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Understanding Prophecy

Apr 05, 2006

When I read various prophetic words sent to me or posted on web sites, I am struck by the fact that even true prophets out there misunderstand things that God tells them. It takes a good knowledge of the Scripture to be able to interpret a direct word correctly.

I recall in my earlier years attempting to act upon the Word that He spoke to me, and then failing utterly. I was frustrated and gave up. Some years later, God simply did it without my help and made it look easy. After a while, I said to myself (and my wife): "What is the point of hearing His voice when you can't understand it anyway?" It was very frustrating.

Many go through this in their early years. Those who don't hear His voice tend to unjustly judge those who do, not realizing that it takes time to learn to hear. Actually, hearing is not the biggest problem. The problem is our lack of understanding. Or, more to the point, the problem is that we think we understand, because of our assumptions, and this prevents us from even questioning those basic assumptions.

There is a difference between the Word and our understanding of the Word. It is the same also with the Scriptures. The Scriptures are the Word of God, but our understanding of them is our personal Talmud. Jesus called them the "traditions of men." These are the idols of our hearts, and if we are too attached to them, God then speaks to us according to our idols (Ezekiel 14:1-11). He does this so that we will fail and thereby come to see that we had put our trust in idols, rather than in Him. There are very few sermons preached on this subject, and so most people are totally unaware of these problems and cannnot deal with them. I did such a study, however, in chapter 2 of my book, Hearing God's Voice. The chapter is entitled, "Hearing Without Idols."

For instance, God may tell a prophet something about "Israel." Most of them immediately assume that God means the Israeli State, but this is not necessarily the case. And then such a word seems to become embellished with all sorts of lavished praise upon the Israeli prime ministers, accompanied by assorted Arab-bashing.

The problem is that the Jews have become an idol in the hearts of many Christians. This idol has been set up by Christian teachers and preachers who assume that the Jews are Israel. To even question that basic assumption evokes fear in their hearts, because they believe that God will curse anyone who curses Israel (Gen. 12:3). That verse is true, of course, but should we not first determine who is Israel, before we label someone as cursed?

My parents taught me to worship the Jews. My grandmother was Swiss German, and as a result of World War 2, she was deeply ashamed of her German heritage. Her over-reaction was expressed in a near-fanatical love for Jews. I believe she was a Zionist first, a Christian second. Her son, my dad, was a Bible College graduate, a pastor, and a missionary for nine years. When I finally got out of Bible College and went to the University of Minnesota, I began to come into contact with different ideas that I had to deal with.

My Baptist minister inadvertently gave me material that made me question HIS dispensational views of prophecy. The material told the truth about the ACTIONS of the Zionists, and it made me question: "How is it that God would choose such people and condone such actions? How is it that we have no right to question the moral basis of those actions, lest God curse us?"

I prayed for understanding, and God soon led me to the right material. At first, I read the books to DISPROVE their contention that the Jews were not Israel. I found, however, that Scripture and history clearly proved that the Jews were NOT Israel. Not the Israel of Scripture.

I then went back to my dad and shared it with him. I showed him from Isaiah and Jeremiah and all the prophets how they treated Israel and Judah as two separate nations have two distinct prophetic destinies. When the prophets talked of "The house of Israel and the house of Judah," they were not being redundant. They were talking about two nations since the days of the great split after Solomon died.

After about an hour, my dad was in a state of shock. "I knew this," he said, "but I never really knew this." Like so many Christians today, it had never been pointed out to him the implications of that split between Israel and Judah and how it would affect one's prophetic understanding today. But UNLIKE so many Christians, he was honest and humble enough to learn from his young son. (I was just 21 at the time.)

The understanding of this one key alone changed our whole lives and our entire outlook on the world. Years later, this was further modified when my pastor (not the Baptist minister) did a teaching on Jeremiah 24, which taught me that there were two types of "figs" (i.e., Judahites, or "Jews" for short). This showed me that one's genealogy in the tribe or nation of Judah did not mean that one was automatically God-blessed. God actually required faith! What a novel idea!

The bad figs were those who had a heart of rebellion against God, but when God judged them, they refused to submit to the judgment. God said in Jer. 24:9 that He would make such people "a curse in all places where I shall scatter them." Those are God's words, not mine. Question: If God curses a Jew, does this mean that God must then curse Himself as per Gen. 12:3?

In the New Testament, those who rejected Jesus were the bad figs, who rejected both Jesus and the Father. (Take note, Mr. Hagee.) 1 John 2:23 says, "Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also." Furthermore, those who deny the Father and Son are ANTICHRIST, John says. Does this mean that John was in danger of being cursed by God as per Gen. 12:3? What about when Jesus called some Jews the children of the devil (John 8:44)? Did God then curse Jesus for coming against some of His "chosen" ones?

The truth is this: Those Jews who rejected Jesus in favor of a more militant Messiah were the bad figs who did not know the mind of God at all, despite their great learning. These Jews chafed under Roman rulership, even though Daniel had prophesied clearly that God had given the "iron kingdom" dominion in the earth. God had done this because of Judah's sin and rebellion against Him. Yet these people--and even the "scholars" among them-- refused to submit to that Divine Court ruling.

Those Jews who came to accept Jesus as Messiah and follow Him were the good figs. Though it took time for them to comprehend the plan of peace, they did ultimately embrace the divine plan. These became the true Jews (Rom. 2:28, 29). The bad figs, however, came under the same divine curse as their forefathers in the days of Jeremiah--and for the same reason.

This is not merely New Testament truth. This is written in many of the prophets in the Old Testament. The bad figs have no excuse for their behavior to this day. Zionism is simply a continuation of the bad-fig religious philosophy, and Christians have no business supporting it. I thank God that some Jews have seen the light. But I am also concerned that many Jews are converting to Christian Zionism, rather than to true Christianity. Only God can sort out that problem and judge righteously according to their hearts.

The point is this: True prophecies about "Israel" have to be understood in the light of Scripture and history. Otherwise, they will be interpreted according to the idols of the heart and lead us to disaster.

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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones