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Posts Tagged ‘Deuteronomy 18:22’

In today’s world, unless one participates in a charismatic denomination, the idea of the prophetic smacks of the National Enquirer. So, if most people don’t believe in prophecy, isn’t that already contempt? How does a prophet gain credibility?

I Thessalonians 5:20-22
. . . do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

Actually, the scriptures speak of the importance of testing what is said by a prophet. All the way back in the Old Testament, it was written, “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken.” [Deut 18:22a] This appears to be a straightforward test of a prophecy, if it comes to pass, it’s a true prophecy. Of course, that doesn’t help much in the moment, when a prophecy is uttered.

It’s hard to know, actually. I have experienced a kind of fluttering within my personal spirit upon occasion, a sense of truth being spoken, a type of corroboration or affirmation. But, that’s certainly less than definitive. And so, if the prophecy is important, it’s reasonable to consider putting the words to the test.

But I will say right here, testing a prophecy is about as effective as trusting internal flutterings alone. Oh, I suppose one could compare the prophecy to what is already known and determine if it’s sound and grounded in truth. However, it’s in my mind that a genuine prophecy is outside the normal range of reason. Otherwise, it would just be something the smart folks around us could figure out, they’d be able to predict. You know, those people who love statistics and computers, our weathermen and futurists.

Perhaps the key word here is not the test but the attitude? A prophetic utterance viewed with contempt will rarely find root.

I did check the Greek, as best I am able, and there is a some confusion as to whether the “testing” phrase is about the prophecies or about everything else, that is determining what is good and right vs. what is not. So, perhaps we aren’t supposed to test prophecies alone, but test the world around us.

Others will say that prophecies are not merely predictive, but rather some type of “edification or encouragement.” I think that’s pretty lame. There’s not much danger in doing that, is there? What is there to disregard or disdain?

No, I think it’s all the phrases [20-22] together that have meaning: I cannot hear truth of any kind if I have closed myself off through contempt, either for the speaker or the message. If I have made a decision before the time, then there is no possibility I will hear anything new. In other words, “we hear what we want to hear.”

Also, once we have heard something (anything), we shouldn’t act or react immediately, but let it settle inside. Some testing can be done by comparing the message with what is known, but for what is unknown, it takes a united exploration of those words and ideas with the Holy Spirit. And finally, out of everything spoken, we must hold fast to “good” and truth: once we accept the truth of a prophecy, then we must not let it go. From there comes strength to “avoid evil.”

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