Around the world disasters seem to be becoming almost regular happenings. Turn on the news and another disaster or ethnic uprising is taking place. The times certainly seem to be hastening toward the end of the age.

With regards to this, one of the comments I’ve heard people make recently has been “If you guys are prophetic how come you didn’t know about…..before it happened?”

There are some basic things about prophets and hearing God that we need to look at here. God does say that He never does anything unless He first reveals it to His prophets (Amos 3:7). But if we are not careful we can to come to a wrong conclusion from this verse. We can take it to mean that if you are a prophet then you should know what is happening because God will have told you.

So how come sometimes the prophet or prophetic person didn’t know about….?

Some simple thoughts on that:

  • The prophet or prophetic person is not God, so they do not know all things all the time.
  • God does not choose to reveal all things to every prophetic person all of the time.
  • If God doesn’t speak to the prophet, then they don’t hear – it’s simple really. They could take guesses but that is not in their job description, and if they did they would certainly not get thanked for it, either by men or by God. And God definitely doesn’t like it when prophets prophesy from their own heart. (Jer 23:16,26; Ezek 13:2)
  • Prophets do not come to instant maturity when they receive the call from God to be a prophet. They grow into that over a period of time, as do people with other giftings.

So prophets are people who are learning and growing in their maturity in understanding the heart, nature and character of God and His Word. They are also growing in the use of their gifting. One of the big problems associated with that is – most prophets in today’s church society grow alone, without teaching and coaching in their gift and without being adequately pastored. They are often misunderstood, alienated and even shunned by the church and those who they should be nurtured, respected and loved by.

Do prophets get everything right all the time, and closely related to that, should prophets get everything right all the time? Do they always hear correctly? And do they always interpret correctly what they hear?

Prophets are not God, they are people – people like you and me, who are learning to hear God. I am not trying to make excuses here. What I hope to do is to give some understanding on how a prophet or prophetic person hears, interprets and acts on what they hear. Prophets hear from God (we all do as Christians) but as humans we all filter what we hear through various filters. Those filters can be varied and different for each person. Some of those filters can be our understanding of who God is, our understanding of the Word of God, our culture, our relationship with God, our life journey, past hurts etc. We all hear through filters.

Those filters are a bit like static. When you want to tune into a radio station you twirl the dial until you begin to hear something. Usually when you first pick up the station there is static that is clouding the signal. So you fine-tune until that signal is coming through clear and static free. The process of hearing God is to fine tune, to sort through the filters, and discard as many of them as we are aware of until we have an uncluttered, static free message.

It is funny how we allow for teachers, apostles, evangelists and pastors, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, ladies that help in the kitchen, and janitors to make mistakes in hearing God but not prophets. We have one standard for judging prophets and a different standard for judging everyone else.

Obviously someone who gives a prophetic word, which they claim to be from God, must have standards that it is judged by. We’ll look at those standards in the next article.

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