It is clear that the floods and drownings, as predicted in a prophecy for Christchurch for September 28, did not take place. Again, we find ourselves explaining predictions that do not come to pass. Why is this happening?
Christchurch has not been plagued with false prophets, apart from a couple of silly visiting individuals from Germany who insinuated that the February earthquake was God’s judgement. They quickly received a flea in the ear and were put on the next plane home.
The latest prediction was quite different. The individual is not some crank who sees herself as an Old Testament prophet or a loose cannon that has no regard for spiritual accountability. The lady has shown maturity by surrendering the prophecy to be weighed and tested by her ministers. But we again find that the Church has egg on its face. So what are we missing?
I do not write as a theologian or a scholar, but simply as a practitioner. Yet even after all these years, I am still learning the art of moving in the prophetic. It might sound a bit clinical to suggest that it is an art, but Pneumatology is not a science and there are no formulae. While travelling around New Zealand, mainly ministering in Baptist churches, I was inundated with enquiries on whether this latest prediction would come to pass.
In general, ministers are handling this latest prophecy well in terms of advice and guidance to their respective congregations. But why such uncertainty?
Do we focus on the negative due to our own fears? Or does our understanding of scripture suggest that the gift of prophecy is only authentic when used in this way? Or both?
I am sure there are other reasons why there is such uncertainty. Two fundamental issues seem to be ignored.
This dear sister has fallen into the same old trap many of us do. In layman’s terms, she has drawn from her “soul realm.”
We all have the potential to draw from three realms: flesh, soul and regenerative. Only one of these is authentic. Drawing from the flesh does not really need to be explained, but prophecy that is soulish is becoming more common. This is basically due to ignorance rather than something sinister.
Authentic prophecy is found when we draw from the regenerative realm. So how do we know? In this case it is quite straight forward. The application of scripture around the prophecy is flawed. Any hint of judgement nullifies the prophecy.
The bottom line is that God has not begun to judge this world yet. We see God’s judgement throughout Old and New Testaments, but there is something significant about God’s nature. He is just. He will not judge the righteous with the wicked (Genesis 18:23- 25, Exodus 23:7). Even when we see judgment at the time of the New Testament church, these individuals in every case were not righteous (Acts 5:1-11, 12:21-23, 13:6-11).
Secondly, predictive prophecy of this nature should not flow up from church laity, but down through clergy. When laity moves into directional or predictive revelation they are vulnerable to going beyond the biblical mandate.
I am confident that the sister, though sincere and God fearing, is not operating under the “measure of grace” extended to the office of an Ephesians 4 prophet.
I am a great advocate of the gifts of the Holy Spirit operating in our congregations and I encourage laity to be proactive in all the gifts, including prophecy. But clergy must be up to the task and give clear leadership.
One of the biggest mistakes surrounding prophecy is the view that if a predictive prophecy does not come to pass then that person should be disciplined and treated as a false prophet. Here we get down to the nitty-gritty. The mandate surrounding the New Testament prophets is very different from that placed around the Old Testament prophets. This is due to the establishment of the new covenant.
The Old Testament prophets have served their purpose and we wait for the fulfilment of numerous prophecies that were spoken by them thousands of years ago. Every one of these prophecies will come to pass, regardless of what we say or do or what theology we embrace.
Today, prophecies spoken by laity or clergy, especially if the prophecy is predictive or directional, can fail. This is not because the gift of prophecy today is less potent or important, but simply because the working dynamic of the gift has dramatically changed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit when our Lord returned to the Father.
Let us not be quick to embrace these prophecies without serious consideration of the new mandate. Hopefully all of us can guard the integrity of the gifts, especially prophecy – remembering the gift of prophecy is far more than the ability to predict coming events.