|Psalm 19: 1-4a|
Throughout history, people have learned much about religion, and religious ideas, and perceive themselves to be something great due to their knowledge.
Some have called themselves a prophet, or claim they received some revelation or insight, while what they are doing is simply repeating things they have learned and are expanding on their interpretations.
A history scholar can decipher historical patterns and can sometimes guess what may occur in the future based on past events and how humans typically act.
A historian does not claim to have foreknowledge; they simply realize the obvious from previous patterns.
A good economist or investor can do the same, as can a learned political scientist.
Watching the news, almost anyone can guess the current wars and battles may worsen, but would such a guess be a prophetic revelation, or a guess of an obvious conclusion when looking at the past like the historian?
A prophetic revelation, as defined and highlighted in the Bible, is specific, detailed and sometimes is very difficult to not only believe, but conceptualize.
For example, when God was building His relationship with Abraham, God told him about a future time regarding land, his descendants and other details.
As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
- Genesis 15: 12-16Some revelations are for a specific person and not as a new set of rules or something that is to be obeyed, per-say.
One example is when the Lord speaks to Hagar regarding her challenging situation and the son she is to have.
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
The angel of the Lord also said to her:
“You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
- Genesis 16: 7-14This particular passage of Scripture is quite striking and beautiful.
This personal message to Hagar shows God's mercy towards a woman and child who were not included in the covenant God made with Isaac, but Hagar and Ishmael were still considered by God, since God is the All Merciful and Beneficent and the God who sees.
This message to Hagar is one to be considered when looking at the teaching in Romans 2 and elsewhere.
Some people argue that a miraculous sign is a qualifying evidence for a prophet revelation or evidence that what someone is saying is 'from God' and is true.
This is actually not fully the case when deciphering what is complimentary from what is contradicting...as will be illustrated in another part of this article.
What qualifies a prophetic revelation being from God?
We have to look at the earliest records of prophetic revelation to know how God defines prophecies and revelations.
Doing so we can understand the way God first spoke to those whom His testimony was first given.
Many have claimed that God spoke / speaks to or through them, but very few have proven their claims according to what God has defined by His Word.
What is understood about prophets and revelations is found in the historical record of God speaking to mankind, and is clearly expressed in the collection of the Old and New Testaments (the Bible).
There were other writings that accompanied the Bible, and many other writings the world-over throughout times who peered (came into view, appeared) alongside the Bible's books.
Where similarity and compliments arise, these can be somewhat accepted into dialogue for the sake of reasoning and acknowledging God's pluralistic approach to a singular sovereignty over all things.
However, where the record falls outside of compliment, but is stark contradiction by teaching and manifestation, we must look to the primary source which has been entrusted to those whom the covenants were granted: the Word of God.
First, a contextual background that explains clearly what is NOT to be considered from God before looking at the definition of prophetic revelation.
When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so.
- Deuteronomy 18: 9-14Notice the short-list of detestable things that were happening prior to Israel's entrance into the land, which sadly still happen in many parts of the world today under several guises.
These can be seen occurring throughout the world in attempts to attain spiritual wisdom, insights from Above and the like (when considering the messages found throughout time and whether they compliment or contradict each other).
Historically and contextually, the book of Deuteronomy tells of the time of Moses...several centuries after Abraham, Abraham coming several centuries after Noah.
That list is mentioned so that prophetic revelation from God is not confused for something else.
Verses 9-14 warn how NOT to go about seeking God's will and His revelations, like asking a neighbor important questions, or for help, instead of seeking these from your Father.
Obedience to God's Word is key.
Regarding the detestable practices, it should be mentioned that power or knowledge in spiritual terms isn't evidence that something is directly from God, but rather evidence that the spirit world is real and actually exists.
Not all spirits are in the light and from God.
The efforts people make in trying to find what is hidden, or deciphering what is unknown outside of God's allowance (what God has declared to make known), is what is listed there and are understood to be outside God's order.
It is God who reveals, teaches, and directs.
It is God who has held one end of a rope with those whom He has brought into a personal relationship; the holy men, women and their prophets of old.
My people, hear My teaching;
listen to the words of My mouth.
I will open My mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
His power, and the wonders He has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel,
which He commanded our ancestors to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.
- Psalm 78: 1-7Notice again: obedience is key (keep His commands) to recognizing, knowing and understanding God's prophecies and revelations.
Following God's instruction from the beginning, as found in the Bible, is the key to deciphering the difference between revelations from God or lies and half-truths from somewhere else (half-truths being writings that both contain compliments and contradictions from what came previously).
This is why the testimony from Adam (Genesis) to John (Revelation) has been compiled, because these testimonies and historical narratives were predicted...and have been fulfilled!
The entire testimony of the Old and New Testament is prophecy, revelation and affirmation of God and His many promises.
It is the dictionary and encyclopedia regarding who God is, how God is, and the Way to God's heart.
Continued in Part 2.