SEPTEMBER 1, 2006
Today, in the same acronym as "Dial M for Murder," it is now possible to choose one's Disaster from an endless array of "prophetic" words. Hardly a moment goes by that a new "posting" fails to appear, re-affirming the near and complete end of Western society. Dreams and visions proliferate among the "seers" and add to the mass confusion of those who are the near recipients of their pontifications. One has a "sure word from the Lord" saying one thing, while during the same moment another has a "sure word" relating quite the opposite. This plethora of prophetic doomsayers mimic each other as well as the humanistic secular press. Their "gatherings of the prophets," along with their media networking, create camps of division worldwide along differing lines of conjecture. One must now choose his or her group of "interpreters" to the exclusion of others, somewhat similar to the dilemma of a recent gathering at Azusa Street where three distinct groups of celebrants vied for their apartheid participants.
One may now spin the "Wheel of Misfortune" based solely on hopes that where the wheel stops is perhaps God's description of choice in what is forthcoming in judgment and disaster. Will it be the "global warming" group who declares that coastal properties will be deluged while offering inland property owners "beach front" splendor. Maybe the wheel will stop at the "earthquake" grouping where the West Coast of the U.S. is doomed to fall into the sea and/or the Central states will be divided along the Mississippi, creating a chasm of East-West separation. Maybe the wheel will stop at the "nuclear group" which absolutely includes all forms of bomb warfare from anthrax in New York to dirty bombs in Houston. Misfortunately, the wheel may stop at the Islamic terrorists kiosk where infiltration of society is set for mass destruction of civilization. Perhaps there is an "immigration" stop on the wheel of death or, better yet, a "monitory collapse" folder with all kinds of attendant sub-scenes. One may have more than one chance at the wheel if he or she is a newscaster or PBS analyst. Everyone, however, will have an equal chance at the dial.
NOT THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY
King David was forced to choose the form and extent of his own personal disaster from a choice of three. He had to choose for himself and his nation. The difference between David's dilemma and today is that a clear set of choices was arrayed before him. He dealt with a single prophet who clearly stated the word of the Lord.
King David had committed sin under the prompting of Satan. He numbered the people of the land in order to determine his military strength. His actions were clearly outside the will of God and deserved punishment and he knew it.
And the LORD spoke to Gad, David's seer, saying, 10 'Go and tell David, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.' "11 So Gad came to David and said to him, 'Thus says the LORD: "Choose for yourself, 12 either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the LORD--the plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel." Now consider what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.' 13 And David said to Gad, 'I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.' 14 So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. 15 And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the LORD looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, 'It is enough; now restrain your hand.' I Chronicles 21:9Choices like these are never easy, but David chose to fall into the hand of God rather than man. THIS is the choice every believer must make. Primal to all that lies before the world is the choice to receive what God has devised. Seventy thousand (70,000) men died. These were God's chosen people. These were the heirs of the promise of Abraham. These were the keepers of the written word. These were those who fought to preserve truth and act as witnesses to the pagan world. These were those who gave tithes, believed in the miracles of God, attended to spiritual matters in family and society.
God stopped the disaster upon seeing the carnage.
Where were David and the leadership of Israel at this time? They were clothed in sackcloth mourning and repenting. David was praying this prayer:
David said to God, 'Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O LORD my God, be against me and my father's house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.'The angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of a man named Ornan. Ornan and his four sons saw the angel, with His sword drawn; they kept on threshing wheat. The angel instructed Gad, the true prophet, to tell David to construct an altar to the mercy of God on that threshing floor. O' that there was a true prophet in the land!
19 So David went up at the word of Gad, which he had spoken in the name of the LORD.David did two things. He purchased the land from Ornan and he offered an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. Two principles arise from David's disaster abatement efforts:
'No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.'True worship can only take place from one who has paid the full price. (It doesn't take worship leaders long to recognize the difference in those who seek to worship from borrowed territory.)
True worship is always answered by fire and the abatement of disaster.
And He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering. 27 Then the LORD commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath. 1 Chronicles 21: 27-28(David continued to worship from this threshing floor because the tabernacle and ark were displaced in Gibeon.)
OTHER PLACES IN BIBLICAL HISTORY
The Two Faces of JehoshaphatJehoshaphat in Sync with Ahab:
Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, during the days of the divided people, offered alternating views of disaster. Accounts in I Kings 22:3-28 and 2 Chronicles 18 gave a review of disaster that comes from unholy alliances and from listening to false prophets.
Jehoshaphat learned from his mistakes with Ahab and in 2 Chronicles 20:1-24 showed how God would intervene in the face of impending disaster. Both pictures are relevant to the Twenty-first Century.
In the first account, Jehoshaphat followed a typical political trail by seeking alliances from his neighbors and pledging his nation to foreign causes. Such is the exact position of the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Jehoshaphat married into the family of Ahab and Jezebel, rulers of the northern kingdom. Upon visiting his relatives, Ahab requested his help in going into battle with a common enemy. Jehoshaphat declared:
'I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will be with you in war.' 2 Chronicles 18:3The problem was the people were not the same. They shared a common heritage, but not a common worship. Ahab's people broke away from the Temple of the Lord and chose to worship in Bethel rather than Jerusalem. They were given to idolatry and had a self appointed priesthood. They taught rebellion to their families and disassociation was marked by hatred for Judah and Benjamin. Because of political protocol, Jehoshaphat entered into the sin of Ahab who was cursed of the Lord.
Jehoshaphat did have the presence of mind to inquire of the Lord. The problem was with those to whom the inquiry was made. They were false prophets and hirelings. They did not and could not speak for the Lord. All four hundred of them prophesied the same things. It was a religious circus similar to today. They even had graphics and animated scenes to illustrate their words.
The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, having put on their robes, sat each on his throne, at a threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them. 11 Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made horns of iron for himself; and he said, 'Thus says the LORD: With these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed.' 12 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, 'Go up to Ramoth Gilead and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the king's hand.'This was a really funny show. Jehoshaphat asked if these were all the prophets. Ahab replied there was a "dissident" fellow named Micaiah, who had not been invited. Micaiah would not associate with the "regulars." The Judean King wanted to hear from him, seeking consensus.
The messenger went to fetch Micaiah, but along the route to the kings, he instructed the prophet on what to say in order to be in compliance with the other prophets serving before the thrones. Micaiah said he would answer with what the Lord gave him. When he stood before the kings, he said the same thing as the other prophets. Why? His was sarcasm. He must have reckoned the thinking of Ahab and how impossible it would be for him to hear truth. Nonetheless, Ahab perceived he was saying only words. He challenged Micaiah to only say what God told him. Micaiah did.
Then he said, 'I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd.' And the LORD said, 'These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.' 18 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, 'Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?' 19 Then Micaiah said, 'Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. 20 And the LORD said, 'Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?' So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, 'I will persuade him.' 22 The LORD said to him, 'In what way?' So he said, 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And the LORD said, 'You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.' 23 'Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.' I Kings 22:17-22Micaiah's vision was truth. He juxtaposed thrones: Ahab and Jehoshaphat on their thrones against God on His throne. He compared messages among the prophets: four hundred guided by a lying spirit and his message guided by the Spirit of God. He compared outcomes: follow God and go away in peace-do not wage war or embrace disaster. (There is that word again. It always follows disobedience. Disaster always hinges on the difference between the way of God and the way of man. )
The way of man prevailed. Ahab sent Micaiah to prison at hard labor. Ahab dared defy the living God by saying he would not be defeated but return victorious. Micaiah answered that if he returned at all, he would resign his prophet's role. Micaiah held the people as witnesses.
(If the modern church doesn't believe that lying spirits are supplying the ammunition for much prophecy today, then let it rip out Jude and II Peter and declare them null and void.)
Dependency on flesh caused David's disaster, and dependency on flesh cost Ahab his life and national defeat. Flesh, whether it is couched in a Warrenesque "purpose driven" system or as Mattera's "ruling in the gates" format, is still flesh. (Jesus was and is not "a purpose driven visionary," as stated in Ruling in the Gates.)
Jehoshaphat in Sync with God:
Jehoshaphat learned a terrible lesson in chapter 18. He did not repeat that error in chapter 20. One disaster was enough for him. Is one disaster sufficient anymore?
In Chapter 20, the king was in Judah and word of an impending attack from Syria and their compatriots reached his ears. Disaster was at his door. Their armies were superior, their weaponry superior; his defenses were inadequate and his people unorganized for war. Disaster was at Hazazon Tamar.
What was Jehoshaphat's reaction? Because of his fear, he "set himself to seek the Lord" and "proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah." When national leadership does not depend on alliances or man's efforts, but "sets themselves to seek the Lord," disaster can be averted; when a whole nation "enters in" by fasting and praying, disaster can be turned around and fall on its originators.
The whole of Judah joined their national leaders before the Temple of the most High. They confessed that God was their God and that He alone could save them. They projected their faith by saying, "You will hear and save." They admitted their inability, "We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."
(This is the plight of all Western nations. We are truly powerless against the forces of nature and man. It is time to examine our conduct. The founding fathers of America were just like Jehoshaphat in their plight. History shows that Gov. John Winthrop and his colonists asked the Lord about all things. In the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it was the norm to fast and pray. The 1630's were a time of hardship, but nothing was impossible with their God. )
Out of the ranks of the people, a lone voice was heard. It was the voice of Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah. His was the voice of true prophecy from the Spirit:
14 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, 'Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: "Do not be afraid or dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you."' 18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. 19 Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with voices loud and high.Levites of Asaph were the "singing priests," and the good word from the Lord gave them something to sing about in the face of disaster. From the moment the word came, they believed God more than man. Listen as Jehoshaphat instructed his people:
Jehoshaphat stood and said, 'Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.' 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: 'Praise the LORD, For His mercy endures forever.' 22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.The end result was not disaster for Judah, but "the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries (2 Chronicles 20:28)." Total dependence on God will pay off in disaster avoidance. He will still fight when a Holy People pray and praise.
DISASTER AND THE PROPHETS
Isaiah: prophet to the pre-captivesIsrael began heading for disaster again as they forgot God and forsook their covenants. They had a plan-go to Egypt. Isaiah called it forth in Isaiah 31:1-3.
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,Egypt is Egypt, whether it be called Egypt or the UN, NATO, EU or G8.
Jeremiah: prophet to those in the fall to BabylonIsrael drew closer to a major disaster, defeat by Babylon (Iraq). Jeremiah knew well the order of destruction. He knew the reason why disaster came upon them and the remedy for it.
Jeremiah 4:5, 6:Later in verse 9:
'And it shall come to pass in that day,' says the LORD,Jeremiah knew how deeply permeating would be the effect of disaster. (To this day, those who survived the ravages of European occupation by the Nazi's have terrifying dreams and horrifying fear.) Jeremiah knew this.
No Old Testament writer knew more about disaster than Jeremiah. He prophesied its arrival; he lived through its ravishes and lived beyond to its perfection. Excerpts from his prophecy give vent to his knowledge of Israel's sin and their need to repent.
Jer 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness,
Jer 4:18 Your ways and your doings
Jer. 4:22 For My people are foolish,
Jer 5:1 Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem;The offer to find "anyone" was the same offer made to Abraham about Sodom. It is time to begin the search in the church!
(I preached the entire book of Jeremiah 5 in Curitiba, S. Parana, Brasil, in the FBC, in the city where a Baptist Seminary is located. It obliterated the church; they fell into a weeping pandemonium, while repenting and rending their hearts. The seminarians present in that service objected and sought to silence me.)
Jeremiah 5 is one of the great soul searchers for the modern generation. It punches through façades and rips away the pseudo.
Jer 5:7-9 How shall I pardon you for this?
Jer. 5:13 And the prophets become wind, For the word is not in them.
Jer. 5:15 Behold, I will bring a nation against you from afar
Jer. 5:30, 31 An astonishing and horrible thing Has been committed in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?Herein is the model of the modern church. Every ministry gets its definition from man. Every office has a pre-determined model and none of them are God's. The people of today love it this way. But listen to the results found in Jeremiah 16:10-13:
And it shall be, when you show this people all these words, and they say to you, 'Why has the LORD pronounced all this great disaster against us? Or what is our iniquity? Or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?'11 then you shall say to them, 'Because your fathers have forsaken Me,' says the LORD; 'they have walked after other gods and have served them and worshiped them, and have forsaken Me and not kept My law. 12 And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me. 13 Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know, neither you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favor.'(In my neighborhood a young couple recently bought a home. They are not married. She is now expecting his second out of wedlock child. When they introduced themselves to me they said, "We are charismatic and are Spirit-filled." I visited them this week about a business matter, laying on their couch was a copy of The Purpose Driven Life.)
Jer 16:17-18 For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes. 18 And first I will repay double for their iniquity and their sin, because they have defiled My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable idols. (Cathedrals, Shrines and Mosques fill the land.)It is time to spin the wheel and to dial a disaster. The time-distance between the pronouncement of disaster and repentance is extremely short.
Jer 18:5-12 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 6 'O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?' says the LORD. 'Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! 7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, 8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. 9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it…' Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.' 12 And they said, 'That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.'Disaster roots are deep. The prophetic words about priest and prophet are emulated today!
Jer 23:11-14 11 'For both prophet and priest are profane; Yes, in My house I have found their wickedness,' says the LORD. 12 'Therefore their way shall be to them Like slippery ways; In the darkness they shall be driven on And fall in them; For I will bring disaster on them, The year of their punishment,' says the LORD. 13 'And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: They prophesied by Baal And caused My people Israel to err. 14 Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; They also strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah. "
Jer 23:30-32 'Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,' says the LORD, 'who steal My words every one from his neighbor. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets,' says the LORD, 'who use their tongues and say, "He says." 32 'Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,' says the LORD, 'and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,' says the LORD.Jeremiah stood as a true prophet in the midst of many false ones. His stance was often questioned, his words defamed. Kings reached for his throat and false ministries sought to have him imprisoned. He knew the interior of dungeons and the lash of rebuke, but when he spoke it was a pure sound, like living waters.
Jer 23:33-24:1 So when these people or the prophet or the priest ask you, saying, 'What is the oracle of the LORD?' you shall then say to them, 'What oracle?' I will even forsake you,' says the LORD. 34 'And as for the prophet and the priest and the people who say, "The oracle of the LORD!" I will even punish that man and his house. 35 Thus every one of you shall say to his neighbor, and every one to his brother, "What has the LORD answered?" and, "What has the LORD spoken?" 36 And the oracle of the LORD you shall mention no more. For every man's word will be his oracle, for you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God. 37 Thus you shall say to the prophet, "What has the LORD answered you?" and, "What has the LORD spoken?" 38 But since you say, "The oracle of the LORD!" therefore thus says the LORD: Because you say this word, "The oracle of the LORD!" and I have sent to you, saying, Do not say, "The oracle of the LORD!" 39therefore behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and will cast you out of My presence. 40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.It is past time for the prophets to get their act straight. The proliferation of prophetic utterances has no origin in God and is but self-service to the prophet only. It is time to question those who practice prophecy about their responsibility to God. It is time for the believer to exercise the gift of discernment!
It is also time to question the Lord about His disaster plan. These next disasters will encompass the entire world.
Jer 25:32-33 Thus says the LORD of hosts:Jeremiah, the great authority on disaster, continued to ply his art. In Jeremiah 28:8-17, he showed the folly of a false prophet. Jeremiah 42:10-17 told about the foolishness of fleeing the country for a place of hiding. (I have heard "The Move" speak of many places on the earth where it will be 'safer ground.' Alaska, Canada, the desert places of the U.S., Bolivia, Argentina and many others have all been proffered. )
Some of the other prophets:
Time does not allow study in Ezekiel 7:5-9 or Daniel 9:11-19 (both prophets prophesied from Babylon). Ezekiel spoke of events leading up to the capture of God's people while Daniel offered conciliatory repentance prayers for the people after their capture. Other prophets spoke to the issue of national disaster such as Micah and Habakkuk (2:9-11).
For the first time in history, the entire world is convinced that disaster is in their future. Leadership in all nations has no solution, offer no lasting hope. Disaster looms on every individual's horizon as news media and clergy clamor to be the "first to have told you." Prophets vie for position even as ministries promote their solutions for impending destruction. One thing is for sure: To the true believer, such voices must grow dim as they seek to hear only one voice, HIS!
Until Next Month, I am
Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.
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