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God Sent Them a Prophet (Judges 6.1-10)

28 Apr

Introduction

The book of Judges describes the historical time period between the times of Joshua and Samuel. During this time, Israel was not a united kingdom but a loose confederation of twelve tribes. As we have already seen in chapter two, the people of God will repeat the same historical cycle multiple times during this time period. They will be faithful to God for a while, but will quickly turn away from the Lord and worship other gods. This will provoke the Lord to anger, and He will hand them over to raiders who will plunder them. After years of oppression, the people will cry out to the Lord, and the Lord will raise up a judge to deliver them from the hands of their enemies. As long as the judge lived, the people remained faithful to the Lord. But when the judge died, the people quickly repeated the above cycle (see Judges 2.10-19).

We have already read the stories of Othniel (Judge 3.7-11), Ehud (Judges 3.12-30), Shamgar (Judges 3.31), and Deborah (Judges 4-5). The story of the next judge will be told in even greater detail, taking the author a full three chapters to tell (Judges 6-8). But before we get to the story of Gideon, I would like for us to consider the transitional words of Judges 6.1-10. At first glance, it seems little more than just a restatement of the words of the second chapter, but there is a crucial difference.

1Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help. (Judges 6.1-6 NIV)

At first glance, there seems to be nothing new. As we were told in chapter two, the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them. The oppression of the Midianites was ruthless. Every year at harvest time, the raiders would invade the country and rob the Israelites of the fruits of their labors. Imagine the agony of working all year long to produce and harvest a crop only to have it stolen from you the moment it was stored in the barn. Though they tried to hide in caves and mountain clefts, the Midianites would find their stores of grain and livestock. So great was the oppression that it was impossible to count the men and their camels.

And Israel cried out to the Lord because they were so impoverished. Again, we do not see any sign of genuine repentance, only a sign of suffering. The suffering was supposed to bring them to repentance, but Israel failed to recognize this. Israel only saw the pain and ignored the sign.

God Sends a Prophet

As a result, the Lord does something in chapter six that is unique to the historical account of the judges: he sends a prophet.

7When the Israelites cried to the LORD because of Midian, 8he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. 10I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.” (Judges 6.7-10 NIV)

Other than Deborah, this is the only prophetic figure mentioned in the book of Judges. And the message of the prophet is rather simple: you have not listened to God.

And here we see one the of the primary ministries of the prophets in the Old Testament: giving a divine interpretation to historical events. We most often think of prophets as one who foretells the future, which is definitely a role that prophets often play, but it is not the predominate one. Most of the time, prophets are speaking for God, and they give divine meaning to the events in history, whether those events are past, present, or future. Historians can say “this is what happened,” but only prophets can say “this is why it happened.”

This prophet, who is not even named, simply explains the “why” behind the oppression: the people have not listened to the Lord and have worshipped the gods of the Amorites. Because of this, the raiders have come and plundered all of Israel.

Where Have All The Prophets Gone?

Turning from the period of the judges to our own historical time period, reading this story makes me wonder where the prophets of today have gone. According to the Bible, a prophet is one who speaks for God as they are carried along by the Spirit (see 2 Peter 1.21).

Prophets In The Early Church

Prophets show up prominently in the early church. The book of Acts is littered with them. On the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out, the men and women gathered in the upper room prophesied (see Acts 2.16-18). In the city of Antioch where the followers of Christ were first called Christians, there were prophets who predicted that a severe famine would spread all over the entire Roman world (see Acts 11.27-28). These same prophets were present when Paul and Barnabas were set apart for ministry (see Acts 13.1). Judas and Silas were prophets in the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 15.32). Many of the believers in Ephesus prophesied when they received the gift of the Spirit (see Acts 19.6). Philip had four daughters which were all prophets (see Acts 21.9). Agabus, a prophet from Judea, prophesied over Paul, telling him of his upcoming arrest in Jerusalem (see Acts 21.10-11). Prophets permeate the story of the early church.

The Spiritual Gift Of Prophecy

Prophesy is clearly listed as one of the gifts of the Spirit. Paul lists the gift in Romans 12.6, 1 Corinthians 12.28, and Ephesians 4.11. The picture that we get is that the ministry of the prophets were a regular part of the worship services of the early church. In 1 Corinthians, Paul lays out some clear guidelines about how prophets are to use their gift in a worship gathering. He writes,

29Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14.29-32 NIV)

General Teachings About Prophecy

We are told not to treat prophecies with contempt (see 1 Thessalonians 5.20), and the Bible tells us to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” (1 Corinthians 14.1). Paul speaks of a “prophetic message” that was spoken over Timothy when the church laid hands upon him (1 Timothy 4.14) and about other prophecies made about him (1 Timothy 1.18).

Without a doubt, there were also many false prophets in the early church (see 2 Peter 2.21), some of whom were claiming that the Lord had already returned (see 2 Thessalonians 2.1). This seems to be why the Scriptures tell us not to believe every prophesy but to test them (see 1 John 4.1 and 1 Corinthians 14.32).

Defining, And Not Redefining, Prophecy

Southern Baptists, by and large, have redefined prophecy to mean preaching, but I think that is not the testimony of Scripture. Prophecy and preaching/teaching are two different things (see Ephesians 4.11). Preaching and teaching are the gifts of explaining the meaning of the Word of God or declaring the gospel message. Prophecy is speaking for God as being carried along by the Spirit. In the New Testament examples of prophecy, when we are actually told what the content of the prophesy was, the prophet spoke a word from the Lord about current events, specifically the coming famine on Rome (Acts 11.27-28) or Paul’s upcoming arrest (Acts 21.10-11). In 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul gives guidelines for the ministry of the prophets, he speaks about “a revelation coming” to a prophet, indicating that the prophesy is not explaining the Word but is speaking on the behalf of God according to a revelation. Biblically speaking, preaching and prophesy are two different things.

Conclusion: Where Have They All Gone?

So again I ask the question, where have all of the prophets gone?

It could be that the Lord is not sending any prophets in our current age much like the period in the Old Testament when the spirit of prophecies was silenced. It could be that prophesy is no longer as needed in the church due to the prominence of the Scriptures. Or, it could be that we, as a denomination, have “despised prophetic utterances” and have created a church culture where they are not welcome or anticipated.

Let’s be honest, if a man stood up tonight in our prayer meeting and claimed to be a prophet with a message from God, I would be very skeptical of the words that came out of his mouth. I would weigh them very heavily against the testimony of Scripture, and I would most likely hold them at abeyance until they came true. And I confess that I say that perhaps to my shame.

I have prayed for the gift of prophesy, as commanded by 1 Corinthians 14.1, but have yet to receive it. I think the Lord has chosen to give me the gift of teaching instead, but still I pray for it. The closest thing to prophesy I have ever been given is a continual belief that I will live long enough to see a persecuted church in America. I fully believe in my heart of hearts that America is going to experience a time where the Lord will hand us over to raiders who will plunder us because we have worshipped the gods of this world (see Judges 2.14). While I fully believe that, I don’t know if I can stand up and say, “This is a revelation from the Lord” in prophetic style.

Why do you think that we no longer see prophets in the Baptist church today?

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15 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2010 in Sermons - Judges

 

15 responses to “God Sent Them a Prophet (Judges 6.1-10)

  1. red

    November 28, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    What you just noted at the end (persecuted Church in America)…this is something of value in a prophetic sense. All that is happening in the world, leaks of US diplomatic strategies, etc all point to an America that will not be respected any longer and therefore will not be allied with in the future. Our money is fading and our alliances being insulted. You are not far off. Pray for the Church in America that we might get a revelation of God that would lead us to repentance before a great time of trial and judgment hits our country.

     
  2. Josh

    January 29, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I think the prophets of the Old Testament were received the same way. (Laying on your side in the middle of town while cooking over cow poo will get you a glance and a sneer). Jesus and the completion of the New Testament fulfills God’s word. We received the spirit on the day of Pent. And He speaks with us at all times. He sent Martin Luther, Calvin, Edwards, etc etc. I believe the next Global communication will come riding a horse, with a tatt. On His thigh and a sword in mouth! God bless!

     
  3. Jason

    March 6, 2012 at 9:04 am

    First thing we must take note to here.. is..”it is God.. who raises up a prophet”.. this is not a ministry that anyone can bring upon thereself.. thus.. to “self appoint” oneself as “a prophet”.. is not even possible.. this will not be how it is done by God.. another observation is.. the gift of “prophecy”.. and the truely authentic apointed office of ” the prophet”.. are not always both a given combination.. for one could be to give a “momentary/one occasion prophecy” without actually being “a prophet”.. so we must also be wise.. to not just assume.. that all who “prophecy”.. are “prophets”.. now from my own personal expereince.. prophets are very rare!! And once one has truly been called by God.. as a prophet.. it will become more then obvious to the called individual.. it will truely come as a shock!! just to put it simple..”your whole life will have been turned fully upside down!”.. thus..”for one to be raised up by God”.. is no easy task!.. not for the student!.. nor God himself!.. this truly does take a whole lifetime of preperation.. for God to be enabled to use the man for one final moment of confrontation.. .. for truely.. the called anointed one.. is to have been “fully put through the holy fire of God” till he has reached Gods level of profection.. not mans level.. a level that has not been reached.. by your everyday local pastor.. or preacher… for truely.. there can be no “half-way prophets”.. nor any “luke-warm prophets”.. for truely.. prophets are holy flames of fire!.. there is nothing passive about them!!.. and for this to be made possible.. God must have had this opertunity.. to have taken the called indicidual truely through the pits of hell and back!!.. for prophets not only speak it.. but they also do fully live it out.. and this does not come to just anyone overnight!

     
    • tpylant

      March 6, 2012 at 9:18 am

      You make a good point, that some who prophesied were not called to the office of a prophet but were used by God in a moment to speak His words. The prophets were certainly men who were put through the fire of God, but they were not necessarily perfect men. Consider Elijah, the great Elijah, who ran away from Jezebel in a fit of depression. But your point is still valid. The truly called of God as prophets back up their message with their very lives.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

       
      • Jason

        March 6, 2012 at 11:09 pm

        Agreed! Prophets are just as flawed as any of the other of the five fold ministry.. they are nothing more then simply another elder of the church.. with the only one exception being that they do have an extreme “till death” passion for Gods truth and rightiousness.

         
  4. Jason

    March 6, 2012 at 9:37 am

    A second note here is .. yes you are 100% correct!..as of today “prophets are truely being killed at birth”.. thus.. our reality.. there are very few!! for “to be a prophet”.. is to be truely hated by all!.. for to be a prophet of this generation..”is to be truly mocked and ridiculed!”.. truely shunned by all who hear there words!.. then they are quickly marked as “outcasts”..marked as being “cold hearted”.. and even considered have “fallen off the deep-end” for them being “over-critical”.. when there does not apear to be any reason to be..
    then they are banished from the churches!.. for along with Gods loving addition of “Grace”.. persecution has been at an all time high!.. therefore i do feel “many have been called”.. but a very few are able to make it the distance!.. for the prophet of today.. has no “wrath of God”.. to back his words.. so then please do tell me.. why would the people be to listen to him?? for What would they have to fear??

     
  5. Jason

    March 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

    As for me.. i was going about my own buisness just fine!!.. i was quite content living in my sin.. then here came the mighty hand of God from out of no where.. Gods word all of a sudden layed very heavily upon my own heart!.. im now unable to resist it!.. for i now know the truth!.. should i deny God anything he asks of me? Gods word is now deeply embedded in my own heart!.. in fact its all i can think about!.. it truely fills me!.. it truely consumes me!!.. as a relentless fire!.. within my own heart.. and now.. it bursts forth from out of my mouth! In fact.. All sorts of things birst forth!!.. but from where and how?? I do not know!.. now.. i Cant sleep!!.. i cant focus at work!!.. i cant do anything!!.. for all things of this life feel utterly meaningless to me!.. now im recieveing visions.. now im recieveing dreams.. truely God given revelations!… extreme urgeny for “the lords work” has fully taken over my all! God is now all i do seek!.. all else has fully been forsaken!.. but wait!!.. now i can actually hear Gods voice!!.. wow!! I want to share!! I want to proclaim!! But when i go to share.. i am ridiculed.. i am pushed aside.. and i am told “are you sure it is God that has told you that??” Now i am truely crushed!!.. for “if it is demons that i now hear.. i will have no part of that!!”.. i am now lead to shut out that voice that i do hear and quick!! but wait!! if it truely is demons that i do hear!?!?.. then from where did they come??.. for the bible and Gods voice.. is all i have placed before myself!! And i have fully silenced the voice of anyone else!! In Jesus name!

     
  6. Jason

    March 6, 2012 at 11:47 am

    This is how it all works.. As God gives the words.. i simply speak them.. at least as it is for me.. God mostly has chosen to speak through my words “as i type”.. through “written words”.. they just simply come to me.. then i post things.. such as this right here.. God also leads me.. i do not lead myself.. i only make myself fully avaliable to God.. so he is able to decide.. as to where and when.. exactly.. how he would have for me to speak.. i have no idea before hand.. as to where.. or what exactly i will be to write.. and i know this may sound a bit crazy.. but i often times.. do go back over.. over and over again.. time and time again.. the prophetic words that i have spoken.. so that i may also.. have an opertunity to learn from them.. for me to be enabled to also take them all in. for they are not my words.. but they are of God.. this is all very new to me.. and things such as this posting right here.. do serve as “good practice” for me.. for i am only just now learning of the skill.. and it is truely amazing!! there is nothing i do love more then to speak on behalf of God!!.. but i also have notice that i may not get a messege 100% correct right away.. the very first time i do speak it.. it may have errors.. so i have made it a common practice of mine.. to go back over.. over and over again.. also comparing my works to Gods word.. so that the holy spirit within may have an opertunity to correct any miss-spoke.. miss-spelled words.. for if it is God that i am speaking on behalf of.. there is no room for any errors!.. if i was to ever fear that i just may have spoken in error.. then i do refuse to speak!.. and yes.. i have chosen this option at times!.. for i do greatly fear God! Truly im an emotional mess at times!.. for i do refuse to faulsely represent christ!now as for me personally.. there is nothing great about me.. that has enabled me to speak.. for truely it is that i am found to be “the very least among these”.. and in fact.. this is the only way that God has been able to use me.. for i simply take out the trash and clean toilets for a living.. and i have done nothing to self anoint.

     
  7. Jason

    March 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    where the Croud gathers.. the prophet will go the other way..(daily keeping watch over the flock from his watchtower) The prophets walk.. is truely a hard and lonely walk!.. this is another reason.. why many may have chosen to fully abandon this calling!.. for.. to be enabled to hear the voice of God..(like a prophet must) one must be “fully set apart by God”.. that we may be (best) enabled to hear his voice!.. this is also a time when God may fully be enabled to have his way with his prophet. For now God can “correct and instruct and teach”..(when friends often times justify sin) this sometimes is refered to as “the wilderness experience”.. now this does call for an extremely large level of devotion and sacrifice on the prophet behalf! .. for.. from what i have noticed personally with me.. myself..”all things are (blinding) distractions from God”.. so i myself.. have chosen to fully shun most all things/places of this life.. no un-Godly tv, radio, nor pubic location.. with gatherings of non-believers.. for me! just to name a few.. thus..”i will place only whats holy and of God before my eyes and ears” keeping in mind.. we are not to forsake “the gathering together of the saints”.. thus my common everyday practice has become..”to be alone with God (in his word) listening to his voice”… and also strangely..(not by my own doing) i have also noticed that i have no friends.. is God at work here??.. i believe so!

     
  8. Jason

    March 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Prophets are not found in the churches today.. simply because they have been forced out!.. thus.. Churches have been fully taken over by primarly “pastors”….”prophets” are not welcome in churches! prophets are now forced to walk around “homeless” (without a church home) in the streets you will find them.. just as Christ himself had once walked.. and had once proclaimed “birds have nests.. and foxes have dens.. but the son of man has no place to lay his head to rest”..and even further sayings of Christ.. further confirm this..”if they hated me.. and called me Satan, how much more with they hate you who come after me??” So I do feel that true and authentic prophets are very rare.. they are very few among us.. there hard to find!..there hard words of God given guidance are not welcomed… in this day of “Gods loving Grace”

     
  9. Jason

    March 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    An example.. i remember on this one ocassion.. i had gotten into this angered dispute with this good paster friend of mine.. for i had clearly tooken notice to this “mocking spirt” from among two of the fellow memebers of his church.. so i lovingly gave this guidance to this shepard..”i see your sheep falling into pits!!”…. “let us shout out at the top of our lungs!! The wolf is comming!! Let us warn them to watch out and be kept safe!!” He then acused me of “being judgemental”.. and then he rubuked me by saying “let the holy spirit within them.. convict them”.. but how can i just sit and do nothing when i can see the fires of hell comming?!?.. how can the blind lead thereselves??.. can darkness find the light without any guidance???

     
    • Jason

      March 7, 2012 at 12:16 am

      1 corinthians 5:12 “it certainly is your responcibility to judge those who are inside the church and sinning”

       
      • Jason

        March 7, 2012 at 4:42 am

        John 7:24 “judge rightious judgement”

         
  10. Jason

    March 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    check out.. http://www.Kingwatch.co.nz then click on “the prophetic ministry” when the lord had brought me to this.. it was like it was written.. from my own heart..

     
  11. John Otchere

    April 3, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Prophets are the mouth-piece of God. They are ordained by God not by man. Prophets have no power of their own, neither do they have messages. They speak what God gives them, and wants them to speak. Prophets are ordained by God through His sovereign will regardless of the persons background. Paul was ordained a Prophet to the Gentile Age but before his call, he persecuted the Church. Regardless his bad side, he was predestinated to that position even before he was born. Prophets are therefore God’s chosen not the will of any man. It does not take prayers to turn a person into a Prophet. If God ordained or predestinated you to be a prophet — mouth piece of God — then regardless of your failures in life, that God-given potential in you will come to life because it is God’s chosen.

     

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