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A PROPHET TO THE NATIONS
A prophet is a person who stands in the Presence of God and announces the will of the Father. The distinguishing characteristic of the prophet is not that he reveals the future or that he speaks by the Spirit, it is that he stands in the holy place and proclaims the Person and Mind of God.
A PROPHET TO THE NATIONS
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)
There are two things to keep in mind when discussing the ministry of the prophet. First, every saint as he or she grows in Christ becomes a prophet to the world; and what we have to say about the prophet applies at various times and circumstances to every true Christian.
There are prophets who are gifts to the Body of Christ who, along with the other gifts and ministries, help with the task of bringing the saints to the stature of the fullness of Christ. Not every believer is gifted as a prophet to the Body of Christ. But each saint who attains maturity becomes a prophet to the nations.
Second, the ministry of the prophet has little to do with revealing the future. The gift of the word of knowledge reveals the future on occasion. The Spirit of prophecy, which is present whenever fervent disciples assemble, may or may not speak of the future.
The role of the prophet has to do with a person who stands in the Presence of God and announces the will of the Lord.
The Christian is to rebuke the world concerning righteousness. The prophet rebukes the Christian concerning righteousness. The older prophet rebukes the younger prophet concerning righteousness. The Lord Jesus rebukes everyone concerning righteousness.
The distinguishing characteristic of the prophet, as we have said, is not that he reveals the future, it is that he proclaims the holy Person and Mind of God.
There are members of the Body of Christ who have been called by the Spirit of God to the office of prophet. Their role is to declare to their fellow Christians the Person, holiness, way, and will of God.
It is true also that every believer may build up and exhort the Body of Christ by prophesying in the Spirit.
In terms of bearing the Presence and will of God to the nations of the earth, every saint of God is a prophet. There are gifts of prophecy in the Body of Christ that minister to the Body itself, while at the same time the entire Body is the light of the world, the prophet of God among the nations.
Our comments concerning the ministry of the prophet apply to the operating of the Spirit of prophecy within the Body of Christ and also to the role of a prophet to the nations that is held by every true saint of God, both Old Testament and New Testament.
The prophetic glory and responsibility that rest on each member of the Body of Christ will become increasingly evident as we approach the end of the age. God will empower the Body of Christ to bear witness to the nations of the earth of the need for repentance, of the soon coming of the Day of Wrath, and of the rule of the Kingdom of God over the kingdoms of the world (Revelation 11:3).
Let us think for a moment about the ministries that serve to bring each Christian to place where he or she may serve as a prophet to the nations.
The prophet was one of the principal ministries of the old covenant, and is listed along with the apostle as one of the principal ministries of the new covenant.
The point to be stressed concerning the prophet (and this is true also of the apostle) is that he is a man of God. He is not primarily a man of the people, although he may weep over the people as we notice in the life of Jeremiah.
The prophet differs from the apostle in the immediacy of his message. He is standing in the very Presence of the God of Heaven and declaring what God is saying at this moment. He is the Presence of the consuming Fire among mankind.
The apostle, on the other hand, has been sent from Christ with a message, a teaching, with knowledge and authority that were deposited in him at a previous time as he walked with the Lord and was trained by Him. The Lord must be present in power and wisdom when the apostle ministers, as is true of all gifts and ministries.
Some ministries tend to be more people-oriented than is true of the prophet, although each member of the Body of Christ always maintains his bond and allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, never to people, never to a church. Let us not forget that crucial fact.
There are ministries that stand with the people and ask God to "bless us all." The true pastor may have that attitude more than others.
The prophet, however, is "on the Lords side." Sometimes he is on the Lords side against most or all the Lords people. He stands with God against the people. We see this in the ministries of Elijah, Elisha, Ezekiel, and especially Jeremiah.
In our day many ministries are far too people-oriented. We attempt to please the people, being bound by the fear of man. We term the fear of man "peer pressure" or "group pressure."
Group pressure is a snare to the man of God. The true prophet of God remains free from group pressure. He spends much time alone with God and enjoys his close fellowship with God and his visions and revelations. He often leaves the company of people because he desires to be alone with God.
The prophet of the Lord is prepared to stand against the whole Churchagainst the whole world.
God must have such men and women today. He must have people who are on the Lords side. He must have spokesmen who are ready to rebuke the Church and the world.
Gods people are prone to murder Gods prophets, as Jesus taught us. Why is this? It is because the churches rapidly and easily fall into the trap of fighting against God. They fight against God because of the self-will and self-centeredness that are in them. The Sanhedrin and the chief priests and elders fought against the Lord Jesus and Stephen because these leaders of the Jews did not pray and seek the mind of the Spirit of God. Instead they employed their fleshly reasonings.
The Pharisees, supposedly the devoted servants of the Lord, murdered the Lords Christ when they found Him.
Perhaps the Christian churches of today will murder Christ when they find Him. We know what the churches will do to Christ when we witness what they do to Christs prophets.
The Church of Christ has many men and women today who express concern for the needs of people. But prophets are in short supply. We have some who are able to give specific words or prophecies to the believers. But prophets are more concerned with Gods desires than they are with the desires and needs of people.
The Church must have prophets today. Will you stand in the gap before the Lord and build up the wall that separates the holy from the unholy? Will you stand in the Presence of the Lord and proclaim His Word without compromise or hesitation whether people enjoy it or whether they do not?
God always has a present truth, a prophetic word, that is directed toward specific people during specific periods of time. It is the task, the responsibility, the joy, the glory of Gods true servants, His elect, to declare that prophetic Word faithfully and accurately to their generation.
Notice how clearly and specifically the Word of God came to Jeremiah: "in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign." Again: "in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah to the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah"; and so forth (Jeremiah 1:2,3).
Jeremiahs testimony was a specific, accountable word from God. It was not the vague, double-meaning of a fortune teller.
The office of prophet serves until each of us is able to proclaim the Lord's thoughts. There is a word, a burden of the Lord to our generation. The elect, all of whom are "prophets" of Christ in that every member of the Body of Christ is anointed by the Holy Spirit to know the mind of God, are privileged to bear the burden of the Divine Word and to declare it, according to the gift of grace that has been given the individual.
. . . for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)
The words that the Lord spoke to Jeremiah apply in one way or another to every member of the elect, to every true Christian. Details of application may vary with the unique calling of the believer, but we share many aspects in common.
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; . . . . (Jeremiah 1:5)
Notice that God forms each member of the elect in the womb of the mother. Gods saints, His elect, His prophets, were known to God before He founded the world. God knew everything about each of us before we saw the light of day (Romans 8:28-30; II Timothy 1:9).
Being a saint, a member of Gods elect, is a full-time calling. There are several billion people in the world. Of this number a mere handful are called to be saints (holy ones). To be a saint is a very demanding calling. Our jobs, our interests, our plans and ambitions are all secondary to our purpose for being on the earth. Our calling is to reveal in ourselves the Glory of God.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (I Peter 2:9)
Our calling is to glorify God and serve Him in the earth. It is to be a prophet: not in the sense of the office of a prophet in the Body of Christ but in the sense of being Gods representative on earth, of being the light of the world.
Christ and the members of His Body always are the Prophet of God among men. The Christian Church is the Lampstand of God because Christ dwells in the Church. There is no other light of the world, no other prophet of God among mankind.
. . . before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)
Each of Gods elect is set apart before being born. He or she is set apart for the purpose of revealing the holiness and Glory of God. Each of us belongs to God in a peculiar way. We are in the world but not of the world. Christ has chosen us out of the world so He may be glorified in us.
We all are prophets "to the nations" because we are "the light of the world." There are the nations of the earth and then there are Gods holy ones.
Through the saints God speaks to the nations of the earth and informs them of His Person, His will, and His eternal purpose. Gods eternal purpose is to center the whole universe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
The nations that assist the Lords saints, His witnesses, His brothers, and are kind to them, will inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God. The nations that do not assist the Lords saints will be sent away into everlasting fiery torment (Matthew 25:32-46).
None of us chose Christ. He chose us and ordained us that we may bring forth the fruit of Christ in our lives. When men see the fruit, the Divine Nature of Christ implanted in us, the inner righteousness, the new creation, they will glorify our Father who is in Heaven.
Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. (Jeremiah 1:6)
Jeremiah was not seeking to be a prophet. He was surprised by the coming of the Word of the Lord to him. Jeremiah felt he was not mature enough for such a responsibility.
The works of the Kingdom of God are not bound or accomplished by the wisdom and strength of religious human beings. God moves suddenly, surprisingly, using whom and what He will.
Often we who are seeking the Lord are astonished at the manner in which God has chosen to work. Gods prophets learn to do what God says, when He says it, without waiting until they understand how He will accomplish His will.
There usually is some good reason why we think we "cannot speak." The weakness, the uncertainty, the perplexity, the impossibility is present in our life for a purpose. The purpose is that the Glory of God rather than our religious zeal and self-seeking may be revealed.
But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. (Jeremiah 1:7)
The prophet of the Lord is not to complain about his shortcomings. How old we are, how strong we are, how educated we are, how fluent of speech we may be, are not to be considered or mentioned.
If we have faith in God we will go to every person to whom the Lord sends us. We will speak every word that God gives us. We will not seek the help of men. We will not complain. We will not consider our weaknesses.
We will do what God said to do and leave all the problems with Him. This does not mean we are to become passive or cease informing the Lord vigorously of our needs, our fears, our desires. Many times we do not have what we need or desire because we do not ask.
A prophet must learn stern obedience to the Lord. Jonah was a disobedient, complaining prophet. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the other writers were obedient prophets. God required unusual, difficult tasks that they were to perform. They did what God commanded them to do and God stood with them.
Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:8)
Sometimes the man or woman of God is invited to stand against the crowd, to take an unpopular position, to say what grieves the hearers. He or she must deliver the whole counsel of God without regard for the consequences.
There is an emphasis today on preaching "positive" ideaspromises that make the hearers feel good, of which there are many in the Scriptures.
We asked the Lord about the current emphasis on positive preaching.
We believe that He answered our inquiry. The Lord impressed this thought on us: "The person who preaches only what is positive is seeking his own glory. The person who preaches only what is negative is emotionally ill." The Scriptures contain a balance between positive and negative teaching, commencing with the invitation to eat freely of every tree of the garden and the warning to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
We believe that the Lord then reminded us of many parts of the Scriptures that are positive and many that are negative. The Lord Jesus made many negative comments, as did Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude.
The pronouncements of the Prophets of Israel often were negative. In fact, it may be true that the holy Scriptures, in spite of the incomprehensible glories that they offer, are more negative than positive.
The blessings pronounced on Mount Gerizim were fewer in number than the curses pronounced on Mount Ebal (Deuteronomy 27:11-28:68).
The individual who preaches only what is positive and pleasant to the listeners is part of the False Prophet. He has not been taught by the Lord. He is seeking his own gain. His God is his stomach. He is not a true pastor, a true watchman on the wall. He is a destroyer of the sheep. Their blood is on his hands. He shall not escape judgment in the Day of the Lord.
We are to declare forthrightly what God has spoken to our hearts. If we are hated or rejected or killed because of what we have stated, no harm has been done. If we hold back part of the counsel of God, much harm has been done. The blood of the listeners will be required at our hands in the Day of Christ.
God will deliver us, as He did Elijah and Elisha, if we perform His whole will fearlessly.
Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. (Jeremiah 1:9)
It is a good thing for the Christian to prepare himself in every way so that he may perform his Lords will.
Also, in each ministry there must come a point at which God puts forth His hand and touches us. The churches and the world are waiting to feel and see the living Fire. We must be touched by the nail-pierced hand of Jesus Christ.
One touch from the Lord and we are changed eternally. We are transformed. We are healed. Our fiercest problems dissolve. Peace floods into our soul. What we have attempted to do for years is accomplished in a moment.
He is Christ, the Son of God. When our hour comes He stretches out His hand and touches our mouth, our heart, our emotions, our will, our mind. Then we are filled with the fiery Presence of Him who dwells between the Cherubim of Glory. Then we are ready to ride with Him in the chariots of Israel. Then the lightning flashes, the thunder rolls in our soul, and we are commissioned to announce the awful Words of the most high God.
Then people either will accept or reject the testimony, sealing their destiny for eternity.
See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. (Jeremiah 1:10)
This was a weighty charge to give a novice!
Notice that God must pull down before He can build and plant. Sometimes when we seek the Lord our problems increase. Why is that? It is because God is preparing to build and plant what we have desired. But first of all He must tear down and destroy what is hindering His work in our life. God often wounds before He heals.
Jeremiahs commission was both negative and positive. The prophet must declare what the Lord is speaking. Whether people say Amen, enjoying and approving what we are stating, or whether they seek to kill us, or merely ignore usnone of this must ever move us from doing the Lords perfect will.
The prophets of the Scriptures were not popular. They were not administrators of large groups of worshipers. They were hated more often than not. They were threatened. They were abused and scorned. They were killed. It is no different today.
A true prophet is never popular.
Did Jeremiah actually pull down and build and plant nations and kingdoms? Yes, he did.
As we read his prophecies we can find the Word of God to Israel, to Egypt, to the Philistines, to Moab, to the Ammonites, to Babylon.
What was Jeremiahs responsibility? It was to prophesy clearly what God had said to him. What was Gods responsibility? It was to bring to pass what was spoken.
What was Ezekiels responsibility to the dry bones? It was to prophesy to them.
What was the responsibility of Haggai and Zechariah at the time of the restoration of the Temple of Solomon? It was to reveal the mind of the Lord to the builders.
The responsibility of the prophet of God is to declare plainly the mind of the Lord. Ordinarily, that is where his responsibility ends. It is important that the task of proclaiming the Lords mind be performed well, that it be taken seriously.
Often there are many people who are glad to do what God has commanded. But first there must be a person who will seek God until he is abiding in the Divine Presence. Then he is able to speak as the oracle of the Lord (I Peter 4:11) and a number of willing workers will arise and build.
The prophetic anointing that rests on the true Christian saints, the members of the Body of Christ, is a high and holy calling. When Gods witnesses hold back from telling the whole truth or are seeking their own glory and gain, the will and work of God are thrown off course.
In some instances the churches of Christ are attempting to do what they assume to be good and proper when in fact their actual God-assigned responsibility is to prophesy what God will do. This is not always the case, but sometimes it is. We must be in touch with the Lord in order to know when to prophesy and when to act.
We may be ready and willing to attempt to attach the bones together when God is commanding us to restrict ourselves to prophesying to the bones.
After we stick the bones together according to our own plan we are unable to breathe into them the breath of life. What we have before us is a dead, manmade structure. Then we are obliged to prop up our creature and make it sing and dance by our own inventions.
Let us rather prophesy to the Church and to the nations what the Lord God is speaking today. It appears that God has determined to move in the greatest revival in world history, and interpreters (prophets) are needed who can explain clearly to people what is taking place around them and happening to them.
The purpose and way of God must be announced for all to hear and understand. Those who have been charged with ministering what is being revealed today must be extremely diligent to preserve and communicate the vision; otherwise the corn of the Word of the Lord that is being given, which will be necessary for our survival in the future, will end up wasted and rotting on the ground.
Therefore thus saith the Lord, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 15:19,20)
The above is the commission of every true prophet of the Lord, of every member of Gods elect, every saint, every witness of the Lord.
We are to abandon the popular ways of the churches and return to the fervent seeking of the Lord Jesus Christ, keeping His Word diligently.
If we do that, God will bring us to the place where we are standing before Him, in His very Presence; for this is where His faithful witnesses stand eternally.
Then the Lord God will give us a spirit of judgment so we may be able to remove what is holy to the Lord and acceptable to Him from what man has added to the churches. If we will be faithful in separating between the clean and the unclean, between what is of the Spirit of God and what is of the flesh, God will establish us as His spokesman, His prophet, His witness to the churches and the nations.
We never are to return to the ways of the churches. If we are in the Lords will, the Lords people may decide to come our way. We never are to change and go the popular way. We must be prepared to walk alone.
God will make us a fortified bronze wall. The Lords people may strive to overcome us and our words, and the world will attempt to deceive us, to tempt us, to overcome us. But no person or spirit has the wisdom or power to conquer one of Gods elect when he continues steadfastly in the Presence and will of God, extracting the precious from the worthless, making clear to everyone the mind of God.
The Christian Church is in confusion today, and the nations of the earth are in darkness as a result. When the light of righteousness in the churches has been extinguished the nations of the earth have no moral guidelines to follow. The Apostles of the Lamb performed their work faithfully and therefore we possess the New Testament Scriptures. But the Scriptures are not being taught. The traditions of men, such as lawless grace and the pre-tribulation "rapture," are being presented in their place.
What is Gods attitude today toward the churches and the nations?
The two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation portray to us that just before the Lord returns, the Body of Christ will becomeas it never has been beforethe Prophet of God among men.
The number two (of the two witnesses) reveals that the double portion, the two loaves of the feast of Pentecost, will be poured on the saints so they may bear the most powerful witness of all history to the nations of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God (Leviticus 23:17).
The need of the hour is for the elect to be filled to overflowing with a double portion of Acts 1:8 so we may bear a true witness of Christ to the farthest reaches of the earth. We have been invited to pray for rain in the time of the latter rain (Zechariah 10:1). When God fills us with His power we shall be able to bear witness of the Word of the Lord to all people.
O earth, earth, earth, hear the Word of the Lord. (Jeremiah 22:29)