The Office of the Prophet

9 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.

10 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.

11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Jer. 1:9-11

Today there are prophets popping up all over the church landscape, and it appears they have a message that is very different from the one that Jeremiah had. I wonder why that should be so.

At any rate, people are running to these preachers and their ministries at breakneck speed, something which is not possible if these prophets were preaching the same message that Jeremiah was sent to preach. You cannot preach the message that Jeremiah preached and have people running to you. On the contrary, the minute they hear your gospel they will scatter like flies – and speak evil of you in the process.

Today’s prophets are prophesying the sweetest things to God’s people. They prophesy things like: “Thus saith the Lord, you will get a promotion at your job!”, or,

“I see money coming to you right now!”

“God says you will have a baby within the year!”

“The Lord is blessing you right now! Receive!!”

All are biblically valid words.

And so the congregation goes, “Prophesy, man of God!!”

“Speak, servant of the living God!”



(One prophet was actually introduced as “a man and a half”!)

But the prophet Jeremiah was not given such sweet words to preach. He was given some very unsavory words to deliver to God’s people, the nation of Israel. God told him that through the Word that He had given him, He had put him there purposely to “root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down…” Afterwards, the Lord told him, he would build and plant. That’s pretty tough language.

As a result Jeremiah received no accolades from the Israelites. On the contrary, he was persecuted.

Let us, right from the beginning, set the precedent that, if God was tough on His people under the Old Covenant, how much tougher do you think He is going to be on us under the New? I believe He will be much more harder on us. And yet we behave as if God is going to deal with us like eggshells!

God is not going to deal with anyone like eggshells. The first assignment that Jeremiah was given as a prophet was to see in the Spirit how God would deal with wayward Israel: Jeremiah saw an almond rod; and we know a rod stands for chastisement. God was telling Jeremiah that He was preparing to chastise, or punish, Israel.

The gospel comes to destroy something, and to set up something else in its place. The gospel of the cross – which is the singular gospel that was revealed to the Apostle Paul for the church – comes to destroy the flesh. It comes against the flesh. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not flesh-friendly.

After it has pulled down the flesh, the gospel then establishes the spiritual Kingdom of God in a man’s heart and life. The two things, the flesh and the Spirit, are mutually incompatible.

That is why when someone – a preacher of the gospel – solicits money to buy a 65 million-dollar private jet, like I heard lately on the Pentecostal grapevine, the spotlight has of necessity to turn on him. We are a spiritual people and when you hear such a “big bang” in the flesh you need to look closely at what you just heard. You ponder how much of such a ‘gospel’ is flesh and how much is Spirit. The scales weigh heavily on the flesh side!

It is unfortunately that these are the people around whom a vast majority of the pentecostal world revolves!!

When we preach or live out a gospel apart from the gospel of the cross of Christ, it is like we are declaring that God is reinstating the same thing He came to destroy! But you cannot destroy something and replace it again with the same thing!!

But if we are truly serious about following Christ, the first thing that we must acknowledge is what our Lord Jesus Himself said: “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mk. 8:34).

Notice, “Whosoever”. It is a personal choice or decision.

We ought to realize just how important the church is to God. And God has put these two ministries, the apostle and the prophet, in the church in order to lay God’s spiritual foundation in the church. The Bible says that the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).

These Godly ministries do not come to pamper the flesh. They come to deal with the flesh. They come to destroy this body of the flesh, so they may establish God’s spiritual Kingdom in men and women.

In this post we just looked at the office of the prophet. If a prophet does not deal with the flesh in his prophesying, he is not a prophet of God. He will bring many things into the church, he will even bring temporal blessings upon people’s lives; but he will not bring the life of Christ into the church, for this life can only come about where there is a death of the flesh through the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ.

[Below: A prophet warns God’s people. The true foundation for the church is Christ, and Him crucified]]Image10242

God’s Kingdom Not Worldly Royalty

7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. Mat. 11:7-9

Worldly people have a saying, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. My dad also had a saying, which he constantly repeated in our presence. He would often say, “Children, there is no person on earth as dangerous as a man with a full stomach!”

My dad worked for rich men nearly all his life. During the colonial years he worked for a white man. He had a keen eye for detail, and he must have seen what money, power and wealth does to a man. In so many words, dad was telling us that these things corrupt a man. They make a man to become wanton.

There are few men in the world who have the control needed to handle money, wealth or power.

Jesus challenged the Jews. “What did you go out to see?”

People line up the streets to see royalty pass by. But no sizable crowd could congregate to see a man who has been living in the desert eating locusts and dressed in camel’s hair.

And yet the Jews went out to see John… because he had something that their hungry hearts desired.

Let’s take the scenario where you are a rich, worldly entrepreneur. If a vagabond came knocking at your door you most likely might be tempted to turn him away… until he removes from the folds of his dirty clothes the biggest diamond you’ve ever seen. If your IQ is anywhere near even 0.1, you will open that door extra wide, welcome that man in and offer him the biggest breakfast you have ever given anyone. After which you will gently begin to enquire about that diamond. The fellow sitting in front of you will automatically metamorphose from being a dirty, stinking vagabond in your sight to being a St. Yves perfumer or something.

This is why the church needs an understanding of what the cross comes to do in our lives. The cross does something in our lives that brings out the things of God in our life. It deals with the folly of our human pride to bring out that hidden treasure. It is the crucible where the lusts of the flesh are burned up and we remain pure vessels, vessels of honor fit to carry that Life.

Just because you are saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and probably called to the ministry does not make you the bearer of the Good News. No; God needs to work in you first through the cross for you to be fit to effectively carry His message of the Kingdom.

In the same vein, do not be deceived that just because you have a large following, or a big church, that you are carrying that treasure of the heavenly Kingdom in you. The best measure of how well you are carrying the heavenly treasure lies elsewhere: it is in how much you are dying to self – daily – through taking up your cross and following Christ. God is not bothered by big crowds. Jesus left only 12 apostles on earth, but since then billions upon billions of people have believed the gospel.

A lack of understanding of what the cross needs to do in our lives is the reason there is so much chaos and disorder within the church today. Without the cross, the flesh remains alive, even though we may be talking in tongues and performing miracles.

We do not go to church to see rock stars, or rich business magnates. No, we go looking for something else, something that is unseeable with these eyes, but that can be felt with our hearts. It is the life of Christ, a life that is only attainable through a revelation of the resurrection life, a life that has tasted of the sufferings and death of Christ.

[Below: Curepipe, Mauritius]


God’s Will Found In Suffering

35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.

36 Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.

37 Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him.

38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face. 1 Kings 20:35-38

The lesson here is that we will not accomplish God’s plan in our lives without sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Hebrews 12:6 tells us that God chastens those He loves and scourges every son He receives. Hence the cross, where the sufferings and death of Christ are revealed in our hearts and where through this revelation we willingly give our lives to them, so that we may share in His resurrection life also.

The “neighbour” in this account is very much like today’s Christians. He could not understand why someone had to suffer. Thus rationalizing, he refused to beat the prophet of God as the man of God had requested him to do.

But notice it was “the voice of the Lord” that commanded him to beat up the prophet (v.36). And, apparently, the first man missed it. That’s the danger of the lack of revelation within the church.

Soon afterwards this man was killed by a lion.

If we lack revelation we cannot understand how the sufferings of Christ relate to our lives. And when we do not want to suffer with Christ, we die spiritually.

But imagine the second man! Can you imagine him hitting away at the man of God; in fact, he beat him so badly that he injured him.

We cannot try to reason or rationalize with God. We need to pray for a spiritual understanding of His ways. After all, it is His plans and purposes that really matter.

Probably the first man questioned, “But why? Why should I hit you?”

But the Bible says we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. Only through identifying our lives with the sufferings of Christ on the cross will we find ourselves doing that good and perfect will of God as Paul says in Romans 12:1.

I am sure this revelation was what the second man had. He therefore beat the prophet. He injured him. He made him to suffer!

What does that prophet suffering remind you of? Jesus, of course! It is so interesting how when God opens our eyes we see Christ in every scripture!

The Bible says in Isaiah 53:10 that “it pleased the LORD to bruise him”. The man who beat up the prophet was walking in this revelation.

Today’s generation has faith all right – but only for the blessings. You listen to contemporary Christian songs and they are (nearly) all talking of the goodness and provision of God. Today’s Christians have no faith for the suffering. They ask, “Why should I suffer? Christ died that I may live a comfortable life!”

They have a skewed ‘revelation’ of the cross. If suffering comes along they consider it to be of the devil. The hand of God is not revealed in their sufferings.

When we use human reasoning we will never arrive at an understanding of the Cross. Many Christians today know the cross only as a place where Jesus died for their sins. But they do not know it as a place where they, too, are supposed to suffer, die and resurrect with Christ.

But God has news for us. Even as we rejoice at what Christ accomplished for us at the cross, we will need to carry faith for something equally important – spiritual maturity. We will need to carry faith not even just for suffering, but for dying with Christ. Only when we have accomplished these will we be able to carry God’s plan in our hearts and lives.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:10: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

After this unnamed prophet had thus suffered, the Bible says he “departed, and waited for the king by the way”. Through suffering, God had prepared him to carry out His purpose.

[Below: Dar es Salaam coastline]



What’s Important?

Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.

And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil. 2 Ki. 4:1-2

Everything appears dark in this account, but I see only light.

In the first place, I admire this woman. She could say of her husband, “thy servant did fear the LORD”. There could be no greater testimony to the piety of this man of God than such words coming from his wife. (Now, right here and as an aside, let me point out that today there are people who will publicly talk well of their spouses but, alas! it is only that – a publicity stunt! This was not the case with this woman.)

Back to our man. This poor servant of God died poor. He died leaving nothing in his house “save a pot of oil”! On top of that, he died in debt. And the creditor was coming to sell his two sons to regain his money!

We can’t begin to imagine the anguish of heart that this man must have gone to the grave bearing for the life of deprivation that he knew he had left his family with!

Well, the man died poor all right, but I like what his wife tells Elisha about him: “thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD”.  This meant that even Elisha knew and could testify about the God-fearing life of this man. I like that. I like the fact that this man died fearing the Lord. That clicks with me. I am sure that was enough for God, too. This man was a great man in the sight of the Lord. I can easily tell you what happened to him when he died. He was immediately ushered into the presence of his Master where he was warmly told (by God Himself), “Come and sit by my side, thou good and faithful servant!”

Actually, the important thing in all this is that this man lived a God-fearing life. His state of need in this world did not lessen his piousness in the sight of God. You know, people today are trying to convince you that possessing material wealth is the sure marker that God is with you. They tell you that you will not borrow, but you will lend. In a rather hush-hush manner, poverty is now officially on the list of church ‘sins’ today. As a result of these damaging hyper-beliefs Christians are visibly struggling to keep up with the Joneses. They do not want to appear they are not blessed. What a futile race!

But here we see a righteous man who died not only poor, but in debt. This was a man who was running a different race. In his deep poverty, he could actually serve God in true liberty!

I don’t care one little bit about all the teachings about how wrong it is to be poor and in need, or even to be in debt. All I care about is that this man died in the fear of the Lord. I think I like it that way far much better than if he died rich. It beats all the pride and arrogance out of anyone, particularly those who put their trust in worldly wealth.

And actually, with regard to this, some people are completely out of touch with reality. I think they need to get out of their mansions and move around a bit. There are people in my part of the world who live in such abject poverty that all these stories about prosperity are so much confetti to them. These people live by faith. They literally trust in God for their very next meal. But in their state of want they are serving God in the Spirit. Someone who lives in ‘cloud nine’ or wherever, filled to the brim with the fat of this world, will turn over in their soft beds and claim, “I thank you, God, because I am not like these fellows who have no faith.”

But I can assure you that they have faith. The fact that this man died poor and in debt but walking in the fear of the Lord makes the point that money or worldly riches is nothing in God’s Kingdom. Money is not what comprises serving the Lord.

Someone almost had us there! Are you safe?

I can answer that question for you. It all depends on the gospel you are hearing. When you are hearing the right gospel, you will know what is important with God. True prosperity is the fear of God that a man carries in his heart.

By the way, do you see any signs of the cross in the life of this humble man of God?

A Game of Chess

Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 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. 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. 2 Cointhians 11:1-4

Have you ever played a game of chess? I do sometimes play it – with my computer. The most dangerous piece on that chessboard is called the queen. The queen strikes terror in any opponent’s heart. The minute I see my adversary’s queen begin to take position I always know I am in trouble. The real terror, of course, is that the queen always moves with purpose. She knows exactly where she is headed, and she is always headed for a kill.

Whenever I see the other player’s queen begin to move, I know I have made a wrong move somewhere, and that I have given the queen the chance to move in for the kill.

As a born-again Christian, I equate the queen with sin in a Christian’s life. The minute we get into another gospel, other than the right gospel, we have made ‘a wrong move’, and sin moves in and it kills us. There are many Christians today who, unawares, are dead although they still profess Christianity.

In the above scripture the Apostle Paul was warning the church of Corinth against accepting ‘another’ gospel other than that which he had preached to them – the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ. The gospel that Paul had preached to these people was a gospel designed and given to him by God Himself to accomplish the task of presenting a ‘chaste virgin’ to Christ. ‘Chaste’ means ‘clean’, ‘untainted’. In gospel-speak that means holy, righteous, pure, completely sinless.

Sin dwells in a man’s heart, of course, and the gospel that Paul preached dealt with exactly that – Christians’ hearts.

In many scriptures Paul calls the gospel a ‘mystery’. It is the mystery of Christ, revealed to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and prophets.

Today, just as in Paul’s day, may false apostles and prophets have risen up to proclaim a gospel of their own. The main difference between their gospel and the gospel that Paul preached is that (just like in Paul’s time) this other gospel is a worldly gospel. It is not a gospel of the heart, meaning it does not deal with the heart. When the gospel deals with the heart the flesh dies. The flesh and all that clings to it, dies away.

On the contrary, this ‘strange’ gospel not only does not deal with the heart, but it feeds the flesh. (I once attended a service where a famous preacher told us to ‘claim that Mercedes Benz’!). God’s people are taught how to prosper materially, how to have their bodies healed, how to live healthy lives – all things which have to do with this “body of death”, that is, a body which will ultimately die.

In the final analysis, these kinds of gospels appease the flesh; and sin moves in for the kill. Sin closes in, because sin fears nothing except the cross of Jesus Christ. It was through the death of the cross alone that Christ was able to triumph over the powers and principalities of darkness, including the total defeat of sin. Where the cross of Christ is working in a man’s life, sin cannot show its ugly head.

We stand and we fall before God strictly in relation to the condition of our hearts. We need to cry to God so that we might find ourselves walking that narrow road where we are keeping a pure heart and walking holy lives before God. The Bible is clear that this can only be accomplished through the working of the cross in our hearts.

That is why the Apostle Paul would not preach any other gospel other than the gospel of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” 1 Cor. 2:2. In other words, he determined to preach no other gospel other than the gospel of the cross of Christ. In many of his writings Paul calls this gospel a ‘mystery’.

Not that Paul had a choice. He reckoned himself a bond slave of Jesus Christ, which meant he could only preach that which God commanded him to preach.

The gospel he preached – the revelation of the cross – was the only gospel that could deliver man from the power of sin.

That is the gospel that will show you how rotten your heart is and that you need to have it cleaned up. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God”. Seeking the Kingdom of God means being at peace with God in our hearts. And we cannot be at peace with God while our hearts are carrying every sort of filth.

The material and physical life (of which Christians are so concerned today) follows after. That is why Jesus used the word “seek first”.

Christians should not be walking about with dark hearts. Jesus died on the cross for the very purpose, and He has put apostles and prophets in the church to reveal His cross and the power therein to totally banish sin in Christians’ lives. When we are walking in that revelation we will walk in victory over sin and the world, and all the deceptiveness that goes with it.