Does God still Judge? Possible Pitfalls of Prophets in Troubling Times
A famous prophet wrote this this week.
“Today on [Name of program], we are going to talk about the Coronavirus, plagues, other natural disasters and how we should respond to them. THESE OCCURRENCES ARE NOT JUDGMENTS FROM GOD. JESUS TOOK ALL JUDGMENTS AND CURSING WHEN HE WENT TO THE CROSS, ANY CURSING AND JUDGMENTS THAT’S LEFT IS END-TIMES PROPHECY. Coronavirus is NOT a judgment from God. This is something that God does NOT want and it’s not His story for humanity.”
I put the concerning words in CAPS. What do you think? Theologically do you agree that there are no more judgments post cross? Didn’t God judge Herod in Acts 12?
“On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts 12:21-23)
Didn’t Paul curse Elymus?
“You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” (Acts 13:10-11a)
He says, “the hand of the Lord is against you.” That sure sounds like judgment. And the judgment led to salvation:
“Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.” (Acts 13:11b-12)
And believers too, faced judgment. When Ananias lied to God, was he not judged?
“Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’“When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.” (Acts 5:3-5)
Did God judge Great Britain when it turned its back on Israel in 1939? She made it illegal for Jews to go back to their homeland even as Hitler was murdering them. At the time, they said that the sun never sets on the British empire. Today no one even uses the term “British Empire.” (Please don’t be offended my precious friends from Britain.)
Did God judge Germany after World War 2? A once great country was ripped in two. Families separated. A wall was erected.
Is God judging the Vatican for covering up sex crimes against children? Is He judging Iran now for promoting terror and threatening Israel? Was China judged for its persecution of believers? In the Old Testament, there were times when God judged, that even the righteous were impacted negatively (see Jeremiah) and other times when they were not (see Exodus).
[Note: As soon as I pressed “post” a face popped up on my newsfeed. And then it disappeared. For some reason I was curious and scrolled down until I found it. A pastor in OK—the first to die their from COVID19. ?]
And what about the words of Simon Peter? “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:7)
This minister says, the only judgments left are part of end-times prophecy. But that makes no sense. If Jesus took ALL judgments, then that should include end-time judgment as well. He seems to say that the transaction at the cross dealt with all judgment, and if so, there should never be judgment again. But is that really scriptural?
Of course, the minister in question is not a theologian and I don’t think he ever went to bible college, much less seminary, and his mentors were primarily prophets, not theologians (as far as I know). So, why I am sharing this?
1. If you are going to make a sweeping theological statement before millions of people, you should back it up with scripture.
2. If his understanding of scripture is wrong, then will it not color his prophecies, which, unlike Scripture, are subjective. Let’s unpack that.
You might say, “No, if he is a prophet, then he is hearing directly from God—perfectly.” Not exactly. Paul said, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part.” (1 Cor. 13:9) and, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully…” (1 Cor. 13:12) The KJV says we “look through a glass, darkly.”
This means that when we prophesy, it is subjective, and that is why it must be tested by other believers. It is filtered through our theology, emotions, hurts, pains, victories, who we like and dislike, etc. This is why prophets must be:
1. Submitted to apostolic leadership. (In fact, prophets need this even more than the other three equipping gifts, because their incredible gifting can lead to anger, pride, hurt and deception—if they are not under leadership.)
2. Have a decent grasp of theology and knowledge of how to study God’s word—not just read scripture. (I am not saying this of my brother, just in general)
3. Submit prophetic words on a national or international level to other leaders before releasing them.
4. Since, we see through a glass darkly, use terms like, “I sense…”, “I believe the Lord could be saying,” vs. “This is what the Lord says.” Not that we can’t use bold language, but you will be accountable for your bold language, if you are wrong!
So, this minister stated more on February 28th:
“The Lord showed me the end of the Coronavirus…the tide is turning now! The Lord is saying ‘I am removing the threat of this.’ Within a short amount of time the extreme threat will feel like it is in the way past.”
The problem is:
A. He has no context for judgment, and prophesies through that filter—which many would agree is unscriptural. (The idea that there is no judgment.)
B. That was on February 28th, and last week (March 16th) our country (Israel) was put on lockdown. There is no sense today that this thing is in the past. He said the “tide is turning” but by all accounts this has not happened. In fact, except in China (where the communist leadership has a strange relationship with the truth) things are getting worse everywhere. Both in Israel and the US, and certainly in Europe, they are saying the worst is yet to come. Of course, God could put an end to this in a day—and we would welcome that. But that is not my sense.
C. More than likely, no one will hold him accountable.
He said to CBN: “As some of you know I heard God very clearly that He says the tide is turning on the Coronavirus and this isn’t going to be the pandemic that the enemy is intending.”
I think it would have been more humble, and better for him, to have said, “As some of you know, I SENSED God SAY, AND I HAVE SUBMITTED THIS WORD TO SEVERAL GODLY LEADERS FOR CONFIRMATION, that He says the tide is turning on the Coronavirus and this isn’t going to be the pandemic that the enemy is intending. I submit this to the body of Christ to be tested.”
He presented it as FACT, and if so, there can be no other opinion. That is not a healthy place from which to minister. Then today, he sent out an email claiming that God has called him a few other leaders to “activate the church”.
[We] were led by God to meet in His presence (via Zoom call) and He instructed us to activate His Church, the Ekklesia, to claim His promises to turn the tide of destruction engulfing our nation and the world.
I find such wording troubling. It sets them above the entire church.
And yet, other credible prophets have said something quite different—That God is judging the Vatican and Iran and exposing false prophets—(I would say, “faulty prophets” as false prophets are leading people to hell—through deception.)
Word of Knowledge and Prophecy are two different gifts. One of my mentors Dan Juster wrote: “I have seen so consistently that when prophets leave the realm of personal ministry and prophecy to the big thing, they tend to get off. So I have seen 95% accuracy on word of knowledge, tested immediately by the people who confirm it in amazing detail, but then when it come to world events, 50-50.”
Two examples: A well known prophetess declared to the world that Y2K would cause some, but not a lot of disruption. In the end, it caused zero disruption. One, now deceased, prophet, declared that George Bush 41, would go down in history as “worse than Hitler” for the first Gulf War. He was wrong, yet I have seen this man move in the word of knowledge with uncanny accuracy.
In a time of judgment, we need prophets to tell us WHY judgment has come, not to dismiss it. In Jeremiah’s day there were many who claimed that peace and safety were around the corner, when, in fact, judgment was right at the door.
[Jeremiah 4:10, 6:14, 8:11, 14:13]
Paul exhorts us not to prophesy beyond our faith (Rom. 12:6), but there are many reasons we do. It is more impressive. It will certainly get more likes and shares. It sets you apart from those not willing to be so bold. Just make sure that your heart is in the right place and you are not prophesying from your soul/emotion.
From my view, a month after his very emphatic declaration that this is over, it would appear that something was amiss in his hearing. What is happening in Italy, Iran and Spain—is troubling. And what could soon be happening in other nations, doesn’t feel like the tide has yet turned. In Israel, we do not have enough medical supplies. The US is very concerned they will run out of beds and respirator masks. And tests are not easy to find.
There is a reason I did not mentioned the man’s name. This is a teaching. I have no desire to call him out. If you know who it is, please do not post his name below. But I have a few questions:
1. Did all judgments end at the cross?
2. Should we seek confirmation from other leaders before declaring to the nations, “Thus says the Lord.”?
3. How are apostles and prophets to work together?
4. What if a “prophet’s’ word to the nation, is proven to be inaccurate? How should the body deal with that?
We sometimes have the very wrong understanding of prophets—as if they don’t need correction; “they hear from God!” Actually, it is the opposite, because they have an amazing ability to hear from God, there can be a temptation to rely on that over both advise from peer and mentor relationships and even the world of God. Out of love, we need to protect them from these pitfalls.