Some teachers in the prophetic stream of the church are advocating a transition from old covenant (judgment-based) to new covenant (reconciliation-based) prophecy.

They claim that old covenant prophets focussed on exposing sin and announcing judgment, which is not appropriate in the new covenant age. Instead, prophets should focus on reconciliation and restoration. The goal is not to point out what is wrong with the earth, but to fix what is wrong on the earth through the answer of the Lord Jesus Christ and the treasures of wisdom that are hidden for such a time as this.

These teachers say that new covenant prophecy should impart encouragement strengthening, encouragement, and consolation (1 Cor 14:3). We have a message of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-19) so our ministry must be a ministry of reconciliation that releases grace that transforms the earth. They say that prophets are no longer called to announce the judgments of God.

I have some sympathy with this view, because there are some terribly judgmental people active in the prophetic movement. They seem to delight in declaring God's wrath and announcing terrible judgments on the world. The nastier the events being announced, the happier they seem to be. Unfortunately, their anger and harshness is hard to reconcile with the message and character of Jesus.

This type of prophecy needs to die, but it is incorrect to call this Old Covenant prophecy. Prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel did not enjoy bringing some of the messages that God asked them to deliver. They wept as they told the people what was going to happen, and they always gave hope for the future. Their heart was more like Jesus than many "modern wrath prophets".

Wrath prophecy is incorrect, but it is not because only positive words are allowed under the new covenant. The reason why these harsh and wrathful prophecies are inappropriate is that they give a confusing view of what is happening in the world.

Three-agent Universe

The new covenant changes the nature of prophecy, but it is not a change from "judgment prophecy" to "reconciliation prophecy". God always wanted reconciliation. The transition comes from a change in perspective on events in the world.

The main role of prophets under both the old covenant and the new covenant is to explain what is happening in the spiritual realms and how it is affecting events on earth. Prophecy under the old covenant was different because the Old Testament, prophets did not fully understand the working of the spiritual realms. They saw God and humans as the main actors on earth. They lived in a two-agent universe. Job got a glimpse into the work of Satan, and Daniel, towards the end of OT age got a glimpse of the Prince of Persia, but Old Testament prophets did not fully comprehend the role of the spiritual powers of evil in events on earth.

Accordingly, when warning of bad things coming, prophets said that God was sending judgement against rebellious people. They portrayed God as the agent of the things that were going to happen. This is how they saw the world, but their vision was incomplete.

Most of the judgments announced by the OT prophets were not initiated by God, but were the work of the spiritual powers of evil attacking people who had lost their spiritual protection. The warnings of the Old Testament prophets were not God's intention. They describe what would occur when cities and nations reject God and lose his protection.

God did not initiate these consequences directly, but he created a world in which it would be possible for the spiritual powers of evil to gain a foothold. He does not shirk from that responsibility. That is why the scriptures often describe these events as God's judgment.

Since the coming of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have a fuller understanding of the relationship between the spiritual and physical realms. We understand that we live in a three-agent universe. The three actors on earth are God, humans and the spiritual powers of evil.

When modern prophets warn about bad stuff that is coming, they should not usually be declaring God's judgment. Instead, they should describe what the spiritual powers of evil are planning to do because the people have lost God's protection.

When the people of the world turn away from God, they give greater authority to the spiritual powers of evil, often without being unaware of it. The inevitable outcome for a society that forgets God is more frequent evil events as the powers of evil exercise their increased freedom to act.

Prophets to the nations should still be warning the nations about what will happen if they continue on their current path. They should not be saying that God will destroy them. They should be saying that they have opened themselves to the spiritual powers of evil and the consequences will not be good. Rather than announcing judgments, the events that they are warning about can be more accurately described as "consequences of forgetfulness" or "a negative feedback loop".

Another problem with a "two-agent universe" is that humans assumed that they have a problem with God. They saw their sin as upsetting God, and believed that to put things right, they had to appease God. This understanding was wrong. Sin created a bigger problem for humans than for God. Sin produced shame, which made people feel like they had to hide from God. Worse still, when they sinned, humans gave authority in their lives to the spiritual powers of evil, which enabled these evil powers to dominate events on earth.

The people of the Old Testament assumed that they had a problem with God. The revelation of Jesus confirmed that our problem was not with God, but with the spiritual powers of evil who held humans captive. Jesus set us free, by defeating them on the cross. As a bonus, he dealt with our shame at the same time.

Declaring Consequences

Instead of announcing judgments, Christians prophets should be explaining what is happening in the spiritual realms and warning of the consequences amongst the nations of the earth. They should not take delight in this task, but should be sad about the avoidable pain and suffering that will eventuate if hearts don't change.

Prophets who are called to speak to their city or nations should be discerning the seasons and warning about the decisions that people and their leaders are making.

At times, their message will not be positive and encouraging. Sometimes it will be scary, but they should always be providing hope by explaining what God wants his people to do to restore the situation.


In a nation with a Christian heritage, like New Zealand, the message of a new covenant prophet will be something like the following.

God has poured out huge blessings on the people of this country. For most of our history, a significant share of the population has acknowledged him and given thanks for his grace towards us. But things have changed.

Now most people don't acknowledge God. They say something like this. "I am not even sure that God exists. What I have got, I got by my own hard work and effort, so I am not going to give thanks to a god that I don't know exist for it. I deserve what I have got."

The consequence that these people do not understand is that when they lose track of God, they also lose sight of the evil spiritual powers that are fighting against him. When the people of a nation reject God, they unwittingly give the spiritual powers of evil much greater freedom to do their nasty stuff on earth.

In recent years, we have seen them doing what they love to do.

  • Stirring up people to hate and kill each other
  • Disrupting the weather with storms and droughts.
  • Spreading disease and sickness to destroy people's lives.
  • Stirring up greed and corruption to damage the financial and economic system.
  • Putting people into poverty to rob them of peace and happiness.
We can expect more the same, and worse, as long as we give the spiritual powers of evil freedom to work in our land.

Only God can rescue us from their power. He loves us, but he can only rescue us if we turn to him and seek his deliverance.