Posts Tagged With: HolySpirit

Samuel’s Legacy seen in the Lives of those that were Influenced by him

The  Master Builder who Left a United Israel.   

The anarchical mess of the sprawling godless tribes of Israel carried on in ignorance of the seismic change in history that was about to take place over the next generation, all of which was precipitated and initiated through the birth of Shmuel ben Elkanah. That blessed child born in Ramathaim Zophim passed away, some think, about a full century after the day of his birth. It was Samuel’s time. The Samuellian era. The last and highest peak of the line of characters known as the Judges. This man was also the first and, to my mind, possibly the highest peak of the prophetic office and gift that ever ministered to the whole of Israel during the period of time in which the Hebrews lived in the land. He had become a one man institution. He was the posthumous pillar that epitomised what was to be the future greatness of Israel. He was treasured and feared by all in his mature years, and sadly missed after his passing.  He was anointed and appointed by God Almighty as His representative in Israel throughout his lifetime. What he left behind him was as unified, Godly and purposeful as it was the opposite of those things at the moment he had been conceived. Even while he homed in and concentrated on the schools of the prophets after his last words with Saul, the very fact that he was alive and moving “in God,” even though it was in the background of Israel’s political and tribal cosmos, Samuel gave the nation comfort, and a brighter vision to look forward to.

There was, of course, the hope of the great charismatic leader of men, David. But he was a man that Judah and Benjamin loved beyond reason, while the northern tribes knew less about.

The ground had been prepared for the Glory of God to return, just as dramatically as it had left when the Philistines had stolen the Ark of the Covenant in the early days of Samuel’s youth. The Ark was indeed safe in Israeli hands and had been after several months of Philistine illicit ownership, but the Hebrews had never had it been returned to the Tabernacle. There is no way we can possibly imagine that it was left in the home of a certain Abinadab, by Samuel’s forgetfulness, or anybody else’s forgetfulness. It was a deliberate act of “neglect.” That is, it was deliberately left there by Samuel. It was symbolic of a new day dawning. Samuel was so busy relating to God, hearing from God and ministering to the people of Israel, as well as judging them, that to trouble himself with the symbol of the God he was relating to seemed almost irrelevant.  The substance of their faith was much more vital than the symbol of the same. Samuel was a man born out of time, with a world view, belief system and spiritual disciplines far ahead of his generation. Samuel was living in his own, “Holy Spirit church age.” All he did was relate to Him who is invisible, in as real a relationship as Peter, James and John had done in the days of Christ’s ministry. Samuel would have been considered a spiritual gargantuan giant no matter what age he had lived in. Samuel was the classic wild, giant, dangerous prophet.

Samuel’s anointing had led him in a different direction than the proscribed national slavery to what had degenerated into a deadened sacrificial system. Samuel was a man of the Spirit all the days of his life. He was worshipping the Lord with abandon before he had received that first prophetic word in his youth. By keeping the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle in a low profile with the people, it meant that he could keep the person of Yahweh Himself in the highest possible highlight. For Samuel, everything was a matter of the Spirit. The input of the prophetic word, and the spread and education of aspiring prophets was changing the face of Israel then, in a way that would have a future impact on the entire planet. Samuel’s lifelong circuit ministry of judging and teaching was a generational, credible call to return to the purity and faith of a life lived in devotion to Yahweh. This, after all, was the basic reason for Israel’s existence on the planet. How great was the force of righteousness within the prophet Samuel, and how magnificent was the working of the anointing that was upon him.

Samuel’s adherence to keeping the most intimate relationship with God and obeying Him as often and as consistently as he did throughout his life meant that the schools of the prophets had time to have become engrafted into the atmosphere of Israel’s culture within his own lifetime. His withdrawal from public and political life meant he could give his whole being to the development and the solidifying of an understanding into the world of prophecy and how it was to be maintained. Who knows what treasures he passed on to influence the future prophets.  The schools blossomed and developed under him, and were to direct the people and rulers of Israel over the next 500 years or so, not that they always listened to them.  Because of the fact that the prophetic Spirit and prophetic schools in Israel ultimately gave us the writing prophets, we could actually say that Samuel is still impacting the world today through them.  The writing prophets have left us a deep rich seam of truth that has not to this day been fully fathomed.

Samuel was the original seed of which all later prophets in Israel were the flower and growth. Sacrifice of animals was never abandoned altogether of course, but the sacrificial activity was brought into subjection to the flow of the Spirit of God and the prophetic word and office.  Samuel had gone quite some distance in tying Israel to Yahweh rather than to the Mosaic system that was attached to their history. The Tabernacle and the corrupted Levitical priesthood had lost the awe and wonder of the manifest presence of God in the infrastructure of that form of worship. Samuel had brought the drifting vessel of Israel, at first floating without a sail or rudder, back into its divine haven in all its proper function, i.e. loving God and walking in the parameters of His law.  The land of Israel was and is Yahweh’s land. The people of Israel were and are God’s nation. The whole of Samuel’s life and mission was to see his beloved nation brought under the umbrella of the terms of that covenant that they had so crassly broken.

Samuel had died while David was still on the run from the demonised and demented first monarch, Saul ben Kish. Yet even with the sorrow of the prophet dying without seeing the unity of one nation happily existing under the rule of a man who was after God’s own heart, the loyalty that was brewing in support of the anointed son of Jesse might possibly have been seen and perceived by the wise old man as a truly God inspired phenomenon. This would have allowed Samuel to die in peace concerning the future of the nation after he had departed to Sheol. Yet, whether he saw the hearts of the people turning towards David or not, I feel sure he would have seen in the Spirit what kind of a giant killing king Jesse’s son was to become. The priesthood may have turned out to be wimpish and retiring, but there was a Lion out of the tribe of Judah that was moving into maturity and position.

Saul was famous for his bravery across the twelve tribes, if only infamous for his demonic illness around the southern tribe of Judah. The bible reads as if it was only the confidantes of Saul’s court and the intimates of David’s friends and family that new of all the attempts on his life made by the son of Kish. Common folk might have turned against Saul had they known of the demonically inspired murderous attempts the sovereign had made time and again.  The giant killing, sweet psalmist of Israel was on the run from Saul for many years, while Samuel was alive, and the king’s hot pursuit of his successor continued until his death at Gilboa. There was indeed a conflict of loyalties in the hearts of the people. What were the Godly population of Judah to do? Follow Saul the present king who was clearly not the man he was when he was crowned? Or, like all the other nations that surrounded them, should they rid the land of an unwanted megalomaniac, dictator of a king and put the revolutionary “new boy on the block,” on the throne? Which way was the right one?

David had undoubtedly been taught well by Samuel. God had put Saul in office. God would remove Saul from office. Whatever human means or circumstances would bring about Saul’s removal from the throne, it was not to be by the hand of any God-fearing Hebrew, especially the man who was destined to succeed him. Because of Samuel’s integrity, morality and his grasp of patience for God to resolve issues, after Samuel’s death, the nation, in particular the people of Judah, waited to see what was about to happen. It was clearly a wait for Saul to die. Nobody in Israel it seems, wanted to touch this “Ark,” this anointed of God. Saul, as it were, was a holy vessel chosen by God, no matter what the outward display of vileness revealed. The resolution of the issue was all about divine intervention and a trust in the character of the Ever Living God, and His direct interaction with the people and concerns of Israel.  The tribe of Judah would have wanted Saul’s removal to happen quickly. I often wonder if the Northern tribes had a clue about Saul’s political intrigues against his own son and the man he had long suspected wanted to, “steal,” his throne. The North–South divide in Israel, from Joshua’s time on, is plain to see. On crossing the Jordan, the major campaign in the south, under Joshua, was nothing but a thorough conquering of Judah’s territory. As the years passed the fighting spirit that was needed for the conquering of Canaan leaked away like sand in a sieve. The book of Joshua reveals an incredible campaign in Judah, then a list of all the area that was not conquered, and a much lesser campaign in the north. The mid lands of Canaan were seemingly ignored.

One cannot but own the idea that the many people of Judah, and Benjamin, if not the rest of the nation, were aware that Saul’s successor had been anointed by Samuel and was waiting “in the wings” to assume the throne. News would have spread, throughout the southern people of Israel, of David’s two opportunities to have slain Saul – opportunities he had refused to seize, explaining his actions with the now famous words; “Touch not the Lord’s anointed.” Not only would the story have spread like wild fire amongst the people of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin, but it would have inspired them to emulate their future king. “If Saul’s successor, the son of Jesse, dare not remove Saul in order to get to the throne, then it would be wrong to override his will, his intention and his Godly motive. Therefore we, his future subjects as well as being Saul’s subjects must support our present king and wait to see what will happen.”  And so the people of Judah “sat back” as it were in respect of the throne and waited for the appropriate moment to acclaim their darling tribal representative as the rightful king.

As for the other tribes, there was a kind of cultural and social chasm once a person went North of Judah and Benjamin. (I referred above also to Simeon, but the land allotted to Simeon was a kind of annexe in the midst of Judah’s land. After a generation or two had passed, it seems Simeon was totally absorbed into Judah and is hardly mentioned again in the Bible.) Probably in ignorance of the details of the heavy story of Saul’s downfall, depression and demonization, there was a kind of nominal, “God save the King!” attitude amongst those northern tribes. There was little knowledge up north to think anything else but good things about Saul. If one pedantically marks the map of Israel and the narrative’s geographical location, while reading both David’s life and Saul’s reign, very little transpired in the northern tribal areas, but when it did, it shows a king who endeared himself to the people. Saul was much loved up north.  Possibly unawares of the court politics and intrigues, some were more than nominal in their support of Saul. Some risked their lives simply to return Saul’s cadaver to the land of Israel for a proper burial and time of mourning, showing an almost religious commitment to Saul even when dead. No matter what they thought of Saul down south, the north truly honoured their first king.

The deep mindset of division between Judah and the rest of the nation, that later split the whole hegemony into two after Solomon died, was already in the psyche of the people. It started as jealousy and was simmering for centuries before Rehoboam the son of Solomon was crass enough, and silly enough, not to soften the tax regime that funded the king’s lifestyle of luxury. It was the genius of David’s ability to join the nation into one that was a major aspect of the glory of his reign. David was anointed with a Spirit of wisdom. During his reign there was a joining of all the twelve tribes. Solomon’s heavy weight of taxes, and having the nation’s young sons and daughters away from their homes during the course of each year, missing farming time and normal home life for the king’s indulgence was tolerated only because of the wisdom and the character of Solomon and the deep love that the whole united hegemony of Israel had for the demised David and his son. Once the untried and untested son of Solomon had blotted his copy book, the amputation of north from south was done deftly and quickly, without any sociological anaesthetic.

The fact that we can see in retrospect that the nation was on the cusp of greatness, has to be understood as the gift of God on Samuel and then David’s life, a gift that was perpetuated with the very different gift of Solomon. It was an anointing of the Spirit of God that was placed on David’s life simultaneous to the horn full of oil that Samuel poured on his head. It was God that directly made David great. It was Samuel that had anointed David when he was but a child. It was Samuel who had mentored David from the period they had together, near the end of Samuel’s life, leaving the future king with wisdom beyond any of his peers. David proved to his own experience that, “Better is one day in the courts of Yahweh,” that is with Samuel, “than a thousand in the schools of men and worldly wisdom.”

Therefore, conceivably with some of the northern tribes knowing far less about the character of David than the people of Judah, Saul still had a staunch following right up to and even after his death. The nation was soundly formed and stabilising, despite the character of their present king. Samuel had led them away from being a family of tribes with only the religious ties of their history to bind them together while living independent existences.  Samuel, under God, had been the human instrument that had put Saul in office, and, to a degree, as far as externals were concerned, Saul was fulfilling his role. The nation was one, with only the political astute minds of a few who could see the Spiritual and social San Andreas Fault line that ran the whole length of the border between Judah/Benjamin together, and the rest of the tribes to their north, as well as the huge fault line that divided Saul’s character and personality.

David must have been a wise and discerning man, whose company other kings and leaders loved even before he was king. During David’s fugitive years, he made both friends and enemies, however, he befriended some of those rulers that reigned in the days of his loneliness, making friendships that were sustained during the years of his kingship. Some of the kings of those nations that surrounded Israel were still his submissive friends once he had ascended to the throne of Israel.

The nation having been propelled forward by the wisdom of Samuel, a prophet who had an ear to God and the people, as well as a mouth to pray with and teach the masses, built a shrine around his burial place. A building still surrounds his tomb today. Israel has an annual celebration of the life of Samuel.

I salute the son of Hannah, and personally seek God for some slight semblance of his characteristics and Spirit.

4 Nebi Samuel

Nebi Samuel

Categories: SAMUEL’S LEGACY SEEN IN THE LIVES OF THOSE THAT WERE INFLUENCED BY HIM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Foolish Wise Old Man

Is passivity ever right?

(1 Samuel 3:15–18)

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On the way to Synagogue in Jerusalem; circa 1900 I believe.

I cannot make my mind up. Was Eli wise with a little foolishness thrown in? Or was he mainly the fool, with a little wisdom given to spice up his character?  There are times I like the chap, and other times I am not sure. It is only because of Samuel, and the way he turned out in the end, that one is pressured to give the, “thumbs up,” to surrogate Big Daddy Eli.

In debating with myself about this old man, I always give him a big fat zero out 10 often for what went on the following morning after Samuel’s first revelation.  Domineering, and rude.  Insensitive and loud.  “Tell me!  Tell me!”  And no sign of, “How did it go last night, son?”  After all, it was only the first revelation of its kind in Israel for centuries.  It was only Yahweh Himself manifesting His presence and His word to a young man in the tent.  I am all for keeping spiritual people humble, but Eli’s approach was too crass, too foolish to do him credit.

Then again, perhaps he was afraid of dying any moment. I don’t say that facetiously. With the practices of his sons, with his acknowledgement of his own culpability in their upbringing and lack of discipline, and with the earlier prophetic promise of familial demise of power, and no, “senior citizens,” ever to be amongst their ranks again, it would seem logical that he considered himself as about to, “pop his clogs.”  “Any day,” might have been the word Eli could have used.  With that understanding we could, perhaps, understand the hurried, “Tell me quick, Samuel!  I might not be here to hear it all!” Honestly! I am not trying to be funny with that one.

See what I mean! There! I’ve done it again. Now I condemn the old man; now I exonerate him.

 “Samuel, my son.”  The young man must have dreaded this. Probably the first conversation of the day. Not even waiting for the breakfast table talk, Eli attacks.

Here I am.”  Are there any imperfections to the attitude of this young, “prophet,” in the making?  How many people, especially if they were a child (Remember, I, personally, am not sure he was.) would keep the message to themselves? The excitement! The burning inside! The drama! The interest!  But if Samuel had been that kind of character, he would not have been told what he had been told, would he?

“What is the thing that the Lord has said to you?  I beg you hide it not from me:  God do so to you and more, if you hide anything from me of all the things that he said to you.”  Eli’s words betray him. He had guessed already what the message was. Only if there was heavy destructive judgment in the air could Eli have said, “God do so to you and more if you hide it.” He knew alright!  What had happened is that Eli had been eating, sleeping and drinking the, “Hammer Horror Film” of prophecy that was laid on him by the nameless prophet earlier.  It was profound and shattering, both to his family, and the nation. After all; he was the inter regnum High Priest.  As the bad news he had received from the nameless prophet had not yet been fulfilled, he felt it was surely a repetition, or perhaps even, some appalling enlargement of what had earlier been predicted.

1 yemenite color

Elderly Yeminite Jew in Jerusalem circa 1900. Hand coloured.

This understanding puts me back on Eli’s side very strongly.  I am impressed with the thought that Eli had thought of nothing else since the day the prophet spoke to him.  Surely that was the fact of the matter. Whether it was a week earlier, or a decade previous.  Eli was in a state of agony. Limbo! “Is this the day that I leave this mortal coil?”

Regrets are awesome tyrants when they are left to roam free in one’s memory.  Dictators!  Taskmasters!  I believe they often make people physically and/or mentally ill. If regrets are chewed on too much and too strongly, they are a veritable danger to health. This assumed fact made Eli’s continued existence on planet earth very tenuous.

But how on earth could he have possibly ignored the two sons for so long?  They weren’t always grown men, uncontrollable, lustful and anarchic. They were once on his knee, they were once asking, “Daddy,” to play with them, and tell them stories. They were babies, toddlers, and little children once. Oh, the agony of lost time!  How deep the pain of neglected opportunities!  How bloody are the consequences of missing the greatest of all God’s calls: the call to parenthood?  Anybody with normal physical functions could sire children. It takes a man to be a father. Of all the roles we play on this planet, the key role of being a mother or a father is the heaviest and the most responsible, and Eli had, sadly, fluffed it.

Samuel, being the person he was, did as he was told. He explained to Eli everything and hid nothing, for that is what he was ordered to do.  Picture the pain of the speaker. Feel the pain of the listener. Then listen to the pathos in the old man’s response. I hear the priest as in a daze. I perceive him numbed with grief for his wayward, perverted, yet nevertheless, beloved sons. I feel his heart almost stop beating, and smell the salt of his tears as the words are torn from his guts like some pillaging Philistine tearing out his stomach. “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good.”  

No justification of self. No condemnation of God, or his sons. Complete submission!  One of the greatest gems that God ever whispered in this writers ear was the concept of justifying God first and foremost at the outbreak of any personal catastrophe. The quiet, though agonised acceptance with which the elderly priest received the intimation of certain earthly doom seems to indicate that Eli, so confident of the love of the All-Pitiful Almighty Yahweh, looked for some other means of salvation devised in the counsels of Yahweh, the Eternal friend of Israel. He had his sight fixed on that by which his deathless soul, after the earthly penalty, would be reconciled to the invisible King.  Surely he looked on to the one sure hope.  The blood of bulls and goats could not help him now.  But the blood of a better covenant would. Eli, it seems to me, knew his eternal future because of his faith in the God of Israel.

Eli was probably nought but a pawn in his sons’ dealings since their adulthood.  But Eli was still their father.  Eli was their head.  Eli was the High Priest and spiritual head of the nation.  However, Eli had sown to the wind, and had reaped the whirlwind. Passivity with his own son’s upbringing had brought damnation.

8 Home from Synagogue

Home from the Synagogue in Jerusalem.

Categories: 1 Samuel 3:15-18, Being a Prophet is a privilege, Definition of a Prophet, Is Passivity ever right?, Samuel's first prophetic word., The Foolish Wise Old man | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Own Definition of a Prophet

My Definition of a Prophet

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I was a Christian for over 30 years before I ever met “a Prophet.” I have met many who were referred to as prophets by their denomination, movement or stream, but none than struck me as the real thing. I was not one hundred per cent sure what I was looking for in a prophet, but I was ninety per cent certain that those whom I encountered were not what I was expecting from a New Testament prophet. They were always disappointingly falling short of, what to me, was the biblical criteria. I have met those who referred to themselves as prophets who struck me as too shallow in their prophetic words to be called such. What actually was I looking for?

I had been, at various points in my life, spoken to, addressed, prophesied to by “prophets” in public meetings. There pronouncements were so abstract and full of cryptic remarks that I honestly did not know whether what they said was past, present or future, irrelevant, important or vital, and most of all, I could not even discern if what they said was true or false. I was never impressed, yet I often felt intimidated to go along with the viewpoint of church leaders and denominational leaders who were extolling the prophetic virtues of these people and their prophetic gift. I kept my mouth shut, held on to my convictions, and went quietly with the flow.  Perhaps, after all the studies,  discussions and sermons I had trawled through about Prophets and prophecy had led me astray. Perhaps those “prophets” were the best western Christianity could come up with. Western culture makes it very difficult, I believe, for a wild dangerous, giant prophet to be raised up.

My eyes were lifted up gently, but significantly, by experiences from which I learnt an awful lot.

One church meeting that I was convening in the late seventies to early 1980’s had Suzette Hattingh as the speaker. It was a lovely spring Sunday morning. The building was full with around 400 people. For those that are not aquainted with the ministry of Ms Hattingh, I believe at that point of time she was the prayer organiser for Reinhard Bonnke’s ministry. I have never met her since the morning that I am referring to, although I would like very much to meet her again and pick her brains a little.  During the early part of the service she very respectfully stepped up to me and whispered in my ear while I was leading the worship, asking me if I would give her the authority to move in the gifts of the Spirit. I answered, “Of course you may! Take the platform now!” I think she was surprised at my instant response, but I closed the singing and hastily handed her the microphone. For ten to fifteen minutes she spoke prophetically to six or seven members of the church of which church I was part of in aclosely knit ministry team. I was almost traumatised by the depth of detail and the accuracy of her statements, and how she had not only seen into the complexity and resolution of their issues, but either spoke their deliverance or prayed with them to be free, all at the same time. I knew each of the persons concerned.  I can declare publicly that none of those people ministered to were ever the same again. They were healed, set free and delivered in the most glorious manner. However, Ms Hattingh never even suggested she was a prophetess. “Just a servant of the Lord doing whatever He asks me to do,” is what I heard her say. Mmmm! Thank you Suzette! At last I had seen the prophetic reality. At that time I did not know how to differentiate between prophecy as a gift of the Spirit dispersed  within the body of the church, and a prophet as the gift of Christ. But I was astonished that this minister of the gospel, moving in the gifts of the Spirit spoke with more clarity, power and authority than those who were acknowledged to be one of the five fold ministries and a prophet. What was I to do with that experience. In my heart of hearts I had disparaging thoughts of the “prophets” I had hitherto met. The new benchmark was more like Jesus and the apostles – and she insisted she was not a “prophetess.”

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I remember also in the late eighties being addressed in a meeting I was convening with several hundred in attendance by a man named Charles Slagle. He was (is) an American who addressed me over several minutes and recounted my past, some issues of what was at that time my present, and spoke of my future. I was utterly astounded. This was prophetic and profoundly personal. Everything he said about my past was absolutely true, and as for my future, thirty years later I can say that he was accurate in the predictive content also. Thank you Charles! He is now a Facebook friend of mine. I have never actually met him since that day, but I was incredibly, positively impacted by his prophetic message. He, like Ms Hattingh insisted that he was definitely not a prophet, but simply had stepped into a prophetic gift of the Spirit that he discovered, as I remember, whilst ministering in Mexico. It was a blessing to many, so he pursued that line of ministry.  At that point of time I was even more perplexed. In a similar experience to my morning with Ms Hattingh, here was a man who claimed he was definitely not a prophet, yet was much more accurate, pointed and real than all the “prophets” I had listened to in their preaching and prophesying previously. What was I to do with this anomale?

There’s more!

There was another moment of my life in the year 2000 when I was prayed for by a man who I consider to be one of the greatest Bible teachers alive today. His name is Andrew Wommack. I stood in a prayer line and was set to ask him to pray for something – I forget what. He joined a group of ministers that were praying for a long line of people and came straight to me. I was the first person Andrew prayed for that day. He didn’t ask me what to pray for. He just ran off in prayer and started laughing while he prayed for a whole line of things that were, “about to happen to me.” I was taken aback. To cut the story short, everything he prayed about took place within the following three years, things that at the time I had no idea about, and had no intention of doing, together with places I had no intention of visiting. He prayed over plans to move to another country, and to move in the miraculous. There was much more to it than what I can here explain, but he simply prayed prophetically. There was no, “Thus says the Lord.” He did not prefix his prayer with, “I have a word from God for you!” He simply prayed in a laughing tone. It was so strange that I remember the entire thing so clearly. Later that year, I was preaching in Lagos Nigeria to several thousand people, just as Andrew had prayed that day. I must add that when he prayed for me I had never heard of TB Joshua, the Church of All Nations, or anything to do with Africa. Thank you Andrew! But I know that Andrew would never refer to himself as a prophet, but merely moving in the prophetic Spirit at certain moments. It changed my life’s course. Or was my life’s course already set? And in the prophetic spirit he simply, accurately, spoke into being what was ahead of me.

All this is to say that having experienced moments of high inspiration when I myself have prophesied as well as having received prophecy, the benchmark of a prophet that I saw in the Bible, examining both Old and New Testament was so far above the prophets I encountered around the UK, that is, the ones I was introduced to, that to me they beggared the title “prophet” to my mind. I am not a judgemental person by nature, but I am telling the world exactly where I was in all this.

There was all this preaching, teaching and writing about rediscovering the prophetic gift along with the restoration of the prophetic office, and sadly, I had filed it away in my memory banks as “General Evangelical Rhetoric,” and stamped the file with a stamp that said, “IRRELEVANT.”

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A person moving in prophecy as a gift of the Spirit I could get hold of. In the context of the “gifts of the Spirit” I could perfectly grasp how one person could move with more authority and depth than another. It was received in the body of the church where there are those who are strong, and those who are weak who are moved upon. That I could file and process and say “Amen!” to.

However, for a person to be affirmed by his peers as “a Prophet,” I just felt compelled to suggest that there must be a bar of performance that one must climb above before a person could be labelled as such. I know there is deep, deeper and deepest in things of the spirit, but surely even the lowest performance of a prophet must strike the observer as speaking things that are divine. A true prophet, surely, would leave believers and non believers alike in no doubt that God was speaking through them. Was I being too pedantic – too black and white?

I believe there is a difference between somebody who occasionally prophecies as per, “the gift of the Spirit”, those who are prophetically inclined, and even those who are prophetically gifted, before we reach the level of prophet. I have heard the syndrome likened to a triangle with the apex at the top. At the bottom of the triangle is the level where people prophecy in the body of the church in the divine administration of what we refer to as “the gifts of the Spirit.” The broadness of the base of my triangle is also to suggest that the accuracy level is not always verified.  But as we ascend the triangle, the level of inspiration increases by means of regular use of those who I would refer to as, “prophetically inclined.” This is still within the gifts of the Spirit. But then we go higher to those who are prophetically gifted and aspiring to become prophets. The level of inspiration should be deeper, and the vision and delivery is now getting sharper, more accurate and with less “waffle” in the midst of the prophetic word. Then we reach the apex of the triangle where the prophet dwells. He may have less to say when he prophesies, but it is accurate, life changing and faith building. I had never seen it, nor heard it, but that was my internal expectation level of a true New Testament prophet.

With the above concept, firmly fixed in my psyche, it seemed to me that more often than not in the west, the prophets were near the bottom of the triangle, and it was those moving in the gifts of the Spirit that had more prophetic weight that any prophet I had heard or met. I did not know how to biblically and consistently, before God, file this in my memory banks.

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My mind was slowly opened as the years passed. On tapes, videos, DVD’s and Youtube, I was, and still am, impressed with the prophetic gift as exemplified in the likes of men like John Paul Jackson, Paul Cain, Bob Jones and one or two others. These men are much maligned and criticised by many. As a by the way, it always strikes me that most of the people that criticise and demonise prophets are those that do not believe in the gift of prophecy as a constituent part of New Testament truth for today, or people who do believe in the gift, but have no track record themselves.  However, I wish to assert that these men, irrespective of the negatives that some label them with and the circumstances that one or two of them have encountered, all impress me very positively with the prophetic gift that they carried – and still do. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy. I see it as something that should be the basic bread and butter of all New Testament ministry.

I have to add that, no matter how people shy away from discussing William Branham because of his obvious doctrinal aberrations, the prophetic gift that sat on him was as astonishing as any of the above mentioned characters. No matter how doctrinally poor his ministry (to my mind) was, the healing power and prophetic words that he invariably saw were phenomenal.

But why were (or “are”) these kind of men and gifts so rare? Why was it that in the UK, those men I encountered who were “prophets” were so much “less” than those who claimed not to be prophets?  I was resounding very much with Leonard Ravenhill’s classic remark when he said, “We are so thankful when visiting evangelists and high profile ministers have colleagues with them that tell us how great these men are, because, if they hadn’t told us how great they are before they ministered, we definitely would not have known it afterwards.” In the same vein, if I hadn’t been told that brother or sister so and so was a prophet, I would not have known it after they had “prophesied”.

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Oh dear! I was in thispredicament on the subject of prophets – until 2001. I was personally seeking a prophetic breakthrough. It is my strongly held conviction that a visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit should be the normal diet of all New Testament ministry.  The gospel is something to see as well as something to hear. Healing, deliverance and prophetic pronouncements that break through bondages and strongholds in people’s lives have to be seen as the norm. They were clearly the norm in the New Testament narratives.

So I was gripped by a conviction of various strands of biblical teaching, the tangible substance of which I only glimpsed on few occasions. Where was I to go? What was I to do apart from pray to receive it myself?

And then…!

Late in the year 2000 I was handed some videos (before DVD’s were invented). I watched and listened to TB Joshua the pastor of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos Nigeria. I was so astounded I remember crying as I watched and listened to the three hour film. I emailed Lagos immediately, saying I would like to meet the man himself. He responded by sending me around twenty video’s of the ministry in Nigeria, and an official letter of invite with the details and instructions of how to get there. I was warned off by many people not to go. Many of my, “carers,” in that regard were Nigerians I knew who had never ever met TB Joshua, or attended the congregation of many thousands that he had built. I conferred with a couple of ministers that I considered sound and stable, who had visited SCOAN who heartily endorsed my desire to go. I was financially divinely assisted in getting to Nigeria, and so I met TB Joshua himself. The reality was even more impacting than the video’s. Everything I had believed from scripture and yet had never fully seen in my life (nor anybody else’s) was fully embodied and manifested. I was pleasingly astonished. I confess that after attending the first service in Lagos, I cried with delight for over four days. It was a spiritual experience that was life changing. Truly. My travelling companions thought I was ill crying over meals, and even in happy discussions. I was crying with utter delight and freedom.

What did I see?

I saw out of a huge congregation of many thousands, a prayer line of around 500 or so people. In those days it was a service every Wednesday and every Sunday.  Everybody asking for healing prayer is interviewed before the service starts. This takes many people several hours to plough through. The vetting starts 6-00am every church service day. Many people lie about their sicknesses or backgrounds. Muslims and witch doctors expect to be turned away, so they tell untruths and say they are Christians or give false “western sounding” names. Many Muslim leaders attend the services in western dress hoping that they won’t be detected. Witch doctors, manipulated by the spirits with which they ruin other people’s lives, come with their own lives ruined by those same spirits, having become  ill, or even dying by their own demonic bed fellows. HIV people are not prayed for unless they have official letters that explain that they are HIV positive, or even full blown AIDS. The AIDS victims are interviewed on camera together with the letter that they bring. The integrity of the process is full proof.

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The sicknesses are, by western standards, outrageous. Rashes that cover the whole body, weeping sores that create holes in the body to the point where bones are exposed, women with swollen breasts that are so enlarged it is frightening, were the norm. 500 people in a prayer line, and possibly a couple of hours to pray for every single person.

The smelly sickness and the painful ones are always prayed for first. By the stretching of the prophet’s hand the pain is relieved and the runny sores just begin to dry up. And I mean every single one. Some of the sicknesses are demonic manifestations and with the casting out of the demonic, health instantly returns. Young and old, male and female, black and white including everything in between, the rich and the poor, the Nigerians and the foreigners, all take their place in the line and wait for prayer made in the Holy Spirit. Whole families living under curses line up together, mothers with babies, pregnant women, childless couples, people with “moving objects” in their bodies -meaning demonic infestations of certain kinds, disappointments, poverty, blighted ambitions and repeated accidents.

In the end I “sold up” and moved there. My intention was to stay there for the rest of my life. But after two years my life took a turn and I left. I personally did not ever see anybody leave a prayer line unhealed. Some were healed quietly and undramatically. Some screamed as they were set free. Some fell unconscious as the sickness left their body. Some people vomited away the diseases, some even urinated their complaints out.  But, with integrity, I can say that in my observations and study of the whole scenario, all went away content that they had met with God. I cannot say I talked with them all, but I know what I saw and overheard of others that spoke English. And then I heard TB Joshua say that he was a prophet and not a healer at all. I was astounded.

What about the teaching and the belief system that was and is taught at SCOAN? In the ten years that I have known TB Joshua I personally have found him to be utterly biblical, Christ centred and God glorifying. As a person he was humble, meek and amiable. I can assert that two years with him taught me more than the previous 30 years of teaching had done. My one to one’s with him, of which I had many, but not enough, I consider some of the highlights of my life, simply because of the revelation and biblical insight I gained from him. There are many web sites and people on YouTube who malign his character and his teaching who simply lie without ever having met him or attended the church where he ministers. People make criticism from things they have never properly enquired into.

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I met three Nigerian pastors, once, in the UK who were attending a Bible Teaching conference that I also was attending. When they heard that I had attended the services at SCOAN and was quite free in my commendation of Prophet Joshua, they accosted me. They accused him of being a witch doctor and a muslim. I said that he teaches nothing but the Bible. They said he was trying to trick me. I said I had been with him for two years and found he knew the Bible very well and had no truck with Islam. Their remarks were ridiculous. They said he wasn’t a true Christian and that he preached error. I said over two years I don’t think I had ever sat under a more Christ centred, Holy Spirit energised teacher. “You must know what I say is true if you have ever sat under his ministry,” I countered. They replied that none of them wanted to hear false teaching. They said that the power he moves in was too much to be of God. I remember laughing and saying something like, “Oh! So you think the devil gives people more power than Jesus does? It sounds to me that you are the ones who are unsound!” At that point they revealed to me that because I was a white Englishman I would not know a demon if I met one, and that as Nigerians they were more experienced in the demonic. The discussion was closed when I suggested to them that they should be careful of being jealous of another man’s ministry, as well as being very cautious about defaming any man before they had met him. These pastor’s I have to say are similar in mind to many that I have met.

Justification by faith through the atoning work of Christ was explained, preached and taught repeatedly and consistently all the time I was there. Critics generally speak from a platform of ignorance.

Pastor Joshua has always insisted that he is not a healer (Jesus Christ is the only Healer), but a prophet. Some of the most heavenly moments of revelation in Lagos are when he points to a section of the congregation and says that, “There is somebody over there with an issue!” Sometimes he will call their name, or occasionally say something like, “You carry a gun in your red handbag” or a statement that shocks you with its clarity. Then he will recount a long story of things that the person had either perpetrated, or what had been perpetrated against them. He would then call them out for deliverance. I did not ever hear him deliver such a word where the person did not respond. He was spot on every single time. The intricacy of the stories that he saw in the Spirit were phenomenal, some of them almost too complex and bizarre to believe. Yet there was always somebody who came forward and said that it was absolutely true in every single detail.

At last I witnessed and experienced a prophetic gift that was startlingly accurate, and could be manifested to Christians and out and out sinners alike. There are literally thousands of people who are members of the Synagogue who came to Christ through jaw dropping prophetic words that revealed a persons life as God saw it.

I discovered that healing, deliverance and prophecy comprised the most comprehensive ministry that was representative of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and that all I saw in Lagos had already been matched and modelled by Paul, by Peter, and most significantly by the Master Himself in the New Testament.

From this I declare that I had at last, in 2000 met a man that ran with and exemplified all that I had come to believe, understand and expect from my reading of the New Testament. This man was, and still is, my personal definition of a New Testament prophet. I have met him, spoken with him, studied him and made copious notes of him.

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I know him as a gentle, amiable, sociable man. He is quietly spoken and enjoys company. I was more than reciprocal when I discovered that he enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed his. I watched him when he was deified, I watched when he was demonised. I have seen him emotional and near to tears, I have seen him angry like a lion when confronted by demonic  forces.

The force, the accuracy, the anointing, and the release of his prophetic, deliverance and healing ministry is a phenomena. To my experience, studies, and deep thoughts and discussion over a period of forty plus years, I believe I have met a prophet.

But that is all my own testimony!

What about a more biblical statement of the definition of a prophet.

That’s for the next time.

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Prologue

Nebi Samuel. Samuel's tomb.

Nebi Samuel. Samuel’s tomb.

PROLOGUE.

This blog is about the prophet Samuel. Samuel’s life is recorded in the Bible from First Samuel chapter 1 through to chapter 25. These pages are also about prophecy. The life of Samuel speaks to us today, as does the whole bible. I believe God wants prophecy to be manifested through the church of Jesus Christ today.  I believe that the message and life of Samuel addresses the issue of prophecy and gives us a university standard of study course in understanding prophecy and its basis, as well as prophets in general.

When God speaks to someone, it is prophetic, however minor or major the spoken word seems to be. God speaking to man is intrinsically prophecy. For instance, in the most basic expression of Gospel preaching, whether preachers are aware of it or not, they are prophesying. The prophecy is, “When you die you will miss God and go to hell, unless you receive Christ into your life by faith; in which case you will then go to be with Christ when you die.” That is a prophetic statement. Preachers prophesy that statement over the lives of millions of hearers around the world every day. It is forth-telling the word of God at that moment. It is fore-telling the future of the hearers. It is biblical. It is God’s word for people with no faith, or faith in somebody or something else other than Christ. It is the front door message, the introductory invite to meet God and change one’s destiny. It is the very testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:10 tells us that the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. Gospel preaching is intrinsically prophetic.

But most people would cry out that prophecy must have a deeper and more mysteriously “supernatural” source in order to qualify as, “real prophecy.” From what is generally conceived  of and received as prophecy they would be  correct with that complaint. But is that how God perceives it?

Explanation on how Samuel can be legitimately called, "The First Prophet."There is, “Deep, Deeper and Deepest,” in many areas of life. There are variations in the degree of inspiration in prophecy. There are variations in the ability to see and hear in the realms of the prophetic. Just as a sound and solid adult human being may be four feet six inches tall, or six feet and four inches tall, so prophets may vary in spiritual weight and/or stature. The lighter is no less a prophet for his differing aspects of anointing. One person may have an eye for detail. Another eye might see more in the distance along a distant far reaching road than another. The eyesight of both is relevant and verifiable as genuine, even though they both see and say different things when looking at the same scene.

There are prophets in the world today. There are people who should be prophets who allow the traditional teaching of their denominations to halt them in their tracks from moving forward in their gift. There has been an upsurge in the church of Jesus Christ world-wide in all things prophetic; in prophecy itself, as per the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12, and also in that “mysterious” character the prophet (or prophetess).

The spirit of prophecy has never been withdrawn from the earth since the days of Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah or Jeremiah. Prophecy is a gift from God. God desires to break in to people’s lives through personal prophecy. God is still speaking concerning the local church, the church world-wide, national events and world events. If there were prophets before the law was given, and if the law was given prophetically through angels; if prophets were required after the law was given, and after Christ had returned to heaven – why should there be any rationale in the mind of Christian people who believe in Christ and the Bible, that prophecy is not currently, “God’s way of doing things.”

Amos 3:7 says that God will not do anything without telling His prophets. I would say that God is still doing things in the world. Wouldn’t you agree. If He is still doing things He must have prophets somewhere that He is speaking to before He acts. That is the meaning of Amos 3:7.

God wants us all to know what He is saying. God speaks in generalities sometimes, as well as specifically to individuals at other times. God speaks about biblical truth, as well as about mundane and practical necessities of life. God chooses His prophets as He will, and as He always has. Trust me when I say that the Almighty is not into Hollywood and appearance. Be careful if a person acknowledged as a “prophet” comes to your town and is singularly lacking in make- up, good looks, smooth talk or a white suit. Whether you are impressed or repulsed by what you see and hear. If you get it wrong about prophets, you could be in trouble with God.

Samuel judging his people

Samuel judging his people

A man who was acknowledged as a prophet by many, spoke over me once telling me, “God loves you, and wants to prosper you!” I thanked the prophet. I thanked God. I believed what he had told me. I was uplifted and edified by the words of him who was acknowledged as a “prophet.” It was twenty plus years ago. I am not sure how to define my prosperity. I am happily still here and rejoicing in God. That is surely the best kind of prosperity. I cannot point to anything else in my life that would indicate anything out of the ordinary processes of life. I refuse to deprecate the man who spoke to me that day. Perhaps he was a prophet in training. Perhaps his spiritual vision was marred by the complexities of my life. Perhaps he saw things he was not allowed to share with me. I hold the experience in loose hands and pray for God’s blessing on the man who spoke those words over my life. I rarely share the experience because people with a negative take on such things tend to deride the gift as a useless piece of spiritual hype.

Then again, I have another experience of a prophet and his gift. I heard this prophet once address a young man whom he had never met before. It was so striking I cannot forget it. I may not recall it exactly, but the memory is still clear.  I was working as a “catcher” in a prayer line for this prophet. For the uninitiated, “a catcher,” attending prayer lines for people who require personal prayer, is a person who tries to soften the fall and the dignity of those who happen to be bowled over by the power of God when the Holy Spirit comes upon them to heal them through prayer. The prophet  pointed to one single young man, who was attending this church for the first time, and said words to this effect: “You were a college student years ago. You had a relationship with a female student. You made the young woman pregnant. When she told you that she was pregnant, you insisted that you were not mature enough to be a father to any child at that moment. You gave the young woman money to pay for an abortion. She went away distraught. You have never seen her since.” There was a pause at that moment and the young man being addressed, acknowledged the truth of what the prophet had said to him. But then the prophet spoke on. “Since your denial of your fathering the child, and your rejection of the human being in the young ladies womb, you have never found success or achievement in any way whatsoever.” The young man answered and eagerly affirmed that what the prophet had said was absolutely true, and was the very reason he had come for prayer. “I have news for you,” said the prophet. “The lady did not abort. You have a son. You will not prosper in any way whatsoever until you respond positively to the child and he calls you, “Daddy.” The young man became animated and cried aloud, “But I have no idea where she lives. She might even be abroad! I do not know how to find her, never mind if she has a child!” The prophet said that he (the young man) would find out about her right there in Lagos. To cut the story short, the prophet concerned gave the man enough money to stay in Lagos for several days, prayed over him and said, “Just walk the streets of Lagos and keep your eyes open”. Three days later he bumped into the sister of the supposed mother. The sister confirmed that he was a father. The whole story was resolved and after a while, even though neither the young man, nor the mother wanted to renew any relationship, the child saw him as his “Daddy” and the young man’s life was turned around. That was a prophet indeed.

7. Ramah to ShilohSamuel was the same kind of wild, giant, dangerous prophet.

Christianity is all about hearing from God and walking with God. If anybody is a true Christian, they themselves have heard from God. That is not the common language of Christians to say such a thing, nevertheless it is true. When a person knows and understands the correctness of repenting from their sins and taking Christ as their personal Saviour, they have heard the voice of God. That is prophetic.

It is my hope that through these pages understanding about prophets, prophecy and the need for the prophetic word will be aroused in the readers heart. Who knows? Some readers might discover their own prophetic gift whilst reading.

 

 

 

35. Awake Awake Oh Samuel And fill your horn with oil Anoint Anoint a new King to rule o’er Israel’s soil

Jealous brothers watch the oil run down David’s face.

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