Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 1/25/04
"The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds" (Jer. 14:14, NIV).
Our title today, "Thus saith the Lord," appears over 410 times in the Bible. It was the Old Testament version of a business card. "Hello, I am a prophet sent from God, and here's the word of the Lord for you." The phrase does not appear in the New Testament, though many references to prophets and prophecy abound there. Because I think there is confusion among Christians about this subject, I'll give you the Webster's definition of the noun prophecy: "1. the foretelling or prediction of what is to come. 2... a divinely inspired prediction, instruction, or exhortation." Prophesy is the verb form, meaning, "1. to foretell or predict. 5. to speak as a mediator between God and humankind or in God's stead." I printed out all 452 occurrences of the words "prophet, prophets or prophetess," and even a cursory reading of it confirms the importance of prophecy in the economy of God as He nursed, exhorted, threatened, and punished the nation of Israel from the time of Moses until the time of Christ. Other than Christ, Moses was the greatest prophet. Before his time, God spoke with individuals directly. Thus, Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob each received a heavenly visitation in which God made His wishes, instructions, and prohibitions known. In each case, there was no doubt about God's authority and power to act in their lives.
He first spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, a most remarkable way to introduce Himself. Jack Miles (God, a Biography) talks about the name God gave Moses when he asked, "Whom shall I say sent me?" (Ex. 3:13). The RSV Translation reads, "God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'"" (Ex. 3:14, RSV). Miles suggests that one meaning of this oft pondered name is "I am what I will do." I like that a lot, because in my life, He is who He is and He is what He does.
Moses quickly learned the power and authority of Almighty God by watching His wonders unfold. He himself carried enormous responsibility for these people he had led out of Egypt, and the burden sometimes became more than he could bear.
Numbers, chapter eleven, begins with the Lord's anger about the people's constant murmuring. He sent fire down upon the camp. Moses prayed, and the fire abated, but still they whined and griped, this time because they were sick and tired of manna, and wanted meat to eat. It was too much for Moses, who said to God, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!' I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now, if I have found favor in your eyes, and do not let me face my own ruin" (Num. 11:11-15, NIV). Moses' request reminds me of a TV sitcom called, "Just shoot me."
God heard his complaint and instructed him to choose 70 elders from the tribes and bring them to the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle), "I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone" (Num. 11:17, NIV). When the Spirit came upon them, they prophesied, but it says they did not do so again. However, two men who were named among the 70 were not in the tent, but out in the camp. "Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses' aide since youth, spoke up and said, "Moses, my lord, stop them!" But Moses replied, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!" (Num. 11:26-29, NIV). And that dear ones, is exactly what happened under the New Covenant! The Lord put His Spirit WITHIN ALL, and in so doing, gave gifts to men and women, including the gift of prophecy.
Paul affirmed, "The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (I Cor. 2:14, RSV). These gifts, Paul explained in Eph. 4:11-13, are for the building up of the body of Christ with the result that "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming" (Vs. 14). Yes, Jesus did say we are to be like children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3, RSV), but, children in the family of God, just like children in our own families, need caring adults to lead them into knowing the Father and discernment in spiritual matters. When I began to feel the Spirit pressing me on the subject of prophets and prophecy, I started to squirm, because prophecy seems to me to be one of those sacred cows in the church about which there is a lot of confusion, and a lot of defensiveness as well.
People sometimes send us declarations of gloom and doom by self proclaimed prophets who, rather than building up the body of Christ, are frightening the children instead. One of these proclamations, which has been circulating since 9/11, declares that because America has abandoned God and the Ten Commandments, God has withdrawn His protection from her, leaving her vulnerable to terrorists and other workers of darkness. This will continue until she repents. Some of these prophets and/or prophetesses claim great accuracy in their predictions. One I read recently claims that her prophecies are so precise that the CIA has investigated her.
Maybe it's because I'm from Missouri, the "Show me" state, or maybe as Lenny says, I'm an adult, not a babe in Christ, but my answer for the last 25 years to anyone who comes to me with a "Thus saith the Lord" is, "Great, when He tells me, then I'll know it's true." Lest you feel led to admonish me for my unbelief in prophecy, read on.
God has always spoken to me since I was baptized in the Spirit. One man took me to task for saying, "The Lord told me," possibly because he thought I was trying to lay that on everyone else, but when I say it, I mean precisely that the Lord told ME. I walk through life by the voice of the Lord, which is, after all, how Jesus described our relationship to the shepherd: "When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice" (John 10:4, RSV). Hearing His voice and following Him is what He promised would happen "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;". (John 10:27 RSV). One of the dearest blessings of walking with God for me is to hear His voice and know that He is leading and guiding me. There is perfect rest, righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost in that place (Rom. 14:17). When people ask our advice about something, we tell them, "Follow hard after the Shepherd. He will lead you into all truth."
The Lord has prophesied to me on many occasions, and what He said to me occurred exactly as He said it would. In 1979, He told me He was sending me a husband and we would flow together in ministry and in love as we walked with Him. At the time, I was not thrilled, because my experience with men had left a lot to be desired, but the Lord said I would be married before my 40th birthday. As He promised, Lenny and I were married in 1981, 23 years ago this month.
In 1996, we were vacationing in Missouri and attended the Baptist Church where God eventually sent us, and Lenny felt the call then to intercede for the men. God moved us here physically in May, 1998, where we've been ever since.
In 1997, while we were still in our house in California, the Lord spoke to me in the middle of the night saying, "You will write, write, write, and your words will flow out over the mountains, the seas, the earth." I thought Internet, but by that time had enough experience to know that God would eventually explain what He was talking about. I had learned never to run ahead of the Spirit, because His timing is perfect. The Glory Road Internet Ministry is the fulfillment of that prophecy, though I didn't get the first writing published until almost a year after He spoke to me. I built the web pages myself when God moved us to Missouri in 1998.
In 1999, the world and Christians were wringing their hands in fear of the dreaded Y2K virus. When I asked the Lord about it in the winter of that year, He said, "Don't Worry. I have it all under control." Though He didn't let me write about it until October, 1999, when the journal entitled "That Beastly Bug" (See link at end), flowed out, nevertheless, I never gave it another thought, nor did we stockpile provisions or generators, or anything else that people were purchasing to deal with their fear. It was another evidence that peace comes from the voice of the Lord. Because the Lord had it all under control, there was no problem anywhere in the world from the Y2K Bug. When He speaks, my heart knows that all is well in the kingdom of my Father and your Father.
I'm writing this today because He wants me to write it, certainly not that I want to. I have had multiple witnesses about doing it and concluded that perhaps there is someone out there reading these words whose heart is chilled with terror that God is about to use more terrorist bombs and threats to punish America for her sins. When I heard the prophecy that God has withdrawn His protection from us, in my spirit I cried out, "How could he withdraw protection from Himself?" If "Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit," then how can He punish us? (I Pet. 3:18). It is impossible, or as Lenny expresses it, "Double Jeopardy." (You cannot be tried twice for the same crime).
The fear of punishment comes from not knowing the difference between the Old and New Covenants. Under the Old Covenant established by God through Moses on Mount Sinai, His blessings and protection depended upon their obedience to Him. It is appalling to me that Christians who claim to be washed by the blood of the Lamb are still wallowing in the blood of bulls and goats. The New Covenant was established and ratified, by the blood of Christ, ONCE FOR ALL. The Hebrew writer affirmed, "he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an ETERNAL redemption" (Heb. 9:12, RSV. See also Rom. 6:10; Heb. 7:27; 9:26; 10:10). In the New Covenant, based upon God's promise to Abraham (Gal. 3:8), men and women once more hear directly from God without need of an intermediary.
People who tell us that God is smacking America around because we took prayer out of school and/or the Ten Commandments out of the Alabama State Building are confused and need Paul's admonition to Timothy, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:18, KJV). These false prophets are living under LAW and trying to bind it upon everyone else. Jesus talked about these spreaders of fear and guilt: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matt. 7:15, RSV). It is a good thing for these folks that they are NOT living under the old covenant, for here's the fate they would have suffered under Law: "But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, (law) that same prophet shall die'" (Deut. 18:20, RSV). And how do you tell if the prophecy is false? "when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him" (Deut. 18:22, RSV). Hal Lindsey, listen up!
People who use prophecy to scare the flock into obedience are living out of old wineskins, about which Jesus said, "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed" (Luke 5:37, RSV). The new wine of the Spirit must be put into new wineskins (Luke 5:38), which WE ARE!
As you can see, people who scare babes in Christ in the name of the Lord are on my list, big time. In the past, I too fell victim to their godly sounding warnings, but the more I understood unconditional love, the more I realized that they were not speaking from the throne of God. Don't you know that if we had been able to keep the law, Christ would not have had to die? Since He was the LAMB SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD (Rev. 13:8), God always knew that we couldn't keep the law. So, why did He give it, to torture us, to shame and humiliate us? No! He gave it because had He not, we would never have believed the weakness of the human heart. We would never have understood that our hearts of stone, needed to be transplanted with His heart, filled with His unconditional love! (Ezek. 36:26-27). The next time you are afraid of anyone who comes to you in the name of the Lord, remember that "Perfect Love casts out fear!" (I John 4:18). My antidote for fear is to say, "Father, I'm afraid. You have not loved me perfectly, or else the fear would not be there. Drive it out with Your love." And the I Am IS what He does, LOVE!
A brother summed up today what I've said here: "I have been challenged by the Lord to draw closer to Him to receive my own word, to preach and share the truth as it comes to me." In his own words, this brother is affirming Rev. 12:11, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony." The word of my testimony therefore is, "Fear not! Our God arose in Christ and His enemies are forever scattered, swallowed up in His perfect love."
Father, our words may be strewn like dry leaves before the wind, but that which You have spoken aforetime by Your holy prophets shall stand, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. Drive all fear from the hearts of Your children by filling us full to overflowing with Your perfect, unconditional love. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"That Beastly Bug"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 1/22/04
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/16/08.