anxious to please? Were you careful not to speak until you had a clear directive? When you know you did everything right and that your soul was sincerely seeking to honor God, don’t accept the conclusion that you messed up. You did not mess up—God messed you up, and He did it on purpose. He knew from the start that He had no intention of following through on the prophecy He told you to speak.
Remember Jonah? Do you think God didn’t know He was lying when He had Jonah predict that Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days? How did Jonah react when God reneged on His word? It wasn’t very pretty. Jonah’s self-righteous snit teaches us how problematic it is to get too emotionally invested in a particular outcome. No matter what God tells and shows us, we need to stay flexible. We must always leave room for God to change His mind. After all, He is the King. He isn’t bound by anything—least of all His own prophecies. As a prophet, your biggest danger is straying away from God in your heart. You have to stick close to Him, and that means your loyalty to Him must be based on who He is, not on what He does.
God is your Savior. God is the love of your life. It’s guaranteed that He’s going to act wild and unpredictable sometimes. If you refuse to accept this, you will end up fifty miles from where you need to be. Prophets that don’t learn how to stay fluid with God end up stalled and stuck. They end up obsessing over some particular message and refusing to move on. They end up trying to force the prophecy to come true in order to save their own reputations. We see false prophets falling into that last trap all the time. By now countless men have announced a specific date when Christ would return only to end up feeling stupid when He didn’t show up. In response, many of these men insisted that their prophecies did come true—and then they tell us ridiculous stories about how Christ’s return did happen, and we just didn’t notice because He was so subtle about it. Others try to find some way to fulfill their failed prophecies by sweeping everything under the “metaphorical” rug. This is where they start telling us how so-and-so symbolized this, and such-and-such symbolized that, therefore God’s prophecy was figuratively fulfilled. All of these games are just carnal attempts to save face and you want nothing to do with them.
When God sets you up to look like a fool and a liar in front of your immediate audience, don’t try to salvage your reputation with a bunch of lame excuses. Your reputation is God’s property, and He reserves the right to destroy it. Submission is what is needed here. As rotten as it feels, you need to step back and let God hang you out to dry if that is what He wants to do. You need to leave your reputation in His hands and let Him have His way with it. He is your Defender in life, and you mustn’t throw Him over for some cheaper substitute. When people throw your unfulfilled prophecies back in your face, look to God to give you the words to say. If He leaves you speechless, then don’t say anything. This is a test of loyalties. You and God both know that you obeyed Him and that He set you up for a fall. Are you the sort of servant He can call on for anything or are you only willing to obey as long as His assignments make you look good?
God wants you to be an all-purpose prophet—one that He can use to accomplish a wide variety of goals. If you’re going to walk off the job the minute a prophecy isn’t totally fulfilled in your sight, you aren’t going to be very useful to Him. As a devoted prophet, you want to be useful to God, and you want to be very pleasing in His sight. That means you have to be willing to let Him make a mockery out of you in public. It’s not fun, but it comes with the territory with this calling. God has been letting His prophets get mocked and slaughtered by Satan’s human pawns for thousands of years. We need to be honest about this so we can go into the war with realistic expectations. Real prophets always become prime targets, and God’s chosen people are always the ones who give us the worst time. If we’re going to excel in this calling, we have to learn to get our affirmation from God alone, and we can’t be questioning our calling every time things don’t turn out the way we expected. Our King is wild, and we have to be willing to get tossed about in His storm if we’re going to honor Him in this role.
When people talk about Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, Isaiah is the first prophet to come to mind. People love to quote Isaiah’s detailed descriptions of our glorious Lord, but no one talks about how Isaiah lived and prophesied over 700 years before Christ was ever born. Put yourself in his sandals and think about how much fun it wasn’t to go around talking about some coming King who would fix all of Israel’s problems when that King never showed up? Isaiah was actively prophesying during the reigns of five kings. Every time the crown changed hands, do you think he wasn’t on pins hoping that the next guy would turn out to be Yahweh’s Messiah? Isaiah started off with King Uzziah—a good king who ended up tanking. Then there was good King Jotham, nasty King Ahaz, really good King Hezekiah, and finally satanic Manasseh. The last king Isaiah ever saw was a bloodthirsty creep who was probably responsible for his execution. If Isaiah’s motivation to serve God was depending on God making him look good to the public eye, how long would he have lasted? Do you think he wasn’t mocked and challenged? Do you think people didn’t ask him when this Messiah of his was ever going to show up? Do you think he wasn’t accused of talking just to hear himself? It was Isaiah who started off the famous Chapter 53 Messianic prophecy with:
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed? (Isa. 53:1)
A guy gets tired of talking about a Messiah who never shows up. No doubt a lot of eyes rolled when Isaiah started going on once again about “the Root of Jesse.” No doubt hecklers said that Isaiah had roots for brains and that he was nothing more than a delusional windbag. And of course Isaiah wasn’t alone. He was surrounded by fakers who were all gaining favor by telling the people what they wanted to hear—in Yahweh’s Name of course. If Isaiah hadn’t learned to get his strength from his personal bond with God, he never would have lasted. Yet he did learn this, and he did last, and even to this day, his words are bringing great glory to God.
What kind of prophet do you want to be? Some flash in the pan like Jonah who storms off in a huff, or one like Isaiah who honors God for centuries? We cannot let God’s wildness intimidate us. We have to expect it and learn to embrace it as the positive thing that it is. When He makes us look like fools and liars, we need to remember how worthless the approval of people is. We serve God, and it is His approval we are living for. If He wants to use us to lay snares for people and delude them into not recognizing His Voice, so be it. If He wants to use us to lay the groundwork for glory which He won’t collect until we’re long gone, so be it. All that will matter in the end is how well we served our King. Serving God well means fully submitting ourselves into His hands and putting no limits on how He can use us. Choose the route of total submission and let go of your reputation among men.