I’ve already written an entry like this before, but with a different passage of Scripture. In fact, the only reason I’m doing so is that sometimes the best way to teach something is to take peoples’ assumptions and use them on Scripture to make the point that the assumptions might be wrong. It’s just a possibility, and I’d like to explore it.
I want to point out a common misconception, again, about the prophetic. My definition of prophetic is not rapture teaching stuff, but I mean it in regard to prophesying and speaking forth words from the Lord. One function of the prophetic is foretelling future things you can only know from God revealing it to you. However, another common aspect of it is when you’re ministering to someone, you somehow “know” something about them you couldn’t possibly know other than God revealing it to you. It could come in the form of something in their past that’s really tripping them up and the problem you’re helping them with is rooted in that issue, and they never would know how to deal with it otherwise except for a divine revelation.
That’s just one example of operating in words of knowledge—getting knowledge about something that you couldn’t know other than God telling you in order to edify, exhort and encourage (1 Cor. 14:3).
Prophets Are Always Accurate?
I’ve noticed one particular all-too-common sacred cow in evangelical circles, and even some charismatics (but not as much) and it’s the idea that if someone prophesies 99 things accurately that come to pass, but they say one thing that fails, they are a false prophet.
How come if a teacher or pastor shares and preaches 10 correct doctrines, but is mistaken about one thing, he’s not a “false pastor” or “false teacher”? Why the weird over-emphasis on correction in just prophets? Or, if a healing evangelist holds crusades and hundreds get healed, but not every individual in the building gets out of their wheelchair, we label him a false teacher or healer, but if an evangelist preaches to thousands and only 2% get saved and respond to the altar call, we call that a successful event? Any number of salvations makes a work successful, I just wish to poke fun at the double standards.How come if a teacher or pastor shares and preaches 10 correct doctrines, but is mistaken about one thing, he’s not a “false pastor” or “false teacher”? Why the weird over-emphasis on correction in just prophets?Click To Tweet
Getting it “Wrong” and in Canon?
I noticed something in Scripture the other day while reading Isaiah. It really rocked my world and made me say out loud “OH! How come I never thought of that when people say [fill in the blank] to me about healing or prophesying?!”
It’s found in chapter 38 of Isaiah. I may sound like I’m trying to weave two different topics or blog entries together in one, and forgive me if it’s a little disjointed as a result. Look closely at verse 1;
In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.”
Isaiah came to the king and tells him a “Thus says the Lord.” We charismatics use that as slang a lot to indicate someone is telling us something that will happen in our lives. Isaiah tells Hezekiah something WILL happen.
And Scripture doesn’t record more, so anything more about that conversation or encounter is pure speculation on the reader’s part. But I notice what was NOT included here: options or conditions. Isaiah didn’t tell him he “might die IF…” or that he “will die unless” anything, but told him “you shall die, you shall not recover.” At least as far as what we have recorded here in Scripture.
Thus Saith The Lord…Maybe If?
“Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.
In verse 5, the Lord speaks to Isaiah again and tells him something to say to Hezekiah, which demonstrates a very common way of operating in the prophetic—hearing God tell you something to repeat to someone for their benefit and encouragement. God “changed his mind”, based on Hezekiah’s repentance and humbling himself before the Lord. It’s admittedly unclear to me how much time passed between verses 3 and 4, when the next “updated” word of the Lord came to Isaiah or how long Hezekiah had been repenting before Isaiah told him to go back and “re-prophesy” to him.
Hezekiah goes on to live another 15 years as a result of the Lord’s mercy and hearing his tears. However, does this second prophetic statement from Isaiah nullify his first? If Isaiah prophesied one thing, and then something different, does that mean he’s contradicting himself? Does that mean he’s a false prophet because the first thing didn’t come to pass? Of course not, but I’ve heard time and time again that there is no room for change—or dare I say even human error—when someone is speaking prophetically.
If this sacred cow were true, not only would Isaiah be a false prophet, but so would Jonah, as I’ve written before—because these two men both delivered bad news to people, and the people involved repented–without being told it were an option in order to avert the edict–and in Jonah’s case, what he spoke never had a follow-up to cancel the previous word! People seek the mercy of God in situations like that all the time, and God is merciful, is He not?
The Lord is Merciful and Hears Our Cries
And to change gears and look at this from a healing perspective; this man Hezekiah was going to die, and death was at the door. The Lord healed him when he asked it of Him, and added 15 years to his life. I’ve heard people discount any miracles of dead-raisings or reports of it, not because of lack of credibility of the report, or openness to the possibility it could happen—but because of the verse in Hebrews 9:27 that says it is appointed once to die and then after that comes the judgment. I wonder how they explain this incident in Scripture?
I personally don’t subscribe to the form of Calvinism that basically teaches things like all of history is mapped out and we walk through it as God planned no matter what choices we make. I believe after looking at passages where persons or entire nations repent and avert judgment, that clearly history and future occurrences are not as airtight as some would claim. Otherwise, God would be a liar when He tells His prophets to proclaim things that wind up not happening, and God cannot lie. There are conditions to a lot of things. There are a lot of “how comes” and ‘what ifs” regarding the Sovereignty of God if the way most Christians teach it is correct.
But I’m getting a little side-tracked.
Back to the healing thing I wanted to look at. I’m not well-studied enough on this to know if this is true or not, but someone once told me, and I’m trying my hardest not to misquote them, but it was that stupid—that God letting Hezekiah live another 15 years was a mistake, because during that extra chunk of his life, he became the father of Manasseh, who then became king after his father, and was the worst king in Israel’s history, and shed more blood than any other king up to that point, sacrificed who knows how many babies to Molech, etc… The historical account that this did happen under Manasseh’s reign is true, but most people forget the massive repentance and reformation in his later life. While the historical data may be correct, that is a pathetic interpretation of the ways of the Lord.
I asked this person–it was like three or four years ago, so I vaguely remember details, but I’m sure my response was something like—”you mean to tell me, God makes mistakes and you and I know better than Him what He should have done?”
This person spoke some more without really answering, and waxed eloquent so as to not have to admit that his assumption is a false attribute of God, but yet was necessary for his point of view.
My brain hurts thinking about all this stuff like if God should have healed Hezekiah or not, because doing so inadvertently caused massive bloodshed under the reign of the king that came after him.
Are Christians so pessimistic and negative that it’s impossible to concede the idea God maybe is FOR us, and that PEOPLE make poor decisions and He unhashes his plan “around” human free will? I’m not going there with this entry, it’s I feel it’s a little bit too all over the place as it is.
But, to tie this all up somehow so we can call it a blog entry: there are several people in Scripture who proclaimed things that never came to pass, and they are not false prophets for it.
And, God is good, and heals whether we think it was right of Him or not.