The Fourfold Mission of Prophecy

March 1, 2013

Isaiah 48:3-48:8

The Fourfold Mission of Prophecy

Soon after the Fall, men became interested in the future. The same questions are usually asked of prophets, true and false over the centuries. Will I be rich? Will I defeat my enemies? Who will I marry and how many kids will we have? When and how will I die and then what happens? What does God want from my life? When will the world end? As a kid, I can remember the Ouija board telling me that I would marry a blonde, French girl and have four children. I married a brunette, German-Irish gal and had two children. Many so-called prophets do as well as that occultic board.

We aren’t told how long Adam and Eve retained their innocence and walked with God in the cool of the day. It is reasonable to say that they had little interest in the past beyond Creation. I am sure that they understood God’s no beginning and no end better than their fallen descendents with dead spirits and darkened understanding. Even if they did not fully understand they just believed God and went on, as young children would do. They did not yet have doubts or fears.

As to the future, before the Fall they most likely did not concern themselves with that since they would have assumed that tomorrow would be like today. They had no reason to think otherwise. Every day was another day in Paradise. Why would tomorrow be different? After all, it was the same God, same Garden, same people what could change? Sadly, their trust and innocence is what changed.

What a rude awakening it must have been the precise moment Adam ate of the forbidden fruit. Nothing seemed to have changed when Eve ate because she was covered by the innocence of her husband and his headship. Once the head fell, instantly they sensed the change. Fear and guilt were things they never knew before. Nakedness was not a concept before but now they sensed a difference.

Some believe that it was not their physical nakedness that was the problem. They had lost the aura of innocence and the protective hedge of God that had indeed clothed them and they could only relate it to the physical in an effort to explain to themselves what happened. They had never felt vulnerable before. Their sin was naked before God and it translated to the physical since spiritual actions have physical reactions. They were naked spiritually and their already sin tainted minds and dead spirits could only understand the physical until God revealed Himself and the truth to them. They had been lied to and now they would lie to God and themselves.

While the serpent definitely played with Eve’s mind, she had beguiled herself before he even started talking. Somewhere along the line she added to what God had said about the fruit. He said to not eat it. She added do not touch it. The serpent would have had a harder time getting her to eat it has she not added that part. She may have said to herself that the best way to not eat it is to not touch it and that can be a very prudent approach. However, somewhere later in her thinking she attributed her thoughts to God and that is where she got into trouble. A lot of people, especially theologians suffer from the same problem.

All the serpent did was get her to doubt her own beliefs. She was already self-deceived. Since she did not have the full truth of God’s Word to protect her she was vulnerable. Half-truths always equal a lie and she already believed a lie. Had God challenged her on the issue it would have been to get her to seek the truth. The serpent challenged her because he knew he only had to get her to doubt her perceived truth to destroy her. God had given her pure water but she had added the poison. It was just a little slower acting than cyanide.

Once she tested her false belief and saw the lie she thought was truth fail it was a short step to doubt and test the truth as well. She could have run to Adam or to God for strength and to clarify what the serpent said but the bait was strong to one who did not believe the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

We are not 100% certain where Adam was during final discussion or during the ones previous for I don’t think one conversation would have caused Eve to doubt. It was most likely a constant baiting her that caused the seed of doubt to bloom. Maybe Adam liked running with the dogs and didn’t mind her hanging out with the serpent. Maybe he was near by listening and evaluating. We don’t know. Whatever the case he failed to check in with God or correct Eve’s understanding. He may have done the same thing by adding to God’s Word.

When Eve touched it and didn’t die and then ate and did not die Adam lost faith in God and relied upon what he saw rather than what he heard from God. Many will perish because they also will only trust what they can see and empirically analyze. One might somewhat understand their doubt but many more will perish because of what they have never seen and cannot be empirically analyzed for to analyze it is to disprove it. It is called evolution.

With the loss of their innocence, their immortality and home, man saw that things would be different and they could never again presume that tomorrow would be the same as today or yesterday. Death stalked them in the shadows waiting to consume them without warning. Even with a terminal disease no one knows when death will finally overtake him or her. Fear and uncertainly cried out for a look into the future.

As man’s relationship with God and general knowledge deteriorated all sorts of things were dreamed up to provide insider information on the future. Looking at tea leaves, palm lines and even human and animal entrails were considered to provide that peek into the darkness of tomorrow. There is a person in England who tells your fortune by looking at your buttocks. I think the person is just being paid to enjoy his fetish and the clients are definitely crackers.

While man and his environment and spiritual condition changed, God never changed. He still wanted man to trust Him. He wanted man to trust Him for his daily bread. So why do we even have the future given to us in various books of God’s Word? I believe there is a fourfold mission of prophecy.

Isa 48:3-8
3 I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.
4 Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;
5 I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.
6 Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.
7 They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.
8 Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb. (KJV)

First, God would show a sinful and obstinate people that He could be trusted and was able to provide for their future by telling them things that would come to pass in a way that they would know without a shadow of doubt that He did it. No mere mortal could and, in many cases, would have predicted the things that God would show them.

Surely, a God who could tell you the future would be able to provide for you and could be trusted if He said He would do something for He could make it come to pass. Men often sincerely plan and promise things but they cannot fulfill them because of unforeseen circumstances. God speaks and it comes to pass for nothing is unforeseen by Him.

Once God started giving men prophecy that they saw fulfilled the devil had to come up with a counterfeit if he was going to continue to deceive men. Sometimes, the men he empowered were very convincing having charismatic personalities speaking great swelling words whereas God might use someone like Amos who was just an uneducated shepherd and picker of sycomore fruit. (Amos 7:14) They could even mimic some of God’s miracles. How would people know which prophet to follow?

Deut 13:1-5
1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. (KJV)

Deut 18:18-22
18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?
22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (KJV)

Here are the two red lights to look for when folks prophesy. If what they say comes to past most folks would say that is proof that they speak for God. Not so, look at what Jesus says.

Matt 7:21-23
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Here are people that would look and sound like prophets and apostles, but Jesus said they are workers of iniquity and won’t be in the kingdom. They are even doing it in His name, but not in His power. Note that Deut 13:2 and 18:20 say about other gods. You say, but they use Jesus not Zeus or Apollo.

2 Cor 11:3-4
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (KJV)

Gal 1:6-9
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (KJV)

2 Cor 11:13-15
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (KJV)

II Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, (KJV)

Need I say more? Sadly, yes because these types of folks are deceiving many today. And perish the thought that you should try and expose false teaching or they and their followers will label you a heretic hunter, which is supposed to be as terrible a label as the media calling you a fundamentalist. Well, bring them both on and I’ll wear them as badges of honor.

Miracles and “fulfilled” prophecy do not make a true prophet. He must also be preaching the true Gospel and the true Jesus. Otherwise he is to be accursed! Shoot, how unloving is that? Very loving if you love the Lord, His truth and His people.

Salvation by faith and faith alone is the Gospel Paul preached. Faith plus anything else is a false Gospel and a different Jesus that needs help to deliver His people. He needs an addition to His sacrifice because He could not pay the full price. His blood was only a partial atonement and that is a false Gospel and a different Jesus than the omnipotent Son of God in the flesh.

The true Jesus is not the brother of Satan. He is not a human that the Spirit of Christ came upon and left like the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and left him on the Cross. He is totally God and totally man. No one took His place on the Cross. He was not a great teacher or mystic. These are all other Jesus concepts and are to be accursed. Many who claim the gift of prophecy today would be stoned to death because they are preaching another Gospel and another Jesus. May they be converted to the truth or be accursed as Paul pronounced.

The second red light is that if it doesn’t come to pass. A prophet has to be 100% accurate. Deut 18:22 says that the man is not speaking for God but speaking his own presumption if it doesn’t happen as it was prophesied. You have no need to hear or fear that false prophet on an ego trip. When God says it, it happens. Some get around this by saying that God changed His mind and said to wait. Funny, how that happens after the money has been raised for a project that God supposedly ordained. Why didn’t God tell the people to save and invest their money since the timetable has changed? Why does it always end up in the “prophet’s” profits before God issues the change order? If people would just get off their emotional high and blind loyalty these lads would fade away instead of “prospering.” I guess by asking for some scriptural reading and discernment I am asking too much. That kind of thing puts such a damper on the thrills. Yet, when I consider the following verse it does give me concern for the souls of the suckered.

Matt 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (KJV)

The elect aren’t supposed to be deceived by such things so I can only conclude that they are not saved and will pass into eternity on an emotional high but will find themselves shipwreck in the faith. May God grant them mercy and freedom from this deception.

I John 3:1-3
1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (KJV)

Secondly, we are to purify ourselves. Knowledge puffeth up. (I Cor 8:1) I fear that is all that most study of prophecy does for folks is to give them something to show off. We went through a massive emphasis on prophecy in the 80’s to the point that I personally would rather not do a study on Revelation. I will when the opportunity exists but I know the biggest things that people look for is how to identify the Anti-Christ and what exactly is the mark of the beast. People will swear they know what size sneaker the False Prophet wears and that the Anti-Christ will be a left-handed vegetarian homosexual Jew that likes Corvettes and Nine Inch Nails but their lives are a disaster.

I know we live in a filthy, filthy world loaded with nuts and temptations. I know we all have our specific sin(s) that so easily beset us. We are human and still live in the world but we are not to be of the world. Frankly, we are to hate this world order and live by the laws and customs of the Kingdom we represent as Ambassadors. It is not ever easy and we are often weak but we are to shoot for perfection not to be content with mediocrity or capitulate and accept failure as inevitable. That is not fighting the good fight.

Anyone that has been in school knows what it means to cram. It happens because of procrastination, sickness and other reasons but whatever the cause the end result is trying cram all the knowledge we should have gotten over a long period in the night before or ten minutes before a big test or final exam. Depending on the person the results might be disastrous or at best a sigh of relief. It is very stressful, which also decreases our effectiveness. The ones who have been steadily on schedule all along might or might not get as good as a grade as the crammers but they are far less stressed. We may be five minutes from our final exam. You can’t cram anything into the twinkling of an eye. Imagine the stress when you meet Him as a crammer.

No normal bride would show up at the church naked and run down to the altar to get dressed as the ceremony was starting. Yet, that is what many that are a part of the Bride of Christ are doing. We are sloppy in our preparations for our wedding day. Christ may return anytime and we are dirty and in ripped sweat gear kicked back on our sanctimonious sacroiliacs happy as pigs in mud. The next thing we may hear is that trumpet and there will be no time to clean up or get that present you wanted to give Him.

No good attorney would wait until five minutes before the trial became to prepare his defendant’s case and no person would want a lawyer like that. Yet, we may be five minutes from the Bema and we aren’t preparing for that by doing what we are supposed to do or confessing our sins. We are fortunate that this will not be a trial for our lives if we are truly saved. It will only be a reward issue but the weeping will still be bitter even though Christ got us off from the penalty of death. He will judge our works and most of us will be saved as by fire because we have not been purifying ourselves.

Heb 10:24-25
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (KJV)

Thirdly, we are to exhort others. So much of modern Christianity is about what is in it for me? How will you entertain me? What programs do you have for my children and me? Church is just a selfish thing when we go at all.

I am asked from time to time the differences between the 1st Century Church and today. There are many differences but here we see that the time we spend together for study, worship and exhortation is extremely different. We have way too much free time in our society. These folks worked from the crack of dawn until the sun went down. That is basically a twelve-hour day and six days a week. Yet, they gathered daily for prayer, study, food and fellowship sometimes until midnight. They turned the world upside and such activity must have continued for centuries since it would take that much spiritual discipline to gain the power to endure persecutions and even sing as they turned the lions loose.

Now compare us. We work on average forty-hour weeks. That means five eight hour days and or four tens. We have two to three days more and four hours a day more to ourselves than our ancestors. Shoot, most of our grandparents did not have it that good. Yet, we have less time than ever for spiritual growth, exhorting others and participating in good works.

The first century church met every day. We generally meet on Sunday and Wednesday. Many churches have given up on Sunday nights. My guess is that is because it interfered with some sporting event. Grrr, don’t me started on the folly of professional sports.

Let’s look at Sunday. Most adults do not attend Sunday School where doctrine is normally taught. It is only one hour a week and we can’t drag ourselves out of bed to get that discipleship. Early church was averaging probably two or more hours a day depending on how they broke up their meetings and if they all lasted from maybe 7 PM until midnight. That would give them maybe 14 to1 odds over us. They had to fight many false prophets and doctrines and sometimes they were not successful and they were sitting with the Apostles at Jerusalem. Yet, we think we can get by with an hour or less in this end time age. We are not very smart.

I can hear some of you saying that you have your own devotionals and libraries and study more than that per week. That puts you ahead of ninety-five percent of the rest of Christendom. The only problem is, that is fine for you, but it is not about you. You are to be in the assembly to exhort others. Your private devotions don’t relieve you of that duty to the Body. It doesn’t say that we are to attend to exhort and provoke ourselves though while we are doing our duty others doing theirs will speak to our issues. We are there for others and others need us.

Sunday morning messages are usually something along a salvation line because that is when “lost” people usually come to church. At least that is the way it was decades ago. Now very few lost people other than lost religious people show up on a Sunday morning. However, a lot of saved and we know it Christians only show up on Sunday morning so they are vastly knowledgeable about salvation and little else. They may never share their knowledge with anyone but they have it.

The early church was preaching salvation in the streets, synagogues and temples where that message needed to be heard and then those that were saved would show up at church for discipleship. We win them where they are and grow them in the church. Read Matthew 28: 19,20. The go command is really conveying something that is a given more than a direct command as we think of it. As you are going into all the world, do what I said. We wait until they wander in asking for money or are in such desperate straits we are their last chance before we attempt to win folks. Get off the pew and on the pavement then Sunday morning can be another hour of discipleship.

Sunday nights used to have a training hour of some sorts before the evening service. Shoot down another hour. And since we have cancelled Sunday night that one is gone. Those of us that still have it use it as a teaching hour but usually a fraction of the Sunday morning crowd is there and they are the ones who need it most.

Wednesday night prayer meeting even fewer show up. We pray some and then do some teaching but then again the folks that need to be there are not. I was once an Assistant Pastor at a church where the music folks never made it to prayer meeting. They normally met somewhere to have supper and then came in as the meeting was closed to practice. Sadly, most of these folks were on the board and some were Sunday School teachers. That church actually cancelled the Sunday night service at the request of the music folks so they wouldn’t have to practice and perform for two services. I was allowed to have a Bible study on Sunday night for those that wanted it but I was not allowed to call it a service so that the musicians would not feel compelled to come. I understand they even asked the pastor to cut a few minutes off his sermon so the song service could be a little longer and we could get out on time. Musicians are somewhat on my bad list after that.

So, let’s look at the differences again. If we did all that we once did we would spend no more than six hours a week fulfilling the command in Hebrews. Even if we back to Sunday all day on the grounds we would only add five more hours to our total for eleven hours and only two actual days out of the week compared to their seven. Compare that to a bare minimum of sixteen hours a week and possibly up to thirty-five hours a week for the 1st Century Church and can you see why they had spiritual power and knowledge turning their world upside down? Can you see why we are sickly, sallow and sour and the world turns us upside down?

Yes, they did not have the distractions and toys that we have and that may well be our downfall. Their kids seemed to turn out better than most of ours. Most stayed in the faith while ours are leaving. Maybe our gizmos, gadgets and non-church gatherings are just not worth the price. We may not be able to get as good as the first church but we could do a whole lot better.

If we really believed prophecy, we would want to be a lot busier for Him than for this world and want to hang out with our eternal family more than anyone else. If He comes and we are at church that will be better than where He will find most of us. We would love each other more than ourselves and want to be about exhorting and provoking the brethren.

Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. (KJV)

The fourth mission of prophecy is to inspire us to live godly, looking for the blessed hope rather than digging our roots deep in this world. Again, a true understanding of prophecy and seeing it being fulfilled should darken the dazzle of this dying and doomed world order. Everything that enflames our lusts will go up in flames. Everything that we love and work so hard to obtain in this death trap will be burned to a crisp at the end of the Millennium.

I don’t care how good your estate planning is and how well your heirs handle what they get one day there will be nothing, nada, zero, zip of anything. Why do we grasp so hard for what we cannot keep and take for granted the eternal treasure we could be accruing? When I ask things like that of God about myself I just get honest with Him and say, “Cuz I’m stupid.” We are certainly not in our right minds. We have the mind of Christ and He would not be deceived by this fool’s gold. Hence we are not in the mind of Christ and are totally insane when we fall for this junk.

Do we truly have the hope that He will be here soon? Would we rather He did not come as we have so many desires and plans for this life? When I was saved at twenty-one I was a bit depressed that He might come any minute. I was young. I had some goals. I wanted to be a senator. How foolish I was. I wish He had come five minutes after I was saved. I wish He would come before I finish this sermon. I want to be free from this sinful world and flesh and to be able to serve Him for eternity without mediocrity and failure. The Bema will be rough, but even so, come Lord Jesus!!!

We do not need any other prophets running around. We do not understand the mission of the prophecy we have and if we abuse or ignore the Light we have God is not going to give us any more light. We are more concerned about when the Rapture will happen then the state we will be in when it does. We want to be prophecy whiz kids so we can be the life of the room rather than bringing life to the room. We want to be titillated but not discipled. We want God to give us special messages when we don’t listen to the ones He has already given us. God is not an entertainer. He does not do things lightly or in vain. His prophecies have a mission.

First, God has shown a sinful and obstinate people that He could be trusted.
Second, we are called to purify ourselves.
Thirdly, we are called to exhort others.
Fourthly, prophecy is to inspire us to live godly, looking for the blessed hope.

That is the fourfold mission of prophecy. If we fulfill that we will be ready for anything, Pre, Mid, Post or somewhere in between any of them. Argument and speculation is futile. Indeed, as I said before, I have known many “students” of prophecy who can tell me the size of the Anti-Christ’s sneaker and what the false Prophet likes for breakfast but they don’t live like they believe it so their study is vain. They won’t be ready for anything. Will you? Will I? May God help us! Maranatha!


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