The Call of the Prophetic Ministry
God never intended for the office of prophet to cease.
"And He gave some...prophets..."
When Jesus described John the Baptist as the greatest of all the prophets of the past, He said that all the saints were to be greater than John had been.
"Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."
Moses had prayed many years before:
"Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!"
The Lord has answered that prayer of Moses, and poured out His Spirit in this church age upon all who will ask. Then the Lord has commanded that we are to greatly desire and seek the gift and office of prophet.
I Corinthians 14:39
"...covet to prophesy..."
I Corinthians 14:1
"...desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy..."
Many interpret these verses on "prophesying" to refer to short "thus saith the Lord"- type messages in a worship service. I am sure these verses do, in part, refer to that. However, that is only a small part of the larger gift and office of prophet. Often the prophets of the Old Testament stood and gave longer "thus saith the Lord" messages. The prophets were confronters of sin, and defenders of victims of sinners. They stood up to kings, to false prophets, to deceived religious people, and to blatant sinners. They spoke for God, and issued His pronouncements against sin, and gave His warnings of judgment. This type of ministry is vital for today. In these last days before God's wrath is outpoured on the church, and then the world -- the office of prophet must be expanded. As it was just before the fall of Judah to Babylon, many prophets came on the scene with God's warnings and pronouncements. In the same way, just before God's wrath is outpoured in these last days, an expanded ministry of prophets must come.
Prophets are those who speak for God. They are to be primarily preachers of righteousness. Sometimes they are given prophetic events to foretell. Without any further revelation of future events, the prophecies already revealed in the Bible give us much foretelling prophecy to reveal to the world. Thus, it is an important office. It is vital to these last days. We, as prophets, have a tremendous job to fulfil. We need to accept the office of prophet, and seek the gift of prophecy. We must have the outpouring of the Spirit on our lives as we go out onto the harvest fields to reap the final harvest before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many of the past had the gift of prophet. We notice only a few outstanding ones usually. Yet, Samuel had gathered a company of young men. He trained this school of prophets, and they worshiped God and prophesied. The Lord had Elijah and Elisha train schools of young prophets also. Isaiah had a group of disciples. On the day of Pentecost, multitudes of men and women received the power of the Holy Spirit and prophesied (Acts 13:1, 21:9-10).
Since most prophets have written no books and are unnamed in the Bible, many have thought that the office of prophet is a rare gift. It is not rare. Many of the prophets in our day have been intimidated to possess their gift in secret. They fear to speak of the gift and office, that deep within, they know God has given them.
The multitudes of prophets of today are somewhat confused by a great misconception that they would be presumptuous to ask for this ministry. Yet, we have been commanded to seek this gift and office more than any other gift or office. God has put His call upon many for this office, and they are greatly unaware of the office, its meaning, its responsibility, and its characteristics. The devil delights in the misconceptions and illusions that he has perpetrated upon Christianity. He has blinded many to the great calling of God. The ones who realize that they have a call and a gift of a prophet... are often untaught in the ministry they have been given.
Remember that the prophets of the Bible were chosen of the Lord. Not one wanted the job. Jonah wanted to go anywhere other than Nineveh. Moses tried to talk God out of his calling. Jeremiah was very reluctant. God overruled their objections, their sense of insufficiency, and their feelings of weakness.
Perhaps God chose them because of their distrust of self. That trait alone, found in all God's true prophets, makes a prophet more able to step out on God's Word, and act in obedience to God alone. This study will show the Bible's teaching on the office of a prophet. Without doubt, one will become more reluctant about accepting a prophetic ministry, as this study is absorbed. Yet, it will also reveal God's great desire for us to assume the heavy responsibility of a prophetic ministry. Hopefully, in the end, people will obediently "covet" this ministry - even though they feel an even greater reluctance than before.
Of the twelve disciples, Jesus said:
"Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you."
Later, the Holy Spirit said:
"Separate Me Barnabus and Saul
for the work whereunto I have called them."
The office of prophet is a calling. God knows that the prophet is going to face great trials. Therefore, in these last days, when even the "least in the kingdom of heaven" is to be a greater prophet than John the Baptist, the Lord has given the Holy Spirit to all who ask. This Spirit will immerse each saint with the dynamic power and authority that is needed for the office.
"...your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions..."
Joel 2 is a last day prophecy, and we should be more expectant of dreams, visions, and other revelations from God to aid in the prophetic ministry. We should become more educated in prophetic manifestations. This book will explain much that the last day prophets need to learn from Jeremiah, who was a God-given example of a last day prophetic minister.
We can look at some of the prophets, and see in their example, the type of callings that God gives. Jeremiah is one we can see as an example. We will see, in his life, what a real prophet is like. Jeremiah will show us how a prophet hears from God. The teaching will show that a true prophet is usually rejected. The nature of prophecy will become abundantly clear as we observe in detail the ministry of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah came from a little town almost four miles from Jerusalem, called Anathoth. It was one of the Levitical cities. There in Anathoth, Jeremiah had diligently studied the Scriptures. Today, some want to hear the Spirit speak prophetic announcements to them. However, if these ones neglect to study the Word of God, they will find God will not speak those announcements to them. If they insult God by ignoring and neglecting His Written Word, then the Lord will not bless them with speaking to them His personal Word. Jeremiah did study the Word. Therefore, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah:
"Then the word of the Lord came unto me... thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee, thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth, And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth."
Jeremiah was not a volunteer. He was drafted to be God's prophet. All his life, he remained somewhat unwilling. He did not want to begin, and often he wanted to quit. All of God's prophets seem unwilling. To truly understand the nature of the office of prophet, will naturally make one reluctant to accept its responsibilities. Even so, when called of God, there is an inner compulsion that drives one. Note what Jeremiah said in chapter 20:9:
"If I say, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name, then there is in my heart ... a burning fire shut up in my bones, and ... I cannot contain."
Every truly-called prophet of God knows that feeling expressed by Jeremiah. Surely, prophets would rather be doorkeepers for the Lord -- but that inner compulsion put there by the Lord drives them to speak the words that are burning within their beings.
God touched the mouths of both Isaiah and Jeremiah - though for different reasons. Isaiah was touched and cleansed of the wrong things that he had thereto spoken. Jeremiah was touched for empowering. He was filled with a message from God, and empowered to speak it, no matter what opposition he would see as he spoke it. Daniel and Ezekiel had similar experiences. Daniel was touched for strength (Daniel 10:16). Ezekiel was touched for food (Ezekiel 2:8, 3:3).
In the call of every prophet, an eloquence is given, a power is imparted, and a special cleansing is necessarily provided. We live in the age since the righteousness of Jesus has been provided by His crucifixion and resurrection. With this special atonement and justification so easily obtained by us, we are prime candidates to receive a special calling. The great eloquence is provided by the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) sent from heaven to fill and empower us with miraculous gifts. Therefore, with special anointing power to do the work of a prophet, we - the saints of today- are to accept this office - and go forth and fulfill the great commission that God has spoken to us.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations...
teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you..."
The called prophet of God will face opposition. The religious community is the source of the toughest opposition. The disciples went from town to town. When rejected, they simply shook the dust of the town from their clothes, and went on to the next city. This type of opposition is difficult enough to face. However, when one is attacked and opposed for doing the Godly, Biblical thing - by those in the church - this is appalling and devastating. The prophet who is truly called of God will find that it will be those in the religious community that will oppose the work and calling that God has put on the prophet's life.
Moses expected Pharaoh and the other Egyptians to oppose his work. It was a little harder when the children of Israel began to criticize his ministry. Then when his own family, Aaron and Miriam stood against him... that was the deepest hurt. He was criticized by Aaron and Miriam for marrying an Ethiopian woman. God put leprosy upon them for criticizing the prophet Moses.
Zechariah, a prophet and a priest, was stabbed as he was going into the Holy Place of the Temple. By the location, we know it had to be another priest that killed him. Zechariah's opposition stemmed from the fact that he presented God as the "Lord of Hosts." This means the "Lord of everyone." There are many religious people today who want God to be exclusively theirs. They do not want the sinner saved on the street at midnight last week coming to their church. They would rather he go to a church designed for the former alcoholic, the down-and-outers, and the poor. Many do not want to have a prophet who will win the lost who are weak, sick, poor, or ill mannered. They want a classier congregation. They won't mind encouraging the prophet who goes to the downtown bars to win souls, as long as he doesn't bring the converts to their church. They will support the missionary to the poor in far off countries, but they don't want their church helping the poor in their community with a soup kitchen. This type of opposition was faced by Zechariah. He died for constantly reminding the religious community of his day, that God loves everyone. A true prophet will find that those in the church are the toughest opposition to be found.
John, the apostle of love, had a great ministry. Yet, a man named Diotrephes opposed him. Diotrephes did not want John coming to "his church." John tells us that Diotrephes wanted the "preeminence". Today, much opposition is caused by jealousy, and self-seeking. Many a pastor fears the work of the prophets in a church. Yet, if we are all in the will of God, the ministries should complement, not compete. Too many churches today will reject anyone who assumes a God-given prophetic ministry. They will oppose that one, till they leave. They will seek to "warn" other churches to beware of the prophet of God. There are many Diotrephes - in Christianity today.
Jesus faced the Pharisees and Sadducees in that day. They opposed Jesus, because of His popularity with the crowds. Jesus did not fit their mold, and condemn what they condemned. He did not build their ministry, He built the kingdom of God. He did not assume a "holier than thou" attitude. No - He took the form of a servant. He was therefore hated and schemed against by the religious people of His day. They finally planned the crucifixion. The prophets of today are also hated, feared, and opposed by the religious people of today.
Jeremiah faced much opposition. It will amaze anyone studying his life, the type and amount of opposition that Jeremiah had to face. Jeremiah was raised in a religious community. He had seen other men assume the prophetic ministry. He had observed the way they were treated by the priesthood. When God called Jeremiah to do the work of a prophet, Jeremiah was understandably reluctant. This is why Jesus said:
"Many are called, but few are chosen."
Many, if not all, saints are called to assume a prophetic ministry in these last days. Few will hear the call. Fewer will answer the call. The opposition is great, the responsibility is immense, and the task is humanly impossible.