7 reasons why hearing many contemporary prophets can be harmful for you

Marko Joensuu         3 comments
I believe passionately in the value of the prophetic ministry, but for years, I have simply ignored most contemporary prophecies that are often paraded in the Charismatic Church as the latest word of God.

To me prophetic ministry is not primarily a ministry of proclamation, but mainly something that happens when I seek God in solitude. And I might sound selfish, but it has always been more important for me to hear God for myself rather than the Church. But as I have sought to hear the Lord for myself, it has often led to blessing the Church.

Although I have seen much of contemporary prophecy as worthless, I used to think that mostly, it was just harmless fun. I mean, how many significant prophetic words will an individual be able to absorb in a lifetime? What's the damage in hearing too many of them? Most of these prophetic words seem to concern the seasons the whole Church is presumably going through the same time—everywhere in the world. But that's how horoscopes work. Everyone with the same star sign is supposed to go through the same season, and it seems that the Hebrew dates and numbers have become our star signs.

But when I look around, I see one Christian promoted, another persecuted, one going through sickness, another experiencing healing, and so on. Yes, there are some seasons that everyone will experience the same time, like World War 2 or major revivals, but most of the time, not the whole Church is going through the same season at the same time. 

So, you can be blessed whilst your church is in decline. And you can be in trouble when your church is in revival. But what is God doing in your life? And are you hearing His voice? Are you obeying His voice? These are the important questions.

But I have come to believe that consuming too many contemporary prophecies might in fact be harmful to the Church.

In the New Testament, there are clear examples of personal prophecy, prophecy for churches and even national and international prophecy. But what is noteworthy is that not that many national and international prophecies are mentioned, but the ones that are mentioned are deeply meaningful. In fact, if you look at the Bible prophecy, it tracks the whole world history from the perspective of God's plan, but it is all one way or another connected with the covenants God made with Abraham—Israel, the nations, the Church, all of it. For thousands of years, God has been working the same plan.

There are national and international prophecies, but God works according to His own seasons, not according to our clock. And the Hebrew calendar is really a Babylonian calendar—not God's calendar.

The truth is that in today’s Charismatic Church prophecy is suffering from a severe inflation—it is possible to receive a new prophecy each day to your email inbox, but most of these prophecies have very little value. They are generic and addressed to all Christians, but most of the time, they are not even actionable. 

Most of the time, they seem like some sort of spiritual weather reports. 
  
I have a handful of major prophetic words God has given to me that I have spent a lifetime in putting into action. I know many ministers who have served in ministry for a lifetime simply because they heard one prophetic word that called them into ministry. I don’t suggest that as Christians we should suffer from a lifetime of drought, so that we should only expect to hear from God once in ten years. But we aren't going to receive significant prophetic words every day. Most of your communication from God is gentle, daily guidance.

The reason is simple. God isn't going to change His plan every day. Instead, He reveals to us His plan, and He works to accomplish His plan. Infrequently, He will bring more clarity to His plan, but most of the time, He is simply reminding us of His plan.

Personally, I expect to hear from God every day. But only a very tiny fraction of what I hear from the Holy Spirit is something that I would even consider sharing to others as prophecy. Most of the time, the Holy Spirit is encouraging me in my daily walk, giving me direction or illuminating the Scripture.

I have made most key decisions in my life through prayer, seeking to hear the Holy Spirit first. But that is the business between God and I. Most of it is not relevant for the rest of the Church, and often I share these experiences only as examples, when they seem to help teach other Christians how they can hear from God.

But for years I thought that the kind of ‘easy come easy go’ prophecy that we see every day in Charismatic websites was at worst just a waste of time. Yet there are seven clear reasons why consuming these kinds of prophecies excessively can in fact be harmful to your spiritual life.

1. They disconnect you from the Word

Below is a typical prophecy that seems relatively harmless, as it mainly duplicates Jesus’ prophecy about the negative news we hear every day:

"I heard the Father say, 'I will begin to shake the news media through the perilous events coming upon the earth.' As news anchors are sent to certain locations where devastation and dangerous conditions emerge, there will be those news stations whose anchors will not be able to withstand the stress and pressure of reporting horrendous news day after day."

You could argue that this isn’t even a prophecy, as we have already seen that happen so many times. And it really only repeats what Jesus says in Matthew 24:6-8:

"And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."

But why do you need to ‘prophesy’ what’s already in the Bible? Isn’t this prophecy simply redundant? But it is precisely these kinds of prophecies that have created a culture where many Christians are deaf to the Word—unless it is prophesied to them!

I have met countless of Charismatic Christians who are deaf to the Word—unless it is quoted 'prophetically' by some well-known Charismatic leader. Only then they will accept the Word. Otherwise it seems to have no relevance to them.

I can read chapter after chapter of the Bible to them—all pages with a clear message directly from the Lord—but they seem unable to absorb it. The Word just doesn’t seem to connect with their inner being.

Our Charismatic generation is astonishingly disconnected from the Word, and prophecies that simply rephrase the Bible don’t help the situation at all, no matter how well-meaning they sound. This has taken the Church to a place of biblical illiteracy. I have another word for that place—disobedience!

As a prophetically gifted person I have come to realise that precisely because of my gift, I must study the Bible as if my life depended on it. Because it does. 

And that means I can’t afford to pass on any ‘prophetic’ interpretations of the Bible, just because I feel like it, but I must discover and validate those prophetic applications of the Bible through a thorough Bible study—just like the rest of the Church. If a Bible text has a prophetic application, it should be possible to make it clear to other readers through proper study of the text, so that they don’t have to rely on my ‘prophetic’ imagination for the interpretation. Because if they have to rely on that, the interpretation is probably just my imagination.

Our contemporary interpretation must be consistent with the original meaning of the text. Yes, God does speak to us prophetically in our current situation through the Bible. But if that happens, we must study the Bible text properly and not just read whatever we want into it.

We have created a 'prophetic' culture that doesn’t take the Bible seriously. But prophets should take the Bible text more seriously than any other ministry and treat the Bible text with holy respect.

2. They conceal the real purposes of God in our generation

One of the now clearly false prophecies given out a few years ago was a prophecy about ISIS bringing Armageddon and the anti-Christ. From biblical perspective, this fairly ‘popular’ prophecy could have been proven false from the beginning, and I have dealt with it in an earlier blog post

It should be obvious to anyone that the West—and the Muslims in the Middle East—will suffer from terrorism for years to come, but the much prophesied caliphate is clearly failing to materialise.

But what’s the harm done when we share these kinds of prophecies? A few Charismatic authors sold a few books that are now in the bargain bin? And now these authors have moved on to other things, often cleverly camouflaging their past false interpretations. 

But the damage created by these kinds of prophecies is far greater than somebody being charged $15 for a bad book.

At worst, if possible, these kinds of prophecies negate God’s plan for our generation, although I don’t think it is possible to thwart God’s purposes, only that a large part of the Church ends up not partaking in them. Harvesters might be only a few, but there will always be harvesters. The question is if we are one of them.

What is the mission of the Church? It is to preach the gospel to all the nations and make disciples. And to start with, Jesus didn’t say that we should be preaching the gospel to all the nations—expect say the Israelis, Palestinians and the rest of the Middle East. Yet, much of contemporary prophecy is stopping us to preach the gospel in Israel and the Middle East.

Many of today’s prophecies stop us preaching the gospel to the Jews by idolising the modern state of Israel. And they stop many preaching the gospel to the Arabs by demonising the whole Muslim world. 

But in Romans 10:1 Paul says, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” This implies that Paul believed that right then, the whole of Israel was not being saved.

It is my heart’s desire for Israel to be saved. And that is also my heart’s desire for the Palestinians and the Arabs. But many prophets today would claim that Israel doesn’t need salvation and scare nearly anyone off from reaching out to Muslims. Hence they work as an obstruction to God’s salvation plan.

In my book Five Movements: Winning the Battle for Your Prophetic Gift I tell how in 1992 the Holy Spirit spoke to me about broadcasting Christian TV programmes in the Middle East via a satellite, and my current church has been doing that since 2009. 

But when the Holy Spirit spoke to me about this particular satellite, it was five years before it even existed! 

Now, our church is but a small player in this field, and many other churches and mission organisations are doing a far greater work.

Nevertheless, this is work God spoke to me about 25 years ago, at a time when everything what He described seemed impossible.

Now, we are seeing thousands of Muslim refugees being baptised to Christ in Europe. But they didn’t come to Europe and hear the gospel for the first time. In fact, many if not most of them had been exposed to the gospel through satellite TV and the internet.

There are hundreds of Christian organisations doing this kind of work in the Middle East, but often they are poorly supported—both financially and in prayer.

We are seeing the early days of a great harvest in the Middle East. But, instead, many Christians are focused on shutting the borders and demonising the very people who Christ came to save. We should protect our citizens from any sort of extremism but not at the cost of not reaching out to people God wants to save. If we do that, we are no more partnering with God in His plan for the world but can in fact end up working against His plan.

We should be first Christians, and only after that Brits, Americans, Finns or representatives of any other nation. But our patriotism has become an obstruction to God’s salvation plan.

3. They can conceal Satan’s plan for this generation

You might have heard prophecies about the the islamisation of Britain and Europe, or about the coming Sharia law in America.

It is true that there are many more Muslims in Europe and Britain than 50 years ago, but this has been largely a result of immigration. But as we have seen, many of the new refugees are now ready to give their lives to Jesus, as they have seen the calamity that Islamic extremism can bring. Yes, Islamic extremists can abuse the refugee crisis and import terrorism, but they are only a handful of people in the mass of millions.

But what the devil is actually doing here in Britain is eroding people’s belief in God. A December 2016 YouGov poll for The Times has shown a four-point decline in the percentage of people who believe in a higher power, from 32% in February last year to 28% now. 

While we are busy fighting against the islamisation of our nation, our nation is rapidly turning to atheism! False prophets have caused us to fight against the wrong enemy.

4. They can disconnect the Church from her mission in society

Nowadays we hear a lot about the Church’s mission in society. And I very much believe that the Church has that mission. But why is it that so few contemporary prophets stand up for the poor? Why is it that most of them seem to be prophesying prosperity but there is hardly no reference to helping the poor? Is it because they are so busy asking money from them?

Much of the Old Testament prophetic ministry consisted of standing up on behalf of the poor. Isaiah 3:14-15 says,

The Lord will enter into judgment
With the elders of His people
And His princes:
“For you have eaten up the vineyard;
The plunder of the poor is in your houses.
What do you mean by crushing My people
And grinding the faces of the poor?”
Says the Lord God of hosts.

It is not just the prophets, but it is also the Law that spoke on behalf of the poor. Deuteronomy 24:14-15 says,

"You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the Lord and it become sin in you."

And not just the Law and the prophets but also the New Testament. James 5:4 says,

"Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth."

Why is it that we have a prophetic movement that is so oblivious of the poor? How can a prophetic movement be prophetic unless it speaks on behalf of the poor? Or is it so that our prophetic movement has become disconnected from the prophetic message of the Bible?

Matthew 25:41-46 says,

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

I have the privilege of being married to a woman who has a passion for social justice, and she has really opened my eyes in this area.  And because of that, well over 10 years ago, we got involved with the London Living Wage campaign by London Citizens. Both my son and my wife were on the local campaign video produced by a BBC journalist in his free time. And she did many more things for this campaign.

London Citizens is an umbrella organisation of whose members are mainly churches, but there are also trade unions, hospitals, local schools and even synagogues, temples and mosques. You might object to such a loose coalition of vicars, priests, reformed rabbis, moderate imams and trade union activists. But this coalition is made up of mainly Christians that support all political parties. It is led by a rather middle-class Quaker whom I have a privilege of knowing quite well.

Slowly, this campaign started by Christians has been working its way through our society. First, the living wage language was adopted by London’s Evening Standard. Later on, the language was adopted by the Conservative Government, until it became law.

In December 2016, papers reported that up to 6 million Britons have received a pay rise either as a direct or indirect result of the living wage policy.

And it was all started by a few thousand Christians who read the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament and believed in the words of Jesus. They teamed up with the poor and the immigrants, and yes, they also teamed up with the rabbis and the imams, and even with the trade union activists, but this was because they believed the words of Jesus and the prophets about the hospitality that Christians should practise.

And because of this small bunch, we now have millions of Britons who have better chances of raising their kids out of poverty.

Why is it that most Charismatics and Pentecostals who pride themselves in being Bible-believing Christians are not even seen in these kinds of campaigns that actually help millions of people?

Or is it that we are too scared to be seen next to the vicar that we consider too liberal, the Catholic priest we consider to be an idolater or the trade union activist we consider to be a communist?

There is a place for Christian action in society that is based on acts of love. It is not compromising the gospel but demonstrating God's love in a practical way to anyone in society. 

But today’s Charismatic prophetic movement practically ignores the poor.

5. Most of them are a waste of your time

Most of the contemporary prophecies add very little value to your life. You can live easily without them. If you don’t hear them, you don’t miss anything. 

That’s not so different from entertainment. If you miss your favourite TV series you don’t really miss anything. 

By and large, spiritual gifts have become entertainment in the Charismatic Church. I deal with that in my book Supernatural Love: Releasing the Compassion of Jesus with the Gifts of the Spirit.

6. Many of them go against the clear advice of the Bible

Today’s Charismatic Church is full of belief in numerology.

For example, in collating all the prophecies for the year 2017, Cindy Jacobs focuses on the symbolism of the number 17.

Or Michael Snyder writes how Trump was born exactly 700 days before the modern Israel was birthed. 

I have a news flash for you. Just because something has been invented by a Jew, it doesn’t mean that it is automatically sanctified. Even communism was invented by a Jew. It seems God has blessed the Jewish nation with plenty of creativity! But not all of that is being used for good. Thankfully, much of it is!

In Titus 1:13-14 Paul writes, 

"This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth."

In 1 Timothy 1:3-7 Paul writes,

"As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,  from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm."

Referring to Jewish numbers gives an appearance that somebody knows the Bible. But the apostle Paul would have called it a Jewish fable, although the Jewish numerology was properly developed only in the Medieval Europe by the Jewish occultists, so Paul might not have encountered it in its full form—especially as the chapter and verse structure that we are so used to didn’t exist in the Bible but was finalised  in the 16th century.

Also, the Jewish organising of the Bible differs from ours.

So, for example, the Isaiah 45 ‘prophecy’ about Trump being the 45th president of the USA is simple nonsense, as the chapters and verses of our current Bible weren’t there originally, so this simply can’t be some ancient Bible prophecy, as originally, there was no chapter 45! It was all one long reading with only minimum reading aids. Chapters and verses were not part of the actual Bible text.

7. They disconnect the Church from the Head

Some time ago I became really disturbed about the fact that much of my writing about prophecy today seems to be about dealing with the false prophecy. Isn’t the job of the prophets to prophesy rather than pick up a fight? I thought. And yet I sensed strongly that the Holy Spirit was leading my ministry in that direction.

I believe that the Holy Spirit led me to study Ephesians, and Ephesians 4:11-16 gives an illuminating insight into this issue. Paul writes, 

"11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

I used to stop reading about the fivefold ministry after the verse 12, but in fact, the sentence continues.

The verse 14 says clearly that the function of the fivefold ministry—prophets included—is to teach the body of Christ, so that they won’t be led astray by any false doctrines. Dealing with “every wind of doctrine” isn’t the job of just the teachers—but also the job of the prophet, apostle, pastor and evangelist!

This has led me to begin to radically review my understanding of the fivefold ministry.

And why does the fivefold ministry have to deal with every wind of doctrine? The verse 15 seems to imply that all these winds of doctrine can disconnect the body from the Head—Jesus Christ. 

So, the main task of the fivefold ministry is not governmental but connecting. (Seeing fivefold ministry mainly governmentally is another “wind of doctrine”.)

The task is to connect the Church to the Head, so that there is a clear communication between the Head and the body. 

Unfortunately, many fivefold ministries attempt to connect the body to themselves—instead of the Head. They want to see themselves as some sort of governmental ministry—a mediator between man and God.

That is why there is so much talk about aligning in today’s Charismatic Church.

But there is only one mediator between man and God—Jesus Christ.

The task of the prophets is not to help the Church hear the prophets better. The task of the prophets is to help the body to hear from Christ better—and remove any obstructions, so that God’s body would be able to act according to His words.

Today, this means that perhaps the prophets should be a lot less focused on prophesying and a lot more focused on helping the Church to read the Word better—and helping the Church to pray in such a way that they will be able to hear the voice of Head directly from the Head, so that they can obey the Head. That’s what growing into the Head means.

Otherwise, the body of Christ will remain a partially paralysed body, not receiving the instructions of the Head properly, and unable to put those instructions into action.

It is my fear that by and large, contemporary prophetic ministry has become an impediment to connecting the body to the Head. And this is the main reason why hearing many contemporary prophets can be so harmful to Christians.

You can connect with Marko on Twitter @markojoensuu and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mpjoensuu/ or by visiting markojoensuu.com.

Published by Marko Joensuu

Marko Joensuu has worked for over sixteen years in the publishing and media ministries of Kensington Temple. He is an author, publisher and screenwriter.
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3 comments:

  1. The Prophetic Ministry needs a clean up so they can be a blessing to the church. Key Ministry for the times that we live in. What do you refer to as "contemporary prophets" ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeremiah 23:25-32 deals with this issue. I have left it vague, as I think it is more important that Christians begin to apply the Bible in their process of discernment, so applying the process of discernment is more important than naming names. It is a 'prophetic' entertainment industry that is more concerned of making money and followers for themselves than connecting the Christians to the Head—Jesus. Much of it is around the ElijahList and CharismaMag, although I wouldn't put a blanket ban on all prophetic people featured on these websites. But interestingly, nearly all of these people would one way or other honour William Branham. I deal with this particular issue and the roots in much more detail in my book 'Supernatural Love.

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  2. The Prophetic Ministry needs a clean up so they can be a blessing to the church. Key Ministry for the times that we live in. What do you refer to as "contemporary prophets" ?

    ReplyDelete

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