ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: UNDERSTANDING PROPHECY
December 2, 2016
Temperature sure is different in these parts. I thought I was still pretty much an Alaskan, but after this past year in central Texas, something sure has changed. Got up yesterday morning, and it was 30 degrees here in Selah, Washington. (We are visiting and staying with very close friends.) Didn’t feel much like it used to when I was a kid running around Barrow, Alaska.
I remember those long days….uhhh, nights (you know, the continual days of perpetual darkness – 66 of them in Barrow)…..during the winter when the temperature would hover around the minus 45 mark for weeks on end. Suddenly, we’d have a heat wave. The temperature would shoot up to zero. Can’t tell you how many times I ran outside in my tee-shirt at zero exclaiming about how warm it was.
Yup, times have changed. Or maybe I have. You think?
And what’s all this baloney I hear about global warming? One of these days, you ought to go on the Internet and check out Joe Bastardi’s commentary on global warming. I’m no meteorologist, but Joe sure is. He’s tracked the weather patterns around the globe going back for centuries, and says that “global warming” is just so much political hype on the part of extremists who are pushing a socialist agenda. Joe says that the planet goes through natural cyclical warming and cooling every 500 years. The Weather Channel folks apparently agree with him on that, too.
OK. Enough prattle. My coffee’s poured, and I’m ready for my go-juice … as soon as it cools down enough so I can drink it.
Periodically, during the past 11 years of publishing these Coffee Breaks, I done articles on prophecy and prophets.
Have you ever looked at the lives of those Old Testament prophets, or considered the things they went through in order to convey the Word of the Lord? Prophets of the modern era – those that are real, that is – pretty much parallel those from the days of Samuel, David, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Hosea, and all.
No, they don’t run out into the desert and eat locusts and wild honey, like John the Baptist did, and I don’t think they lay on their side for a year like Ezekiel was instructed to do; but the Lord pretty much deals with prophets today like He did back then. They become the Word that they are instructed to deliver. Their lives often parallel the message they are sent to deliver.
We’ve got a lot of folks today that dote on End Times, the Great Tribulation, the Rapture, and all of that; and they get a pretty big following in churches with all their “prophecies” and predictions. Some people even like to call them prophets.
Nawwww. Huh Uhh! Nope! They’re not prophets. They don’t live the word they preach, and most of them have never heard the Lord speak to them in person. They’ve just done some figuring of their own, stuck a bunch of scriptures together to make it fit theirparticular mindset or religious agenda, and called it the Word of the Lord.
It doesn’t work like that. That doesn’t mean that everything they’ve studied or figured out is all wrong. A lot of it is, but that’s beside the point. That just isn’t how the Lord works.
Prophecy, you see, is a living Word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord. It usually gets spoken through His chosen representatives rather than His uttering thunderous words like He did from the top of Mount Sinai in Moses’ time, but it is still a current, living, breathing Word that imposes change in the lives of those to whom it is sent.
That change isn’t fear, either! It doesn’t drive folks to panic, and it isn’t spoken in vague, mystical terms that cause people to scratch their heads and try to figure out what’s been said. Prophecy – real prophecy – comes through the Spirit of Prophecy; and that’s one of the five principal attributes or character facets of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s talk about that for a second.
Jesus was an Apostle – meaning He was sent by the Father. He was a Prophet – meaning that He knew the full picture of the past, present and future; and He shared His plans and purposes for His people. He was an Evangelist – meaning He came “to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Jesus was a Pastor. Actually, a pastor – again, a real one – is someone who shepherds people, watches over them, makes sure they get fed and cared for. Peter refers to Jesus in his epistles (see I Peter 5:4) as the Chief Shepherd.
Finally, Jesus was a Teacher. He patiently explained the principles of His Kingdom to all who would listen. He taught the multitudes. He taught His disciples.
See the picture? Jesus was what we sometimes refer as the “Five-fold” ministry all rolled into one person. It was who He was and is.
We’ve had these nice, sanitary, religious terms that have been popular during the past centuries so folks can avoid the use of “apostle” or “prophet” or even “teacher” because Satan has robbed God’s people through the current church system of understanding who and what Jesus’ ministry is all about. We’ve had a religious taboo about using the terms “apostle” and “prophet” because “those folks back in Jesus’ day were really Holy! They walked and talked with Jesus.”
Yes. They did. But someone please tell me what makes them holier than the people that Jesus walks and talks with today? I thought that Jesus Christ was the same, yesterday, today, and forever. At least that’s what Paul wrote.
If Jesus was Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher all rolled into one when He walked and talked on the Earth, why is it He is suddenly no longer all those things? And where did we get this ridiculous religious term, “missionary”?
Missionary? OK, break that word down. Mission…. Let’s see. The last time I checked, a mission was what someone was sent to do.
Hmmmmm…. Sent? Isn’t that the definition of what we call “apostle”? In the Greek, the word, apostolos, simply means: one sent forth, one commissioned and sent on a particular mission. So how come we have to get religious about it and call an apostle a “missionary.” Think maybe it’s because we don’t want to admit that the Lord still calls and sends people forth today the way He did when He walked and talked on the earth? “Apostle” isn’t a title for some Holy office. It’s a mission. It’s a calling. It’s something the Lord sends people forth with: a commission.
The same is true of a prophet.
See! We really are going to talk about prophets. I was just laying some foundations in your understanding so you’d get the picture. The real picture – not a religious one.
Here again, the Greek word for prophet is prophetes. It comes from two root words in the Greek language: pro,and phemi.Pro,of course, is a common preposition simply denoting in front of, or before. Phemi comes from a pair of other Greek words and simply means: to show, or make known one’s thoughts; to speak, or to say.
Simple, right? A prophet, therefore, is just like an apostle in the sense that he or she is sent on a mission to speak or to convey the thoughts and intentions of the Lord Jesus Christ. It, like that of the apostle, is a calling – not some Holy title or office.
Jesus wasn’t into titles and offices. In fact, He specifically forbade the disciples to engage in the use of titles and offices (see Matthew 23: 8-10) like the Pharisees and Sadducees did. He forbid the use of pomp and ceremony, and commanded His disciples to function as servants saying, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”
I’m getting a bit off track here, so let me return to the topic of prophets, and how the Lord calls them, or deals with them.
The apostle Paul wrote, describing it like this:
Ephesians 2:19-20: Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.
In so saying, Paul describes those called to apostolic and prophetic ministry as foundational. That’s what I want to deal with.
In order to lay foundations, a builder has to know exactly where he is going. He has to have the plan laid out, drawn out, and detailed before him. Jesus Christ is both the Master Builder, and the chief corner stone – meaning that He has laid out the plan to establish for Himself a people. As the chief corner stone, he is the guide marker, the first laid stone by which the entire building gets its bearings.
The apostles and prophets are the builders – the construction supervisors, if you will – who know the plan and deliver the instructions to the workers. Apostles lay the foundation of the building by virtue of their commission. They go forth to build, to establish in the lives of people who’ve never had the proper foundations laid the basis for a relationship with Jesus Christ. They often work in tandem with prophets who deliver the instructional, directive, and sometimes corrective Word that steers the growth of folks in their relationship with the Lord.
Sometimes those called to apostolic ministry are also anointed for prophetic ministry. The reverse is also true. There are those whose primary calling or anointing – as we sometimes call it – is prophetic, but they also function apostolically.
Let’s talk about these two callings for a minute. The apostle Paul describes himself as one who saw the Lord personally, “as of one born out of due time,” meaning that he was not one of the original twelve, but chosen as part of that first twelve to fulfill the original sending forth. (See I Corinthians 15:8)
Each of the original twelve saw Jesus personally. They walked and talked with Him. He was their constant companion. By virtue of their walk and talk with Him in person, He conveyed His intentions and purposes – the master building plan, if you will – in a way that none of them could possibly mistake.
His purposes, His calling, His plan – none of it – were mysteries to the original twelve. There was nothing hidden to them – well, almost nothing! They didn’t know when He was going to come back, but that wasn’t important. What was important was that they get on with the task of building an Ekklesia for Him – a cohesive people who knew Him personally, walked with him in and after the Spirit, and knew His calling to them. Ekklesia was the calling together and preparation of a people for a day when they would be united as One in the same way that a bridegroom and bride are joined.
Among those first twelve were some who were actually referred to as prophets, rather than apostles, even though they were all called to apostolic ministry.
What distinguished them apart from the rest of the body of Christ was the fact that they walked and talked with Him in person. They administered over and supervised the early growth of the Ekklesia as a whole, and the individual Ekklesias in the towns, cities, and communities where they traveled.
Nothing has changed in that today.
People are still being called to apostolic and prophetic ministries for the very same reason. The religious structure of our churches hates to admit it, and in fact, we have many – if not most – major denominations denying the existence of apostolic and prophetic callings today, to their own sorrow and detriment.
What distinguishes these people from other callings like those of the pastor, the teacher, or the evangelist, is that they – like the original twelve – also experience the personal and visible presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the course of being called by Him. With that often comes a period of walking and talking with Him in person – visibly. For some it comes as it did for Paul on the road to Damascus where the Lord appears suddenly and dramatically, bringing them to a halt in their normal course of affairs. For others, it comes as a vision. For others yet, it comes in the form of dreams and even the ongoing audible voice of the Lord.
In each case, there is that distinct and very visible presence of the Lord, and a very direct and audible call from Him to accomplish a specific mission. With that kind of call comes an authority and a purpose that cannot be shaken – no matter what happens in their lives.
That authority supersedes the less foundational callings such as that of the evangelist or pastor or teacher. Those who have the less foundational and more nurturing callings, however, clearly recognize and know the authority that comes from those who are foundational.
I’ve met folks who refer to themselves as “evangelists” who, in fact, are anointed with apostolic or prophetic callings. Because it isn’t popular to refer to themselves as apostles or prophets because of the way in which religious spirits have demeaned those who are supposedly of lesser importance, some so-called “evangelists” are really prophets cloaked in the appearance of evangelists. Same with the so-called “missionaries.” Missionaries who are called by the Lord and sent forth to do that kind of foundational work, who also meet the other criteria for having walked personally with the Lord, are in fact operating in an apostolic calling.
By the same token, there are lots of folks running around as would-be prophets or apostles – and even referred to as such by some in the body of Christ – who do not meet the criteria. They’ve never heard the Lord or seen Him in person. They’ve never walked with Him or actually received specific calling, purpose and direction from Him. Some of them are pastors who aspire to apostolic or prophetic callings, but simply haven’t been anointed or called by the Lord as such. Some are evangelists who likewise have neither been called or anointed to prophetic or apostolic ministry but have taken the title and position to themselves without authorization from the Lord.
It results in a cheapening of the true authority of the Lord because the word and the results that follow do not measure up. They speak with a supposed authority, but the Lord doesn’t back it up with accompanying proofs. They produce a sickly body of people who don’t really know the Lord as He desires them to know Him. These would-be apostles or prophets produce folks from their ministries who lack authority and the “signs following” that Jesus promised.
Why? Because they can’t believe what isn’t given in Truth. They can’t trust what doesn’t come from True authority – the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ NEVER appears to someone in person and calls them to fulfill a specific apostolic or prophetic mission without giving them the accompanying proofs of that calling in the form of signs, wonders, AND a healthy body of believers whose lives likewise produce those same proofs.
Well, it appears that I didn’t get to my goal today of sharing with you the preparation process that the Lord takes his apostles and prophets through so they can accomplish what He sends them forth to do. Guess that’ll wait for next week.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call normally takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number is(712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#.For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400.If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!Be blessed in the city, blessed in the field, blessed coming in, and blessed going out!
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