By leke Alder
WHY DO PROPHECIES FAIL? It’s a very big issue. It calls into question the calling of a pastor or prophet. We’re supposed to test prophecy. The Bible says, “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything.” 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21.
But how do we test prophecy? Well, the most basic test is whether it even aligns with the scriptures.
It will be very funny if God says something that contradicts his Word. It means he’s confused and his word is not eternal, or he lied. But God cannot lie. Hebrews 6:18, Titus 1:2.
There’s also the fulfillment test: “You may be wondering among yourselves, “How can we tell the difference, whether it was God who spoke or not?”
Here’s how: If what the prophet spoke in God’s name doesn’t happen, then obviously God wasn’t behind it; the prophet made it up. Forget about him.” Deuteronomy 18:21-22 MSG.
But there are two provisos to this test. The first is, a prophecy may take some time before being fulfilled. A prophecy made by Agabus in Acts took some time to be fulfilled: “At that time there were prophets in the church of Jerusalem, and some of them came to Antioch.
One of them, named Agabus, stood up in one of the meetings and prophesied by the Holy Spirit that a severe famine was about to come over Israel. (This prophecy was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius Caesar.)” Acts 11:27-28
The second is that God can change his mind about a situation based on developments or our reactions. Take the prophecy against Ahab’s family. When Ahab showed remorse God deferred fulfillment of the prophecy. 1 Kings 21:25-29.
Our friend Jonah had a problem with God in this regard. He was sent to prophesy against Nineveh but then the people repented and God overturned his judgement. Jonah 3:5-10
There are therefore two types of prophecy: absolute prophecy and dynamic prophecy. An absolute prophecy will come to pass no matter what. Examples include prophecies about the Messiah.
But a prophecy may be overturned by God based on our reaction. That is a dynamic prophecy. Dynamic prophecies tend to be about judgment. Mercy can overturn judgement.
God functions in two capacities
When you study the Bible you will discover God functions in two capacities – the ministerial and the sovereign. The world is used to His ministerial function – the God who is merciful forgives, heals, feeds us, clothes us, and gives us loving assurances.
But that’s NOT the totality of God. There’s a political dimension to God. In that dimension, he governs ALL the nations of the world.
All powers, all kings, and all spirits are subject to his authority, including his enemies. It was in this sovereign capacity he had a side meeting with Satan at that UN conference and Job came up. He is a sovereign Lord.
A different set of rules governs this sovereign dimension. He’s an absolutist. There are no moral qualifiers. Whatever he does is right. Whatever political equation the countries throw up he accepts, but he maintains his sovereign authority.
It is in this light we can come to understand why God sent a lying spirit to some prophets in 1 Kings 22. They prophesied victory for King Ahab in war. Only one prophet spoke otherwise and they locked him up.
Now, those prophets who prophesied propaganda functioned in their unction. They weren’t lying as far as they knew. But their prophecy was bound to fail because it was inspired by lies. The common characteristic of these prophets is that they were political contractors, like Balaam. They wanted to please the government. They love power and status.
Their allegiance was not to God but to the king and their belly. They told the government what it wanted to hear. Note that the context was the judgment of Ahab, a truly evil king. God needed to lure Ahab to war to destroy him. His lying prophets facilitated his demise.
Therefore another reason prophecies fail is lying inspiration.
Leke Alder is a Strategy, Policy & Brand, Consultant. He is also a teacher of God’s word