Thursday, 12 March 2009

Prophets and Predictions

We are living in days when more and more 'doom' prophecies are being published. This article will not say that they are all wrong; many of them will be in line with the events that Scripture predicts. My concerns here are not with the actual content of the prophecies but with the timing and our reaction to them. (A longer article will appear on in a couple of weeks dealing with the testing of prophet and prophecy too)

Reaction to doom prophecies

The reaction to these prophecies, by some Christians, is panic and fear. The latest David Wilkinson prophecy is such a one. He begins:

"I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to send out an urgent message to all on our mailing list, and to friends and to bishops we have met all over the world. AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. IT IS GOING TO BE SO FRIGHTENING, WE ARE ALL GOING TO TREMBLE - EVEN THE GODLIEST AMONG US. For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires—such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago." (Capitals in the original).

He then ends:

"Note: I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off. I have unburdened my soul to you. Do with the message as you choose."-

Is it true? I do not know, but for many panic and fear has set in. The timing is an issue I want to bring up here. First this is an 'urgent message' and he is 'compelled by the Holy Spirit'. However, he has been talking about these things for 10 years and now not far off. Does God frighten His people like this, without the encouragement of who He is? With such an emphasis on the calamity it is possible to miss the elements of security that is in the message from Psalm 11.

I guess that many responded to the message in the same way because in days since then the messages have been centred on our relationship with our Lord and not on the pending doom. God will bring what God will bring; God will allow what God will allow; but He does not change in His relationship to His people. If He wants to protect us from the calamities as he did with the lands and possessions of the Israelites in Egypt, He will and if He wants to provide supernaturally as He did with Elijah at the brook and then with the widow in Zarephath, He will. If he allows Christians to be killed then He will receive them into His Kingdom with open arms (see Stephen in Acts 7:55-58). In all of this, God is sovereign and the attention is on Him not what is happening.

Prophetic words or practical advice?

This brings me from what are put forward as prophetic words that must be tested to the practical advice that can so easily be accepted as being from God because the man is a prophet!

"First, I give you a practical word I received for my own direction. If possible lay in store a thirty-day supply of non-perishable food, toiletries and other essentials. In major cities, grocery stores are emptied in an hour at the sign of an impending disaster."

I received this same advice (store food) over 35 years ago, at that time as a young Christian I responded but these days I see things very differently. Is this right, should we as Christians be storing up food for ourselves on this earth?

I want to put a few thoughts forward here as to why I think such advice is not from the Lord. First, it is selfish! It is looking after me and not caring about anyone else. Will you share such food with the 'heathen' down your road? Will you stay within your barricaded home eating your food and not bothering what is happening outside? More than that, will you defend yourself even to the point of killing those who seek to come and take your food away? All this may seem farfetched but I don't think so if we really lived through the days described in the prophecy.

But there is another side to this and Dave Wilkinson mentions it on his blog on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 under the title, "Who Dreamed up this Plan for Survival?" He takes through the story of Elijah and the ravens in I Kings 17: 2–3 and then the widow of Zarephath and ends with the words:

"The evidence is overwhelming: God—our adviser, counselor and survival expert—has a detailed plan for every one of his children, to help us face the worst of times!"

Please tell me where in this passage the Lord condones the storing of food for 30 days?

Every day the ravens brought the food. If the ravens didn't show up at the command of God, Elijah went hungry. He did not have a 30 day supply – he did not have a day's supply; the Lord provided day by day as he needed. Even the brook was supernatural to continue running in drought – there was a supply from a natural spring somewhere that God had created.

Even when he went to the widow – did she have a 30 day supply – No! She had enough for one meal and that didn't even include Elijah. Every day there was still the same amount of meal, just enough for her and her son but every day for as long as needed there was enough to eat for them and Elijah! The lesson is not to try to work things out naturally but it is to trust the Lord. If it is His judgment then He takes care of His children as He wants!

He is to be central in all this but if we get our eyes focussed on the timing or what can we do to protect ourselves we take our eyes off of the Lord and that is catastrophic.

Our place is to keep our eyes on Him and seek Him as to what he will do for us and what he wants us to do for others. Preaching imminent doom and gloom will not help many because most will not believe, as in the days of Noah, preaching the answer in the love and protection of Christ will give everyone the opportunity to find Him.

What does the Bible teach us should be our reaction to falling stock markets, potential riots and the general anti-Christian atmosphere around today?

"You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end." - Matthew 24:6

"But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." - Luke 21:28

Whereas these Scriptures are placed in the very end times, I believe the lessons the Lord gave our really relevant to us in today's world. We will hear of actual wars and then we will hear just rumours but whatever – do NOT be frightened. These things must take place but I am in charge of them. And when you see all this happen don't be stooped over with dread but stand up straight lift up your heads and look because your redemption is very near!

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