[Listen to post here.]
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Picture for a moment coming home from running errands some morning and as you approach your house you see an unfamiliar van parked in your driveway. As you get out of your car, you hear terrifyingly loud bangs coming from inside your home. You quickly rush to the opened front door, and as you go in you see two men with large sledge hammers, one bashing apart a wall in your dining room and the other smashing the cabinets off the wall in your kitchen. Instantly you shout out above the horrific noise, “Hey!!!……Good to see you boys here this morning! I brought you some coffee! So excited to finally see this project getting underway!”
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“See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Prophetic ministry can often be gravely misunderstood. Just as in the above scenario, two men with sledge hammers demolishing the inside of your home can either be perceived as a horrible or a hopeful thing. It all depends on the motivation and purpose of the perpetrators whether they are friends or foes, positive agents of change or negative workers of destruction.
Similarly, prophetic ministry can either be received or resisted among God’s people depending on how it is perceived as to its underlying motivations and intentions. If these are seen to be serving God’s highest ends and means then such prophetic ministry will be more readily received as “friends.” If they are perceived to be merely serving some non-constructive, negative, imbalanced, and/or spiritually self-serving ends, they will be rightly dismissed as “foes.”
True prophets do not generally fit the mold of the popular charismatic leader, donning spiritual polish and panache. More often than not they are somewhat odd characters who bear the marks of hardship and the severe dealings of the Lord. They march to the beat of a different drum and don’t often attract a crowd with their natural persona and social magnetism. They can even give the impression of being a bit eccentric, aloof, or imbalanced in their demeanor and are generally not esteemed and honored among those with whom they commonly dwell.
Because of this and the sometimes pointed, radical messages that they are unashamed to bear, they are often pushed aside and dismissed as to their God-ordained gifting and place within the Body of Christ. Judging by outward appearances, especially in contrast to the accepted norms of the religious status quo, they are resisted more as “foes” than received as “friends.”
Prophets tend to be marked by extremes, and depending on the mode that they happen to be in at a given moment or season, will often be judged as severely imbalanced. The truth is, however, it is in their contrasting extremes that their balance is actually found. (Read through the Old Testament prophets with this in view and you will see that this is indeed the case!)
Jeremiah, for example, was considered “the weeping prophet” as he grieved and mourned over the sins of God’s people and the pending disasters that would befall them if they failed to repent and turn from their evil ways. His prophecies are filled with woes and warnings. And yet, he also spoke some of the greatest words of hope and promise of future restoration and glory for God’s chosen. (Who has not been encouraged by and personally taken to heart the words of Jeremiah 29:11 for instance?)
We see even in his initial calling that God highlights the contrasting extremes of his ministry and function: “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:10
Jeremiah can be likened to those contractors described in the opening scenario of this post. His ultimate intention and motivation was the positive transformation of God’s people, God’s house, into something radically more glorious for God’s holy habitation than what prevailed. In order to get there, however, spiritually speaking, walls needed to get opened up, foundations exposed, moldy materials ripped out, infested beams torn down, and code-violating structures demoed. Of necessity, the old adage came to apply, “It gets worse before it gets better.” This in fact was hopeful work, however, but, because of a lack of understanding and perspective, it was viewed as horrible work. The inherent negativity of deconstruction, without a deep comprehension of the inherent positivity of reconstruction, made this prophet a hated, hunted man.
T. Austin-Sparks in his insightful book, Prophetic Ministry, describes such prophetic function in this way:
“What is the function of prophetic ministry? It is to hold things to the full thought of God, and therefore it is usually a reactionary thing. We usually find that the prophets arose as a reaction from God to the course and drift of things amongst His people; a call back, a re-declaration, a re-pronouncement of God’s mind, a bringing into clear view again of the thoughts of God. The prophets stood in the midst of the stream – usually a fast-rushing stream – like a rock; the course of things broke over them. They challenged and resisted that course, and their presence in the midst of the stream represented God’s mind as against the prevailing course of things.” (page 10)
God still has need of prophets of this order in this day. In fact, they are needed more than ever. We are coming to the culmination of the age and God is preparing a glorious Bride for His Son. At the end of nearly two thousand years of Church history, there has never been a greater need for prophetic “renovators” to do the dirty, dusty, despised work of deconstruction, relating to that which is condemned by God, that the glorious work of reconstruction, “according to pattern”, might ultimately progress and be realized in God’s holy, end-time remnant. May we not resist and reject such workers because of their apparent imbalances at times toward that which is “negative”, but receive and respect them as God’s answer to His culminating purpose and work of restoration at the end of the age.
Let’s get some coffee for these boys, and let the work begin!
First post in this collection (#propheticresistance):
Prophetic Ministry and…(#propheticresistance)
Next post in this collection:
The Stronghold of Pragmatism (#propheticresistance)
So cool, David! So true! Your description of a prophet looks much like you!😊🙏
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The one bashing the wall…or the one smashing the cabinets?? 😉 Thanks, bro, for the comment!
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Excellent. That was quite an unforgettable image you started off with. Thanks, David. Blessings.
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