The primary responsibility of a prophet is to bring direction and correction to their Church, but God may raise some prophets up to be a Prophet to the Nation. Many of the prophets of the Old Testament found themselves confronting kings, and taking an important role in national affairs. Some also addressed their words to foreign nations. They demonstrate the ministry of the Prophet to the Nation.

A thousand or ten thousand ordinary priests or pastors or teachers could labour quietly on almost unnoticed while the spiritual life of Israel or the church was normal. But let the people of God go astray from the paths of truth and immediately the specialist appeared almost out of nowhere. His instinct for trouble brought him to the help of the Lord and of Israel. Such a man was likely to be drastic, radical, possibly at times violent, and the curious crowd that gathered to watch him work soon branded him as extreme, fanatical, negative. And in a sense they were right.

He was single-minded, severe, fearless, and these were the qualities the circumstances demanded. He shocked some, frightened others and alienated not a few, but he knew who had called him and what he was sent to do. His ministry was geared to the emergency, and that fact marked him out as different, a man apart. To such men as this the church owes a debt too heavy to pay. The curious thing is that she seldom tries to pay him while he lives, but the next generation builds his sepulchre and writes his biography, as if instinctively and awkwardly to discharge an obligation the previous generation to a large extent ignored (Leonard Ravenhill - Why Revival Tarries).

Times of Transformation

A Prophet to the Nation releases God's hand of power. We are living in a time of transformation, when God's purposes will be accomplished through "shakings" and protective judgements. The ministry of the prophet is very important at these times, because God cannot act, without first giving a warning through his prophets.

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).

God cannot shake a nation until he has announced it through his prophets. There are two reasons for this.

  1. God is merciful and always gives people an opportunity to repent, before he releases judgement on a nation. God would be happier if he did not have to shake the nation, he gives a warning, hoping that his people will put things right. But if the warning is not heeded, God has no alternative but to act himself.

  2. Any shaking event must be recognised as coming from the hand of God. If a judgement is seen as just a normal event, it can be ignored. An event that has been announced beforehand by God's servants is obviously a work of God and its meaning will be clear. The fact that it has been announced beforehand by God's servant will be proof that it is a work of God.

Prophetic activists and national apostasy are often associated (Milton Smith).

The prophet knows what time it is, knows what kind of time it is. He holds prophetic understanding of the mentality and mood of this present time. He identifies and knows the trends of a society by looking at its roots. He is able to analyse trends and upcoming events by judging foundations. His words are a force against the mentality of the day (Lars Widerburg - The Forthtellers).

Sin inevitably brings divine judgement. Jerusalem the Holy City collapses, not because the enemy was stronger but because God decreed it. The fall of Jerusalem is represented as a divine judgement against sin. Human rebellion against God, not weakness caused the collapse of the Holy City (Milton Smith).

Prophets to cities and nations should be discerning the seasons and warning nations about the decisions that their leaders are making.

  • They should explain what is happening in the nation.
  • They should describe the choices that they have.
  • The should be describing what will occur if the city or nation continues on its currents path.
  • They should be describing the change of season if that is occurring.
  • They should be telling the leaders what they need to do to bring a change of direction.
  • They should be speaking to the people of God and telling them what they can do to help their city or nation turn back to the right path.
  • They should be teaching the people of God how they can survive as a remnant, if their city or nation continues down the wrong path.
The book of Revelation is a new covenant prophecy that attempts to answer the questions that prophets should be asking about the destiny of nations.
  • It describes what the spiritual powers of evil want to do.
  • It explains what will happen when the nations reject God's wisdom and trust in human political power.
  • It describes God's plan for turning the situation around and establishing his Kingdom.
  • It tells the people of God what they must do to survive the shaking and be ready for Gods victory.

This is what new covenant prophets should be doing today.

A nation where people have followed God can go through five stages.

  1. Blessing — When a large number of Christians live in a city or country, God has considerable authority in that place. He is able to determine most of what happens there.

  2. Door opened — When the number of Christians in the population declines, God's authority on earth shrinks. As the number of people rejecting God increases, a door is opened to the evil political-spirits and government-spirits (principalities and powers). More of what happens is the result of their influence.

  3. Tipping point — There is a tipping point where the authority of the political-spirits and government-spirits on earth exceeds the authority of God. When the proportion of Christian on earth reaches this tipping point, the powers of evil have a much greater influence on earth. More and more events will be the consequence of their activities.

  4. God squeezed out — When the tipping point is passed and the number of Christians shrinks dramatically, God's authority is squeezed out. The forces of evil begin to get a free hand on earth. They get to determine what happens on earth and God has very little influence.

  5. Remnant arises — When the tipping point is passed and the world is flooded with evil, God raises a remnant. They will be in the world, so they will not escape the pain, but by standing together, they will rise above it to do God's work. He can accomplish more through a small committed than the forces of evil can accomplish with a free hand.

These stages are fully described in Discerning Seasons. As a nation goes through these stages, different types of judgement are experienced. These are described in Prophetic Events. There are four types of event.
  1. Shaking Event — God does not actually send the shaking. He just withdraws his protection and allows people to experience some of the consequences of their behaviour for a short time. The event occurs when God temporarily lifts his protection in a particular time and place, rather than because he decides to do something evil.

  2. Warning Events — When the Christian influence declines and society is close to the tipping point, the powers of evil begin to show off. The devil is not very creative, so he just does on a smaller scale, what he would like to do, if he had much more authority, but does not. These events are warning signs for those who alert. Christians who understand their times will able to discern these signs and get an early warning of what is going to happen, if society continues in the way that it is going.

  3. Evil Events — Once a society has moved past the tipping point, political-spirits and government-spirits have the freedom to do their stuff. God is no longer on the throne, so he is powerless to intervene. He has given authority on earth to humans, so if they have passed it on to the forces of evil, rather than to him, he can do nothing about the situation in the short term.

  4. Protective Judgments — God sometimes assesses a nation and decides that it has become so evil that it is beyond saving. In this situation, he then has no choice but to allow its destruction to minimise evil. I refer to these as protective judgments, because their primary purpose is to protect the world from evil. God does not engage in mindless destruction. He always destroys empires when that it is the best way to constrain evil.

These are brief summaries. Read the articles to get a full understanding. The first and the last types are the only types of event for which God is directly responsible.

The message of a prophet to a nation changes according to the season.

  • During a season of blessing, a prophet will encourage the people to press on further. After they had crossed the Red Sea, Moses gave the people a song of victory to sing (Ex 15). He gave the people laws to enable them to live together in peace in a new land (Ex 21:1). He showed them how to build and operate the tabernacle for spiritual protection (Ex 25:40). Moses was a prophet who led the people from blessing to blessing (Deut 34:10). The prophets of Israel prophesied victory when the nation was attacked without reason (2 Chron 20:15-17).

  • If the people open a door to evil by forgetting God, prophets to a nation will warn of the dangers. They will encourage the people who remain faithful and explain to them what to do to turn their nation around. For example, Moses warned the children of Israel not to forget that God was the source of all their blessings (Deut 8:10-11).

  • If the nation is getting close to a turning point, the prophets to a nation will explain to the people how the seasons are changing. They will warn of the consequences of rejecting God's ways. They will interpret Warning Events that might be occurring.

    Jeremiah warned the people not to deceive themselves by assuming that everything will be all right (Jer 37:9). This is the greatest danger when approaching a turning point. People assume that the situation will improve, although nothing has happened to bring this about.

    The OT prophets mostly operated in this season. Because the fullness of the spirit has not come, the nation of Israel was in decline and turning away from God for most of OT history. This is why they often seem to be doom and gloom. They were negative, but they lived in a negative season.

  • When God is being squeezed out, the prophets to a nation will focus on encouraging and equipping a remnant. They tell them how to live and keep safe during a season of judgment.

    Jeremiah had this role. He wrote a letter to the remnant telling them what they should do — go to Babylon and make homes there (Jer 29:4-7). He gave the remnant hope for the future — God will bring them back when seventy years are complete (Jer 23:6-9; 29:10).

    The prophets to a nation will also warn their political leaders about what is happening and tell them what to do. Jeremiah spoke to King Jehoiakim and told him what to do, but the King refused to listen, so he was deposed by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 36:30-31). Jeremiah also spoke to King Zedekiah, his successor and promised that he would live to old age, if he surrendered to the king of Babylon(Jer 34:2-5).

The OT prophets were not doom and gloom merchants. They discerned the changing seasons, and their words changed according to the season.

Prophet for the Season

Every prophet is different and unique. We should not try to put them all into the same mould. God always has the right person for the time and situation.

God has always had his specialists whose chief concern had been moral breakdown, the decline in the spiritual health of the nation or the church. Such men were Elijah, Jeremiah, Malachi, and others of their kind who appeared at critical moments in history to reprove rebuke and exhort in the name of God and righteousness (A W Tozer.).

Jeremiah was God's man for a nation flying apart (David Pawson Jeremiah).

The institution of prophecy, therefore is to be regarded as a gift of God. It is he who raised up the prophets and gave them their messages. They were not merely men of religious genius, nor did they appear because Israel was a particularly religious nation. (Edward J Young - My servants the Prophets p.36)

George Wishart was believed by his contemporaries to have spoken under the influence of prophetic inspiration. John Knox says, "He was not only singularly learned, as well in Godly knowledge as in all honest human science, but he was also so clearly illumined with the spirit of prophecy, that he not only saw not only pertaining to himself, but also such things as some towns and the whole realm afterward felt, which he spoke not in secret but in the audience of many (Torrance).

In this connection we must remember that the entire prophetic institution was a gift from God. It was not an expression of the religious nature of the people, but a Divine gift. The prophets were raised up by God: they did not emerge from the national religious consciousness. As the spokesman of God they uttered their messages wherever God commanded them to do so (Edward J Young - My Servants the Prophets).

Changing Governments

The story of Abimelech contrasts three different methods of bringing political change (Judges 9). The first two methods bring bad results.

  1. Abimelech was elected by a democratic process, but he did great harm to the people of Shechem. This incident is a timely reminder that democracy gives power to the wrong people. The skills needed to get ahead in politics are pragmatism, arrogance and a light hand on the truth. These are very different from the skills needed by a good judge.

  2. Rebellion against an evil leader will usually fail, because violence produces violence. A person capable of rebellion is also capable of being a dictator.

    Now Gaal son of Ebed moved with his brothers into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him. Then Gaal son of Ebed said, "Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should be subject to him? If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelech, 'Call out your whole army!' (Jud 9:26,28,29).

    Gaal led a rebellion, but he and those who followed him were destroyed (Jud 9:38-41)

  3. Prophetic proclamation is the best way to remove a bad government. When a prophet voice speaks God's judgment against an evil ruler, God will honour that word and bring sanctions against the wicked person. Jothan, the youngest brother escaped and prophesied against Abimelech and the people of Shechem.

    If then you have acted honorably and in good faith may Abimelech be your joy, and may you be his, too! But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume you, citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelech!" (Jud 9:19,20).

    God honoured this prophetic word.

    After Abimelech had governed Israel three years, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, who acted treacherously against Abimelech (Jud 9:22,23).

    Abimelech was removed by prophecy.

    Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done. God also made the men of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham came on them (Jud 9:56,57).

Modern Christians place a lot of faith in democracy, even though it does not produce godly government. Others have tried rebellion, but this has failed too.

Prophetic proclamation is the best way to get rid of an evil government. Unfortunately, belief that God can bring governments down is rare. The missing element is a strong prophetic voice to release God's power to bring political change.

Prophets and Tyranny

One reason that tyranny has been so serious in the twentieth century is the lack of prophets in the nations. There have been no prophets challenging political rulers to obey the law of God. Many rulers do not even know that they are required to serve God, or that he has put limits on their jurisdiction. God can only act against evil rulers, if he has a prophet to speak out his challenge and warn of his judgements.

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:10).

God will not bring sanctions against wicked rulers unless their sins are clearly understood.

God does not like to send judgement against the leaders of a nation, unless his prophets have announced it. If prophets have not announced the judgement in advance, the rulers will not understand that it was sent by God. They will not realise that the calamity is the consequence of their sins. They will assume that it is just another tragic event. Some rulers may even use the trouble to expand their powers. If judgement is not announced in advance by the prophets, its purpose is diffused or lost.

Isaiah 16 describes a number of kings and tyrants, who were brought down from the place of pride and power by the protective judgements of God. He gave relief from suffering and cruel bondage by destroying the aggressive and oppressive rulers. God was able to stretch forth his hand and accomplish his purpose, because prophets like Isaiah had prophesied against them (Isaiah 12-23)

The worst thing that can happen to a nation is the have no prophets. Psalm 74 is the cry of a people suffering under tyranny.

We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be. How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them! (Psalm 74:9-11).

The Psalmist feels like his nation is in a hopeless situation. It is being ruled by tyrants and God's hand of judgement against this injustice is being held back. The Psalmist knows that God has power to destroy the wicked ruler, but while there are no prophets this is unlikely to happen.

This lack of prophets is a still a problem in the modern world. Prophets to the nation will have to emerge in the church first, but the modern church has been unwilling to release this gift in the church. The prophetic ministry has been stifled in the church, so prophets to the nation have been unable to develop. The absence of the prophetic ministry has impoverished the church, but it has had even more serious consequences for the world. Tyrants have been able to rule with impunity, as God's hand of judgement has been held back, hidden his garment, the church.

Restraining the Sword

The sword is dangerous and the political sphere will always tend to expand. People with political power will always see new problems to solve and their people will often expect them to solve them. Rulers will always face the temptation to expand their power. Pressure to do more good is dangerous, because the state can use force to expand its role. This is a great dilemma for political theory. The state needs force to punish criminals and protect society. However, this monopoly of force makes it almost impossible for citizens to prevent their government from expanding its power. We cannot resist the state, because it is stronger than we are.

History suggests that this is a serious problem. Throughout the twentieth century, the power of the state, whether dictator or democracy, has increased immensely. Even where political powers start out with modest intentions, they seem to end up with more power and control. Democracy does not prevent this from happening, but tends to make the situation worse. It tends to produce leaders who pander to the desires of the people by expanding political power. The United States constitution was carefully designed to limit political power, but the United States government has now amassed incredible power over its citizens.

Prophetic Antidote

The only antidote to the expanding state is Christian prophets proclaiming the law in partnership with God. When the church is functionally correctly, God will raise up prophets to the nation, who can speak his word to its rulers. These prophets will confront their rulers, whenever they take up power and responsibility that does not belong to them. Biblical law sets out the boundaries on the power of the state.

The Prophets of God will challenge any political ruler who takes powers that are not authorised by the law. If the rulers do not heed these warnings, the prophets will announce God's protective judgements against them. If the rulers then persist in taking power that God has not given to them, they will experience his judgement. If they will not voluntarily shrink their power to the size specified by God's law, he will cut them down to size. The law and the prophets are the key to limiting the power of the state (Rom 3:21).

This earth belongs to the Lord, so all rulers do not have absolute power. When a ruler ignores God's will, the prophets will warn of God's protective judgements. If the rulers refuse to surrender to God, they can expect his sanctions to fall upon them. The best restraint on the power of the sword is the power of the trumpet.

A good example of this restraining power is recorded in 1 Kings 11:29-31.

About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes.

Solomon had rejected God by taking foreign wives to form alliances with foreign nations. Ahijah the prophet announced God's judgement against Solomon. This resulted in his son Rehoboam losing most of the kingdom to another king.

Crisis and Hope

In the troubled times that lie ahead many people will have their hope shattered. The plans and the projects to which they have given their lives will collapse. Often they will feel as if God has abandoned them. The nations will need prophets who can give new vision in these times of shaking.

We must recognise the danger of despair that comes with extinguishing dreams. In the troubled times that lie ahead many will believe that their dreams have died. Theologically they will believe that God has abandoned them. If the church in our time is to avoid despair we must construct the new vision of God's presence in the midst of our judgement (Bruce Bint).

With the shattering changes—political, economic and technological—that have been thrust upon the twentieth century world, it is a small wonder that the generation facing the close of the second millennium and peering uncertainly into the uncharted waters of the twenty-first century are crying out for divine guidance (Clifford Hill - Prophecy, Past and Present p.281).

God raises special people for special times and the times dictate the strength of God's hand upon the person (Paula White).

Prophets will explain how God is at work in what appears to be a disaster. And because prophets can see what lies ahead, they will be able to give direction and hope for the future.

Prophets arise in times of crisis. Their message is always relevant to the contemporary situation. The encounter with prophecy is always at the frontier of the social and religious. The factors that give rise to prophecy are always both sociological and religious. (Clifford Hill - Prophecy, Past and Present p. 20).

When Israel was in trouble and needed a deliverer, God sent a prophet.

They (Midian) invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help. When the Israelites cried to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet (Jud 6:6,7).

Building faith and hope is one of the functions of the prophetic gift. Jeremiah was able to obey God in the midst of troubling circumstances because he had been given a picture of the future (Chuck Pierce - The Future War of the Church).

God's Spokesperson

A prophet to the nation is a person who speaks on behalf of God. Peter said that prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20,21).

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

They were moved by the Spirit, so they could speak in the name of the Lord.

When calling Jeremiah, God said he would put his words in the prophet's mouth. The Lord said to him,

You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you I have put my words in your mouth (Jer 1:7,9).

A prophet is a person with the gift of a keen ability to hear from God. They have a finely tuned ability to hear God's voice (Noel Woodlock).

The same point is made in Deuteronomy 18:18:

I will raise up a prophet I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything that I command him.

Prophets speak in obedience to the Lord. They say only what God tells them to say. They bring God's word to the church and the world. Ezekiel described this as the Lord's hand being upon him.

The hand of the Lord was upon me (Ezek 37:1).

The prophet was primarily a man of the word of God. His task was to bring the word of God to his fellow man (J A Motyer - Prophets and Prophecy).

The prophet of God was thus the mouthpiece of God. He was God's messenger whose task was to deliver whatever God said to him. He was not simply a holy man, nor was he a man with a mission to reform the world or to accomplish any particular task of religious teaching or leadership. The Prophet was simply a "mouthpiece" (Clifford Hill - Prophecy, Past and Present p.25).

A prophet is a divine spokesperson. To speak prophetically is to speak by divine inspiration. It is the presentation of God's message for an individual, group, nation, or generation. It may bring direction, correction, warning, encouragement, or instruction (John Bevere - Thus Saith the Lord p.2).

The picture of the prophet that emerges from the pages of Scripture and the early church writings is impressive. Rather than a mere mouthpiece who passively responds when God picks him up, the prophet is a conscious agent of God, gifted by God to be an envoy, a watchman and bearer of royal authority. (Bruce Yocum - Prophecy p.59)

If we are to arrive at a proper conception of the function of to "nabhi", we must look elsewhere than to philology. We must examine the actual usage of the word in the Old Testament, and from such usage seek to determine what it meant. In Deuteronomy 18:18b the essential nature of the prophetic function is clearly set forth; "... and I shall place my words in his mouth and he will speak unto them all which I command him." Here the function of the prophet is that of declaring the word. Precisely this same thought also appears in the classic text, Exodus 7:1.

God declared even before his birth, Jeremiah had been sanctified and had been set apart to be a nabhi. Immediately upon hearing this announcement, Jeremiah cries that he does not know how to speak. Evidently Jeremiah, as soon as he hears that he is to be a nabhi thinks of speaking, and complains that he is unable to fulfil the function of a nabhi namely, speaking. To his mind the word nabhi called up immediately the connotation of speaking. Jeremiah was to be a nabhi therefore he would have to speak (Edward J Young - My servants the Prophets p.59)

The definitions of the different Greek and Hebrew words translated "prophet" in the Old and New Testaments reveal that this ministry is one that speaks for God, has immediate intercourse with God, is an interpreter of the oracles of God, and preaches the counsel of God. These are all indicative of the awesome seriousness of prophetic ministry. To speak for God and interpret or preach his counsel is a responsibility of unfathomable proportions to be entrusted to mere men (Rick Joyner - The Prophetic Ministry).

A prophet is defined more by a willingness to speak than an ability to hear. Every Christian should be able to hear God. However, only a few have the courage and boldness to speak everything that God wants spoken. Prophets have a special sense of the heart and burdens of God. They are committed to the truth. They are willing to speak God's word, regardless of the cost. God needs prophets who will speak his work fearlessly, without regard to the consequences.

You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen (Ezek 2:7).

They developed a keen sense of God's presence and knew when he wanted to speak to his people. They sensed his moods and his burdens of heart, even before they knew exactly what they were feeling. It was wonderful, but it also confused them because they often felt squeezed between what God wanted to do and the religious routine going on about them (Stephen L Mansfield - Pastoring the Prophetic).

The task of the prophet to the nation is also demonstrated in the relationship between Moses and Aaron. Moses was not a good speaker, so God said Aaron would be his "prophet". He explained what this would mean.

You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him (Ex 4:15-17).

In this passage Aaron clearly appears as the mediator between Moses and Pharaoh. Moses stands in relation to Pharaoh as God to the people, and the message of Moses is given to Pharaoh by means of Aaron. Here again the function of the Prophet is that of speaking forth a message which has been received from a superior (Edward J Young - My Servants the Prophets p.58)

Eyes of the Nation

There is a watching aspect to the ministry of a prophet. In fact one of the words for prophet is the Hebrew word Seer.

Formerly in Israel, if a man went to inquire of God, he would say, "Come, let us go to the seer," because the prophet of today used to be called a seer (1 Sam 9:9)

Seers are men of revelation. Seers are men of enlightenment. Seers are men of intellectual maturity. The prophet is a seer. The basic nature of his commission is observation and watchfulness. He is prone to contemplation and skilled in the art of deduction (Lars Widerberg - The Seer).

Isaiah described the prophets as the "eyes" of a nation.

The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep:
He has sealed your eyes (the prophets);
he has covered your heads (the seers) (Is 29:10).

Balaam was a false prophet, yet the Lord used him when the Spirit came on him. He said some good things about how a prophet needs to have his eyes opened to see what God is doing.

The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly, the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened: (Num 24:4)

Prophets are people of vision, who can see what God is doing. They co-operate with God in breaking down all that is not built on the true foundation. They do this by announcing his judgements. At the same time they watch over all that God is doing in the nation to see that it is built according to his Word.

The prophet does not confuse truth with consensus. The prophet does not confuse God's word with the word of those who happen to hold power at present, or with the opinion of the majority. This is because powerholders and the majority can fall victim to a lying spirit-and this means a power that actually seizes the majority of experts, the political leadership, and the public (Michael Welker - God the Spirit, p.88).

Nations and Encouragement

Personal prophecy should be mostly encouragement. A problem occurs when a person who is fluent with the gift of prophecy and experienced with personal prophecy moves up to the role of prophet to a city or nation. These entities have a strong tendency to turn away from God, so they rarely need encouragement and mostly need warning and correction. Christians living within them need a clear trumpet sound, so they know what they should do.

If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound,
who will prepare for battle? (1 Cor 15:8).

If Christians who have learned their craft bring encouragement in personal prophecies step up and bring prophecies to their city or nation, but do not make a transition to the different level of operation, they will often bring spiritual warm fuzzies when the nation really needs a clear trumpet call.

In a prophecy to any city or nation, at least a couple of the following questions should be answered.

  • What is going on in this nation?

  • Has the season changed?

  • What do the people of the nation or its leaders need to do to turn things around?

  • What is God doing in the nation?

  • What do the people of God need to do, to be a part of what the Lord is doing?

Some will be surprised that none of these questions refer to predictions about the future? The truth is that I would sooner know what God is doing now and what his people should be doing now, than what will happen in the future.

Knowing who will be the next President will not help us at all, if we do not understand what is happening in the nation that has caused God to give us that particular President.

Most prophecies for a nation on the internet do not measure up. They just carry on the encouragement model that is typical of personal prophecy. This will make people feel good, but a clear trumpet call is needed. Choosing to speak for God is a serious business. He is not honoured by spiritual mush.

Moral Campaigners

God calls does not call Christians to be "moral campaigners". The Pharisees were the moral campaigners of Jesus time. They loved to find fault with the weak and sinful people in their society, but Jesus criticised them for their lack of mercy and their spiritual blindness. He showed mercy to those trapped in the grip of sin.

The Pharisees got things all wrong. They could not see their own sin, so they seemed like hypocrites. They dealt harshly with weak people who had been seduced by a culture of sin and were not clever enough to hide it, but missed the far more serious sins of their nation's leaders. They focused on obvious sexual sins, but were blinded to the more deceptive sins that open the nation to evil. This should be a serious warning to those who campaign against sin.

God does not need moral campaigners, but he does call a few of his people to speak prophetically to the nation. These prophets will remind the nation of God's standards and warn of the consequences for society. A key part of their role is to identify the core evils that are the root of their society's problems. They will not be obsessed with the more obvious sexual sins, but will focus on the subtle shifts in attitude that creep in and open the door to real evil. They will know that the sins of their political and cultural leaders are usually well hidden, but are really dangerous to society.

True prophets will be concerned about devious and influential sins, like pride, selfishness and "state idolatry". They will be less concerned about sexual sins, as these generally only emerge when other more subtle sins have already taken hold in society. Blatant sexual sin is a symptom of a sick world, but is not the root cause. Prophets to their nation will be more concerned about the cause than the symptoms. They will focus on the issues that are really damaging their society.

Focus on the Cause not the Symptom

Much modern prophecy is very shallow. Real prophets go deep to the heart of an issue. They are not distracted by surface issues and symptoms that that are not the real cause of what is happening. Prophets press in deeper until they get to the crux of the issues that are shaping the heart of their nation.

Abortion is an example of this problem. Most Christians realise that abortion is a terrible sin. Some get really stirred up about it, but this prevents them from seeing the real issues affecting their nation. Abortion is not a legal issue, but a manifestation of a much deeper spiritual malaise. Something is seriously wrong with the spirit of a nation when many young women feel compelled to destroy their future (their children).

Prophetic people are wasting energy when they attempt to make abortion illegal, because banning abortion deals with the symptoms of the problem, but does not change the underlying cause that is rooted deep in the culture. The prophetic task is to expose the cracks in the heart of the nations that are manifesting through abortion. The solution is not a change in the law, but deep-seated repentance, a renewed worldview, and powerful healing by God.

Abortion is just one manifestation of an impaired spirit. The "Left Behind" phenomena is another manifestation of the same core blemish. Many Christians have lost confidence in the future and are looking to Jesus to come and rescue them soon. They have no confidence in the ability of the Holy Spirit to establish the Kingdom of God. This lack of faith puts them in danger of being cut off from their future, just as the young woman who has an abortion cuts off her own future. Abortion and rapture obsession are a manifestation of the same spiritual flaw.

Abortion is also a personal manifestation of spirits of force and violence that attack nations that see war as the solution to all their problems. This explains why people that are stirred up about abortion can ignore the deaths of thousands of children in Yemen or Afghanistan perpetrated by their nation's armed forces. The only antidote to this violent spirit is to replace trust in political and military power with faith in God's protection.

Many Christians are stirred up about homosexual marriage, but again they are focussing on the symptoms and not the root cause. Christian prophets will realise that homosexuality is a symptom and not the real crack in the heart of their culture.

Ezekiel understood this issue well. When he described the sin of Sodom, this is what he said.

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:49).

Sodom's root sin was not homosexuality, but arrogance, laziness and refusal to care for the poor. It seems that when a society makes an idol of comfort and pleasure, it descends into promiscuity that eventually manifests in homosexuality. What Lot found in Sodom was just the natural outcome for a society that worshipped comfort and wealth.

Lot saw the symptoms of the problem and like many Christian was upset about what he saw. Ezekiel looked much deeper and realised that the key issue was a love of comfort and pleasure. We need more prophets like Ezekiel who can see deep into the heart of our nation.

Avoiding Corruption

Prophets to their nation must remain humble, so they are not corrupted by their close link with the state. The scriptures have strong words against the "court prophets" who support everything that a ruler does, but do not listen to what God is saying. Prophets to the nation must also be careful to remain in the place where God has planted them. Because, they understand the art of government, they might be tempted to enter politics. However, prophets have a responsibility to speak God's word, so they must not usurp the role of the king. This would be dangerous for them and their nation. An excellent prophet will make an inferior king.

The boundary between church and state must be kept clear. Prophets must not attempt to manipulate or control the civil authorities on God's behalf. They must limit their efforts to persuasion. They must speak God's word and leave the Holy Spirit to change the politician's heart. The key to being heard is to hear from God. The more clearly the prophet hears from God, the more his words will be heeded. Wise prophets will remain separate from the trappings of the state, so that they can hear God clearly and speak with integrity.

Prophets to the Nation speak as individuals and not on behalf of their church. Their authority will not come from their position in the church (they may be recognised as prophets by the church). They will only have authority in the nation, if their words are true and anointed by the Holy Spirit. They will not be able to make decisions for the government or business. Those with authority in business or the government must test the words of the prophets and only obey them if they are true. They should listen to those who are skilled at hearing from God, but they are not required to obey them blindly. They must obey God, rather than man. Controlling prophets are as dangerous as an imperialistic church.

Political loyalties

Political loyalties are very limiting for prophetic people. A person who is loyal to the right or the left will be able to function as a prophet in their church, or bring words to the people they meet, but they are unlikely to move on to the role of prophet to their state or nation. A prophet to the nations must be totally loyal to God and to his law.

Unless prophetic people understand that political parties and human politics are not part of God's plan, very few real prophets to the nations will emerge. God's revelation for rulers and governments is contained in his law, so prophets called to speak to their nation must understand and defend the law. They cannot afford to be blinded by loyalty to a party or political leader.

People with valid prophetic gifts become "court prophets" when their loyalty to a particular political leader or a political party takes precedence over their loyalty to God. The court prophets that led Jehoshaphat astray were not prophets of Baal. They were prophets of the Lord, trained among the sons of the prophets. They would have been brought to the palace when their ability to hear and speak the word of God was recognised. The problem was that they became too loyal to the king's party. This prevented them from hearing God's warning and left them vulnerable to a lying spirit (1 Kings 22).

The American nation does not have a clear prophetic voice. That is a dangerous place to be. I am sure that God is calling many of his people to be a prophet to the nation. Unfortunately most are so wrapped up in America that they cannot offer the total loyalty that God needs for this role. Blind loyalty to the left or right is blocking the prophetic flow at the national level.

True Justice

Social justice is becoming an important issue for the church. This is good, because God is concerned about justice. However too often the justice that is proclaimed is merely humanistic justice. The church tends to jump on the bandwagons that are being pushed by liberal humanists. Moreover, the message is too often spoken by committees or church officials, who have no real authority in the eyes of the world. The result is that their voices are lost amongst all the other voices that are speaking into modern society. If the church is to have an impact in the area of social justice, it must pray that God will raise up prophets to speak to the nation.

Watchmen serve their time and their church by understanding and defining the mentality of contemporary phenomenons. The prophet is a man of foundations, able to analyse the results of a common trend in society by looking at its roots. He is skilled in the art of deduction, interpretation and discernment. He, himself becomes a force against the mentality of the time and he offers understanding of how to avoid the influence of its atmosphere. This imminent force of separation and purity is the prophetic dimension. (Lars Widerberg - The Seer).

Prophets should know the mind of God, so they will proclaim a standard of justice and righteousness that is true. They will know the issues that are on the heart of God and how true peace and justice can be established. Prophets will speak in the name of the Lord, so they will have tremendous authority. God will watch over their words to ensure that they come to pass. There are many calls for the church to be prophetic, but this is impossible for a church without prophets.

As Christians we believe that God is active in the world and that his word can be heard in the events of human history. We believe it is the church's duty to proclaim what God is doing and what he would have us do. So Amos of old denounced the selfish indifference of the rich and the unjust suffering of the poor in Israel. Jeremiah who proclaimed that the inevitable judgement of a just God on his faithless people was to be seen in the fall of Jerusalem. We cannot doubt that God is at work in the turmoil of our world today, in inflation, in industrial unrest and political uncertainty, in the aspirations of the Third world. He has a word for us to proclaim to our contemporaries, a word of challenge, of judgement, of comfort and of hope. Yet the voice of the church and of Christians generally seems, strangely silent.

What a nation needs more than anything else is not a Christian ruler in the palace, but a Christian prophet in earshot (Kenneth Kaunda, Former President of Zambia).

The good news of salvation is still being proclaimed but if a crisis is being faced, why is their no clear guidance. If the church is to give a lead in proclaiming God's word about economic and political questions, it will be those engaged in economics and politics as practitioners or as students and teachers. We need to understand what God is saying to us in the situation in which he has placed us at the present time (John F Solemn).

Guidance to Rulers

A Prophet to a Nation will sometimes be called on to provide guidance to rulers and governments. Ruling a nation can be a frightening task. Many decisions have to be made and most of them are hard, so rulers have always attempted to surround themselves with wise people. The king of Israel knew the benefit of having a prophet close by to help him make decisions.

Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, "I will set up my camp in such and such a place. The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: "Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there." So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places. This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, "Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?" "None of us, my lord the king," said one of his officers, "but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom" (2 Kings 6:8-12).

Some prophets will be given an opportunity to share supernatural guidance to a political ruler. Because their wisdom is from God, it will be effective.

God will sometimes establish a person as a Prophet to their Nation by giving them the wisdom that their ruler needs. The King of Israel knew that Elisha was a prophet, because his words were correct. The King of Babylon trusted Daniel, because he correctly interpreted a dream that none or the Babylonian wise men understood.

This is a very important principle. Many people, including prophets, are willing to criticise their government. Prophets to the Nation are different. They often begin their careers by assisting their government in tricky situations. Ahab trusted Miciah's words, because he provided correct advice in the past (1 Kings 22:7,8). Some rulers will welcome prophets in their court, even if they hate God, because they need their advice.

Prophets will warn the rulers of their nation when they are taking the wrong direction or taking authority that God has not given them. The Old Testament prophets spent much of their time warning kings who had rejected God's way and were following the way of the world. Strong prophets are the best protection against the power of the state.

Good leaders welcome correction. The prophet Nathan challenged David when he committed adultery and murder, but remained his friend. Nathan had established his credibility with David much earlier, when the King was planning the temple (1 Sam 7). Every leader needs a prophet like Nathan who can hear the voice of God and challenge his sins. Rulers are usually surrounded by people trying to "grease up" to them. In this environment, a prophetic friend is the best protection against the occupational hazard of hubris. All leaders need a friend to speak God's word to them.

The Prophet to the Nation will pray for their government, even when they are rebelling against God. Samuel prayed all night when his friend King Saul fell from grace (1 Sam 15:11). Every leader needs a friend of God who will intercede for him with this intensity.

Government of God

Prophets to the Nation will understand that Jesus came to establish the Government of God. A kingdom cannot have two kings. A nation cannot have two governments. So as the kingdom of God expands in a nation, its human government must shrink and fade away.

A prophet to a nation will understand that human governments are not God's plan for his people. The people of Israel wanted to have a king to be like the surrounding nations, but was not God's plan (1 Sam 8). God gave in to them as a concession to their sinfulness, but he always wanted to be their only king. He preferred that they trust him for protection, rather than trust in unreliable human kings.

Prophets to the nation will provide guidance to their government, but they will also understand that it is living on borrowed time. They will be watching for the time when it will collapse and disappear, so they do get caught in the trap of helping it to survive beyond its time. They will not prop it up when it begins to crumble, because they understand that God has a better government.

When the time is right, their prophetic words will release the power of the Holy Spirit to destroy human government and open the way for the emergence of the Kingdom of God. However, the prophets cannot do this until the remnant has prepared kingdom communities to replace it. While that is happening they can continue giving counsel to the rulers.

Prophets to a nation will prepare the followers of Jesus to receive the Government of God in their society. They will teach them how to form Kingdom Communities that can provide welfare, justice and protection for people who have lost hope. As Kingdom Communities transform their neighbourhoods, political power will be chopped up, pushed down and spread around. When a human government collapses, the principalities and powers that have amplified their power through it will be shattered and weak, so the gospel will go forth in the power of the Spirit. As the structures of society fall apart, these Kingdom Communities will demonstrate a way of life that appeals to a shaken world.

In the Government of God, justice will be provided by judges emerging in their community to apply God's law. Defence will be provided by Temporary Military Leaders that arise within their community during a crisis. Prophets will teach the judges that emerge how to apply God's law.

Prophets and Law

God is raising up prophetic people all over the world to be a prophetic voice in their church. Hopefully a few of these will go to be prophets to their nation. These prophets will be experts on God's law, so they can teach judges how to implement and obey it.

When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees (Deut 17:18,19).

The Prophet to the Nation will teach the judges that emerge in their nation how to implement God's law. As prophets love the law more than others, they will have a better understanding of its principles. Prophetic wisdom will assist people with authority who are struggling to interpret the law.

The Old Testament prophets were the guardians of God's law. They prosecuted judges for their failure to obey the law. Every prophet speaking at the national level must use God's law as a standard for testing behaviour and actions. To be an effective voice to their nation, these prophets must have a sound understanding of God's law.

Those called to be a prophetic voice in their nation must understand the connection between their ministry and God's law. A prophet who is not rooted in God's law will end up following after some fashionable secular voice. They can easily become the servant of a particular political party. Without a clear standard, prophets will be blown around by every wind of change.

As prophets exercise the power of the trumpet on behalf of the Church, they will need to love the law. The Old Testament prophets were like legal prosecutors who charged and attempted to convict Israel of failure to keep the law. They were so passionate for God's law they were willing to risk the wrath of wicked Kings when confronting their nations sin.

For prophets to exercise the power of the trumpet, they will need to change their attitude to the law. Several Psalms teach that we should love the law.

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders
for I obey your precepts (Psalm 119:97-100).

We have interpreted this message as a call to love the scriptures, but that is not what the Psalmist says. We are actually told to love the law and are promised that this will give us greater wisdom than our teachers. Prophets will study the Old Testament law with a passion to understand how it applies to justice in a modern society.

The Old Testament prophets were like legal prosecutors who charged Israel with failure to keep the law. They were so passionate for God's law they were willing to risk the wrath of wicked Kings when confronting their nation's sin.

I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame,for I delight in your commands because I love them (Psalm 119:46,47).

Prophets will only be able to speak clearly to the judges of their nation, if they truly love the law.

Prophets and Judges

The prophets will have a role in exposing judges who are unjust. Micah challenged the judges of Jerusalem for accepting bribes.

Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money (Mic 3:11)

Jeremiah warned the judges against protecting evil people and not establishing justice.

How can you say, "We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD," when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have? From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD (Jer 8:8-12).

The prophets will expose judges that are not honouring God and his law.

Difficult Cases

For really difficult cases, judges might call in people with the spiritual discernment of prophetic insight.

If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the LORD your God will choose. Go to the priests, who are Levites, and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict (Deut 17:8,9).

Following the work of the cross, there are no priests or Levites as such, but every society should have men and women of God with the gift of discernment. Wise people may be called on to help with difficult cases.

However, no matter how wise our judges, mistakes will still be made. Judges should be humble, knowing that we will never get perfect justice on this earth. God is our final judge. Any mistakes that are made by human judges will eventually be corrected when we stand before the perfect judge at the end of the age. All mistakes will be corrected perfectly.

Rare Ministry

A calling to speak to the nation will be rare. Most prophets will function as an elder in a Church and only a few will become a Prophet to the Nation. We should not confuse these two roles. Most prophetic people will never get beyond the ordinary role of elder in their Church. Those with a ministry in a Church should not presume to be a Jeremiah or an Amos. Many of the more solemn and serious aspects of the teaching on these pages only apply to the Prophet to the Nation.

Prophetic Nations

Some nations have a calling to be prophetic. They cannot achieve their destiny until the prophetic ministry is established in their midst.

There are nations that have special gifts. NZ may have a prophetic function in the world. America is called to apostolic ministry. There is something in the American nature that initiates and plants. There is something in the NZ nature that can hold the truth (Tom Marshall - The Coming of the Prophets).

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