The primary responsibility of a prophet is to bring direction and correction to their Church, but God may raise some prophets up to be a Prophet to the Nation. Many of the prophets of the Old Testament found themselves confronting kings, and taking an important role in national affairs. Some also addressed their words to foreign nations. They demonstrate the ministry of the Prophet to the Nation.
A thousand or ten thousand ordinary priests or pastors or teachers could labour quietly on almost unnoticed while the spiritual life of Israel or the church was normal. But let the people of God go astray from the paths of truth and immediately the specialist appeared almost out of nowhere. His instinct for trouble brought him to the help of the Lord and of Israel. Such a man was likely to be drastic, radical, possibly at times violent, and the curious crowd that gathered to watch him work soon branded him as extreme, fanatical, negative. And in a sense they were right.
He was single-minded, severe, fearless, and these were the qualities the circumstances demanded. He shocked some, frightened others and alienated not a few, but he knew who had called him and what he was sent to do. His ministry was geared to the emergency, and that fact marked him out as different, a man apart. To such men as this the church owes a debt too heavy to pay. The curious thing is that she seldom tries to pay him while he lives, but the next generation builds his sepulchre and writes his biography, as if instinctively and awkwardly to discharge an obligation the previous generation to a large extent ignored (Leonard Ravenhill - Why Revival Tarries).
Times of Transformation
A Prophet to the Nation releases God's hand of power. We are living in a time of transformation, when God's purposes will be accomplished through "shaking" and judgement. The ministry of the prophet is very important at these times, because God cannot act, without first giving a warning through his prophets.
Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).
God cannot shake a nation until he has announced it through his prophets. There are two reasons for this.
God is merciful and always gives people an opportunity to repent, before he sends judgement on a nation. God would be happier if he did not have to shake the nation, he gives a warning, hoping that his people will put things right. But if the warning is not heeded, God has no alternative but to act himself.
Any shaking event must be recognised as coming from the hand of God. If a judgement is seen as just a normal event, it can be ignored. An event that has been announced beforehand by God's servants is obviously a work of God and its meaning will be clear. The fact that it has been announced beforehand by God's servant will be proof that it is a work of God.
Prophetic activists and national apostasy are often associated (Milton Smith).
The prophet knows what time it is, knows what kind of time it is. He holds prophetic understanding of the mentality and mood of this present time. He identifies and knows the trends of a society by looking at its roots. He is able to analyse trends and upcoming events by judging foundations. His words are a force against the mentality of the day (Lars Widerburg - The Forthtellers).
Sin inevitably brings divine judgement. Jerusalem the Holy City collapses, not because the enemy was stronger but because God decreed it. The fall of Jerusalem is represented as a divine judgement against sin. Human rebellion against God, not weakness caused the collapse of the Holy City (Milton Smith).
The story of Abimelech contrasts three different methods of bringing political change (Judges 9). The first two methods bring bad results.
Abimelech was elected by a democratic process, but he did great harm to the people of Shechem. This incident is a timely reminder that democracy gives power to the wrong people. The skills needed to get ahead in politics are pragmatism, arrogance and a light hand on the truth. These are very different from the skills needed by a good judge.
Rebelling against an evil leader will usually fail, because violence produces violence. A person capable of rebellion is also capable of being a dictator.
Now Gaal son of Ebed moved with his brothers into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him. Then Gaal son of Ebed said, "Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should be subject to him? If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelech, 'Call out your whole army!' (Jud 9:26,28,29).
Gaal led a rebellion, but the and those who followed him were destroyed (Jud 9:38-41)
Prophetic proclamation is the best way to remove a bad government. When a prophet voice speaks God's judgment against an evil ruler, God will honour that word and bring sanctions against the wicked person. Jothan, the youngest brother escaped and prophesied against Abimelech and the people of Shechem.
If then you have acted honorably and in good faith may Abimelech be your joy, and may you be his, too! But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume you, citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelech!" (Jud 9:19,20).
God honoured this prophetic word.
After Abimelech had governed Israel three years, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, who acted treacherously against Abimelech (Jud 9:22,23).
Abimelech was removed by prophecy.
Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done. God also made the men of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham came on them (Jud 9:56,57).
Modern Christians place a lot of faith in democracy, even though it does not produce godly government. Others have tried rebellion, but this has failed too.
Prophetic proclamation is the best way to get rid of an evil government. Unfortunately, belief that God can bring governments down is rare. The missing element is a strong prophetic voice to release God's power to bring political change.
Prophets and Tyranny
One reason that tyranny has been so serious in the twentieth century is the lack of prophets in the nations. There have been no prophets challenging political rulers to obey the law of God. Many rulers do not even know that they are required to serve God, or that he has put limits on their jurisdiction. God can only act against evil rulers, if he has a prophet to speak out his challenge and warn of his judgements.
Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothingwithout revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:10).
God will not bring sanctions against wicked rulers unless their sins are clearly understood.
God does not like to send judgement against the leaders of a nation, unless his prophets have announced it. If prophets have not announced the judgement in advance, the rulers will not understand that it was sent by God. They will not realise that the calamity is the consequence of their sins. They will assume that it is just another tragic event. Some rulers may even use the trouble to expand their powers. If judgement is not announced in advance by the prophets, its purpose is diffused or lost.
Isaiah 16 describes a number of kings and tyrants, who were brought down from the place of pride and power by the shaking of God. He gave relief from suffering and cruel bondage by destroying the aggressive and oppressive rulers. God was able to stretch forth his hand and accomplish his purpose, because prophets like Isaiah had prophesied against them (Isaiah 12-23)
The worst thing that can happen to a nation is the have no prophets. Psalm 74 is the cry of a people suffering under tyranny.
We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be. How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them! (Psalm 74:9-11).
The Psalmist feels like his nation is in a hopeless situation. It is being ruled by tyrants and God's hand of judgement against this injustice is being held back. The Psalmist knows that God has power to destroy the wicked ruler, but while there are no prophets this is unlikely to happen.
This lack of prophets is a still a problem in the modern world. Prophets to the nation will have to emerge in the church first, but the modern church has been unwilling to release this gift in the church. The prophetic ministry has been stifled in the church, so prophets to the nation have been unable to develop. The absence of the prophetic ministry has impoverished the church, but it has had even more serious consequences for the world. Tyrants have been able to rule with impunity, as God's hand of judgement has been held back, hidden his garment, the church.
Restraining the Sword
The sword is dangerous and the political sphere will always tend to expand. People with political power will always see new problems to solve and their people will often expect them to solve them. Rulers will always face the temptation to expand their power. Pressure to do more good is dangerous, because the state can use force to expand its role. This is a great dilemma for political theory. The state needs force to punish criminals and protect society. However, this monopoly of force makes it almost impossible for citizens to prevent their government from expanding its power. We cannot resist the state, because it is stronger than we are.
History suggests that this is a serious problem. Throughout the twentieth century, the power of the state, whether dictator or democracy, has increased immensely. Even where political powers start out with modest intentions, they seem to end up with more power and control. Democracy does not prevent this from happening, but tends to make the situation worse. It tends to produce leaders who pander to the desires of the people by expanding political power. The United States constitution was carefully designed to limit political power, but the United States government has now amassed incredible power over its citizens.
The only antidote to the expanding state is Christian prophets proclaiming the law in partnership with God. When the church is functionally correctly, God will raise up prophets to the nation, who can speak his word to its rulers. These prophets will confront their rulers, whenever they take up power and responsibility that does not belong to them. Biblical law sets out the boundaries on the power of the state.
The Prophets of God will challenge any political ruler who takes powers that are not authorised by the law. If the rulers do not heed these warnings, the prophets will announce God's judgement against them. If the rulers then persist in taking power that God has not given to them, they will experience his judgement. If they will not voluntarily shrink their power to the size specified by God's law, he will cut them down to size. The law and the prophets are the key to limiting the power of the state (Rom 3:21).
This earth belongs to the Lord, so all rulers are his servants. They do not have absolute power, but exercise delegated power given to them by God. If they take power that has not been delegated to them, they are in rebellion against him. When a ruler ignores God's will, the prophets will warn of God's judgement. If the rulers refuse to surrender to God, they can expect his sanctions to fall upon them. The best restraint on the power of the sword is the power of the trumpet.
A good example of this restraining power is recorded in 1 Kings 11:29-31.
About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes.
Solomon had rejected God by taking foreign wives to form alliances with foreign nations. Ahijah the prophet announced God's judgement against Solomon. This resulted in his son Rehoboam losing most of the kingdom to another king.
Crisis and Hope
In the troubled times that lie ahead many people will have their hope shattered. The plans and the projects to which they have given their lives will collapse. Often they will feel as if God has abandoned them. The nations will need prophets who can give new vision in these times of shaking.
We must recognise the danger of despair that comes with extinguishing dreams. In the troubled times that lie ahead many will believe that their dreams have died. Theologically they will believe that God has abandoned them. If the church in our time is to avoid despair we must construct the new vision of God's presence in the midst of our judgement (Bruce Bint).
With the shattering changes -political, economic and technological -that have been thrust upon the twentieth century world it is a small wonder that the generation facing the close of the second millennium and peering uncertainly into the uncharted waters of the twenty first century are crying out for divine guidance (Clifford Hill - Prophecy, Past and Present p.281).
God raises special people for special times and
the times dictate the strength of God's hand upon the person (Paula White).
Prophets will explain how God is at work in what appears to be a disaster. And because prophets can see what lies ahead, they will be able to give direction and hope for the future.
Prophets arise in times of crisis. Their message is always relevant to the contemporary situation. The encounter with prophecy is always at the frontier of the social and religious. The factors that give rise to prophecy are always both sociological and religious. (Clifford Hill - Prophecy, Past and Present p. 20).
When Israel was in trouble and needed a deliverer, God sent a prophet.
They (Midian) invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help. When the Israelites cried to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet (Jud 6:6,7).
Building faith and hope is one of the functions of the prophetic gift. Jeremiah was able to obey God in the midst of troubling circumstances because he had been given a picture of the future (Chuck Pierce - The Future War of the Church).
A prophet to the nation is a person who speaks on behalf of God. Peter said that prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20,21).
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
They were moved by the Spirit, so they could speak in the name of the Lord.
When calling Jeremiah, God said he would puts his words in the prophet's mouth. The Lord said to him,
You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you I have put my words in your mouth. Jer 1:7,9
A prophet is a person with the gift of a keen ability to hear from God. They have a finely tuned ability to hear God's voice (Noel Woodlock).
The same point is made in Deuteronomy 18:18:
I will raise up a prophet I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything that I command him.
A prophet speaks in obedience to the Lord. He says only what God tells him to say. He brings God's word to the church and the world. Ezekiel described this as the Lord's hand being upon him.
The hand of the Lord was upon me (Ezek 37:1).
The prophet was primarily a man of the word of God. His task was to bring the word of God to his fellow man (J A Motyer-Prophets and Prophecy).
The prophet of God was thus the mouthpiece of God. He was God's messenger whose task was to deliver whatever God said to him. He was not simply a holy man, nor was he a man with a mission to reform the world or to accomplish any particular task of religious teaching or leadership. The Prophet was simply a "mouthpiece" (Clifford Hill - Prophecy, Past and Present p.25).
A prophet is a divine spokesperson. To speak prophetically is to speak by divine inspiration. It is the presentation of God's message for an individual, group, nation, or generation. It may bring direction, correction, warning, encouragement, or instruction (John Bevere - Thus Saith the Lord p.2).
The picture of the prophet that emerges from the pages of Scripture and the early church writings is impressive. Rather than a mere mouthpiece who passively responds when god picks him up, the prophet is a conscious agent of God, gifted by God to be an envoy, a watchman and bearer of royal authority. (Bruce Yocum - Prophecy p.59)
If we are to arrive at a proper conception of the function of to "nabhi", we must look elsewhere than to philology. We must examine the actual usage of the word in the Old Testament, and from such usage seek to determine what it meant. In Deuteronomy 18:18b the essential nature of the prophetic function is clearly set forth; "... and I shall place my words in his mouth and he will speak unto them all which I command him." Here the function of the prophet is that of declaring the word. Precisely this same thought also appears in the classic text, Exodus 7:1.
God declared even before his birth, Jeremiah had been sanctified and had been set apart to be a nabhi. Immediately upon hearing this announcement, Jeremiah cries that he does not know how to speak. Evidently Jeremiah, as soon as he hears that he is to be a nabhi thinks of speaking, and complains that he is unable to fulfil the function of a nabhi namely, speaking. To his mind the word nabhi called up immediately the connotation of speaking. Jeremiah was to be a nabhi therefore he would have to speak (Edward J Young - My servants the Prophets p.59)
The definitions of the different Greek and Hebrew words translated "prophet" in the Old and New Testaments reveal that this ministry is one that speaks for God, has immediate intercourse with God, is an interpreter of the oracles of God, and preaches the counsel of God. These are all indicative of the awesome seriousness of prophetic ministry. To speak for god and interpret of preach his counsel is a responsibility of unfathomable proportions to be entrusted to mere men (Rick Joyner - The Prophetic Ministry).
A prophet is defined more by a willingness to speak than an ability to hear. Every Christians should be able to hear God. However, only a few have the courage and boldness to speak everything that God wants spoken. Prophets have a special sense of the heart and burdens of God. They are committed to the truth. They are willing to speak God's word, regardless of the cost. God needs prophets who will speak his work fearlessly, without regard to the consequences.
You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen (Ezek 2:7).
They developed a keen sense of God's presence and knew when he wanted to speak to his people. They sensed his moods and his burdens of heart, even before they knew exactly what they were feeling. It was wonderful, but it also confused them because they often felt squeezed between what God wanted to do and the religious routine going on about them (Stephen L Mansfield - Pastoring the Prophetic).
The task of the prophet to the nation is also demonstrated in the relationship between Moses and Aaron. Moses was not a good speaker, so God said Aaron would be his "prophet". He explained what this would mean.
You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him (Ex 4:15-17).
In this passage Aaron clearly appears as the mediator between Moses and Pharaoh. Moses stands in relation to Pharaoh as god to the people, and the message of Moses is given to Pharaoh by means of Aaron. Here again the function of the Prophet is that of speaking forth a message which has been received from a superior (Edward J Young - My Servants the Prophets p.58)
Prophet for the Season
Every prophet is different and unique. We should not try to put them all into the same mould. God always has the right person for the time and situation.
God has always had his specialists whose chief concern had been moral breakdown, the decline in the spiritual health of the nation or the church. Such men were Elijah, Jeremiah, Malachi, and others of their kind who appeared at critical moments in history to reprove rebuke and exhort in the name of God and righteousness (A W Tozer.).
Jeremiah was God's man for a nation flying apart (David Pawson Jeremiah).
The institution of prophecy, therefore is to be regarded as a gift of God. It is he who raised up the prophets and gave them their messages. They were not merely men of religious genius, nor did they appear because Israel was a particularly religious nation. (Edward J Young - My servants the Prophets p.36)
George Wishart was believed by his contemporaries to have spoken under the influence of prophetic inspiration. John Knox says, " He was not only singularly learned, as well in Godly knowledge as in all honest human science, but he was also so clearly illumined with the spirit of prophecy, that he not only saw not only pertaining to himself, but also such things as some towns and the whole realm afterward felt, which he spoke not in secret but in the audience of many (Torrance).
In this connection we must remember that the entire prophetic institution was a gift from God. It was not an expression of the religious nature of the people, but a Divine gift. The prophets were raised up of God: they did not emerge from the national religious consciousness. As the spokesman of God they uttered their messages wherever God commanded them to do so (Edward J Young - My Servants the Prophets).
Eyes of the Nation
There is a watching aspect to the ministry of a prophet. In fact one of the words for prophet is the Hebrew word Seer.
Formerly in Israel, if a man went to inquire of God, he would say, "Come, let us go to the seer," because the prophet of today used to be called a seer (1 Sam 9:9)
Seers are men of revelation. Seers are men of enlightenment. Seers are men of intellectual maturity. The prophet is a seer. The basic nature of his commission is observation and watchfulness. He is prone to contemplation and skilled in the art of deduction (Lars Widerberg - The Seer).
Isaiah described the prophets as the "eyes" of or nation.
The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep:
He has sealed your eyes (the prophets);
he has covered your heads (the seers) (Is 29:10).
Balaam was a false prophet, yet the Lord used him when the Spirit came on him. He said some good things about how a prophet needs to have his eyes opened to see what God is doing.
The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly, the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened: (Num 24:4)
Prophets are people of vision, who can see what God is doing. They co-operate with God in breaking down all that is not built on the true foundation. They do this by announcing his judgements. At the same time they watch over all that God is doing in the nation to see that it is built according to his Word.
The prophet does not confuse truth with consensus. The prophet does not confuse God's word with the word of those who happen to hold power at present, or with the opinion of the majority. This is because powerholders and the majority can fall victim to a lying spirit-and this means a power that actually seizes the majority of experts, the political leadership, and the public (Michael Welker God the Spirit Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994, p.88).
Nations and Encouragment
Personal prophecy should be mostly encouragement. A problem occurs when a person who is fluent with the gift of prophecy and experienced with personal prophecy moves up to the role of prophet to a church or nation. This problem is more serious with prophecies to a city or nation or state. These entities have a strong tendency to turn away from God, so they rarely need encouragement and mostly need warning and correction. Christians living within them need a clear trumpet sound, so they know what they should do.
If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound,
who will prepare for battle? (1 Cor 15:8).
To often, Christian's who have learned their craft bring encouragement in personal prophecies try to step up and bring prophecies to their nation. If they do not understand the difference and make a transition to the different level of operation, they will often bring spiritual warm fuzzies when the nation really needs a clear trumpet call.
In a prophecy to any nation, at least a couple of the following questions should be answered.
What is going on in this nation?
Has the season changed?
What do the people of the nation or its leaders need to do to turn things around?
What is God doing in the nation?
What do the people of God need to do, to be a part of what the Lord is doing?
Some will be surprised that none of these questions refer to predictions about the future? The truth is that I would sooner know what God is doing now and what his people should be doing now, than what will happen in the future.
Knowing who will be the next President will not help us at all, if we do not understand what is happening in the nation that has caused God to give us that particular President.
Most prophecies for a nation on the internet do not measure up. They just carry on the encouragement model that is typical of personal prophecy. This will provide plenty of spiritual warm fuzzies, but a clear trumpet call is rare. Choosing to speak for God is a serious business. He is not honoured by spiritual mush.
God calls does not call Christians to be "moral campaigners". The Pharisees were the moral campaigners of Jesus time. They loved to find fault with the weak and sinful people in their society, but Jesus criticised them for their lack of mercy and their spiritual blindness. He showed mercy to those trapped in the grip of sin.
The Pharisees got things all wrong. They could not see their own sin, so they seemed like hypocrites. They dealt harshly with weak people who had been seduced by a culture of sin and were not clever enough to hide it, but missed the far more serious sins of society's leaders. They focused on obvious sexual sins, but were blinded to the more deceptive sins that open the nation to evil. This should be a serious warning to those who campaign against sin.
God does not need moral campaigners, but he does call a few of his people to speak prophetically to the nation. These prophets will remind the nation of God's standards and warn of the consequences for society. A key part of their role is to identify the core evils that are the root of their society's problems. They will not be obsessed with the more obvious sexual sins, but will focus on the subtle shifts in attitude that creep in and open the door to real evil. They will know that the sins of their political and cultural leaders are usually well hidden, but are really dangerous to society.
True prophets will be concerned about devious and influential sins, like pride, selfishness and "state idolatry". They will be less concerned about sexual sins, as these generally only emerge when other more subtle sins have already taken hold in society. Blatant sexual sin is a symptom of a sick world, but is not the root cause. Prophets to their nationwill be more concerned about the cause than the symptoms. They will focus on the issues that are really damaging their society.
Focus on the Cause not the Symptom
Much modern prophecy is very shallow. Real prophets go deep to the heart of an issue. They are not distracted by surface issues and symptoms that that are not the real cause of what is happening. Prophets press in deeper until they get to the crux of the issues that are shaping the heart of their nation.
Abortion is an example of this problem. Most Christians realise that abortion is a terrible sin. Some get really stirred up about it, but this prevents them from seeing the real issues affecting their nation. Abortion is not a legal issue, but a manifestation of a much deeper spiritual malaise. Something is seriously wrong with the spirit of nation when many young women feel compelled to destroy their future (their children).
Prophetic people are wasting energy when they attempt to make abortion illegal, because banning abortion deals with the symptoms of the problem, but does not change the underlying cause that is rooted deep in the culture. The prophetic task is to expose the cracks in the heart of the nations that are manifesting through abortion. The solution is not a change in the law, but deep-seated repentance, a renewed world view, and powerful healing by God.
Abortion is just one manifestation of an impaired spirit. The Left Behind phenomena is another manifestation of the same core blemish. Many Christians have lost confidence in the future and are looking to Jesus to come and rescue them soon. They have no confidence in the ability of the Holy Spirit to establish the Kingdom of God. This lack of faith puts them in danger of being cut off from their future, just as the young woman who has an abortion cuts off her own future. Abortion and rapture obsession are manifestation of the same spiritual flaw.
Many Christians are stirred up about homosexual marriage, but again they are focussing on the symptoms and not the root cause. Christian prophets will realise that homosexuality is a symptom and not the real crack in the heart of their culture.
Ezekiel understood this issue well. When he describing the sin of Sodom, this is what he said.
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:49).
Sodom's root sin was not homosexuality, but arrogance, laziness and refusal to care for the poor. It seems that when a society makes and idol of comfort and pleasure, it descends into a promiscuity that eventually manifests in homosexuality. What Lot found in Sodom was just the natural outcome for a society that worshipped comfort and wealth.
Lot saw the symptoms of the problem and like many Christian was upset about what he saw. Ezekiel looked much deeper and realised that the key issue was a love of comfort and pleasure. We need more prophets like Elijah who can see deep into the heart of our nation.
Prophets to their nation must remain humble, so they are not corrupted by their close link with the state. The scriptures have strong words against the "court prophets" who support everything that a ruler does, but do not listen to what God is saying. Prophets to the nation must also be careful to remain in the place where God has planted them. Because, they understand the art of government, they might be tempted to enter politics. However, prophets have a responsibility to speak God's word, so they must not usurp the role of the king. This would be dangerous for them and their nation. An excellent prophet will make an inferior king.
The boundary between church and state must be kept clear. Prophets must not attempt to manipulate or control the civil authorities on God's behalf. They must limit their efforts to persuasion. They must speak God's word and leave the Holy Spirit to change the politicians heart. The key to being heard is to hear from God. The more clearly the prophet hears from God, the more his words will be heeded. Wise prophets will remain separate from the trappings of the state, so that they can hear God clearly and speak with integrity.
Prophets to the Nation speak as individuals and not on behalf of their church. Their authority will not come from their position in the church (they may be recognised as prophets by the church). They will only have authority in the nation, if their words are true and anointed by the Holy Spirit. They will not be able to make decisions for the government or business. Those with authority in business or the government must test the words of the prophets and only obey them if they are true. They should listen to those who are skilled at hearing form God, but they are not required to obey them blindly. They must obey God, rather than man. Controlling prophets are as dangerous as an imperialistic church.
Political loyalties are very limiting for prophetic people. A person who is loyal to the right or to the left will be able to function as a prophet in their church or bring words to the people the meet, but they are unlikely to move on to the role of prophet to their state or nation. A prophet to the nations must be totally loyal to God and to his law.
Unless prophetic people understand that political parties and human politics are not part of God's plan, very few real prophets to the nations will emerge. God's revelation for rulers and governments is contained in his law, so prophets called to speak to their nation must understand and defend the law. They cannot afford to be blinded by loyalty to a party or political leader.
People with valid prophetic gifts become "court prophets" when their loyalty to a particular political leader or a political party takes precedence over their loyalty to God. The court prophets that led Jehoshaphat astray were not prophets of Baal. They were prophets of the Lord, trained among the sons of the prophets. They would have been brought to the palace when their ability to hear and speak the word of God was recognised. The problem was that they became too loyal to the king's party. This prevented them from hearing God's warning and left them vulnerable to a lying spirit (1 Kings 22).
The American nation does not have a clear prophetic voice. That is a dangerous place to be. I am sure that God is calling many of his people to be a prophet to the nation. Unfortunately most are so wrapped up in America that they cannot offer the total loyalty that God needs for this role. Blind loyalty to the left or right is blocking the prophetic flow at the national level.
Social justice is becoming an important issue for the church. This is good, because God is concerned about justice. However too often the justice that is proclaimed is merely humanistic justice. The church tends to jump on the bandwagons that are being pushed by liberal humanists. Moreover, the message is too often spoken by committees or church officials, who have no real authority in the eyes of the world. The result is that their voices are lost amongst all the other voices that are speaking into modern society. If the church is to have an impact in the area of social justice, it must pray that God will raise up prophets to speak to the nation.
Watchmen serve their time and their church by understanding and defining the mentality of contemporary phenomenons. The prophet is a man of foundations, able to analyse the results of a common trend in society by looking at its roots. He is skilled in the art of deduction, interpretation and discernment. He, himself becomes a force against the mentality of the time and he offers understanding of how to avoid the influence of its atmosphere. This imminent force of separation and purity is the prophetic dimension. (Lars Widerberg - The Seer).
Prophets should know the mind of God, so they will proclaim a standard of justice and righteousness that is true. They will know the issues that are on the heart of God and how true peace and justice can be established. Prophets will speak in the name of the Lord, so they will have tremendous authority. God will watch over their words to ensure that they come to pass. There are many calls for the church to be prophetic, but this is impossible for a church without prophets.
As Christians we believe that God is active in the world and that his word can be heard in the events of human history. We believe it is the church's duty to proclaim what God is doing and what he would have us do. So Amos of old denounced the selfish indifference of the rich and the unjust suffering of the poor in Israel. Jeremiah who proclaimed that the inevitable judgement of a just God on his faithless people was to be seen in the fall of Jerusalem. We cannot doubt that God is at work in the turmoil of our world today, in inflation, in industrial unrest and political uncertainty, in the aspirations of the Third world. He has a word for us to proclaim to our contemporaries, a word of challenge, of judgement, of comfort and of hope. Yet the voice of the church and of Christians generally seems, strangely silent.
What a nation needs more than anything else is not a Christian ruler in the palace, but a Christian prophet in earshot (Kenneth Kaunda, Former President of Zambia).
The good news of salvation is still being proclaimed but if a crisis is being faced, why is their no clear guidance. If the church is to give a lead in proclaiming God's word about economic and political questions, it will be those engaged in economics and politics as practitioners or a students and teachers. We need to understand what God is saying to us in the situation in which he has placed us at the present time (John F Solemn).
Guidance to Rulers
A key role of a Prophet to a Nation is to provide guidance to rulers. Prophets will be experts on God's law, so they can teach political authorities how to obey it.
When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees (Deut 17:18,19).
The Prophet to the Nation will teach the rulers of the nation how to implement God's law. As prophets love the law more than others, they will have better understanding of its principles. Their wisdom will assist those who are struggling to interpret the law. Prophets will understand the principles of good government, so they will be able to provide good guidance to those in authority.
Ruling a nation can be a frightening task. Many decisions have to be made and most of them are hard, so rulers have always attempted to surround themselves with wise people. The king of Israel knew the benefit of having a prophet close by to help him make decisions.
Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, "I will set up my camp in such and such a place. The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: "Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there." So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places. This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, "Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?" "None of us, my lord the king," said one of his officers, "but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom." (2 Kings 6:8-12).
Prophets will give supernatural guidance to the political ruler. Because their wisdom is from God, it will be effective.
God will establish the Prophet to the Nation in his position by giving him the wisdom that the ruler needs. The King of Israel knew that Elisha was a prophet, because his words were correct. The King of Babylon trusted Daniel, because he correctly interpreted a dream that none or the Babylonian wise men understood.
This is a very important principle. Many people, including prophets, are willing to criticise their government. Prophets to the Nation are different. They begin their careers by assisting their government in tricky situations. Ahab trusted Miciah's words, because he provided correct advice in the past (1Kings 22:7,8). Rulers will be glad to have prophets in their court, even if they hate God, because they need their advice.
Prophets will give warning to the rulers of nation when they are taking the wrong direction or taking authority that God has not given them. The Old Testament prophets spent much of their time warning kings who had rejected God's way and were following the way of the world. Strong prophets are the best protection against the power of the state.
Good rulers welcome correction. The prophet Nathan challenged David when he committed adultery and murder, but remained his friend. Nathan had established his credibility with David much earlier, when the King was planning the temple (1Sam 7). Every ruler needs a prophet like Nathan who can hear the voice of God and challenge his sins. Rulers are usually surrounded by people trying to "grease up" to them. In this environment, a prophetic friend is the best protection against the occupation hazard of hubris. All rulers need a friend to speak God's word to them.
The Prophet to the Nation will pray for their government. Samuel prayed all night when his friend King Saul fell from grace (1 Sam 15:11). Every political leader needs a friend of God who will intercede for him with this intensity.
Prophets and Law
God is raising up prophetic people all over the world, to be a prophetic voice in their church. Hopefully a few of these will go to be prophets to their nation.
The Old Testament prophets were the guardians of God's law. They prosecuted kings for their failure to obey the law. Every prophet speaking at the national level must use God's law as a standard for testing the behaviour and actions of rulers and kings. To be an effective voice to their nation, these prophets must have a sound understanding of God's law.
Those called to be a prophetic voice in their nation must understand the connection between their ministry and God's law. A prophet who is not rooted in God's law will end up following after some fashionable secular voice. The can easily become the servant of particular political party. Without a clear standard, prophets will be blown around by every wind of change.As prophets exercise the power of the trumpet on behalf of the Church, they will need to love the law. The Old Testament prophets were like legal prosecutors who charged and attempted to convict Israel of failure to keep the law. They were so passionate for God's law they were willing to risk the wrath of wicked Kings when confronting their nations sin.
For prophets to exercise the power of the trumpet, they will need to change their attitude to the law. Several Psalms teach that we should love the law.
Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders
for I obey your precepts (Psalm 119:97-100).
We have interpreted this message as a call to love the scriptures, but that is not what the Psalmist says. We are actually told to love the law and are promised that this will give us greater wisdom than our teachers. Prophets will study the Old Testament law with passion to understand how it applies to civil government in a modern society.
The Old Testament prophets were like legal prosecutors who charged Israel with failure to keep the law. They were so passionate for God's law they were willing to risk the wrath of wicked Kings when confronting their nations sin.
I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame,for I delight in your commandsbecause I love them. (Psalm 119:46,47).
Prophets will only be able to speak clearly to the rulers of their nation, if they truely love the law.
Prophets and Judges
The prophets will have a role in exposing judges who are unjust. Micah challenged the judges of Jerusalem for accepting bribes.
Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money (Mic 3:11)
Jeremiah warned the judges against protecting evil people and not establishing justice.
How can you say, "We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD," when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have? From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD (Jer 8:8-12).
The prophets will expose judges that are not honouring God and his law.
For really difficult cases, judges might call in people with spiritual discernment or prophetic insight.
If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge-whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults-take them to the place the LORD your God will choose. Go to the priests, who are Levites, and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict (Deut 17:8,9).
Following the work of the cross, there are no priests or Levites as such, but every society should have men and women of God with the gift of discernment. Wise people may be called on to help with difficult cases.
However, no matter how wise our judges, mistakes will still be made. Judges should be humble, knowing that we will never get perfect justice on this earth. God is our final judge. Any mistakes that are made by human judges will eventually be corrected when we stand before the perfect judge at the end of the age. All mistakes will be corrected perfectly.
A calling to speak to the nation will be rare. Most prophets will function as an elder in a Church and only a few will become a Prophet to the Nation. We should not confuse these two roles. Most prophetic people will never get beyond the ordinary role of elder in their Church. Those with a ministry in a Church should not presume to be a Jeremiah or an Amos. Many of the more solemn and serious aspects of the teaching on these pages only apply to the Prophet to the Nation.
Some nations have a calling to be prophetic. They cannot achieve their destiny until the prophetic ministry is established in their midst.
There are nations that have special gifts. NZ may have a prophetic function in the world. America is called to apostolic ministry. There is something in the American nature that initiates and plants. There is something in the NZ nature that can hold truth in (Tom Marshall - The Coming of the Prophets).