Prophets Warning Us Today?|
Q. Is there a difference between the "gift of prophecy" and the Old Testament prophets? Are there prophets today? If so what are they telling us? Should we listen to them or believe them? If they are right about nuclear strikes as some say, what can we do about it? Is America finished?
Thank you for asking this question. Having come from a fundamentalist background I have often had the same questions as you.
Surprisingly, I have before me prophetic warnings from several sane, conservative Christians. For example, one is a vision that James Robison had. Another is a dream or a vision experienced by Chuck Colson. Hal Lindsey and Jack Van Impe also see a similar scenario. David Reagan, David Wilkerson, and Bill Koenig see the same thing, too.
I find that alarming. We started hearing these voices back in 2003 and some came even earlier. So maybe it warrants our attention.
What is it that they all see?
All of them see apocalyptic-type nuclear strikes and fires raging in several major U.S. cities, particularly Wall Street in New York, and devastation throughout Washington D.C.
What are we to make of these visions announced by leading pastors and theologians? Are they like the Old Testament prophets? Should we take their "gut-feelings" and visions as authoritative?
Patterns in Prophecy
1. Prophetic Voices
For this task I especially like the explanation given by David Reagan. He states,
Both the Bible and history attest to the fact that God has a pattern of dealing with nations. To begin with, He is the one who establishes nations, and He is the one who takes them down (Daniel 2:20-21). When a nation rebels against God, He responds first by raising up prophetic voices to call the nation to repentance. These are not people with supernatural knowledge of the future. They simply have the gift of discernment to see where a nation is missing God's mark. To put it another way, they know how to apply the Scriptures to contemporary events.
If a nation refuses to listen to the prophetic voices, God will then send remedial judgments. These can take many forms. Deuteronomy 28 mentions economic failure, rebellion of youth, an epidemic of divorce, confusion in government, foreign domination, and military defeat. The chapter also mentions natural disasters like drought, crop failure, and pestilence.
Point of No Return
Finishing his explanation Reagan states,
Finally, if a nation digs in against God and sets its jaw against His calls to repentance, a point of no return will be reached - often referred to as "when the wound becomes incurable" (Nahum 3:19, Jeremiah 30:12, and Micah 1:9). At this point, the Lord will deliver the nation from judgment to destruction. That destruction may occur quickly - as with Babylon and the Soviet Union - or it may occur gradually over a period of time, as with the Roman Empire. (Reagan 2003, 4).
Old Testament Office of Prophet
Old Testament prophets prefaced many of their prophecies with, "Thus says the Lord." These were clearly men whom God used to declare the future. They were literally the voice of God. Old Testament prophets were required to be 100% accurate or they were put to death!
Prophets such as Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, and others in the Bible held the "Office of Prophet." This Office of Prophet through which God speaks to His people no longer exists, but was assumed by Jesus Himself (Heb 1: 1-2).
New Testament Gift of Prophecy
However, in the New Testament we are told that many believers have various gifts. One of those gifts is "the gift of prophecy" as described in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. Bible teacher Jack Kelley offers a concise explanation of the New Testament gift of prophecy:
The purpose of this gift is to fill-in-the-blanks in God's revealed word by giving supporting information as to how God's plan will be fulfilled in various situations. Accordingly all prophecy given today has to be consistent with and validated by God's Word. This is what makes the New Testament gift of prophecy different than the Old Testament office of Prophet.
I do believe we need to listen to the numerous prophetic, "fill-in-the-blanks" voices warning the Church of judgments to come. Notice I said judgments on the Church. These voices come from our teachers, pastors and yes, even ourselves as we examine the scriptures and grow in Biblical knowledge - Paul encourages this (I Co. 14:1).
A Pattern Forming?
We seem to be following the pattern outlined throughout the Bible. First, we thumbed our noses at God starting back in the sixties as we began to kill unborn babies and as we threw God and prayer out of our schools and public places. We embraced hedonism to the extent that our only motto seems to be: "If it feels good, do it." Homosexuality became acceptable in our churches and schools. Greed is preached as a virtue. Finally, we began to turn against Israel. This last measure sealed our fate. God clearly states that He will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Abraham and his progeny (Genesis 12:2-3).
Can God judge us in the same manner He judged nations in the Bible?
Yes. But, we tend to forget that the earth is at enmity with man. (Gen 3:17-18). "Natural" calamities are not "natural" at all. According to the Bible they are a result of man's sin.
However, in the last two decades we have suffered record-setting hurricanes and tornados. We lost an entire strategic port-city, and our "high towers" were destroyed by foreigners from ancient Babylonian lands, no less! To put this into perspective, Dr. Reagan notes that since 1991 we have experienced:
-9 of the 10 largest insurance events in U.S. history.
-9 of the 10 greatest natural disasters as ranked by FEMA relief costs.
-5 of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history.
-3 of the 4 largest tornado swarms in U.S. history.
We have heard from prophets and watchmen throughout our country warning us of impending judgment. These include pastors such as David Wilkerson, James Robison, and several others. According to them, it appears that we may be facing the destruction of our country and culture. God has repeatedly sent us warnings and wake-up calls. But, we have ignored Him. Our only hope rests in this Scripture:
"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14, ESV).
This isn't a prayer directed to unbelievers, heathens, or the immoral left. It is God's call to His own people - Us! The Church! Please note that some modern day prophets say we have even passed the point of no-return even if we should embrace the 2 Chronicles prayer.
Think carefully about it and you decide.
Grudem, Wayne. 2000. The gift of prophecy. Wheaton, ILL: Crossway Books.
Gundry&Grudem. 1996. Are miraculous gifts for today? Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Kelley, Jack. The gift of prophecy. Available from: http://www.gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/gift-of-prophecy.
Koenig, William. 2004. Eye to eye: Facing the consequences of dividing Israel. Alexandria, VA: About Him. Available from: http://abouthim.org.
Reagan, David. 2003. America the beautiful? McKinney, TX: Lamb&Lion Ministries.
—-Hurricane Katrina: The prophetic significance. Available from: http://www.lamblion.com/web2printer/web2printer4.php.
Authors: Kenneth Emilio holds an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University, a B.S. from California State University Long Beach and a Certificate in Persecuted Church Ministries from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Valorie holds an M.A. in History from UCLA specializing in early church history.