WHERE ARE THE TRUE PROPHETS? Reflection for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

As in the days of the ancient Prophets! - Evangelical Endtimemachine

Early in May 2011, both the internet and social media were agog with the “End of the World” prophecy of Harold E. Camping, a self-trained bible scholar and radio evangelist. Through the Family Radio based in Oakland, the preacher predicted that the world would end on Saturday, May 21, 2011, following the rapture of 200 million righteous people worldwide.

Camping spent Millions of dollars to send the message across the US and beyond with 5,000 billboards and about 100 million pamphlets printed in sixty-one languages. His followers also went about telling people to save the date as the world was finally ending.

The date came and passed, not even a bad weather report. Responding to the disappointment, Harold announced that God changed the date to Friday, October 21, 2011, and nothing still happened. Before the end of the year 2011, Evangelist Harold Camping had a cerebrovascular accident and remained with it till he passed on Sunday, December 15, 2013.

In Deuteronomy (18:15-20), we hear God telling Moses that He would raise a prophet like him for the people. God further says that He would put His words into the prophet’s mouth. That means the prophet would only say what God has commanded, not what he thinks or feels. Another important part is that if the prophet presumes to speak in God’s name an oracle God has not commanded or speak in the name of another god, he shall die

In the world today, prophecy and prophetic utterances are on the geometric rise. Almost every man or woman of God claims to hear directly from God, and most people are so gullible that they believe every trash that comes with the name of Jesus.

At the beginning of 2020, we were bombarded with series of prophecies about many lofty events that would make 2020 a magical year for everyone, but none of those who claim to see what is in the mind of God saw the Covid-19 virus coming. There were prophecies about victories for some leaders in politics and tremendous breakthroughs in other quarters, but they did not happen like Harold Camping’s prophecy.

So, what happened? Could it be that God lied? That is not even possible. The scriptures tell us that God is not a man that He should lie or the son of the son of man that He should repent (Numbers 23:19). Maybe God spoke, but the prophets did not understand what God said, or they heard from another god because the devil could speak convincingly as we read in Matthew 4:1f) during the temptation of Jesus.

Prophecy vs. Sentiments

One of the troubling facts in Christian practice today is that most people cannot distinguish between divine revelation and their human sentiments about certain realities around them. Consequently, what most people refer to as prophecies or revelations are their sentiments or even their wishes. It is human to wish that something happens, but it becomes an insult to turn it into a prophetic oracle from God.

For anything that happens around us, some people would try to attach some prophetic nuances. Some of them will quote Amos (3:7) out of context, where it says, “surely, the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secrets to His servants the prophets.” They forget that one of the things that characterize God is that He does whatever pleases Him (Psalm 115:3). By the way, if God truly reveals something, it would happen exactly the way He said it. Nobody needs to bring some explanations to it.

At the inception of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was nothing we did not hear about the virus from men and women of God. Some said it was a hoax and discouraged people from protecting themselves. Some others said it is a project of the anti-Christ harnessed through the 5G network, which is the fifth generation of the wireless mobile network faster than the previous network generations. Still, others proclaimed that the world was ending.

The high rate of infections and deaths seem to make the “Covid-19 prophets” to calmed down. But with the new vaccines, we are now hearing recent prophetic utterances about chips and altering the DNA. I mean, people are saying that God revealed that to them, and people are gullible to believe. Why? It is ignorance, which is itself a deadly virus.

These are Christians who claim to have faith in God. They soon forgot the Gospel of Mark (16:17), where Jesus says that signs would accompany those who believe in him, and by using his name, they would, among other things, drink a deadly thing it would not harm them. They could not remember that we are from God and we shall overcome because the One in us is greater than the one in the world (1 John 4:4).

Did we even forget that in the Book of Daniel (1:12f), Daniel and the three other young men fed only on vegetables and water for ten days and looked better than the others who were eating from the rich royal portion? If you are afraid of taking the vaccine, what about all the medications and processed foods you have been eating all these years? You are healthy not because you were careful; it has been God’s grace all along.

Moving Forward: Learning from Jesus and the Authority of God’s Word

Words are powerful, but they need an authority to become relevant. Mark’s Gospel (1:21-28) tells us that he taught in the synagogue in Capernaum, and the people were astonished because he taught as one having authority and not as their scribes. Here we see the distinction between speaking with power and speaking with authority.

When Jesus was preaching on earth, he did not say anything out of selfish sentiments or with the plan of gaining fame and validation from people. Jesus made it clear that he communicates what he had seen or heard from the Father (John 8:38; 12:49).

As baptized Christians, we are prophets not in the sense of predicting the future but in the strict sense of proclaiming the word of God by words and actions. Already, we have been given the authority to declare a thing, and it shall be established, and light will shine on our ways (Job 22:28). Instead of playing on our sentiments and feeling, let us rely on our faith and trust in God. Finally, those who were bold enough to make false prophecies need to be humble enough to accept their mistakes and apologize to God and the people they deceived.

Have a blessed week, and may God bless you richly.

Fr. Bonnie.

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