The Calling of a Prophet
By Edwin Christiaan
Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. (2. Peter 1:20-21 NLT)
In other words, prophets speak on behalf of God as they are inspired and moved by the Holy Spirit.
In the late nineties, a fellow prophet poured out a horn full of oil over my head and anointed me to be a prophet to nations. Right after this event, God spoke to me and revealed that my calling as a prophet would be like that of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah. Fueled by this revelation, I started studying and analyzing Jeremiah’s life as a prophet. I was amazed by all the afflictions, persecutions, and adversities Jeremiah had to go through, and that I also was dealt a similar fate by God. But after 15 years of walking in the office of a prophet going through much persecutions and afflictions, I can look back, using the words of King David, and humbly say that “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19 NKJV)
Or, as the apostle Paul testified about what he went through:
“But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra — what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.” (2. Timothy 3:10-12 NKJV)
God called the prophet Jeremiah to live a very lonely life, and his loneliness came as a result of his commitment and obedience to God. He couldn’t even enjoy a normal social life, sharing the joys and sorrows of his community. God wanted Jeremiah’s lonely life to be an object lesson for what would happen to the whole nation of Israel when they disobey God and go against His commandments. It was a very tough assignment, and it lasted more than forty years and grew progressively worse. It was clear from the beginning, that Jeremiah would never be a popular prophet who told the people only nice things about themselves. He gave them the uncompromising Word of God, and they hated him for it. They falsely accused and exposed Jeremiah as a false prophet, saying that God never spoke to him. They plotted against him, threw him in prison, and he even at one point got stuck in the mud in the bottom of a cistern till he almost starved to death.
There were times when Jeremiah mourned for his people whom he loved and had compassion for, and times when he bitterly complained about his lot in life, including his relationship with God, as you can read below.
I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief. Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people? (Jeremiah 8:21-22 NLT)
Then I said, “What sorrow is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! I am hated everywhere I go. (Jeremiah 15:10 NLT)
O Lord, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled. You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me. When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the Lord have made me a household joke. (Jeremiah 20:7-8 NLT)
Jeremiah expressed his feelings, telling God what he was thinking. He complained, and then remembered God’s promises, and then complained again:
“But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” (Jeremiah 20:9 NLT)
But even through all of this, Jeremiah was able to fulfill his mission for all those years because he always came back to God and remembered His promises. Jeremiah endured all the rejections and persecutions because he knew he was doing what God told him to do, and He could see the big picture. He believed that God would bring His people back from captivity to the land of Israel and to Himself.
Unlike the evangelist, whose calling is to lead the unbeliever to salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the prophet is called to speak to the people of God, the believers. In the Old Testament, the prophet spoke on behalf of God to the people of Israel. In the New Testament, the prophetic gift is being used for the believers in the body of Christ to strengthen and edify the Church.
Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.
I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.
Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful. (1. Corinthians 14:1-7 NLT)
So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers. (1. Corinthians 14:22 NLT)
It is important to note that every born again, spirit-filled, Christian is able to prophecy, but that not every believer is called to be a prophet. Those called to be prophets by and large abandon the ordinary pursuits of life to live exclusively for God.
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:
first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.
Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! (1. Corinthians 12:27-30 NLT)
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.
A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
(1. Corinthians 12:4-11 NLT)
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (Romans 12:6-8 NLT)
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT)
The primary purpose of the prophet is to encourage God’s people to remain faithful to God and His covenant. The prophet always seeks the highest good for the people, challenging the shallow and superficial holiness of God’s people, and encourages heartfelt obedience to God and His Word. The true prophet of God is frequently being persecuted by false prophets who only prophecy peace, prosperity, and security for God’s sinful rebellious people – the things people like to hear.
Just like it was with the Old Testament prophets of God – who were very much disliked and hated for confronting and exposing the wrongs of the people – so it is with true New Testament prophets, who are often being despised and rejected by the churches for the fear that they would uncover their hidden sins or cause disturbance to their routines and religious traditions.
God sends His prophets to instruct, correct, and warn His people in order to restore and bless them. They speak out against idolatry, immorality, spiritual abuse, manipulation, and all manners of evil among God’s people, and also warn against trusting in other things, such as human wisdom, wealth, power, or other gods.
The prophet always sees the world and the believers from God’s perspective, never from a human point of view. The prophet has a close relationship with God, and sympathies with God and what God suffers because of the sins of His people. The prophet understands God’s purpose, will, and desire better than anyone else; he experiences the same emotional reactions as God does. In other words, a prophet not only hears God’s voice, but also feels His heart. The prophet deeply loves God’s people. When the people are hurting, the prophet feels deep pain. He wants God’s best for the people, and thus the prophet’s message does not only include warnings, but also words of hope, comfort, and restoration of the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers, spiritually and literally.
“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6 NLT)
This is what has been said about the prophet John the Baptist and his God-given mission:
“for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” (Luke 1:15-17 NLT)
The prophet walks a life of total dedication to God, hates half-hearted commitment, shuns the middle road, and demands complete faithfulness to God. The prophet accept nothing less than the fullness of God’s Kingdom and His righteousness manifested among God’s people, because he understands his own responsibilities of how to behave as a true prophet of God.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. (1. Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT)
Copyright©2011 Edwin & Sophia Christiaan