Posts Tagged With: Prophecy

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

Samuel approaches the light of death. David leaps into the darkness of running for his life.

King to be and Mentor Separate for the Last Time
(1 Samuel 19 :18 – 20:1a)
They say that “all good things must come to an end.” I don’t really believe that. It only applies in certain circumstances. Unfortunately this watering hole for the future king of Israel was about to dry up. Nothing at all to do with Samuel or David. Everything to do with demonised king Saul.
“And it was told Saul, Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” The king’s network of informers finally got the news to him. Just down the road from Gibeah to Rama was the young man he wanted dead.  David had not left in cowardice. He had gone with full knowledge that this difference between him and the king could conceivably split the nation.

Saul’s fear and trepidation re Samuel overwhelmed him, and prevented him from going himself to see Samuel.  Saul was surely becoming  aware, now that David – his character and calling, had been out in the public domain  for several years, that David  was a prime candidate as his successor. However, I am not sure it is possible that he knew that Samuel had anointed David to be king to succeed him. Whatever Saul’s state of intelligence on the matter, he had thoughts of murder no matter what. David had to die.

“Saul sent messengers to take David.” I believe Saul was just downright afraid to go himself. Any visible sighting or eye contact with Samuel might entice the prophet to damn him further. Saul would undoubtedly have, for the rest of his life, the sound of Samuel’s voice echoing in his sub conscious that, “The Lord has torn the kingdom from you and given it to somebody better.”  Oh the regrets and the torturous thoughts of, “If only I had not done that!”, or “If only I had done it another way!”
Saul’s anxiety was such that he sent others to get hold of David and bring him back to Gibeah. However, something quite remarkable was taking place in Naioth. It was Samuel’s main centre for the schools of the prophets that he had instituted.  One cannot help but get the impression that the inspired music, dancing  and resulting nabism (the manifestation of prophets and prophecy) were long term items of activity at Naioth, as was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of prospective prophets also, commonly manifesting  in and upon anybody who happened to be passing.  It is as if the Spirit of God filled the very air around Naioth as the worshipped and danced, and anybody who breathed the atmosphere (perhaps I should say “spiritual stratosphere”)around Samuel and his music were mugged by the very blessing and power of the  “Spirit of prophecy,”  and thus they  prophesied animatedly. It was a phenomena.
We are not told of the contents of the prophetic utterances delivered in and around Samuel’s schools of the prophets, but we can be sure that it was full of deliberations and declarations concerning God’s heart and mind concerning the nation of Israel, it’s kings, both present and future, and the mind of God about it all.
The messengers of the king, probably soldiers, drew near to Naioth, and before speaking to either Samuel or David, they caught a glimpse of a group of young men, with Samuel sat over them as the head of the “school,”  overseeing  the apprentices in their prophetic dancing, music, singing and  prophetic declarations. “When they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul and they also prophesied”. It was as if God Himself was preventing Saul’s messengers from getting their hands on David. Perhaps they prophesied  themselves about who was to be the future king of Israel, or the fact that Saul’s kingdom was torn from him. It was a remarkable occurrence. We are not told whether or not Saul’s messengers caught a glimpse of David.
How long it took these messengers to “recover” from what happened we are not told. Perhaps they finally “sobered” up and returned to Saul, without David. If they did return to the king, I am sure Saul would have remembered when a similar thing had happened to himself the same day Samuel had anointed him.  Would his experience of being like a drunkard under the power and influence of God’s Spirit  have caused him to excuse the messengers for their unsuccessful visit and their otherwise, “unlikely,” story of why they neither spoke to David or Samuel, nor returned with the son of Jesse. I am convinced that they did not even return to the king at all. My thoughts are, that having been overcome by the Spirit of God, they would have heard each other (if not themselves) prophesying certain relevant things about the issues that were enveloping Israel at this time. Saul’s kingship for one, the rise of David as another.  Having “tasted the power of the world to come” in such a glorious manner, my opinion is, they asked Samuel if they could stay and become part of the prophetic guild.
Whatever the truth of the matter was,  we have one of those strange repetitive items that arises in several biblical accounts. “When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied”. “When it was told Saul”, suggests clearly that it was not the messengers that told him.  Saul’s response to the situation strikes the reader  that he did not know what had happened to his first group. Otherwise, why send a second group? And then there was the same situation  with the second group. What was the logic of sending a third group of messengers? Unless, of course, they had not returned. He had heard that they had prophesied. He wanted to retrieve his servants. He must have been  annoyed and frustrated that, as king, even his simplest and plainest orders were not being obeyed. It must have been intensely annoying that the man who had declared that his kingdom was torn from him, was now, by the same Holy Spirit that had torn the kingdom, tearing away his own servants while attempting to obey his monarchical commands. Perhaps he did not see it as God tearing his crown from him. Perhaps he simply thought it was Samuel having a pique of temper.
Perhaps he thought the story he was told was a deception. After all, Saul was beginning to descend into fits of psychosis and neurosis. Three sets of trusty servants, to manhandle, arrest and return with David. Three failures. Could allhis servants be trying to deceive their master?
Whatever Saul was thinking, we are told nothing excepting  that finally, “Saul himself went to Ramah”. The king decides to expedite the whole thing himself. Nothing will stop him. He had decided to overcome his fear of Samuel and to just ride in to Naioth and snatch David from Samuel’s influence. He undoubtedly took a group of soldiers with him.  Between Gibeah and Ramah he “came to a great well that is in Secu.” This is a completely unknown location.  The well, at Secu must have been well populated at whatever time of day it was that Saul arrived. And so,“He asked, Where are Samuel and David? And he was told, “They are at Naioth in Ramah.” So he went on to Naioth in Ramah, and the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went on, he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah.”  He had further evidence that David was definitely at Ramah.  But the Spirit of God came upon him, as He had done to his own messengers.This meant that his mind and heart was otherwise too occupied by the glorious breath of the Spirit of God, to bother about David. For the last time in scripture, we hear that king Saul submitted to the hand of God upon him.

The scripture is graphic. Saul enters Naioth declaring the plan and purposes of God as inspired by the Holy Spirit to prophesy, possibly words that were to his own detriment. The king approaches the home of the old prophet, “uncontrollably” making statements before that must have been heard by all at Ramah and within the Naioth. He could not have actually seen Samuel, or David. The day that Samuel told Saul that the kingdom was torn from him, the scripture states that Samuel did not see Saul again until the day Saul died. And that meeting was in no way a natural meeting, it was after Samuel’s death. Saul came for David, yet saw neither Samuel nor David. What  kind of anointing was it that clothed Samuel, that induced such responses from people?  Saul then, “took off his royal robes and continued to prophesy before Samuel. He lay down stripped thus all that day and night.”

There must have been, from the anointing of the Spirit that rested on Samuel, what I can only explain as a contagious influence built up and developed through years of faithful preaching, praying and prophesying. Samuel had worked and exercised the muscles of his anointing for a lifetime. The commission on the life of Samuel the prophet was to set forth the Divine Oracles; to speak to the people of Israel the word which proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord, and to lead them out of the darkness of the days of the Judges, into a bright new future. In the case of the prophetic utterances of Samuel, this word was derived from immediate intelligent inspiration from heaven, received by what seemed like man to man conversations with God. So wonderful! So sublime!  
Both the messengers of Saul, and Saul himself, were constrained by a strange and irresistible impulse of the Holy Spirit to prophesy as they fell before the anointing of Samuel that seemed to pervade the air at the Naioth. In this seizure and ecstasy of mind, Saul, previously bent on the prosecution of a hostile purpose, stopped and indulged God himself in receiving words from heaven that needed to be heard by all that were around in the Naioth. There was, no doubt, something miraculous, something that must not be confounded with the ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit taking place. The picture is almost surreal.  It is not only wonderful to read about in the scripture, it was wonderful for the recipients of the phenomena. Men said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” The basic character of spirituality, sadly now, sat strangely and unwontedly upon this furious and worldly prince. So marvellous in men’s eyes was the transformation in this kind of visitation, that “Saul among the prophets” passed into a proverb of awe. The man who had come with murder at the top of his agenda, was lying naked and prostrate a whole day and night declaring words from God. Don’t be confused by it. Just stand in amazement at God’s grace.
In the case of the messengers, we are distinctly informed that it was not until they saw the company of the prophets prophesying and Samuel standing as appointed over them, that they also prophesied. What sight is so infectious, if we may be allowed to use the term, as that of a congregation of persons joyfully musically assembled for Divine worship, and joining, as with one heart and one tongue, in the sacred exercises of praise? When we see the company of the prophets prophesying, and our “Samuel” standing as appointed over us, the Spirit of God is upon us, and we also prophesy. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy. The Master Himself said that, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” The parallels and the lesson is unmissable.
It must have been an incredible sight. The king of Israel stripping off his royal robes, lying on the floor and prophesying for such a prolonged period of time.  Samuel must have been  laughing all the way through the episode. Perhaps the prophet watched from a slit in the window of his home. I wonder what David was doing? Secretly watching the scene with Samuel? The other prophets in the school had ceased in their supernatural declarations and gone to bed – perhaps. Yet the king of Israel was lying alone all night prophesying of things beyond his own natural knowledge. I cannot help but wonder what he spoke of.
David must have wondered what Saul would do to Samuel if and when he “recovered” from his Divine spiritual invasion. Under normal situations it might have been understandable to reckon that this visitation of grace on King Saul would soften his attitude towards David. Whether Samuel or David entertained the same thought we are simply not  told. We know nothing of any dialogue between Samuel and David while this strange occurrence took place. We understand that Saul initially fell in the courts of, or the community square in the Naioth as he prophesied. We are not told that Saul’s messengers, or Saul himself, even caught a glimpse of David at the Naioth, we know for sure that he did not see Samuel.
I believe that both David’s and Samuel’s opinion was that Saul was not going to change his attitude, even though he had seemingly been immersed into the blessing of the Spirit of God along with the whole school of the prophets.
For Samuel’s sake, and for everybody else’s sake that lived at Ramah, because of the unstable character of Saul, and to keep people safe from his anger and murderous spirit, David took the kingly decision. He knew he had to simply disappear. He must not allow Saul to see him. He must say,”Farewell,” to father Samuel. Oh the pain! Oh the chagrin! Perhaps they embraced. Perhaps there were tears. Perhaps nothing was said. Two kingly spirits such as Samuel and David would have known it was the right thing to do.
David packed whatever was the equivalent of a rucksack 1,000 years BC, and fled Ramah, just as he had fled his marital home.
1 Samuel 20:1 simply tells us, “David left Ramah.” David left in the dark of the night, aptly symbolic of the dark years that were to follow him. Samuel was left in the brightness of his home, possibly peeking through his window at a lost king prophesying into the darkness. Perhaps it is possible that David left without a word, leaving Samuel not even knowing that for his very life’s sake, the son of Jesse had left.
Whichever picture you choose, that picture of Samuel is the very last image we have of him alive in the scripture.
Samuel continued on with his school of the prophets till the day he died. He probably sent Gad to accompany David before he passed away.
It was truly the last few days of Samuel’s life. David would emerge out of the darkness and death of persecution into the glorious resurrection of kingship. But that was years away in the future.
David and Samuel never met again in their lifetime.
Categories: 1 Samuel 19:18- 20:1a, Samuel approaches the light of death David leaps into the darkness of running for his life. | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Readin’ ‘Ritin’ ‘Rithmatic Dance and Prophecy.


And what did you learn at school today?

The Schools of the Prophets

0001 Celebrating Yahweh

They are definitely in synch with each other

So! Can a person be taught how to be a prophet?  Well! There are “born prophets,” and there are definitely “made prophets.” There are Elijah’s, and there are Elisha’s.

At the very time where the divinely raised series of Judges was about to give way to a new dispensation, where a king would be installed by the popular cry, followed later by the royal familial succession, something strikingly new, incredibly contemporary to twenty first century Christianity,  and remarkably creative in Samuel’s day, was birthed.  Needless to say, under God’s inspiration it was Samuel’s idea.  Surely nobody else would have believed their ears if they had heard such a word from God. A sparkling new phenomenon emerged among the spiritual charismatics in Israel, facilitated and conceptualised by the son of Elkanah and Hannah of Ramah himself.  We are talking of the, “Schools of the Prophets”. The first one, presumably, being held in Samuel’s home, the Naioth. This, the earliest form of, “regular prophecy,” and, “potential prophets,” is often referred to as “nabism” for reasons we shall explain. (Nabi is anglicised Hebrew, meaning “prophet.”)

It was an aspect of the religious and spiritual life of Israel that the people either loved or hated.  It was loved by the Godly. It was despised by those that had things to hide, or were just plain sinful. Where some detected only heathen frenzy in the early prophetic schools, others saw the stirring of forces belonging to the essence of worship and deep relationship with Yahweh. Some saw in the schools of trainee prophets, people being clothed upon by the Spirit of God. It was the stirring of God’s Spirit in a person’s life, encouraged and cultivated in a manner hitherto unknown, even though it had been seen in the life of Moses’ sister Miriam (Read what happened with har immediately after Israel had walked through the Red Sea as on dry land). The worship system outlined in Leviticus was solemnly silent. The noise of music was not heard in the approaches to the Tabernacle, except for moments of euphoria when God’s hand had been seen by all moving on behalf of his people. It was of the Spirit and in the Spirit for those years in the wilderness, for it was all done in the shade of the pillar of cloud in the hours of daylight, and in the light of the pillar of fire in the dark hours of the night. So, there was no dead religion to begin with. Miriam, it would seem, was a “Nabi” in practice.

0001 Hasiddic Dance

I want to praise the Lord like him. Hassidic worship.

The peculiar feature about nabism, as described in First Samuel is that of what writers refer to as, “group ecstasy.”  Though ecstatic experiences, it would seem, were familiar among the Seers, these were things of which the early worship of Yahweh, i.e. prior to Samuel’s time, knew nothing. Miriam’s prophetic song on the shores of the Red Sea over the Egyptian military cadavers is the only vague suggestion of something similar during the earlier days of Israel’s history. Whether the music and the frenzy came with the birth of a movement that started in a fiery explosion of spirituality, and settled down later to a regular burning flame without the frenzy, I am not sure.  Surely there is absolutely nothing in scripture to suggest that Samuel received God’s word in anything but a calm and natural frame of mind, and in a normal physical disposition. One gets the general impression that most of Samuel’s words came in the middle of the night, as his first revelation did. The supernatural intercourse between God and Samuel is presented to us in scripture as if it was two old friends intimately chatting.

The prophet Samuel developed a,”School of the Prophets,” and was, as we shall see from later chapters, fully aware of the music, the dance and the frenzy that brought the scholarly groups of prophets to their reception and delivery of God’s word. It signified a profound change in the whole dynamic of spiritual life within Israel. God was doing something new amongst the people. The first wave of charismatics had come into existence. It was something new, totally different and clearly, of the Spirit of God.

As a twenty-first century  pentecostal/charismatic with deep interest in, and a strong inclination towards prophecy, I feel somewhat perturbed at the “group frenzy” aspect of these early days of the schools of the prophets.  Prophecy, I assert, does not in any way need frenzy. New Testament prophecy is never inferred as conjoined to frenzy or even requiring anything but a quiet receptive spirit.  But musical inspiration, dance and so called, “frenzy,” is definitely how these students of Samuel started in the realm of the prophetic (The word “frenzy is used by scholars and commentators, it is not really the word used in the Bible).  The passage in which a “hebel” (i.e. “School” or “Band”) of prophets (nabim) is mentioned for the first time in Israelite history, also notes that a group of them were coming down from a place of sacrifice (1 Sam 10:5). Religious, sacrificial sites are later also recorded as sites where the prophetic schools operated, e.g. Jericho (2 Kings 2:5), Gilgal (2 Kings 4:38), and Ramah (1 Sam 19:18).  So we are hemmed in to conclude, by the plain logic of the biblical text, that the Schools of the Prophets, were totally orthodox Jewish worshippers, touching and hearing God via His own Spirit and Word, and not primarily via the sacrificial system and the priesthood, yet  clearly not denying the sacrificial system of things. It was a fascinating innovation of the Spirit of God through Samuel’s genius. I am convinced that the music, dance and “frenzy” were all connected with the group dynamic of worship, and conceivably (and this is my unsubstantiated opinion) because the disciples of Samuel were youthful, energetic and lively.


Praise Him in the dance

The point must be made that the contemporaneous heathen cults of excitation with the aid of narcotics, and of physical self torture was, and is, totally alien to Jewish custom and tradition. Such a practice would definitely not have been in Samuel’s tenets of the faith. Yet, whatever was happening in the ecstatic energy and excitement of the groups of prophets was not hysteria.  Perhaps it was a way in which the prophets in training loosed themselves from their own intellectual and human restrictions in order to be abandoned to the Spirit of God.  I say this in as much as I would vehemently want to deter any would be prophet of God from doing the same today.

It’s the word frenzy that makes me shudder. “Energy,” “excitement,” and “rythym” I like better.  Music,I love. Give me more of it. Dance is lovely both to enter into and to watch – as long as it is inspired by the Spirit of God. The word “frenzy,” however, suggests the loosing of one’s sense of reason. Perhaps it would be better if writers started to refer to, “the release in the Spirit that fell on them through the full expression of worship in the dance.” Frenzy? I think I reject no matter how commonly non-charismatic/pentecostal commentators use the word.

We cannot despise or put aside the fact that there is one well attested element of Israelite traditional worship which could easily turn into ecstasy, and was and still is a normal and accepted as a, “valid,” mode of worship. I refer to what I believe is referred to in Jewish circles as, “the sacred dance,” that took place – and still does – on special occasions of joy and victory.  It is clear that this religious and deeply spiritual manifestation of dance was practised by the nabim with particular abandon, and that music and song played a great part in enlivening and heightening the intensity of the prophetic Spirit that fell upon them. There is plenty of evidence in the Old Testament that the religious spontaneous dance was accompanied by singing and musical merrymaking (2 Samuel 6:5: Isaiah 30:29: Psalm 25:6: Psalm 118:27. All the verses I have listed here are very much post Samuel.) What we are talking about is something that became established as a norm, initially via the oversite and encouragement of the prophet Samuel.

The state of ecstasy, or  “the release of the Spirit that fell on them through the full expression of worship in the dance,” caused the subjects within the dance to be set free from normal physical empirical lines of thought opening their human spirits and revealed the presence of a higher kind of knowledge and insight.  They then spoke in  and of the Spirit of God. This is the very definition of prophecy. This demonstrated that their release was not so much for the dissolution of normal consciousness, but very much to facilitate an endowment of higher power, and a consciousness of the presence of the Spirit of God.  The Nabi became the proclaimer par excellence, not only as the people who raised the act of praising and calling upon his God to its highest degree, but, as the speaker empowered by God to reveal His hidden will.  This was received and accepted as the loftiest worship of Yahweh, in virtue of which, the Nabi became the man in whom the word of Yahweh resided. David worshipped Yahweh “with all his might.” Chew on that phrase and all it suggests. It is hardly simply singing a meaningful hymn with one’s hands in one’s pockets. David’s example suggests dance, energy, excitement, pleasure, revelling in the knowledge of God, and an alignment with the Almighty. God give us more of it.


He is worthy to be praised!

Once the basic features of the earliest prophetism is properly appreciated, old controversies re prophetics as a theme, appear in a new light.  It is impossible to subsume it under any religious category, classifying it in terms of such pairs of opposites as physical versus moral, or, psychic versus spiritual.  The decisive factor in any assessment must rather be its position in the totality of the religious scene at this time of Samuel’s life, and how this particular development brought individuals, and ultimately the nation to a purer relationship with God, and set people, as individuals, free.

This new dimention of experience with God and the reception of God’s word via the Nabim took many manifestations.  It is easily demonstrable from scripture that group ecstasy affords no grounds for supposing that its practitioners and adherents are to be regarded as, “Religious Officials,” Levites or functionaries of a lofty religious position.  It is an unjustifiable simplification of the Old Testament narrative to classify Nabism as a whole, as a type of official, “Man of the Cloth,” status.  In the Old Testament, apart from these schools, the prophet was, generally speaking, a “loner.”  Although it is stated that Ezekiel was  a priest, and it is thought by some that Isaiah was of royal blood, nevertheless their moving in the “office” of prophet was completely distanced from the priestly or royal functions that they were involved in. Think of Elijah or here in our present primary focus with Levitical Samuel.

How little the appeal to individual passages affords conclusive proof of the religious “official “function of the Nabim, is brought out with especial clarity in the case of Elijah building an altar on Carmel. The erection of the “Yahweh” altar is an unmistakable expression of the exclusive sovereignty of the God of Israel over the contested area. No more is it possible to demonstrate a firm, “officially” religious connection in those guilds of nabim who lived a community life, than to prove that individual prophets were in conventional “religious” offices or functions, even though it is true that their colonies show a connection to important sanctuaries. It should be noted that in all the thirty passages of scripture in which priest and prophet are closely coupled, they all come from either Jerusalem, or the southern kingdom of Judah after the division of the original Nation State. Where the word of God was sought, there were prophets  named and unnamed who spoke the word of God.



Any discussion of this issue must take into account the ancient Israelite concept of Ruach (Spirit or breath), which is presented as the force behind the nabim. By this, Jewish Rabbi’s refer to the sudden, almost erratic move of the Spirit of God in a Nabi. Again, Elijah is the best example.  Anyone Elijah’s day, who seriously considers the suddenness of power that fell on, or rose up in a nabi cannot but have considerable misgivings about regarding the men who depended on this gift of grace, and who were guided by it in such unpredictable ways, as “religious officials.” The general perception and acceptance of the Nabim, throughout all of Old Testament history, seems to assume that they were simply inspired charismatic characters who, by human analysis,  may speak at any time God thought necessary.

If then these mediators of the Spirit of Yahweh did in fact contract firm connections with particular sanctuaries, it should be seen as a domestic deviation from their ordinary mode of free living, dictated by peculiar local and historical circumstances, which nevertheless still left room for the continued existence of independent prophetic guilds and individual wandering prophets. Because they were “schools” of prophets, the suggestion is that “students” or “scholars” were  actually “junior prophets” and therefore not yet qualified or fully established in those things that a prophet needed to be established with.

There is more than one piece of evidence to suggest that the ecstasy was not felt to be a disruptive foreign concept in the body of the religion and worship of Yahweh, but a new impulse bestowed by God Himself. In the Canaanite religious frenzy, the demonic manifestations were alien and ungodly entities entering the body of the Shaman.  It was the struggle against the religion of Canaan and the proclamation of the will of Yahweh which united these “junior,” “student” prophets of God, who in all other ways were so very different from the idolatrous demon worshippers of Canaan.

The generally acknowledged dress of the nabi was the hairy mantle 1 Kings 20: 38: 2 Kings 1:8: Isaiah 20:2.  Whenever a nabim has his dress explained in the Bible, that is exactly how they are attired.

This “movement” was something of crucial importance in the new things that God was doing in Israel through the life and influence of Samuel. The most prominent exponents of nabism in the time of Samuel, David and Saul bear witness to their participation in the  the national struggle for the purity of life and worship of Yahweh.  It cannot be denied that the rise of group ecstasy, precisely in the midst of the frightful time of national crisis, was no accident.  It was undoubtedly Samuel’s teaching and impartation of what he had learnt and what he had experienced that had birthed this entire stream – nay- a gushing river of spirituality. David was a prophet. The biblical description of his dancing before the Lord as he brought the Ark into Jerusalem for the first time is demonstrative of the whole issue we are talking about.  Although we need to add that we are not told that David prophesied in his dance, we should note that the vast majority of David’s contribution to the body of prophecy in the Bible came through his singing and music, many of which refer to dancing, jumping, clapping and whirling.



The distinction from mystical ecstasy may, in general, be accurately summed up by designating the prophetic experience as, “concentration and meditative ecstasy focussed purely on Yahweh,” in opposition to, “fusion ecstasy” (i.e. being infiltrated by a demonic or alien entity to gain control of something or somebody). Israel knew nothing of the prophet’s being able to thus gain mastery over God and force his way into the divine world.  Ecstasy as discovered by Samuel’s prophetic schools, with all its consequences, derived itself from a direct eruption of divine power, namely God’s Ruach, which overwhelmed a man and took him as a conscious and willing servant.  The Elijah accounts give the impression that its’ operations tended towards the enigmatic and capricious, rather than the Spirit in any way being at the Prophet’s beck and call.  It is Yahweh’s Spirit that enters into a man, and, in the days before Christ and Pentecost, it was only a repeated temporary experience – or so it would seem. Even the greatest of men of God can only have a share in the miraculous powers and superhuman knowledge because of the entry into himself of the wondrous living Spirit of God over whom Yahweh alone has ultimate direction. Prophets and prophecy are somehow touching God’s omniscience in their insights, visions, pictures, directions, predictions and declarations. In both Testaments it is graphic, directive, wonderful and intrinsically holy.


“Behold a company of prophets met him.” 1 Samuel 10:10

I believe Samuel realised that his gift was desired by God to be the regular “bread and butter” of the life of those who would lead God’s people, which in his day centred on the, “church,” that was Israel.  As much of his gift as he could impart to others, he would do. I am sure that Samuel wanted more people, with a gift similar to his own, to be permeating Israeli society with an ear to God, as well as a mouth for God.

These schools affected the development of Yahweh worship and the future of the nation of Israel profoundly.  Prophets seem to have become, dare I say, almost common place.  The word, “Seer,” became more generally used to mean anybody who had connections and manifestations with the spiritual realm, whether divine or demonic.  The term prophet was used as the generations passed, instead of Seer, and was firmly set in the psyche and daily usage of the people of Israel.  The prophets that surrounded David, and spoke to later kings were commonly from the prophetic schools. Samuel birthed a means for the word of God, as he himself received and perceived it – a word for the “now and the “here” –  to be flowing and accessible for the masses.  The impact was to be profound, extremely far reaching and very wonderful.

Saul, David, and, at the beginning, Solomon, had words from those prophets who were given access to the royal courts.  The son of Solomon started his reign surrounded with young advisors. No prophets are said to have been present or invited by King Rehoboam of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. This was undoubtedly one of the keys to the decline of Israel and the general dive of spirituality in Israel’s Northern kings.  Prophets saw the division of the kingdom coming and said so, and they were still not called in by any king or queen of Israel after the northern throne was initiated.

We will see other things later, but the birth of the schools of the prophets in Israel, in Samuel’s day was utterly huge in its significance. It was clearly a God idea.

In my own experience I have visited many churches where a wise, sedate and serene pastor, often elderly – but not always, would, in a quiet and undemonstrative way lead the people of a church into worship where dance, shouts of triumph and whooping were common place and very real in terms of spirituality. In talking with members in churches of this calibre, I have found that often the exuberant and demonstrative worship commenced within the church when the, “sedate,” pastor arrived. My assumption is that many pastors, no matter how “sedate” they may be externally, carry an anointing for such worship in their hearts and impart their spirit to the people. Old age, or physical frailty may inhibit the outward expression, but ministers communicate what is in their hearts. This phenomena, this syndrome of group dynamics in worship is exactly what I believe happened in the life and experience of Samuel. The cool, calm, serene prophet of God, senior in years as well as in experience and prophetic gifting, communicated to his disciples or students what he carried. And what he carried was wild, giant and dangerous. Thus the schools of the prophets came into being.

They continued, as far as we can read right through to the days of Elisha. By Isaiah’s day the schools seem to have become part of the institution, and full of drunks and false prophets. By that time the function of the schools was finished. The days of the individual giant dangerous writing prophets had arrived.

Categories: And what did you learn at school today?, Readin' 'Ritin' 'Rithmatic and Prophecy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things Given. Things Developed. Things Grown. Things Matured.

Things Given. Things Developed. Things Grown. Things Matured.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

True gifts are given without prejudice to the one receiving. That is why they are called gifts.  Doh! If it is earned by any means, it is not a gift. Some gifts are given by humans to humans. The best gifts are given by God to humans. Some people are born with serious gifts of talent, insight, intelligence and even an exceptional understanding of what life is all about. Those are gifts from God embedded in the person, somehow – somewhere as conceived in the womb.

Humanly speaking, in the complete natural, some people are born so exceptionally gifted that their very existence and period of life makes history.  For example, Mozart was, “keyboard and violin concert competent,” and a major composer at the age of 5. As he grew he composed in an incredibly prolific manner. His most famous pieces were written in his later years.  Although he was given a gift by God that overshadowed almost anybody that ever lived in the realm of music, he wisely spent his entire life developing the gift that he was very conscious of, dwelling within him. What he had been born with was great. Yet he worked hard with that embedded gift as if he had no gift at all. The awesome, “gift of music,” that he developed grew in style, complexity and attractiveness, and he was still maturing in that gift when he passed away at the premature age of 35, one month before his thirty sixth birthday.

What was given him in birth, he developed. What he developed through hard work facilitated a growth in the skill of exercising his gift. The output of that effort, on top of what was given by God, matured into something quite awe inspiring. But make no mistake, the initiation of his passion and desire for music was a God given gift. The gift was embedded in Mozart’s personality and mind, making the gift part and parcel of his attributes as a human being. Incredible eh?


An airbrushed image of Ludwig Van Beethoven

Beethoven spent the early days of his life much under the shadow of Mozart and was yet another gifted man in the realm of music. Like Mozart, Beethoven wasn’t just, “keen about music.” Music was his life. Composing was what he was made for, and he was so sensitively aware of what he was made for.  He tragically lost his hearing in his later years. We may feel a little sympathetic for anybody who loses their hearing, but this was a kind of, “death blow,” for Ludwig.  Imagine a footballer losing the use of his legs, or a singer losing their voice. Everything Beethoven lived for was in his hearing. The final years of his life saw his hearing all but disappearing completely. He still, however, composed symphonies.

“But surely! That’s impossible!” I hear you say. “How did he do that?” He carried on his life’s mission and composed symphonies by living in an upstairs flat with a wooden floor. Next, he bought a Grand Piano and chopped the legs off. Then he would lie on the floor with an ear hard to the floorboards. He knew what he was playing by the vibrations, not by what he heard. What effort! What passion! What purpose! What a sense of destiny! Nothing but nothing could have stopped Beethoven but death itself. I  do not think Ludwig van Beethoven had any religious convictions, at least not that I have read about, but his sense of purpose and knowledge of, “This is what I was born for,” utterly dominated his life.

My point is exactly the same as it was about Mozart. Beethoven was born with an incredible gift. But although this man had a gift that millions of music lovers would have given their right arm for, nevertheless he worked harder, studied music harder and composed longer than those that do not have such a gift. In fact one of his idiosyncrasies was that in order to keep himself awake for extremely long hours while he was composing  and not wanting to fall asleep, he would immerse his head in freezing cold water for as long as he could. It is thought by some that it was this practice that precipitated his deafness. How amazing is that?

These two men had things given from heaven, things they developed, things they grew that resulted in glorious maturation.

All human character gifting, or talent gifting needs developing. Only by development can it grow and mature. This principle is consistently true when discussing things to do with the Spirit of God when anointing the lives of people in whatever sphere. We are, here, specifically looking at the issue of prophecy and prophets.

Even though this principle is applicable to all gifting of character, or of a supernatural work of God, I am homing in on the one subject of Samuel the prophet and prophecy.  All things to do with prophecy being received and delivered are in the, “Potential for Development,” department.  No matter how ahead of others a gift may be, development is simply the priority of life.  All of life is about development, growth and maturation. Whatever a person’s gift may be, and even if in your particular field you are like a Mozart to a tone deaf beginner, development is what you are made for and the reason you are alive.

For people inexperienced in hearing God’s voice and then delivering what He has said, we need to remember Romans 12:6: “Prophesy according to your portion of faith.” The statement clearly infers that as one developes one’s prophetic gift, so the realm of faith will expand in one’s heart. By the growth of faith, the one prophesying gains the capacity to hear and receive messages of greater weight, and more directly personal words from heaven.

This concept of development is exactly what is exemplified and plainly witnessed in Samuel’s life. The principle was birthed in the son of Elkanah at his “initiation” into the prophetic. The prophetic revelation of Yahweh given to Samuel was a message that comprised all the major elements of prophecy in one brief moment of unveiling to Samuel, and suggests certain traits in the process of the giving and the receiving of the word of God that tell us so much about the man and about prophecy itself.

  • It was predictive. “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle” (1 Samuel 3:11). Samuel’s first prophetic word was foretelling the future. Not all prophecy is predictive, but all prophecy is a declaration of God’s thoughts, will and word at that moment.
  • God’s first word was “Behold!” Or in modern English, “See!” 1 Samuel 3:10 tells us that Yahweh Himself was stood near Samuel when He spoke to him. Strangely and mystically, we are not told whether or not Samuel saw the Lord standing near him. But clearly, the inference is that Samuel had something to see as well as to hear.
  • God’s act in talking like this to Samuel was an example of the concept laid down in Amos 3:7, even though Samuel lived several generations before Amos even wrote it, i.e. “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”  Although it was Amos who contributed this truth to the canon in the eighth century BC, it is a truth that has always been factual since Enoch was alive in Genesis 5. We are led to believe that prophets were an incredible rarity in Israel in those days immediately prior to Samuel’s birth. God knew what and when He was to do a thing, and so broke into our time and space world to share Himself with Samuel. God knew who and what Samuel was. The word that came to Samuel in his bed was an early verification of his prophetic status. How wonderful that God could not perform His will until he had shared it with a young lad.
  • The prophecy came to a specific person at a specific time. The Lord came and stood there near to Samuel and called his name four times. It resonated with Samuel as a warm loving father speaking to him. I know that is true, because he believed it was Eli calling him at first. God draws near to those who are at rest in themselves and with Him. Calling Samuel four times says a lot about the character of God and the value of Samuel’s heart and attitude to the Almighty.
  • It was a word of knowledge. He was told things about Eli and Israel that he probably had no clue about.
  • It was a word of wisdom and deep insight concerning Eli’s lack of parental authority with his sons. The wisdom in God’s word was God’s alone. But the messenger always sounds as wise as Him that sent him in his presentation. That is why the gift is a mystery when the uninitiated hear the gift in manifestation.
  • It was a revelation to Samuel of the times he was living in. Later kings surrounded themselves with, “men that knew the times.” God Himself taught Samuel concerning the times in which he lived.



  • Now that Samuel was the carrier of such an intimate portion of God’s planned activities, he was marked as one of God’s prophets. God had chosen him, and from then on his life’s gifting, developement and obvious maturation convinced the entire nation of Israel that Samuel was a prophet of God.
  • His gifting made him famous. Fame clearly did not spoil his character.
  • Because Samuel was the carrier of the message it would seem to some that he could speak God’s word at anytime and anyplace at his own whim and fancy. This is perhaps the biggest error that Christians generally hold concerning prophets and the prophetic. The easier a prophet moves in the prophetic, and the more prolific he is in that gift , the more some people are misled into thinking that they can ask a prophet at any time to give them “a word.” The ease and spontaneity of their gift is definitely NOT a sign that they can deliver prophetic words on demand. This is a huge issue in the minds of many sincere Christians. However, the rider must be added, that of a prophet is walking in continuous fellowship with the Holy Spirit, he could, conceivably answer the issues of life with a continuous sustainable flow of the prophetic.  I have heard several prophets say that once they step into the flow of the anointing, they can prophesy all day long. I have even heard some say that once ministry is finished, they find it difficult to step out of the anointing and come “back to earth,” as it were. The anointing flows like a river.
  • It demonstrated Samuel’s great faith at that point of time. The New Testament talks about people prophesying according to their portion of faith. Samuel was predicting something hugely impacting on the future of Israel.
  • Samuel in his youthful innocence was fully accountable to a father figure. He held nothing back from Eli, but told him everything.
  • Eli had been and was an ongoing mentor to Samuel right up to the point of Eli’s death. Even though Samuel’s initial prophetic gift at its birth was beyond Eli’s, nevertheless Samuel submitted to a human authority that was older than him, but not above him in gifting. Character is always more important than gifting. Being under authority is always more necessary than being in authority.
  • All the above, and the account of the call in 1 Samuel 3 lets us know that Samuel was not consumed by any kind of arrogance or pride about his prophetic words or his intimacy with God. To open the gates of the Temple i.e. the Tabernacle for worshippers, even before Eli was up and out of bed, and then to reveal the complete revelation to him shows his freedom from pride or a maverick independent spirit. Eli’s harsh bullying words to get Samuel, to tell him the message he was given were hardly necessary to the gentleness of Hannah’s son.
  • Samuel was tested and proven here on issues of character. Because of the incredible influential power of the prophetic it is seriously vital to the purity of the prophetic gift that the character who speaks on behalf of God carries the appropriate character requirements that befit the office of prophet.

All this – and Samuel was still a “lad.” The gift, and the man with the gift, must have spent his entire life on a learning curve that never ended until he died. What he had and treasured, what made him a key figure in Israel’s history, was given him from heaven. His biblical biography screams at us that what was given him was developed. The ever increasing breadth, depth and scope of his prophetic ministry show how he had grown in that gift by an ever deeper submission to God.  His anointing of David, and the impact of his later time with him while the son of Jesse was on the run from Saul, shows the calm yet supernatural nature of the prophet.

Whatever gift a person has, whether it be preaching, singing, prophesying or even praying, that gift can be developed, grown and matured. It is a complete fallacy to think that because a person may have a gift that few have, then that gift must have been given to a person in a state of full development. No!

There are things happening in the body of Christ today that are ever expanding the borders of faith as well as church practice of the faith. It is proof that whatever has been given to the church needs developing by the church.  Since about 1900 there has been much preaching and teaching of the restoration of things that were lost to the general body of believers on the planet in the early centuries after Acts 2.  As general examples, we have teaching on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the five-fold ministry gifts, team ministry and many other closely linked biblical truths. The apostle Peter talked of the, “Restoration of all things,” and another translation has it as, “A time when God restores things.” Many bible teachers believe that the last thing lost is the first thing restored and that the first thing lost is the last restored. Apostles and apostolic ministry, the ministry of the miraculous, deliverance and prophecy were some of the first truths to be neglected after the passing of Paul and the twelve apostles of the lamb.



In all that has been restored in the church worldwide in the last century or so, the glorious manifestation of the apostle  and the prophet are two strong, wide planks that have never been put into the flooring of the twenty-first century church.

To grasp the prophetic properly we must understand the tension between two principles. Firstly, all prophecy, if it is true prophecy, originates and is initiated by God alone. That is an absolute. If the word is not sourced in God it is not prophecy as scripture tells it. 2 Peter 1:21 says plainly, “For prophecy never has its origin in the will of man, but men spoke for God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” God as the source is the absolute. Man as the recipient is the ear clearing, mouth training developer of the heavenly treasure that comes to him.

It is sometimes difficult to keep hold of this fact when a prophet that has much experience and deep understanding prophesies quickly, prolifically and spontaneously, almost seeming to speak at his own whim and fancy. Prophetic words might flow like free running water, but the source is still God Himself. In the New Testament we see that not only is God the Father the source of all prophecy, but that the Holy Spirit is the agent. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy. Prophets are conduits of what God has delivered. The Spirit is not only operative in the delivering of the prophecy to the prophet, but manifest, evident and powerful in the very proclamation of the prophecy. Because relationship with God was the true source of Samuel’s faith, as it is the source of the Christian faith, calling prophets “conduits” suggests that they are passive and even unfeeling towards the messages that God gives.  Jeremiah, however, wept as he prophesied, Jesus Himself wept over some prophetic words He uttered, Moses was deeply angered with some things that he was given to deliver. It is my observation of life that true prophets feel their message as well as hear and speak it. The feelings that accompany their prophetic words are God given emotions that communicate God in the telling of the message.

2 Peter 1:20 says, “Above all you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.” For prophecy to be clear and pure living water it must not be mixed with personal doctrinal hobby horses, or human moods and frames of mind.  Prophecy was greatly interfered with in the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. These two prophets were contemporaries even though they lived hundreds of miles apart. There were “prophecies” that Jeremiah heard that were from, “another spirit” (Jeremiah 23:13), and that came from some men’s “own stubborn heart” (Jeremiah 23:17). Jeremiah said that some false prophets spoke, “from their own mind” (Jeremiah 23:16), and others, “the delusions of their mind” (Jeremiah 23:26). Some things he heard were, “Stolen Prophecies” (Jeremiah 23:30) and, “plain lies” (Jeremiah 23:25). Ezekiel said that men spoke from their “own imagination,” as well as, “their own spirit”(Ezekiel 13:2-3). This makes it absolutely clear that prophets and indeed anybody claiming to have the word of the Lord, must be discerned by the receiving body of Christ for dividing between what is truly God speaking and what is not.

My interlinear Hebrew Bible asks, in Jeremiah 23:18, “Who is standing in the deliberation of Yahweh?” That means who is there standing in the presence of God. “And who is he that is hearing and seeing the word?” The word has to be heard in the presence of Yahweh. It has to be perceived and marked from the very presence and counsel of the Almighty, and then delivered.  Such a practice of being in His presence and counsel, hearing His words, perceiving His words, and telling His words, is a gift to be developed, grown and matured. No matter how much developing, growing and maturing goes on, the message must still be, and perceived to be the gift of the prophetic word from God Himself, nothing less, nothing more and nothing but.



Categories: Being a Prophet is a privilege, Definition of a Prophet, God's own Training School., Things Developed, Things Given | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Own Definition of a Prophet

My Definition of a Prophet



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.”



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.”



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.



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”.



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.



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.



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.



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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I See Through The Smog a Bright Future On The Horizon.


A secret glimpse into God’s plans both dark and bright.

(1 Samuel 2:27-36)

1 shiloh_tabernacle_drawn_lg

This is the exact spot, so the archeologists say, where Shiloh was located, and the layout of stones and ridges suggesting where the Tabernacle was placed.

And then; still in this same period of Samuel’s life, a visitor arrived.

The man is left nameless.  He prophesied.  Was he therefore a prophet?  The Prophetic word he was given to pass on to Eli was a bombshell that must have shaken the old man to the foundations of his character.  It was on a personal level: to do with his family.  On the other hand, if the man was talking of Samuel with his opaque promise of some kind of a future successor, Eli had potential excitement to his finger tips at the conceivable glimpse of how the youth was going to turn out.

Whatever dialogue transpired prior to the delivery of the, “Word,” is not revealed.  Because of the seriousness and the far reaching effects of this message, we shall quote it phrase by phrase.  He opened with, “Thus says the Lord.”  In the Old Testament when God communicated in a slightly different manner than in the New, this prefix was the weighty precursor to many a Divine deliberation from prophets.  The assertion is that, “This is what Almighty Yahweh says, and the message I am about to impart was received by me in exactly the same words as I shall speak.”  Weighty stuff indeed!  Prophets, do not use this word lightly – ever! Recipients,“Ignore this phrase at your peril!”

This, incidentally, is the first biblical sight of a prophet since the days of Deborah.  We are talking of possibly a hundred years or two since the likes of this had last occurred in the biblical narrative real time.

I have ransacked several versions of the Old Testament to gain the general consensus of what went on here.  Some of the sentences are extremely difficult to translate, according to the experts.  On top of that, once you have settled the translation, the interpretation of the message and its long term meaning becomes an even higher obstacle.



“Did I plainly appear unto the house of your father, when they were in Egypt, in Pharaoh’s house?  And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon my altar, to burn incense, to wear an Ephod before me?  And did I give unto the house of your father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?”  These rhetorical questions that Eli would have silently nodded to, commenced this terrible prophetic dirge of doom.  We paraphrase this opening simply as : “Did I not swamp your family with privileges and blessings to an amazing degree?”

Eli knew that the nameless visitor was referring to historical facts of Israel’s youthful but stunning history.  The answer was a knowledgeable, “Yes”! to all the questions posed.  From this the knife of God’s judgement pierces Eli’s heart.

“Why do you kick at my sacrifices and at my offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honour your sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?”  In plain English; “Your lack of discipline on your son’s abuse of the sacrifices, demonstrates how you honour them more than me.  Why?”  God’s logic is like a steamroller to crack a nut.   It is irresistible in its damnation.  Ungainsayable!  “For this reason the Lord God says, “I said indeed that your house, and the house of your father, should walk before me forever”: but now the Lord says, “Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.  Behold the days come, that I will cut off your arm, and the arm of your father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in your house”.”  It sounds like the damnation of accidental, or murderous deaths to all the descendants of Eli’s family.



God now thrusts deeper still.  My version:  “I promised that you would be priests forever.  But this abhorrence of Me and My sacrifices, means I shall deal with your family, take its power away, and all your progeny shall die whilst young.”  It seems amazing that the misconduct of one man in one generation, should  affect so many in future generations.  This word came to pass in Saul’s reign as Eli’s grandson and great grandson came to early demise in those days.  The power was removed from them when Solomon took the throne and displaced Eli’s descendants with Zadok, the true High Priestly line through Eleazar.

The heavily complex Hebrew language of verse thirty two of this chapter has translators in total disarray.  From version to version it says what seems like totally different things.  Having read through eleven translations, as well as various commentaries, I am still not sure if there is any one I should prefer.  So; using the principle that when the experts disagree the layman is free to choose which he thinks is wisest, I hereby choose the lot of them, and come out with the following notes.

The prophet explains that God will give Israel wealth, blessing and pleasure in the future.  Good will be done to Israel.  This is reference to the future with David and Solomon, the foundation of which was built on Samuel’s teaching.  However, Eli’s family would not partake of these blessings and will – it is predicted – be envious of those in the outpouring of prosperity.  There may even be suffering and trouble for his family.  Eli, or maybe just his future family, shall see shortage, need and distress in God’s House while the prosperity spreads.  The intrigue and “grabbing lifestyle” of those that “wore the Ephod,” (another term for those who were priests) is open to public dispolay in the reign of Saul and the life of David.


Eli tutoring Samuel.

An adversarial enemy shall be seen in the habitation of God.  It is described by others as, “distress,” but Eli shall actually see it.  This must refer to the taking of the Ark, for Eli was not alive to see the sack of Shiloh, or indeed anything thereafter. The news of the stolen Ark of the Covenant is what socked him, leading to his death almost instantaneously. This will occur in the midst of the blessings given to Israel. The blessing I believe were of the nature of a man in particular; his name was Samuel.

Then comes the pronouncement that all and sundry of the translator’s fraternity agree on: henceforth, nobody of Eli’s family will live to old age.  One man translates the word, “old man,” as, “noble.”  To make the prophecy even harder on Eli and his posterity, the prophet adds that even those that live the longest of his family shall grieve their own heart. Jewish tradition believes that Eli was 100 years old when he died.

The doom and damnation is set.  If only father had spanked the two when they were little and gained enough discipline and respect from them so that they would obey him in adult years, things could have been so different for the entire future of Israel.

A sign is then promised by the itinerant prophet as a token that the entire message shall come to pass.  The sign is that the two wayward sons shall perish on the same day.  This final aspect of the message was relevant to Eli for less than a minute.  Years later, less than sixty seconds after the news was broken to him of the death of his two sons, he was dead.  God’s economy is bigger than the first and most prominent meaning of this shocking message.  The fact is that God knew that this prophecy would gain fame by being repeated and repeated over and over again through the following years.  How else could the writer of First Samuel know that this prophecy was spoken.

The man of God closed his errand with a prediction that must have been as heart-warming to Eli as the former was chilling. “I will raise up for me a faithful priest that shall do according to that which is in my heart and in my mind:  and I shall build him a sure house; and he shall walk before my anointed forever.” 

As per usual there are two ways of interpreting what was said.  There is , of course the immediate historical perspective, and then the long term prophetic insight to the words, referring in some way to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Was this about Samuel? Or was it about Christ? Or, more likely still: Was it about them both?

This fits Samuel as well as the Saviour.  In fact it fits Samuel more than it fits Christ.  All but the last phrase suits the two.  “He shall walk before my anointed forever,”  cannot refer to Christ, as He was the anointed.  Referring to Samuel he would walk before Saul during his lifetime revealing God’s heart to him.  Saul was the Lord’s anointed.  But Samuel would walk before Christ in eternity.  Christ was the archetype of the Lord’s anointed.

5 eli and his sons

Eli trying to correct his sons.

The more I try to put my mind in the place of Eli’s as he was being spoken to by, “Nameless,” the more I think that this closing promise would be the silver lining on the dark clouds of doom.  He had done a good job on Samuel, even if he had failed miserably in the way of Hophni and Phinehas.

“And it shall come to pass that everyone that is left in your house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, “Put me, I beg you, into one of the priest’s offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.”

The meaning of this is plain when seen in the context of the extra difficult verse 32. Those that are of the priestly family, yet in poverty, will be asking the trustworthy and faithful priest (Samuel) for a job so that they can earn a little money and a little food.

The prophet that delivered this message is never referred to again.  He disappears off the face of the biblical narrative.  But his words are there for us to squint and wince at three thousand years later.  Eli must have been “blown away.” The Account informs us that Eli was blind and overweight.  Whenever his position is mentioned he is either lying or sitting.  How he survived this news I shudder to imagine.  Of all the shocks and knocks that this man met through life, this pronouncement eyeball to eyeball would have done the most to suck his life from him.  Many people would have given up at the point at which he had arrived.  The harshness and the finality of the heart of God towards him and his diabolical duo would surely have stilled and stopped the heart of the majority.  This prophetic word was set in concrete.  The future was, to a degree, revealed.  Terrible things at the Tabernacle were to come.  Hophni and Phinehas were to die on the same day.  No more old age in the family; and his offspring were already adult.  Familial poverty. National prosperity.  A divinely raised faithful priest. Stuff to chew on. Stuff to ponder long and hard. My heart goes out to Eli at this point.

Man has a failing (or is it a blessing?) to see most things in the context of his own immediate history.  In Eli’s mind these heavyweight prophetic statements must have also been seen in his immediate context.  Correctly, or incorrectly perceived by the old man, the, “Enemy in the dwelling of God,” could only be his sons, the godless of Israel, and/or the ungodly nations among whom they lived.  The faithful priest could only be Samuel.  Did Eli have a vision of the Messiah to come. Oh!  If only he had been a different sort of parent.  If only he had stood up to the wickedness of his sons earlier in life.  If only!  If only!  The most painful moments of anybody’s life are those spent contemplating what could have happened if they had done something correctly, which was in actuality done wrongly or badly.  Those regrets are heightened to a most hurtful degree when the repercussions of their wrong doing bring desolation, hurt and damnation upon others.



At this point of time Eli must have wept.  He must have been in an inward state of heartbreak.  Death became him more than life.  Annihilation was preferable to an eternity counting the cost of his own “non-action.  Poor Eli!  No words could comfort a man in such a scenario.

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The Prophetic Imperative for the Conception Birth and Life of Israel.


No Prophecy! No Israel! No prophecy! No Church!

6e330-a8a8a8jewish-manIt is necessary to perceive the importance of prophecy in the life of the nation of Israel. Israel was conceived through the prophetic words spoken to Abraham. God Himself spoke to Abraham. The Source of all prophecy spoke directly to Abram when he was still in Mesopotamia. The text informs us also that, “The Word of the Lord came to Abram”. In normal parlance that would simply suggest that a thought from heaven had dropped into Abram’s mind. But when talking to Abram we realise that the “Word of the Lord” that came to him was a person (whom I understand to be He who was the Living Word who was with God and was God i.e. The Lord Jesus Christ.). It is commonly understood by Bible readers and scholars that, as well as the Angel of the Lord (understood by many to be a Christophany) uttering God’s Words over him about his seed, the Land and the nations, he would be the father to, and the ownership of that land for that nation in perpetuity. This tells us that the nation of Israel was conceived through prophecy.

It is important to note that just as the prophetic word spoken to Abraham brought Isaac into being, as against Ishmael; and just as the far flung future of Abraham’s people in Egypt and their deliverance was given prophetically to the patriarch; and just as the prophetic word to Rebekah brought Jacob into focus as against Esau, and again, just as Jacob and the 70 members of his people went down into Egypt as foretold to Abraham, so the essential nature of the prophetic word was embedded into the DNA of all Jews. Moses was the deliverer whose mission was foretold in prophetic circles. The deliverer who would set Israel free. It was the word of God prophetically delivered by Moses that set the nation in order as they approached Canaan from the Eastern bank of the Jordan.

The entire gestation period of the nation, the birth and the battles, the sojourning in the desert and the settling in the promised land was soaked in prophecy and directives from heaven.

0081a-00david5Israel as a nation was preordained, predestined, predicted and prepared to possess the land of Canaan, to be innumerable in their multiplied numbers, to preserve the oracles of God, and to be the people to whom the Messiah would be given, and from whom a virgin would produce the Messiah.

Prophecy birthed them, maintained them, re invigorated them at times and condemned them at others. Israel, throughout the entire Old Testament period, was a hotbed of prophetic pronouncements, prophetic characters, prophetic fulfilments, and prophetic historical events. God speaking to them, through them, for them and for the world. Israeli prophets and prophetess’s heard God, and spoke. And we read them today and tremble at their authority.

Christ Himself was the ultimate fulfilment of all the ultimate prophecies of human deliverance. The Old Testament prophets foretold not only the coming of Messiah, but without understanding their own words, predicted that the whole world would submit and be held accountable to Messiah. Yes! The gentile church was spoken of, even though Peter tells us they did not know of what they were speaking. The church age was prophesied, though not seen or understood by Jewish people, or even those prophets that gave the utterance.

We need, at this early point of our Samuellian considerations, to understand the absolute essential and imperative nature of prophecy to Israel. Prophecy concerning Israel’s existence, prophecy re the Land of Canaan becoming the home land of Israel, and never forgetting that prophecy re Messiah and the church is what the Old Testament is all about. Then after Christ’s ascension and the descent of the Spirit of God, prophecy was still common within the church. Saul was sent out as a missionary minister and became the Apostle Paul through the means and direction of prophecy. We need also to be clear concerning the vast body of prophetic statements and predictions within the corpus of Hebrew prophecy that vast swathes of biblical prophecy have not yet been fulfilled. Christ will return. Jerusalem will be the centre of his millennial reign. Nation states, still existing in Christ’s earthly reign, will make pilgrimages to Zion to sit at His feet and learn.

All this cannot be ignored or refuted. These facts embedded in the DNA of the entire bible, and in the genetic structure of the beliefs and practices of the heroes of faith in the scriptures, are voluminous meant to feed us, set us to be spiritually aglow, and to live lives that prophetically present the gospel.

We need to grasp the whole vista that is prophecy.

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