Sunday, January 31, 2021

Restoring Prophets (4) Prophet to their Nation

Only a few of the prophets who fail will have been called to operate as a prophet to their nation. The role of prophet to a nation is a challenging one on many levels, so few are called to it. I have described it more fully in Prophet to a Nation. The prophet with this calling should be settled in a church where the other elders understand the calling and free them to move into it. The calling is not a full-time job, because often there will be nothing for them to speak. While they are waiting for the season when God wants to speak to the nation, they should continue to work in the church or business world.

Speaking to the nations, or the rulers of their nation, is a tough task, so the prophet needs strong prayer support and encouragement from the other elders in the church. They will need other prophetic people around them who they can bounce ideas off and trust to test their words when this is needed. They might need to be challenged about a direction they are taking. In the age of the Spirit, a prophet to the nation should not be operating in isolation as in the Old Testament.

The Holy Spirit will usually only lift prophets up to speak to their nation if they have achieved a high level of maturity, so mistakes should be relatively rare. However, because the political and spiritual pressures are much greater when operating at this level, mistakes will occur from time to time. The government-spirits that control nations will be vicious in their attacks on those who challenge their power, so even with strong spiritual support, prophets to their nation will occasionally make mistakes.

Too many people have stepped up into a role as prophet to their nation before God has finished his preparation. Many made mistakes because they were not prepared for the role they were taking. Some of those will need to review their calling.

God only needs a few prophets speaking to each nation. Hundreds or more speaking become a cacophony of confusion that can easily be ignored. Three or four, speaking a consistent message from different perspectives, will be more effective.

When a prophet makes a mistake when speaking to the people of the nation or to the leaders of the nation, the consequences are more serious than for other prophets. These mistakes give people of the world a wedge to condemn the church, and to complain about God. This is why prophets to their nation who fail have an even greater need to stand down and pass through a process of restoration (this will be similar to the process described in the previous section)

When the prophet to the nation makes a mistake, their sense of failure will be greater and their pain more intense. If the consequences are bad, the spirit of the prophet could be broken, and they might feel like giving up. The shame of the failure might prevent them from prophesying again, but we do not want these failed prophets becoming too cautious and careful, as it could hamper God’s work on earth.

The people helping to restore the prophet should be sensitive and compassionate, so they don’t add to the condemnation that they are already carrying. They will need wisdom and insight to understand why the prophet misheard what God was saying and got his message wrong. A person is unlikely to have been called to be a prophet to their nation without God having done some serious work in their life, so it is less likely that the problem will be sin or emotion hurts, although pride could be a problem that leaves a prophet open to deception.

I suggest that the flaw that is most likely to cause a prophetic failure at the national level will a false understanding of the way that God works in the world and how his plans are being accomplished through nations. In prophetic blind spots, I have described some of the common blind spots that can cause a prophet to the nation to make mistakes when speaking God’s word.

I am fairly certain that with the US presidential election, a false understanding of the role of political power was the primary reason that the prophets got it wrong. If they understood that God does not bring in his Kingdom by using human political power, they would not even have bothered predicting the outcome of the presidential election, because they would understand that it does not matter for God’s purposes.

The restoration process for the prophet to their nation will have two aspects. The first will be the correction of their incorrect understanding of the way that God works in the world. Dealing with the problem will require study and discussion about God’s purposes. They might need to take advantage of people outside their circle, or at least read their writings, to get a different perspective and change how they think. Some study of political theology might be helpful.

At the same time, the elders will be praying that the Holy Spirit will release insight and encouragement to the prophet who failed. They urge him/her to keep prophesying and encourage him/her to persist in their calling. If the prophet is sensitive, dealing with the discouragement and lack of confidence might be the hardest part of their task. Correcting the prophet’s understanding is pointless if they give up on their calling.

Delivering a prophecy to a nation will be a challenging experience for any prophet. Getting it wrong publicly will shake their confidence in their ability to hear God. The prophet will have received the word that later proved to be incorrect in the same way as they have received all the other words they have shared, so being wrong will make them doubt their ability to hear accurately. If the elders respect the prophets calling, they will want him/her to continue in it with confidence, but greater discernment.

The restoration process will usually depend on the type and seriousness of the failure. The purpose of the stand-down and probation period must be the restoration of the prophet to their calling, so it must not be set in a punitive way. The elders do not necessarily need to publicise the scope and the scale of their probation period, but the prophet might choose to explain to people why they are having a pause from prophesying to their nation.

Many Christians in the US are really upset that the people of the world assume that the big-name media prophets who have behaved badly in the current season represent them because they have claimed to speak on behalf of God in Jesus name. I can understand their frustration at the way Jesus has been misrepresented and they feel like they have been tarred with a very ugly brush. The prophets who admit their mistakes will probably need to apologise to other Christians for the embarrassment they have caused.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Restoring Prophets (3) Prophet to a Church

Some prophets who fail will have been operating formally as a prophet to their church, and perhaps an associated group of churches, casting vision for the church and challenging the elders to press on to achieve all God’s purposes. A more formal role will usually need a more formal process of restoration.

Regardless of the seriousness of their prophetic failure, the prophet acting in this role will probably need to step down from their role in the church. They might possibly continue operating as an elder but halt their prophetic role. They should talk and pray with the other elders to discover why things went wrong. If sin is at the heart of the problem, they will have to repent and seek forgiveness. If the problem is emotional hurt, they will require prayer for healing. If the cause of the problem is false beliefs, these should be challenged and replaced with a clear understanding of God’s will and purposes.

The prophets and the elders should come to a detailed agreement about both the problem and the pathway to restoration. The prophet will have to agree that they made a mistake. This will sometimes be difficult for the prophet to accept. They will also need to agree with the elders about the cause of their mistake. A situation is not helped if the elders discern a vulnerability, but the prophet does not acknowledge it.

The prophet and the elders must agree on what needs to be done to resolve the identified problems, and the steps on the pathway to restoration. If there are multiple causes, multiple solutions will be needed. The prophet and the elders should agree on the steps or signs that show that a particular problem is resolved and the person restored.

The restoration process might include an apology to the people affected for the harm done to them.

The steps in the pathway to restoration should usually be written down, so both the elders and the prophet understand what has been agreed. However, to protect the confidentiality of personal stuff, it probably should not be made available to the rest of the church, although they might talk attempt to talk to everyone who has been affected by the failed prophecies, unless their number is too great (due to television or internet exposure).

It might be legitimate for the elders to publicise the agreement if the prophet fails to follow through on the restoration plan, or later goes back on their confession of a mistake, or returns to an approach that was wrong, (however all relevant employment laws should be complied with). The elders should agree that after the prophet has proved themselves thoroughly, the agreement will be destroyed. It should not be kept around forever to bludgeon them for mistakes later in their ministry.

When the elders of the church are assured that the prophet has completed the restoration process, they might inform the church that this has been done. This would be particularly important if the prophet has a big media profile.

A prophet to their church will always work closely with the other elders. Most decisions will be made by consensus. When it is agreed that sufficient restoration has occurred, the prophet will be able to take up their role again. The elders will continue watching over the prophet and provide prayer support and encouragement. They will work together to ensure that the prophet grows to their full potential.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Restoring Prophets (2) Prophetic People

Restoration of a failed prophetic ministry will require radical transformation, but I believe that God can do that if hearts are willing. I presume that some of the prophets that failed will not be able to be restored to a true spirit led ministry, and some will not want to be restored because the want to continue pursuing nationalistic political power. However, some will have regretted the path that they have taken, and they will need help to be restored. I assume that some of these will have begun with a genuine gifting and love for Jesus, but got distracted by political power. The elders in their church might be struggling to restore them right path and be uncertain about what the process should be. I hope that these notes will help them.

The form of the restoration will depend on the level at which the prophetic person is operating. Whatever level the prophet is operating in, the restoration process should be sufficient to satisfy God, so that the Holy Spirit will be willing to speak through them again.

1. Prophetic People
Most prophetic people will be operating in a church giving personal prophecies to the people they encounter. If they make a mistake, they should try to learn from it. If they make persistent errors, either in the content, or the delivery, of their message, the elders of the church should challenge them and establish a process for their restoration and development. They might need to stop prophesying for a time to get their approach to their gifting sorted. They might need to stop posting on social media for a time.

Stepping down will be humiliating for a person who gets their identity and sense of worth from their ministry. A growing prophet should always be walking the grace of Jesus, so the people overseeing their development must be careful to be restorative, not punitive.

The failing prophet might need to spend time with a pastor identifying the sins, hurts or false beliefs that have caused their prophetic efforts to go wrong. They might need to pause from prophesying until their pastors or prophetic mentors agree that they have resolved the issue and healed their hurts.

God has given elders of the church responsibility for watching over the body of Jesus and gently restoring those who lose their way (Act 20:28; Gal 6:1-2). We cannot leave problems in the church to God and assume that he will sort them out. The Church cannot just ignore prophets that fail and hope they will sort themselves out. That is a task that elders should be doing in partnership with the Holy Spirit.

When they begin to prophesy again, the restored prophet might need to have another prophet or pastor accompanying them at first to check that they are not slipping back into the same mistakes. The prophet might need to keep away from the particular type of message that has tripped them up until they have grown in their giftings.

After they have completed a probation period, the prophet should be freed to prophesy freely again, as the Holy Spirit leads. The Holy Spirit delivering clear and effective words through them again is the best sign that the prophet is restored.

Restoration does not require perfection. We are all human and growing towards maturity. We often will not reach that goal until towards the end of our lives, because there are always new things to learn and sins to cast aside. So, when a prophet makes a serious mistake, it would be wrong to expect them to achieve perfection before they can operate as a prophet again. Rather, the goal should be to deal with the immediate cause of their prophetic failure, whatever it was. It is not necessary to deal with every imperfection the prophet’s life, because that would take a lifetime.

The goal is to deal with any obstacle to the prophet moving forward in their calling.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Restoring Prophets (1) Reasons

Leading up to the US presidential election, many Christians prophesied that Donald Trump would win a second term as president. Some suggested that he would bring in a red wave if support. Now that Joe Biden has been inaugurated, some of these prophets are admitting that they were wrong and offering their apologies (although some are persisting with their claims).

This raises an important and interesting question. How can a prophet who has made a serious mistake that led many people astray be restored to their calling? No one seems to be discussing this issue, so I thought I would have a go. Here are my first thoughts. I will include some comments on the current situation with the US presidential election, but the principles and processes that I describe will be more general, and relevant regardless of the nature of the prophetic failure.

  • The only example in the scriptures of a prophet being restored after a serious mistake was Jonah. He had to go through serious trauma and wrestling with God before he was ready to take up his role as a prophet again. Most prophets who made serious mistakes were not restored at all, eg Hananiah (Jer 28) and the 400 prophets exposed by Miciah (1 Kings 22). I presume that we can do better than that under the new covenant in the age of the Spirit.

  • Peter, the apostle, made a serious mistake when he betrayed his messiah. Jesus led him through a compassionate but confronting process of restoration (John 21).

There are several reasons why the restoration of prophets who fail is really important.
  • There seems to have been two main responses to prophets confessing their error. Some people want to do a proverbial stoning and pull these prophets down. The other response is to say that the mistake does not matter, and that their humility in admitting the mistake confirms that they are true prophets. The first response is unchristian, and the second is inadequate because it does not deal with the underlying problem. The restoration of a failed prophet is not as simple as is often assumed.

  • Incorrectly predicting the outcome of the US election has shaken the faith of many Christians. They trusted their prophets, and now they are disappointed. Some may have lost their faith altogether, so this was a serious failure that can’t be passed off as a trivial mistake.

  • When a pastor makes a serious mistake, such as committing adultery or cheating on taxes, they usually cannot just apologise and get back into their work (although that has happened in too many cases). They usually have to go through a probationary period under close supervision, and may never be allowed to so some tasks again, eg counselling widows or managing the finances of the church (respectively).

    The prophets in the church are usually those who are most strident about not letting a fallen pastor off too lightly, so now that it is prophets who have fallen, they should be careful about giving their colleagues and easy pass.

  • The big-name prophets have not advocated violence, but they have spoken about “taking back what was stolen” and “fight for democracy”, so we don’t know how much influence they have had on the fringe groups that engaged in violence at the Capitol. These people might have been fortified in their fervour by the affirmations of the prophets. They might have been encouraged by a belief that God was on their side. We don’t know who was influenced by whom, so the damage that the failed prophets are responsible for might be far greater than they realise. We can’t just assume that these prophetic errors did no harm, then apologise, and move on as if nothing has happened.

  • The prophets who failed will need their soul and spirit restored. Only a narcissist could go through the public humiliation of an incorrect prediction about an election with being emotionally and spiritually scarred. Delivering a public prophecy about a contentious election is a scary experience for any prophet. Getting it wrong so publicly will shake their confidence in their ability to hear God. The prophet will have received the word that later proved to be incorrect in the same way as they have received all the other words they have shared, and those they will receive in the future.

    Prophets always struggle with discerning between the voice of the Holy Spirit and their own thoughts. Being wrong will make them doubt their ability to hear accurately.

    In addition to feeling embarrassed by their mistake, a sensitive prophet will be hugely disappointed at letting God down. They might feel guilty for being deceived by the enemy. This disappointment, shame and lack of confidence could hinder their ability to prophesy in the future. They might need a pastor or someone they trust to pray through the issues with them, so God can restore them to their calling.

  • The modern church does not have so many effective prophets that it can afford to lose a whole lot of competent ones that God has invested considerable time in training and developing. One prophet who make this mistake said that he would not get publicly involved in political issues again, but that is not the solution. It would be better for him to find out what caused him to make a mistake and deal with it, because the same fault could cause him to make mistakes in other spheres of activity.

    I am presuming that the people whose prophecies about Donald Trump failed are not evil people. I presume that they love Jesus and want to serve him. I assume that many of them have encouraged people by prophesying accurately in the past. Therefore, I don’t want them to be mocked and pilloried. I want them to be restored, not to what they were, but to a position where they can exercise their calling in a way that honours Jesus.

  • We should not label prophets who make mistakes as false prophets. The scriptures teach that false prophets are rebels who try to lead God’s people astray to worship other gods. I presume that those who have made serious mistakes still have a heart to serve God, “so I call them “failed prophets. My main concern is to see them restored.

  • Human prophets will not be infallible. They will occasionally make mistakes, but when they do, they should not just shrug it off. Instead, they should seek to understand the reason why they were deceived, and put it right. If the problem that allowed the prophets to be deceived is not resolved, they could make the same again in the future when the stakes are higher. The church cannot afford to have similar mistakes occurring again and again, so the prophets need to identify the problem and deal with it.

  • Prophets often quote 1 Corinthians 13:12 (we know in part) as if that were an excuse for being wrong 10 percent of the time, but this is wrong. The reality that we “see in part” means that no prophet receives the full picture from God. To get the big picture, several prophets will need to share what they have received and put it together. Hundreds of prophets repeating the same message does not validate it.

    In the New Testament age, the Holy Spirit prefers to speak through different people, giving each one a part of the whole. The truth emerges when these prophets submit to each other and merge what they have received to get the full message from God. 1 Corinthians 13:12 is not an excuse for prophetic mistakes, but an imperative for prophets submitting to each other and finding the truth through sharing in the unity of the Spirit.

  • The prophetic error about Trump was a serious public mistake by some of the big-name prophets, but many other prophetic people who are not well-known also declared the result of the election on social media and to their church and friends. What follows will apply to them as well.

  • A problem that will be difficult to deal with is a loss of confidence in the words of the failed prophets. Listeners will take a wait and see approach to their words, which will make it harder for the Holy Spirit to work through them. For example, if Kris Vallotton speaks prophetically about the outcome of a future contentious event, it will be difficult to take his words seriously. The natural response will be to wonder if he is mistaken again.

    This is a burden that prophets who were wrong will have to carry for the next few years, and perhaps for the rest of their lives. It is tough being remembered as the prophet that was wrong. People tend to hold onto mistakes and forget the good stuff that people have done. Hopefully, time will lighten the burden and anointed words will begin to outweigh the mistake as the Holy Spirit continues to use the prophet.

Being sorry is not enough. A process of restoring those who made a serious mistake is seriously needed.

I will explain the processes for restoring prophets in the next few posts

Diverting Prayers?

Some of the prophets who prophesied that Donald Trump would be re-elected as US president have noted that more prayer went up to heaven for the election of Trump than for any president in history.

They are now saying that this massive outpouring of prayer is not wasted, because God has stored all the prayers for Trump up in heaven, and that he will channel them into the release of a massive revival in the United States that will spread into all the world and fill it with his glory. They claim that the bowl is full and will soon be poured out.

This claim is odd, for two reasons:

  • If these prophets were wrong about the outcome of the election, why should we trust what they are saying about the destiny of the United States.

  • God gives people what they ask for (Matt 7:7-10), so prayers for events that are not God’s will are usually wasted. Misdirected prayers produce nothing. If a massive volume of prayer went up to heaven for the wrong thing, these prayers probably are wasted. If leaders tell their people to pray for the wrong outcome, they cannot just assume that God will divert the prayers to some other purpose.

These claims sound like a cop-out to me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Trump Cyrus

Some American prophetic leaders prophesied that Donald Trump would win the US presidential election in 2016, even though the news media were hostile to him. They believed that God would use him to turn the nation back, to make America great again and bring a revival to the church.

I suspect that his presidency was part of a God’s plan for the United States, but for a totally different reason. It was not a step back onto blessing, as Trump was not capable of making that happen. His presidency was more of a judgment on a church that has been distracted by political power and a nation that has forgotten God’s way. I believe that God allowed the United States to elect Donald Trump to expose the heart of the nation and the flawed faith of the church.

Looking back, we can see that that the Trump presidency has not bought peace and prosperity. Rather it has exposed how deeply divided the church, and the nation has become. The corruption of the political system (on both sides) has been brought into the light. The greed and perversity of the military and security services have been exposed. I suspect that some of the prophets intuitively understood this when they said that Trump would be a “disrupter” or a “wrecking ball”.

Some prophetic people have declared that Trump is a Cyrus. That might be true, but that is a strange thing to wish on a nation. Cyrus was not a man of God. He was a ruthless, violent ruler, who destroyed all opposition to his rule. He is not the type of person that most people would want to be ruled by. God used him to execute his judgment by destroying the Babylonian empire.

Cyrus did not establish the Kingdom of God (he could not do that). He did not bring a spiritual revival. Instead, he rapidly expanded his military and political power and went on to establish a massively-enlarged and more powerful empire. Therefore, if Donald Trump is Cyrus, most likely is role was either to bring judgment on a Babylonian empire (the United States?) or to establish a new dynasty of bombastic and corrupt leaders who will expand and grow the American Empire until it becomes the Beast of Revelation. It is not clear yet which way it will go.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Political Prophecies

Some of the prophets who were wrong about Donald Trump winning re-election are claiming that they were right before the 2016 election when they announced that Donald Trump would win, as if that cancelled out their recent error. The problem is that those prophesying prior to the 2016 election did not just predict the winner of the election, they each announced several things that Trump would do. When I read their prophecies from that time, they got the winner of the election right, but many of the other predictions that they made have not been fulfilled.

For example, one prophet prophesied that Donald Trump would become a great prayer warrior. There is no evidence that this happened. Another well-known prophet prophesied that God would “use the wealth that God has given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth”. Well, the investigations of corruption did not go far, and Trump did not use his money to pay for them. These are just a couple of examples, but there are plenty more for those who look honestly.

The reality is that most of the prophets who prophesied that Trump would win in 2016 were wrong about much of the detail that they associated with their prediction. That should have set off alarm bells for them, and caused them to work out why they got so much wrong before launching into prophecies about the 2020 election.

Like prophesying the sex of an unborn baby, prophesying the outcome of an election with two contenders is not that hard (because there is a 50 percent chance of being right, even if God has not spoken). Even if one is the underdog, tossing a coin would give the correct result every third time, so being right about the winner does not mean much. It could just be a lucky break. A better way to test the accuracy of the Trump prophets is to examine the other events that they prophesied prior to 2016 and check whether they happened. According to this test, most failed to hear from God clearly. That should have been a warning to them, and to the church.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Thoughts on the Tree of Life

The Tree of Life was at the centre of the garden of Eden. God was present in the garden. The God Yahweh caused to grow trees that would give humans everything that they needed for life. The Tree of Life was in the middle of the garden because it was the source of wisdom for life. Humans had access to this tree as long as they lived by the wisdom of God.

According to Proverbs, the tree of life is the wisdom of God (Prov 13:12; Prov 11:30).

She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her (Prov 3:18).
The tree of life is the centre of the garden, because it was the source of the wisdom of God for life.

Adam and Eve had a choice between two trees. They could choose between knowing good and evil (human wisdom) and wisdom for life (God’s wisdom). Prior to the fall, they had access to the tree of life, ie God’s wisdom. They could hear God speak whenever they listened to him.

Adam and Eve chose to be autonomous and have their own wisdom, rather than continuing to rely on the wisdom of God. Once they chose to rely on their own wisdom, they unwittingly placed themselves under the control of the spiritual powers of evil. This blocked their access to the wisdom of God, because their shame prevented them from staying close to God.

God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden, so they would experience the consequence of their choice. It would be in this world, that God would eventually rescue them (see God's Big Strategy).

Humans were already mortal, before they fell from blessing, but they were able to live long lives (up to a thousand years). They gave them immense opportunity to advance themselves.

When God expressed concern that humans would reach out and eat from the tree of life and live forever, the Hebrew word can mean forever, but it can also mean for the full extent of an age/season. God was not concerned about them having eternal life. Rather, he was saying that without his presence and wisdom, they would not be able to live their full lifespan. The consequence of living in a hostile world, vulnerable to the spiritual powers of evil would significantly shorten term their lives.

That is what happened. Since then most humans have lived less than one hundred years.

Restoration of the Tree of Life
According to the book of Revelation, the tree of life was not destroyed when the Garden of Eden was lost. It was transferred into Paradise.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Rev 2:7).
I presume that the tree of life in the Garden of Eden was not the original one. It would have been a copy of the true tree of life in the spiritual realms. Paradise is the place where the people of God live while waiting for the Parousia. The tree of life is waiting there ready for people who put their trust in Jesus. We will have full access to this tree when the spiritual realms are fully opened to us following the parousia of Jesus.
To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life (Rev 21:6).
In the final vision of Revelation, the source of life is a river flowing from the throne of God.
The angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the peoples. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him (Rev 3:1-3).
In this vision, the tree of life draws from the river of life and provides healing for the people of the nations. God will be present with his people, so pain and sickness will disappear.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

No Real Change

All eyes in America were glued to the television, watching events in Washington DC. Unfortunately, television cameras only pick up what is happening in the physical world. They cannot capture what is happening in the spiritual realms, which shapes much of what happens on earth.

The reality is that the same government-spirits (principalities and powers) are in control today as were in control yesterday. If anything, their power is greater. The powerful spirits of war, violence and power will continue to determine the fate of the nation, regardless of the change in president, and a spirit of lies has dug in with them.

This is why things will not change as much as people fear or hope.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Politics and Torah

We tend to take a fishing approach to the Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy) looking for a few things that we can use in our own political systems, usually to justify some idea that we are pushing. This is the wrong approach.

The only way to understand the Torah correctly is to realise that it describes a complete political/governmental system. God used Moses to give the Israelites a new system of government that is radically different to any other government that has ever existed.

Unlike traditional kingdoms and empires, there was no human ruler in control. God was the King of the Israelites, so there was no need for a human king or emperor.

Modern governments separate out three government functions, that were combined in the traditionally combined in a king: legislative, executive and judicial.

The system that God gave through Moses had no legislative assembly or person with a legislative function, because God had revealed his perfect laws prophetically through his prophet Moses. We cannot say that we can make better ones.

The Torah gave no authority for the imposition of compulsory taxation. This meant there could not be any permanent executive function or associated administrative bureaucracy (a temporary military leader could only be raised up if the community was under attack). The Torah gives no authorisation for coercion or force; only love and commitment to neighbour.

The main government in the Torah is judicial. Judges would be raised up within their community by proving to be trustworthy. Their implementation of justice was voluntary, because there was no police force to enforce them. Justice depended on family and community honesty and social pressure.

I explain this further in my book called Government of God.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Ministry of Intercession

I am beginning to wonder if we have got the ministry of the intercessor right. In the last century, thousands of Christians have taken up this role (maybe millions), but I am not sure that we have seen the return on the effort that we would expect.

My problem is that this ministry does not exist in the New Testament. There was plenty of prayer and intercession, but no one who devoted themselves full-time to this role. The only full-time intercessor in the New Testament is Jesus following the ascension. He stands beside the Father interceding for us (Heb 7:25).

The people described in the New Testament were active in prayer and intercession, but it was part of their broader calling. Jesus often withdrew to pray. He did this to refresh his spirit and to seek his father’s will so he would know what he should do during his encounters with people in the busy days that would follow. His times of deep intercession were balanced by periods of intense activity healing the sick, casting out demons, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.

Judging by Paul’s letters, he also engaged in intense intercession (Eph 1:15-23; 3:16-21) but that was only a small part of his ministry. He was intensely involved in apostolic activity, preaching the gospel, discipling new believers, training leaders, writing letters. His intercession sustained his activities, rather than being the focus of his ministry.

I am coming to believe that intercession that is not balanced with active ministry can lose its way. The massive number of people who felt called to intercession and the huge increase in intercession has not brought the fruit that would have been expected if God was fully in it. Despite the highly-dedicated efforts of the intercessors, the church in the West has mostly gone downhill over the last century.

I suspect that one reason for this lack of effectiveness is the failure of intercessors to understand how authority functions, and their lack of it. The problem is that God has given all people freedom, so he will not force people to things that they don’t want to do. He will send angels and the Holy Spirit to put thoughts in their minds and he can constrain evil spirits that are manipulating them, but he will not force them to do what they do not want to do, no matter how much intercessors and are praying that they will.

The reality is that it is very difficult to bring real change in human behaviour from a prayer closet. Real personal change comes through encounters with other people demonstrating love and speaking the truth.

Political leaders have to be stubborn people, so it is almost impossible to change their behaviour by prayer alone, because God cannot force them to do things that they do not want to do. In a democracy, real political change can only come if many people modify their behaviour, so the prayer closet becomes even less effective, if not supported by other activity.

Real changes in behaviour towards God’s way will often come through:

Changing a community needs apostolic people leaving their homes and coming to live in the midst of the people they are interceding for so that they can see the life that is being offered.

Our intercession is far more effective in the lives of people who have submitted to our authority, because they are family members, or they have recognised the value of our gifts and calling. People who are actively exercising their evangelistic, pastoral, prophetic or apostolic gifts/calling will be more effective in intercession, than people who remain hidden in their prayer closet, because people have submitted to them have given real authority to their intercession for them.

The ministry of intercessor might be a refuge for introverts, but if they remain in their prayer closet away from people, their authority will be limited and the effectiveness of their prayers constrained.

Monday, January 11, 2021

America Prophetic Failure (3)

I can see five serious consequence of the failure of the prophecies that Donald Trump would win a second term as president of the United States.

  • Destruction of faith. People who believed that God said that Donald Trump would win the election will have had their faith in God shaken. Some of those who have been most strident in Trump’s support will be overwhelmed by disappointment and give up on God.

  • A large portion of the population will continue to be hostile to the “elected president” (Some will never trust an election again). Presidential power relies on widespread political support of the people to be effective (and trust in the election process). A large group who hate the president and his democratic party supporters will become an angry and divisive force in the nation. Their anger will be exacerbated by the way the president is being treated by the media and elected leaders. These people are not going to go away, even if Trump retires into obscurity. They will continue to be disgruntled and easily agitated because they believe God is on their side.

  • The widespread belief that the election was stolen will prevent the prophetic movement from being honest about their prophecies and admit they were wrong. They will claim that their prophecies were correct, but the spiritual powers of evil resisted them and prevented them from being fulfilled. Their refusal to admit their mistakes will severely undermine the credibility of the prophetic movement. Some Christians will never trust them again.

  • Many prophets will say that Trump lost the election because the Church did not pray hard enough (see prophetic blind spots). Dumping a guilt trip on the people to protect the reputation of the prophets is dangerous. Many Christians will already be struggling under disappointment. This underserved guilt will be the last nail in the coffin for some.

  • I presume that some church congregations will be badly split on this issue, which will weaken the church. Shepherds will need great wisdom.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

American Prophetic Failure (2) Political Faith

A big problem for the failure of the prophetic movement in the US is fascination with political power.

The American prophets failed to understand what a president can and can’t do. Some prophets supporting Donald Trump suggested that God would use him to transform the nation and release a revival that would sweep the world. They would say that their full trust was in God, but believed that if Trump was not elected for a second term, the nation would go to the dogs. Faith in political power is a serious blind spot for prophetic people

Unfortunately, a US president does not have that kind of power. In a federal system with a strict balance of power, between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, there are significant limits on what a president can achieve. Change is difficult to bring about without getting support from congress and state governments. So the idea that one man could transform the nation, even if he was a Cyrus, was unrealistic. The idea that a man who was, at best, a baby Christian, and at worst, was worldly and unteachable narcissist could advance the Kingdom of God was a bit naïve.

Without an understanding of the futility of political power, prophetic involvement in the political system will be on shaking ground. Hopes of gaining political influence is a dangerous temptation for God's people. Fascination with political power can prevent Christians from seeing what God is trying to do. They tend to get obsessed with getting the right people into power, because they fall for the deception that the next election is the most important in their nation’s history, which is a political lie, designed to enhance political power.

For many American Christians, political power has become an idol. God will not use and idol to advance his purposes. Faith in political power leads them to focus on changing the political leaders of the nation in the false hope that this will bring the Kingdom of God closer. Unfortunately, most efforts to bring political change usually lead to disappointment.

God does not work through political power. His Kingdom cannot be established by political power. Jesus never suggested that his kingdom could be advanced if the centurion who demonstrated faith when his servant was sick was appointed governor in Pilate’s place. He focussed on advancing his own kingdom.

The accumulation of political power amplifies the authority of government-spirits in the spiritual realm. This means that political power is actually an obstacle to God achieving his purposes. He prefers to work through thousands and thousands of small kingdom communities in local neighbourhoods, because that stretches the resources of the spiritual powers of evil to thin to be effective.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

American Prophetic Failure (1)

There are two major problems with the prophetic claims that God would intervene, despite the outcome of the election, to install Donald Trump as president for a second term.

The first problem is that American prophets have failed to understand what God can and can’t do. God is all-powerful, but when he created the earth, and humans in his image, he limited his sovereignty by giving them freedom. This means that he cannot make people do what they don’t want to do. God can constrain the evil spirits that harass people, and he can put thoughts into their minds to persuade them, but he cannot force them to act against their will.

Accomplishing his will is not as easy for God as many Christians assume. Even the people who have promised to serve him frequently choose to do their own thing and fail to obey him. More so, people who hate him or cannot trust him. If they know his will, they are quite likely to refuse to do it. God has the power to get his will done, but he has chosen not to use it because he wants humans to be free. God does accomplish his purposes, but it takes time. The Holy Spirit works out his plans by removing obstacles and putting the right people in place ready for when he wants to bring change. The process is often slowed because some of the people that he has called refuse to get on board.

It took thousands of years for him to get everything lined up so that it would be safe to send Jesus to earth, so it will take many years before he is able to achieve the great harvest of the earth that has been promised and establish the fulness of his Kingdom. God will eventually achieve his purposes, but he does it by working patiently and wisely through humans to achieve his objectives.

Some prophets have been saying that the outcome of the election is in God’s hand, not the hands of men. They have assumed that God can flip the election any way that the chooses. This is not true. God has given authority on earth to humans, so he cannot enforce changes that they do not want.

Adopting democracy places even greater limitation on what God can do.

In a monarchy, removing a king and replacing him with another is much easier. God can cause a king to become sick and die (Acts 12:23), or to be killed in a battle (1 Kings 22:34-35). This opens the way for a replacement king to be installed (the Holy Spirit can influence the process of appointment).

In contrast, democracy is a system designed to give humans control over who rules them. The Holy Spirit can make suggestions to people about how they should vote, but he cannot force them to vote for the person he wants to rule.

The result of an election will be determined by the people and not by God. He cannot destroy votes or create extra ones. He might be able to cause some voting papers to be lost, but that is not how he usually works. The outcome of an election will usually be determined by voters.

Teaching that God determines the outcome of an election is misleading. The only way to change to really change the rulers in a democracy is to preach the gospel effectively so that people’s hearts are changed, enabling them to be able to listen to the Spirit and vote according to his will.

God cannot just snap his fingers and miraculously flip the result of an election. If it were that easy to get his will done, the entire world would have come to faith in Jesus by now. That has not happened. Not because it is not God’s will, but because humans have used the freedom that he gave them to reject his will.

Changing the outcome of an election is not that easy for God, especially if some of the population hate him, and many who say that they love him do not know how to hear the voice of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit has to persuade thousands of people who don’t know how to hear his voice to change the way that they will vote. People are usually stubborn about their political loyalties, so it would not be easy for him to persuade them to change their vote.

Many prophetic people have been saying that God determines the outcome of the election, not man. In a democratic system that is simply not true. The democratic process is actually set up in a way that makes it difficult for the Holy Spirit to have influence. It enables humans to choose their leader, and God will not force them to change their choices. Under democracy (rule of the people), humans determine the outcome of elections.

Some American prophets have claimed that God would intervene miraculously to install Donald Trump as president. By implying that God could do this if they prayed enough, the prophets have created a false hope that will lead to disappointment.

The prophets who declared that America would be swept by a red wave and that Donald Trump would get a second term as president are wrong because they were promising that God was not in a position to deliver, even if he wanted to (I am not certain that he cares about the outcome of the election as much as the American prophets do, but that is a story for another day). If they had said that God wanted Donald Trump to have a second term, this would have been better, because the outcome would be conditional on how people responded.

Unfortunately, numerous prophets went further than that and declared that his second term was certain. Their certainty gave people a false hope that has now produced massive disappointment, and probably loss of faith. Their failure to teach people what God can and cannot do is a serious mistake because it will undermine the faith of many Christians. Faith based on a false understanding of how God operates is bound to be disappointed. Serious disappointment in God will cause many people to turn away from him. That is sad because prophets are supposed to teach people how to deal with the troubles of life.

Prophets should be careful about confusing God’s desires with his intentions. They must not confuse what he wants to happen, with what will happen. They must be careful about declaring that outcomes which are conditional are certain. In a world where humans are free, very few events on earth are certain.

Modern prophets sometimes speak as if God has meticulous control over everything that happens on earth. That is a false doctrine. God has made humans free. This means that humans decide much of what happens on earth, not God.

The big mistake of the American prophets in this season was not hearing wrongly about the outcome of the election, although that was a serious mistake. Their big mistake was declaring the outcome was certain, despite the reality that God was not free to deliver it because he is unwilling to force humans to do things against their will.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Wrong Stuggle

While Christians are really stirred up about which of the two sleazy, corrupt and geriatric candidates gets to be president of the United States, they missed a far more important reality. The government-spirits (principalities and powers in the spiritual realms) that tightened their control over the nation over the last four years will maintain their stronghold on the nation for the next four. The powerful spirits of war, violence and power will continue to determine the fate of the nation, regardless of who is president, and a spirit of lies has dug in with them.

Era of Justice

I heard a prophetic person say that America is going into a new era of justice. The unspoken implication is that God will establish justice by giving Donald Trump another term as president.

When I heard this word that God is bringing justice to America, I thought of Amos 5:18-20 and the Jewish people who were longing for the Day of the Lord.

Woe to you who long
for the day of the LORD!
Why do you long for the day of the LORD?
That day will be darkness, not light.
It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
They assumed that God would rescue them from their troubles, because they were his special people. Unfortunately, the day of the Lord would turn out to be a terrible day that would bring even greater trouble for them. More is expected, from those who have been given more.

The American Christians longing for an era of justice don’t realise what they are asking for. They seem to assume that an era of justice would mean another term for Donald Trump with two terms for Mike Pence to follow and a return to the glory days when America ruled the world and the church ruled the nation.

They obviously do not know the Sermon on the Mount, or Mary’s prophecy, which explain that God’s justice is different what we often expect.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty (Luke 1:51-53).

I suspect that an era of justice could be a terrible time for a nation that:

  • has used its military power to wreck nations like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen.
  • killed thousands of innocent civilians with its bombs, missiles and drones.
  • maintained alliances with dictators and corrupt rulers who are oppressing their people.
  • flooded the world with movies and videos that celebrate violence and sexual perversion.
  • used political and military power to obtain wealth.
  • has an education and entertainment industries that have spread atheism round the world.
  • that has frittered away more revivals than any nation in history.
If I lived in America, I would not be seeking an era of justice for my nation, I would be desperately crying for an era of mercy. But maybe the American prophets intuitively know, without understanding it, that the time for mercy has passed.

Prophets should be careful what they ask for.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

God's Sovereignty

Roger E Olson wrote,

I do not believe that God always gets his way or that everything that happens is according to a divine plan. Did God “plan” the fall of humanity into sin with all of its consequences? I think not. Did God permit it? I think so. Did God have a plan for it, should it happen? Yes. Is God in control of everything? No. Could God control everything? Yes. Is God sovereign? Yes. Does God’s sovereignty mean meticulous providence? No. Does God know the future comprehensively, infallibly, absolutely? I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter. God is omnipotent and omniresourceful and perfectly wise. He can establish his kingdom no matter what creatures do; we cannot thwart God’s final, perfect plan for the end of all things.