Laws of the Prophets
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened–those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come– and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame. (Hebrews 6:1-6 NLTse).
What have you learned from the Bible lately? Anything at all? Now be honest. Has God shown you the riches and glory embedded in His Holy Book, or did someone tell you something they thought was significant? And was it something from God’s Word with His Word explaining every detail? Or was it more along the lines of pulling out a scripture or two and making a long winded speech about what they thought it meant? Is that really Bible Study? The world seems to think so.
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is. Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. (1 John 3:1-7 NLTse).
This world has experienced battles over the Ten Commandments for generations. Have a talk with God about it. I’m sure He will tell you the same thing He told me. There is no problem with His original Ten Commandments. The problem is with the thousands of amendments people added.
What about those other laws? The KJV was translated in a very particular and accurate manner. When the original Greek referred to the Ten Commandments, they always used the word commandments. For laws Moses recorded, the KJV always used the word laws. And when the writers referred to man man versions of the laws, they always used the words doctrines or ordinances.
In this case we see John used the word laws. But which laws? How many people study the books Moses wrote to understand those laws? How many of them allow scripture to explain those laws. What about other laws recorded in the Bible? What about the laws of the prophets? Those are laws all of God’s prophets followed. Following those laws identified them as God’s prophets. Who knows anything about those laws?
When we look at what John wrote, we can see he was pointing us to those laws. As God’s children, it is His job to protect us. God doesn’t look at protecting us as a job. We can’t imagine how God feels about protecting us. We didn’t create mankind and everything in this universe. There is no way anyone can understand God’s concern. Our biggest downfall is not spending time to listen to how much God cares for us when he tries to explain it to us. He tries to reach this world in many ways. God send angels who willing offer protection. God talks to people willing to listen through dreams and visions. And God gave us His Word to show His concern. Not all of those together begin to show us what really lies within God’s heart or why He turned all His attention to one fallen planet.
One way God showed His concern is through His laws. God wrote those laws to protect us. Some people look at those as restrictions. There are more views and opinions on God’s commandments and laws then there are laws. But why waste time debating man’s opinions on those laws? It doesn’t matter where people are on the issue. God has a plan to bring them along into a better understanding.
One of the most powerful laws designed to protect us is one of the most neglected and misunderstood laws. That is the law of God’s prophets. Most people have heard about the law of the prophets. Most Christian organizations have one or another version of that law. But do they understand it?
I’ve questioned people about that law over the past few months. Most answers are pretty much the same.
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20 KJV)
And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:32-33 KJV)
So we see one point made. Of course prophets have to speak according to God’s law. What do we learn from that? Over half the sermons in churches, on TV, radio, and the Interest contain one or two verses, then a long winded explanation of what they think it means. They used God’s Word. Does that make them legitimate prophets?
What about Satan. He quoted scripture. If we limited an explanation of the law God’s prophets follow to that simple explanation, we are in trouble.
Jeremiah gave us one of the best summaries for the law all of God’s prophets followed. “Suppose one of the people or one of the prophets or priests asks you, ‘What prophecy has the LORD burdened you with now?’ You must reply, ‘You are the burden! The LORD says he will abandon you!’ “If any prophet, priest, or anyone else says, ‘I have a prophecy from the LORD,’ I will punish that person along with his entire family. You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’ But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the LORD.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’ (Jeremiah 23:33-37 NLTse).
To the unwary eye, this may not appear to be much. But when we apply God’s laws of context, the important details stand out. Look at what the author repeated to draw attention to. ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’ Now listen to God’s Spirit who is telling us to look into the original language. You should always double check. Especially when you feel that nudging from God’s Spirit when your in His Word. What does that word what actually mean?
WHAT H4100 מה מ־ מ־ מה מה mâh mah mâ ma meh
A primitive particle; properly interrogative what? (including how?, why? and when?); but also exclamations like what! (including how!), or indefinitely what (including whatever, and even relatively that which); often used with prefixes in various adverbial or conjugational senses: – how (long, oft, [-soever]), [no-] thing, what (end, good, purpose, thing), whereby (-fore, -in, -to, -with), (for) why.
It’s not by accident that little word contains a number of meanings. The first is HOW. God’s prophets have to be able to explain how God talked to them. The second is why. God’s prophets have to be able to explain why God talked to them. The third is when. God’s prophets will identify when God spoke to them.
Look at all the prophets in the Bible. Did they follow that rule? Pick one out and look.
Haggai 1:1-3 NLTse On August 29 of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the LORD gave a message through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. (2) “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.'” (3) Then the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai:
Hosea 1:1-2 NLTse The LORD gave this message to Hosea son of Beeri during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel. (2) When the LORD first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the LORD and worshiping other gods.”
Joel 1:1-3 NLTse The LORD gave this message to Joel son of Pethuel. (2) Hear this, you leaders of the people. Listen, all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before? (3) Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation.
Daniel 4:1-5 NLTse King Nebuchadnezzar sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! (2) “I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. (3) How great are his signs, how powerful his wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations. (4) “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living in my palace in comfort and prosperity. (5) But one night I had a dream that frightened me; I saw visions that terrified me as I lay in my bed.
Daniel 8:1-2 NLTse During the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, saw another vision, following the one that had already appeared to me. (2) In this vision I was at the fortress of Susa, in the province of Elam, standing beside the Ulai River.
We can see, even Nebuchadnezzar followed God’s law for His prophets. Why do we see God’s prophets consistently explaining how God communicated with them, but today it seems to be another one of those laws people claim is no longer required.
This contradicts a number of prophecies where God promised to send an outpouring of His Spirit. “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants–men and women alike. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the LORD.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the LORD’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.” “And this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken! (Joel 2:28-29, Isaiah 44:3-5, Isaiah 59:21 NLTse).
When God promises something, He intends to deliver, whether we are ready or not. But how many people are prepared? How many people are able to distinguish between God’s prophets, those speaking for themselves, prophets sent by the enemy, and everything in between?
Think about it. What good is a prophet if they can’t explain how God talked to them? Then look at the main role of a prophet, which is to lead people back to God. Which is to lead people into a personal relationship with God. What prophet would lack those qualities? Only prophets looking out for their own interest, or working for the enemy. They have no interest or ability to lead people to God. They won’t explain how God communicated with them, how God communicates with this world, or any other aspects about a real relationship with God.
Let’s take a second look at that answer other people gave. The problem I see is, people see one aspect of a law and think they know every detail. They fail to pray, listen to God, and search His Word like looking for hidden treasure. Let’s take a deeper look at Jeremiah 23 to see how a prophet explained God’s law. The first detail to check of course is the introduction, which establishes the main theme.
Jeremiah 23:1-2 NLTse “What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people–the shepherds of my sheep–for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the LORD. (2) Therefore, this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them.
The first thing we notice is how Jeremiah used the symbol shepherds. Jeremiah clearly identified that symbol by defining it as leaders. Jeremiah also used a contrast. God often used contrasts to teach lessons. Which makes the use of proof texts so dangerous. Many people use the contrast and teach a lesson it was never intended to teach. In this case the contrasts are scatter and caring, or safety. Leaders will either lead people to safety or destroy them. God used such a clear contrast for a reason. People may think they are doing good, but in fact they are causing harm they can’t hope to estimate. Look at the related words Jeremiah used.
Sorrow, destroyed, scattered, deserted, destruction, and evil.
Care, caring, and safety.
The good aspects are easy to follow while the negative aspects have a tendency to grow on their own. We can learn a lot from the simple lessons in God’s Word when we follow the laws of context. Jeremiah included a prophecy about Jesus in that chapter.
Jeremiah 23:3-7 NLTse But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. (4) Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the LORD have spoken! (5) “For the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. (6) And this will be his name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety. (7) “In that day,” says the LORD, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’
The prophecy included a promise to fix the problem. That problem was, leaders misleading people. How did Jesus fix the problem? Jeremiah listed two details. Jesus will gather His flock together. Once again, we’re given a detail, but not the step by step process Jesus will use. That’s one aspect of prophecies people have to realize. Prophecies seldom contain details showing exactly how they will be fulfilled. To find the answer, we have to follow the laws of context to locate and study the recorded fulfillment. When we look back at the one sided definition of a prophet the world leans on, we now can see how that detail can be explained.
It seems most people claim to know, God’s prophets will speak according to God’s Word. But what does that mean? What good does it do if you can’t explain what that means? How do you explain how modern day prophets need to follow God’s Word and law? Jeremiah included that law when He recorded a prophecy about Jesus. That prophecy has a recorded fulfillment found in 1 Timothy 6.
1 Timothy 6:8-16 NLTse So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. (9) But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. (10) For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (11) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. (12) Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. (13) And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, (14) that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (15) For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. (16) He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.
Once we compare prophecies with their recorded fulfillment, we see how they react with one another like a chemical reaction that brings an unexpected result. In this case we’re shown how money plays a part in making those shepherds mislead people. We also see how Paul included a list of attributes God’s preachers and prophets must have and practice.
We find recorded fulfillments by paying attention to key words in the prophecy and its recorded fulfillment. But the laws of context don’t stop there. Introductions and summation to both chapters are compared to make sure they both address the same theme. Those are the laws of context God’s prophets will know and understand. Following those laws will prove if a prophet is speaking according to God’s Word or another source.
Jeremiah filled in a few details about false prophets. That’s what most people concentrate on. As a matter of fact, Jeremiah pointed that out. Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says concerning the prophets: “I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. For it is because of Jerusalem’s prophets that wickedness has filled this land.” This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says to his people: “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the LORD! (Jeremiah 23:15-16 NLTse).
What does it mean to be filled with bitterness and poison? Listen to some of the world’s most popular preachers. You’ll find the answer in minutes. Look at how they pull out a few little texts, then without a shred of evidence, cast insults and accusations on other religious groups. They talk about those groups as if they were once leaders in those churches, claiming to know about secret plans, and how those other groups think. They desensitize the issue by leading people to believe all those people live and think alike. They make it appear they are doing Jesus a great service by grouping all those people together, making Jesus’ job of judgment easier.
Is that what a teacher or prophet from God is supposed to be? Jeremiah called that kind of teaching, “futile hopes.” On the other hand, those preaches fill people with the attitude salvation comes from joining their club. Jeremiah called that a false promise of peace.
They keep saying to those who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The LORD says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’ “Have any of these prophets been in the LORD’s presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen? (Jeremiah 23:17-18 NLTse).
Jeremiah described their messages in plain simple, easy to understand terms. Those people despise God’s Word. They don’t know it, nor do they have any intentions of following God’s Word. They want the freedom to pick and choose what they want to teach and when they want to teach it. What kind of Bible would we have today if God’s prophets had that attitude? God made it clear, those preachers and prophets are acting on their own. They didn’t go to God for their messages.
Since false prophets refuse to approach God’s throne, His prophets must be willing and excited to stand before God. Since it is something they experience, they should be able to explain the experience, and teach people how to meet at God’s throne. If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds. Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the LORD. “No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:22-24 NLTse). God made it plain, He is ready and available any time.
Do your preachers and prophets teach you how to comfort people asking for prayer? Do they teach you how to encourage people to approach God’s throne for the answer? Or do they tell you to say, “I’ll pray.” And break your vow quicker than it took to make it?
Nothing happens without God knowing about it. Nothing happens without God having plans to use the worst trials to increase understanding and teach a number of lessons. What are those lessons? Are you prepared to endure a major trial and waste the opportunity to learn how it fits into God’s plan of salvation by relying on human wisdom for an explanation? Or are you going to boldly approach God’s throne to learn the full story only He knows?
Going to a person for answers is like buying a product in a huge box. opening that box, looking at the last line of the instructions, and calling the 800 number to ask how to assemble the product. Wouldn’t it be a lot smarter to read and follow the instructions? Going to God’s Bible when you face a problem is another way God communicates with us and confirms His message.
This brings us right back to the popular definition of a prophet. If they speak according to God’s Word, they should be able to explain how God’s Word works in people’s lives. How God’s Word comforts as well as directs. Think of the world we might have today if preachers and prophets spent more time teaching what they should be teaching, and less time spreading their own thoughts and agenda. How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal. (Jeremiah 23:26-27 NLTse).
“Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain! Does not my word burn like fire?” says the LORD. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces? (Jeremiah 23:28-29 NLTse). Jeremiah included some good advice. Compare your own feelings between those man made messages and your personal contact with God. There is only one that burns inside you. There is only one that will make a real difference in your life. There is only one that will draw you into a closer relationship with God. All those others are designed to draw you away from God and into chains forged by this world.
Jeremiah followed up with another list of what false prophets do. Those are the verses they like to concentrate on and use to point a finger at other people, churches, and religions. But do all their complaints and accusations ever accomplish anything in God’s plan of salvation? Jeremiah repeated those warnings about those false prophets because of what they do. Because of what they add to their negative messages. They add an imagine of a false hope. They claim to have truth. The only evidence they provide is a long list of things they claim everyone else does wrong. But that never solves a single problem. But suppose they respond, ‘This is a prophecy from the LORD!’ Then you should say, ‘This is what the LORD says: Because you have used this phrase, “prophecy from the LORD,” even though I warned you not to use it, I will forget you completely. I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors. And I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.'” (Jeremiah 23:38-40 NLTse).
God doesn’t mix words in the summary in Jeremiah 23. If they don’t want to listen to God, He will expel them from His presence. If they are not getting their message from God, where are they getting it from? And where will it lead?
If your wondering how God communicates with this world, read Daniel’s book. It is a manual showing how God communicates with this world. It also serves as a test for God’s prophets. Wannabe prophets in this world love to impress people with their so called knowledge of Daniel. They constantly try to interpret Daniel, but look at how they do it, and compare the methods they use to those methods Daniel recorded. Prophets who don’t know how to approach God’s throne, or wait on God for the answers will do the only thing they know. They go to the world for answers. Pay attention to the answers they give and if your wise, you’ll see the patterns they use.
To understand Daniel, most people have to forgot everything they’ve been taught from that book. Most of the information they’ve been taught is superficial at best. To get past the messages the world wants you to see, and into the spiritual lessons Daniel recorded, you have to learn how to set the world and its beliefs aside.
When Gabriel was sent to Daniel, he was afraid. Daniel hid his face in the ground. Gabriel told Daniel to take his face off the ground, look up and learn. Gabriel then repeated a series of words involving communication. Gabriel repeated words like listen, hear, pay attention, and message.
We have the choice to either continue to listen to those self proclaimed preachers and prophets with their faces on the earth, relying on this world for their interpretations, or we can learn how God communicates with us from Daniel and some of the other reliable prophets.