Summary: “I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘thus says the Lord God.’ As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse – for they are a rebellious house – yet they will know that a prophet has been among them” Ez. 2:4-5.
Theme: The Church as a prophet of God
Text: Ez. 2:1-5; 2 Cor. 12:2-10; Mark 6:1-6
We have been watching and listening to what has been going on at the National Reconciliation Committee meetings and I believe God is using this forum to speak to us as Ghanaians. As Ghanaians the allegations coming out of the National Reconciliation Committee concerning the atrocities committed in the wake of the revolution should make us all sit up because there is going to be a day of accounting, a day of reckoning coming to this nation unless we repent as a nation. Failure to repent will lead to a day in the not so distant future when we as a nation will have to answer for our corporate sin and for our individual sins. We may believe that somehow we will escape judgment and just walk away, but the Bible tells us to expect judgement unless we repent. Sometimes the reason why we are encouraged to do evil is because justice is not administered quickly. The reason could also be because having waited for 2,000 years we no longer look forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have lost confidence that Jesus is coming again to judge both the living and the dead. We have lost the belief that our sins will find us out. The Church as a prophet of God is not being taken seriously at all. This is because the title of prophet is very common today and many prophets cannot be taken seriously. Here in Ghana, because of the abuse of so called prophets, many people no longer seem to attach any real significance to prophesy in the Church today. What is happening in our midst today should make us take a closer look at who a prophet is and what prophesy really is. 14 centuries before Christ was born Moses expressed the desire of his heart in the words ‘would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them.’ This same desire was in the heart of God as well. God wants his people to prophesy and he made this possible on the day of Pentecost when Joel’s prophesy 2:28 was fulfilled “And it shall come to pass…that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy.” Since Pentecost God has been fulfilling this word of promise. He has poured out his spirit and all over the world Christian believers have been prophesying, and the Church fulfilling its role as a prophet of God.
The word ‘prophet’ means, ‘to speak for, to proclaim,’ and ‘to foretell.’ The word also means to ‘forth tell.’ A prophet is a man who brings a message from God about current or future situations. Prophecy is normally God speaking to man through man and is one of the gifts of the spirit as listed in 1 Cor. 12:8-11. There is a gift of prophecy and there is the office of a prophet. 1 Cor. 14:3 declare, “He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men”. Edification is building up, exhortation is stirring up and comfort is cheering up. This gift is not foretelling the future, nor is it for giving guidance. It is words given by the Spirit to build up, stir up and cheer up both believers and non believers. Whereas every believer has the gift of prophecy only those who are chosen have the office of a prophet. They are able to foretell God’s divine will. This role of the office of the prophet in the New Testament differs greatly from the gift of prophecy, which is available to every believer. The office or function of the prophet involves a Christ appointed ministry of a person. It is impossible for someone to appoint himself to the office of a prophet and thereby be one.
The Bible clearly allows for personal prophecy. Agabus told Paul he faced trouble in Jerusalem and Isaiah predicted Hezekiah’s death Is. 38:1. Personal prophecy refers to a prophecy or word the Holy Spirit may prompt one person to give another relating to personal matters. Many people feel deep reservations about this operation of the gift of prophecy because it is sometimes abused. In recent years we have observed hundreds of self-anointed and self-appointed prophets who are abusing this gift. This gift is abused when prophecy is used to manipulate the person receiving the prophecy. The Scriptures, however, offer us many safeguards against abusive uses of personal prophecy? First the word will usually not be new to the mind of the person being addressed, but it will confirm something God is already dealing with him about and which must always be confirmed by two or three witnesses. Secondly the person bringing the prophecy must have a credibility that is not related to his claim of having a ‘word’, but to his record as a trustworthy man of God who has been used in the exercise of this gift. And thirdly the prophecy or word is not to be considered controlling and should not dominate any ones free will. All prophecy is ‘in part’ declares 1 Cor. 13:9. This means that as true as that part may be, it does not give the whole picture. Therefore we should always prayerfully consider any prophecy by waiting on the Lord and trusting Him to guide us.