Greetings from Harare rural. After attempting to write what looks like a CV, I feel the urge to discuss an issue which has been occupying my mind so much since the beginning of the year. I have in accordance with the dictates of my Christian faith, taken all the care to avoid deliberately offending any brother or sister yet if by any chance what I will write will offend anyone, may the Lord provide healing to such an offended soul.
By Abraham Mateta
2016 started with a hodgepodge of prophecies about Zimbabwe which ranged from predictions of the president’s death, the rulership by a female leader to the proclamation of the year of plenty. It appeared that some prophets began to speak like messengers of some political establishments be they pro or anti-status quo.
Indeed, since my childhood days, I have been subjected to people calling themselves prophets and referred to as such by the members of the community. I have been exposed to the Chipositori, Presbyterian, Adventist and Pentecostal brands of Christianity. This coupled with a thorough teaching of Advanced level Divinity always made me feel that I had a considerable ability to decipher and even write a book on the differences between false and true prophets.
However, events of this year have shaken and reshaken the kaleidoscope of my faith and if I were to write such a book distinguishing false prophets from true ones, I am afraid it would be a pure academic rather than spiritual exercise. For indeed, during the first ten days of this year, I had almost succumbed to the thinking that this year is a year of questions (gore remibvunzo). I need not bother you with the multiplicity of the questions I had but they could be summarised thus:
How could God who is one, have prophets speaking with so many conflicting and discombobulating voices about the same country? Indeed, prophet Amos of old says “Surely the Lord will not do anything unless he reveals it to his servants the prophets”. But certainly in such confusion, how are we to learn the plan of the Lord?
The resident shepherd of a congregation that I fellowshipped with in the UK, Pastor C Marufu once likened false prophets to counterfeit money. He argued that the fact that there are counterfeit notes of the US$ means that there are also true US$ notes. This means that the existence of false prophets proves that of true ones. With this assertion I concur without reservations.
Nevertheless, I find prophecy being murky waters because whereas it is easier to find the gadgets and means to distinguish fake notes from true ones, it is not so with prophets. After some prayer and reflection, I was left with the understanding that it is not meant to be easy after all. Mathew 24;24 warns of the rise of false christs and false prophets in the later days and I think we are living in them.
Jesus says that if it were possible such would deceive even the elect (emphasis added) (read particularly from the old KJV). The prophet Jeremiah also bemoans the proliferation of wayward prophets who speak from their dreams and thoughts (see particularly Jeremiah 23;21). Ezekiel also prophesies bitterly about those shepherds of Israel who have deserted real shepherding (see Ezekiel 34). As the bible teaches, false prophets pause a grave danger not only to themselves but to the whole nation and their followers (see Jeremiah chapter 23). So what should we do? How do we get out of such a danger? This worried me for the first ten days of this year until I came to these answers and I hope they may help you too dear gentle reader.
The first tool of protection is God’s word. Jeremiah says “the Lord watches over his word to perform it”. In other words the Lord respects his word so much and one who reads it and says it is assured of protection. The word of God is Jesus himself (see John 1;1). Through this word, everything was created. So you see how powerful it is?
Secondly, as the apostle Paul teaches, we need to discern the spirits. This is something which is not possible using human intelligence. Therefore the Holy Spirit must be present in our bodies and minds first as individuals and in our congregations as churches.
Overally therefore, it is important for believers to know that false prophets are a marked feature of the days which we are living in. However, in this New Testament, one will be safe by focusing on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. Let’s stop concentrating on finding which ones are the true prophets of God but rather let us worship the true God of the prophets. He is faithful and he will let us know the true ones.