A prophet must be called by God. The initiative in making a prophet always rests with him. It is not a ministry that anyone can take up. Only a false prophet dares to take up this ministry for himself. The true prophetic ministry always begins with a call from God. Isaiah had a very dramatic call (Isaiah 6:1-8). He needed this to sustain him through a difficult and disappointing ministry.

Jeremiah's calling came in a specific word from God when he was quite young.

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." "Ah, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, and to build and to plant" (Jer 1:4-10).

Amos was going about his business when he received his call. He was not from a prophetic family and did not expect or desire a prophetic ministry. Prophetic ambition can be dangerous.

Then Amaziah said to Amos, "Get out, you seer! Go Back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don't prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king's sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom." Amos answered Amaziah, "I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.' Now then, hear the word of the Lord . You say, " 'Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the house of Isaac' (Amos 7:12-16).

Only God can call a prophet. It is a sovereign choice of God. He can call anyone. The call often comes suddenly (Tom Marshall- The Coming of the Prophets).

Before there is a prophet in making, there is a royal command. Most likely the things and the men that are not are chosen for the task to nullify the things that are, 1 Cor 1: 28. Prophets are commissioned, sent by royal command. Prophets are ambassadors, speaking and acting on behalf of a peculiar nation not belonging to this world. They are seldom welcomed, at least not by the undisciplined, disobedient crowd. He is certainly recognised, but rarely accepted. To label him a recognised prophet is to disarm him and lock him into the system that he is sent to confront (Lars Widerburg - The Forthtellers).

He had the greatness to obey a call to service, which was contrary to all natural instincts; yet he went on and served his Lord over many years (Milton Smith - Jeremiah).

If we have a true ministry, opposition and failure will not deter us- we must continue to minister because of the inner compulsion which results from God's call (Milton Smith).

The heavens were opened and I saw a vision of God. The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel. The hand of the Lord was upon him. These three words: vision, word and hand became experiential in the life of this young prophet in the most tragic hour of his nation's history (Milton Smith).

God revealed himself to Ezekiel in personal encounter. The rabbis who insisted that no one under the age of thirty should read this part of Ezekiel's book were conscious that they were standing on Holy Ground. So was Ezekiel; he could only fall on his face as dead (Milton Smith).

This was the setting of his commission to prophesy and from it carried with him through the whole of his ministry a sense of awe and holy fear. It is the true prophet's hallmark in every generation. The false prophets can chatter glibly about God, because he has never met him. The man of God comes out of his presence indelibly marked with the Glory of his God (Milton Smith).

The man of God was just that - he was a man of God. Those God uses call themselves what God calls them. Not more than that. Not less either. This man may well have been called to be a prophet, but the appointment had not yet come - and he did not use the title. We would do well to observe this principle today (1 Kings 13:1) (http://www.africaprophecy.co.za/2prophets.htm).

Prophets may resist their calling, as Jonah did his- with dire results. (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p.46)

Confirmation

Calling from God is essential for every Christian ministry. Acting without calling is presumption. Calling is particularly important for the prophetic ministry. The prophet who is not called is self-appointed and self-appointed prophets are very dangerous.

Such election is far tougher for the prophet. Not only may a man not become a prophet unless God calls, he may become a prophet only by responding in obedience when He calls, as He calls (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p.42).

Prophets are always called in many different ways, at different times, and under different circumstances (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p.45).

The proof that a prophet has been called is the fact that his words are effective and fulfilled. A good example of this is Samuel.

All of Israel knew that Samuel was a prophet, because the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground (1 Samuel 3:19,20).

Calling comes from God, but it will also be confirmed and encouraged by other Christians. A calling that is not recognised by other Christians is often self-appointed and not a true calling.

Marks of a Prophet

  1. zeal for God's will.
  2. foresight into God's plan.
  3. insight into God's plan.

Call is confirmed by preparation. Those whom God calls are also prepared by God. There is often a long time gap between God's calling and entry into ministry. This calls for patience. Preparation may take a lot longer than we expect, but God's standards are high.

After every calling and envisioning comes a time of death and burial. It is called preparation, as the Lord puts our call on the shelf and deals with who we are as people. During this "in the ground" time, the reality of the call leaves us for a time. Therefore, when suddenly someone begins to restate our call prophetically, it may be the time when the Lord is opening doors and making things happen (Graeme Cooke Developing your Prophetic Ministry p. 202).

Those with a prophetic calling must be prepared to pay the price. It is not just at the end, but all throughout in a special experience in humiliation and self-deprivation, which is uniquely known to prophets (Art Katz The Heart of a Prophet).

Young prophets should be careful about sharing the words of confirmation that the Lord has given about their calling to the prophetic ministry. Most people will see this as boasting. They should only share these words with those who are close and who will understand them. The Lord gives these words to encourage the prophet, not to authenticate their ministry.

Prophetic people should avoid saying, "I am a Prophet", as it makes them sound arrogant. If you are a prophet, God will authenticate your ministry by fulfilling your words, as he did with Samuel (1 Sam 3).. It is better to wait and let the people say, "He is a prophet", because they see your words are witnessed and fulfilled by the Holy Spirit.

Wife of a Prophet

Some prophets will be single, but many will be married. The wife of a prophet often carries a heavy burden.

  1. Men called to the prophetic ministry are usually very thick skinned. They need to be to fulfil their calling.

    I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint (Ez 2:8,9).

    Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land-the kings of Judah, its officials its priests and the people of the land (Jer 1:18)

    The wife of the prophet is not a fortified city. She is a precious vessel (1 Peter 3:7), who is vulnerable to attack. Because opposites attract, she is quite often a very sensitive person.

    As the prophet moves into his calling, he must put protection in place for his wife. She needs to be surrounded by loyal and sympathetic friends, who understand her struggle and can provide encouragement and support. His calling to be a prophet must not be put ahead of his responsibility as a husband. His wife must not be sacrificed on the altar of the prophetic ministry.

  2. When he receives a hard word, the prophet should have wrestled with God and gone through a process to be sure that the word is correct. His wife will not have gone through that process, so she will not be so sure that the word is right. She will remember the times that her husband has been wrong, whereas he will have pushed these down into a memory hole, so he can get on with his ministry. She will remember the harm done, and be concerned that he could be wrong again, so it will be difficult for her to share the same confidence in his words. He will need to understand this fear and help her to understand why he believes the world is right. She will need to trust him, for better or for worse.

  3. People are often intimidated by a prophet. If they disagree with what he has spoken, they will often be scared to challenge him. Many will take the easy way out, and share their concerns with his wife, hoping that she will pass them on to her husband. This is a bad practice. The wife should point out that her husband is teachable and encourage the people to take their concerns to him directly. The elders should advice the people in the church not to mess with his wife, if they have an issue with the prophet.

  4. Prophets tend to be very black and white, so they can easily hurt people. When a young prophet is starting out, he will not even be aware that he is doing this. Some will not worry about people being hurt, even if it is the fault. The prophet's wife will be much more sensitive to what is happening. She will pick up on all the unnecessary hurt and pain that he has caused. The prophet needs to learn from his wife. He should ask her about how people are responding to the way he speaks. He should use her advice to learn how to speak the truth in love.

  5. Being a prophet is a tough calling. The wife of a prophet knows his integrity and the cost of his ministry, so she can be his main source of encouragement. Hopefully, she can build a home that is a place of refuge during times of stress.

The experience will be different for husbands of prophetesses. Their main challenge will be to ensure that their wives are not overworked by the church. The will need to check that Christians are not taking advantage of their wives good nature, when they should be seeking God for themselves. When a prophetess is attacked, her husband should stand beside her to protect from abuse.

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