The humble shall see their God at work for them. No wonder they will be so glad! All who seek for God shall live in joy. – Psalm 69:32 (TLB)
Pride leads to arguments; be humble, take advice, and become wise. – Proverbs 13:10 (TLB)
But those who think themselves great shall be disappointed and humbled; and those who humble themselves shall be exalted. – Matthew 23:12 (TLB)
For everyone who tries to honor himself shall be humbled; and he who humbles himself shall be honored.” – Luke 14:11 (TLB)
If you will humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, in His good time He will lift you up. – 1 Peter 5:6 (TLB)
I want to start this off by saying I am not writing this to be theological. I am sure that there are those who would be technical and argue the theology of what I am about to share. It’s a revelation I received today from God that applies to me as much as it does to anyone else. What I am writing on is more existential as pertains to our relationship with God and the direct experiences we have as we grow in Him and we work and strive to develop the gifts He has placed within us. Oh, do we think we are “gifted” today. It’s not enough to have one gift today, we think we need fifteen of them (even ones that are not Biblical, ergo the reference to fifteen of them) and that we are a bunch of offices at once, because one just isn’t enough for our grossly inflated egos. We naively believe that our gifts will take us where we want to go, that they are all-sufficient as they are, and that nobody ever has the right to question what we come away with when something comes up…because, after all, we are “anointed.”
The prophets throughout the ages (many of whom were also types for other five-fold ministry offices to come in the New Testament) were all “anointed.” They were people with gifts and abilities that cause our own vague and leading prophecies about weather patterns and Kim Kardashian to pale in comparison. There was never a Biblical prophet who made a beginning of the year prophecy that natural disasters would happen, because that’s a big “duh” message. Meteorologists can tell you that is going to happen without being prophets. Nobody sat around and debated politics via prophecy. There were no “words” asking where watchmen were when calamities or wars arose, because people accepted they were things that happened and had a prophet rose up with that kind of commentary, people would have wanted to know where he or she was to stop it! Prophets didn’t arrange marriages or tell people they were going to find a “husband” or “wife” or tell them who their future spouse was going to be. Nobody called out social security numbers, bank account numbers, or online passwords and classified such ridiculous things as “prophetic word.” The things we consider a “word” today would have been considered words of none effect in times gone by, not even meeting the standards of the ancients, because they were made by observation. In this pursuit, being enthralled with the concept of being “gifted” and expecting that to suffice in the face of everything to the contrary, we have dumbed down prophecy to the point where our puffed up self-righteousness doesn’t even come close to the true glory and splendor of God reflecting through us.
In the Old Testament, God’s prophets went through not one year of training, or two years of training, or even ten years of training, but at minimum, thirty years of training. It certainly puts those who are too arrogant to go through a three-year seminary in perspective! Have we ever considered why that is, and why the training was so detailed and excessive? In the Old Testament, the Israelites didn’t worship and receive instruction like we do today. The system of teaching in Judaism emerged later in history and did not serve the same purpose as the “schools of the prophets” did in those times. In fact, the “schools of the prophets” were nothing like sacrificial offerings, festival gatherings, or other periods of study and group worship. They were thirty-plus years long instructional experiences that studied the prophetic, the voice of God, the way God moved historically, and the way God moves and speaks through His creation. In the experiences of life and the problems of living and surviving, the prophet needed to recognize that the prophetic word of God and the way God moved through people and through circumstances would seem different, evolve, change, and develop in a deeper way. What they “felt” was God guiding them in a situation a few years earlier might seem or sound different as they grew as a prophet.
In other words: prophets were still human beings (their spiritual gifts and anointing did not make them sinless, nor perfect, nor infallible, nor divine) who were appointed by God to speak for Him and deliver His Word. It was possible for them to have their “misses,” meaning they misjudged something as being from God when it was not and then they would have to be accountable for that misspoken word. The Law made absolutely no allowance for false or misspoken word to the people, especially when it was spoken in the Name of God (Deuteronomy 18:14-22). False prophecy was grounds for being put to death, because it caused confusion and easily led the all-too-eager to sin Israelites right into a place they needed not to be. The long-term school of the prophets proved that being a prophet was a life-long calling, one that also demanded a long-term commitment out of an individual. It wasn’t just get papers and run like we do today (sometimes I think my three-year requirement isn’t even long enough), but the continued dedication to understanding and discerning the voice of God as a trained group of people surrounded that individual to create accountability and help through those periods where they “missed” God. Such a long-term experience helped keep the prophets humble and from allowing false teaching to permeate the wrong ears and infiltrate the camp. In other words, it stopped the problems that we have in church today before they ever started.
I believe we can achieve this kind of purpose without having to have a thirty-plus year training session with leaders today. It is created through the continual accountability we are all called to have with leadership as they help to grow and develop us on matters. It also starts as we stop insisting that we are always right and always hearing from God and think every single thought, feeling, vision, dream, or experience we have is divine and insisting that it should always be shared. Even though the Law existed that any prophetic miss on the part of the prophets merited death, Biblical history is full of people who prophesied and missed God on matters. David fell into sin with Bathsheba. Abraham and Sarah brought forth Ishmael out of impatience. Jacob led himself into all sorts of mess with his own family (especially his brother, Esau) and then with Leah and Rachel. Their survival and longevity proves to us that while missing God was a serious issue, it was something that happened. It’s something that still happens, and I just wonder if there is a reason for it. I wonder if God allows us to miss Him sometimes on things, especially important things, so we will remain humble. It is God’s desire that we know and listen to His voice in all things, that we don’t overestimate our abilities, and that we are able to see where we are getting in our own way of hearing Him when we need to. We need to be people who are accountable for what we say and what we teach, and who are not too proud to listen to the wise and discerning counsel of good leadership, good mentors, good friends, even those we teach at times and accept the fact that at times, we have missed God and need to pay that much more attention to listen to Him better in the future. Haughtiness will result in humbling, and the worse we get, the more opportunities we are going to have to miss God as we pursue our own course and refuse to heed the wise counsel of those we know and trust. While this is not something that I believe happens randomly, with each person who just doesn’t want to accept the words that we have to say, I do believe that accountability is created by those relationships formed in those we trust to teach us because we see God’s hand on them and their work, and those who we know God’s hand is upon by their history of experience with Him.
Everything in church isn’t as deep as some big, grand revelation. Some of our dreams, thoughts, experiences, and feelings are nothing more than being overtired or watching too many movies, influenced by the world, the results of choices we have made, or our opinions about something. Everything we do, say, think, and feel was not put within us by God. This doesn’t make it inherently wrong or evil, but it does make it lack the divine quality to count as revelation or word. Man or woman of God, take a deep breath and allow God to show you where you are missing Him in your life, and get with someone who can help you in honesty to accept His revelation and hear in a deeper way from Him in your life and ministry.
© 2015 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.