(Modern Bringers | Part 1)
Nearly two million people had already taken the Covid vaccine in this small country. Within the next couple of weeks, almost the entire nation will be vaccinated, in what seems to be “the biggest experiment on humans”. Due to the uniqueness of Israel – small nation, clear borders, health system that enables a quick access to doctors and nurses – “Pfeizer” had chosen us to be the first nation that will receive as many vaccine doses as we need, to show the whole world how it works.
When the first shots were given less than a month ago, I was surprised to find out how many believers in Yeshua were among them, and how excited they were to take it. I trust they took the time to consider all the ramifications beforehand, and I would love to know that their decision is proven as wise. But as of now, I count myself among those not taking it.
Is It Or Is It Not?
I have all these contradicting thoughts running through my mind: Some say this is the beginning of the age of the mark of the beast. Is it, or is it not? If it is, how is it possible that so many great people of God still take it? Is it safe health wise, or extremely not? Boatloads of data flood us, that amazingly contradicts itself. And since I have no scientific tools to fully examine any of these options in their fulness, I end up having to rely on others. So as of now – I prefer to watch and wait.
The vaccine debate exemplifies what happens when these two camps start to parade their disagreements on social media: “If you take the vaccine, you will become part of the ‘beast’ and no longer can be trusted”, warns one side. “If you do not take the vaccine, steer clear from me and my family”, proclaim some who stand for it.
I am most likely over reacting, but for the first time I can see how – given just certain circumstances – brothers and sisters in the Lord might consider giving away one another out of love, believing that that is what will keep the other side safe.
But How Can We Know What’s Right?
God, we need to hear Your voice clearly. Not only on this issue, but on every aspect. Experts on both sides declare their opinion loudly, and contribute from their own experience to the heated debate. But what do You say?
One sunny day Moses gathered 70 of Israel’s elders and presented them around the Tabernacle. Numbers 11 explains why: God was about to impart of His Spirit upon them, so that they may assist Moses and ease his heavy load (V. 17).
They all began to prophesy, and then ceased. All but two – Eldad and Medad, who were not even in the right location, at the Tent of Meeting. These two stayed in the camp (vs. 25-26).
At that point, the resident informant showed up. Wishing to keep the status quo he told Moses that someone is doing what they’re not supposed to do. When Joshua heard it, he quickly pronounced the proper treatment: “Moses, my lord, arrest them (put them in jail)!” (v. 28).
What? Why? What was it that bothered Joshua and the informant, to the point they had no doubt: what’s happening is wrong and must be put to an end, even if it means arresting Eldad and Medad?
Are You Jealous For My Sake?
Most likely, Joshua and the informer reacted out of zeal for the leader and for the existing order. Moses’ response is precious. Both in terms of its humility, as well as the wisdom it holds. “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (v. 29).
What Happened to the Spirit of Prophecy?
Ever since the Israelites entered the Land under Joshua’s leadership, Israel has been under a severe punishment called “the Hidden Faces”. Messiah’s true Faces – his full identity – has been hidden from us as a nation. To this day, even when we hear or see God’s hand at work, we don’t get it and we do not understand (Is. 6:9). (see Faces or a Mask? (A Midrash for Shavu’ot) ).
The Rabbis teach that since the passing of the last prophet of the Old Testament (Malachi), the voice of God is no longer heard from heaven, and that God himself does not interfere anymore in the affairs of men (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Yoma, 9). Through a brilliant yet terrifying process they silenced the voice of prophecy, and took upon themselves the responsibility to serve as God’s mouthpiece and lead the nation in how they should worship Him.
A Fantastic Tale – the Oven of Akhnai
Listen to this 1st century Rabbinical debate. Hard to believe, but it became one of the founding blocks upon which Rabbinic Judaism bases its authority to this day.
A new type of oven was brought before the Sanhedrin. The owner, called Akhnai, asked them to rule whether this is a Kosher one (susceptible to ritual impurity) that he can use, or should it be destroyed and thrown away. Rabbi Eliezer ruled that the oven is ritually pure, while the others argued the opposite. When none of Rabbi Eliezer’s arguments convinced his colleagues, he cried out, “If the oral law (ruling Halacha) agrees with my ruling, this nearby carob tree will prove it”.
And indeed, the tree leaped from the ground and moved far away. The other rabbis were not impressed. Their explanation: a carob tree offers no proof in a debate like that.
Rabbi Eliezer then cried out, “If the oral law is in accordance with my ruling, the stream of water will prove it”. The stream nearby began to flow backwards against the laws of nature, yet all the other rabbis declared that one cannot cite a stream as proof in such matters.
Rabbi Eliezer then said, “If the oral law is in accordance with my ruling, the walls of this hall will prove it”. And indeed, the walls began to fall. Rabbi Joshua intervened and reprimanded the walls for interfering in a scholarly debate. So out of respect for Rabbi Joshua, the stones ceased to fall, but out of respect for Rabbi Eliezer, they did not return to their original place either.
In frustration, Rabbi Eliezer finally cried out, “If the oral law is in accordance with my ruling, Heaven will prove it.” At that moment a voice was heard from heaven, “Why are you differing with Rabbi Eliezer? The law is in accordance with his ruling…” To which Rabbi Joshua responded quickly, “It [the ruling] is not in heaven [anymore]” (quoting Deut. 30:12 completely out of context).
The Talmud then then tells how God responded. Upon hearing Rabbi Joshua’s declaration, God apparently smiled and stated twice, “My children have triumphed over me” (Babylonian Talmud, Baba Metzia 59a-b).
Deaf Ears Everywhere
Amazing, I know. Yet, this proves how deaf is the Jewish ear to the voice that comes from Heaven. Apparently, God’s children had won the debate, and a majority of rabbis can now rule even against His authority.
The arguments regarding vaccinations, or the political mayhem in the US, or in Israel, clarify that not only those who do not believe in Yeshua are turning a deaf ear to His voice. Many streams in the Body, many believers, are so tired of the prophetic voice.
To a certain degree, I can understand why. Too often this voice is inaccurate, wrapped in frills that are far from what Scriptures themselves say, use a symbolic and artistic language that blurs a specific meaning and can fit just about anything, in any time and place.
Too often modern prophets have not been accurate, to say the least, but only few have repented and asked for correction and discipline. Instead of humbling themselves, submitting to correction and accountability to other leaders, and learning from their mistakes, and yes, even apologizing publicly, in most cases we hear weak excuses or blurry explanations. This is so dangerous.
Prophecy is a God given gift to the Body. If it were not so, why should He command us to test prophecies (1 Thes. 5:20)? Or why should Peter confirm Joel’s words about God speaking these days through prophecy, dreams and visions?
“Na-Vee”, the One Who Brings
The voice of God is certainly heard from Heaven. He speaks in many ways of course, first and foremost of which being His Word, but He also brings forth specific message through human mouths.
The most basic meaning of the word “prophet” in Hebrew is one who brings – that is a message from God.
The OT prophets brought moral instructions and rebukes to the people. O, by the way, women could also bring messages from God and prophesy, even in the OT (see Ex. 15:20; Jud. 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14 and more). I just had to say that…
Samuel’s example is outstanding. He had to go through a learning curve until he could recognize God’s voice clearly and not confuse it with other voices (1 Sam. 3:4-10). Once he matured, God brought His messages through him to such an extent, that none of the words coming out of Samuel’s mouth fell to the ground (v. 19). Such a level of dignity and accuracy. Each word materialized and made a difference. None was wasted.
Is God speaking to us today through His Word only? How do we know what is right or wrong in matters that the Word is not clear bout? Can we rely on logic? Or perhaps we should listen to the scientific one? Or maybe let circumstances show us the right path? Each of these options has its own voice. How can we know if it aligns with God’s, especially those voices that are brought to us through other humans?
Father, please turn us, Your children, into those who can clearly hear what Your Spirit is saying, who see clear sights, who are not acting out of the fear of men, yet are so full with awe of You. Train us so we can stand at the town’s gate or the city square, and bring Your word with clarity, assurance and love.
Using Moses’ words, Abba, I ask that You make all your people prophets, but that it will be Your words we bring forward. Without adding anything, so that none of them will have to fall to the ground.
Lord, forgive us for that arrogance or whatever it is, that causes us to speak in Your name without being fully convinced it was Your voice we have heard, or that the visions we saw were solely from You. Or that anything that is about to come out of our mouths, came first out of Yours. Many of us want to comfort those around us, to bring some clarity into this bewildering reality, not realizing that we are only sowing more confusion, and causing more ears to turn deaf to You. Lord, have mercy!
Also forgive us for the contempt with which we treat the gift of prophecy. Instead of testing it, we either embrace it as it is and turn it into an idol, or mock it.
God of Israel, forgive this nation for disrespecting Your voice. For ignoring it. For sealing our ears and our eyes and wrapping our hearts with fat, so much so that even when we do hear and see, we do not understand that this is our Husband who whispers in our ears.
We are confused, Abba. When a word of prophecy is spoken over us, we tend to respond with sarcasm and criticism. Help us lift our eyes above those in place of authority and knowledge, in whom we tend to trust; Above our hiccups and disappointment due to unfulfilled prophetic words that we have heard before.
Father, the sound of Your voice is precious. Make it clear and real, so much so that we will never diminish it, nor add to it (see 2 Cor. 2:1-5, 10-12).
The prophet Amos declared that You do nothing without revealing it first to Your servants the prophets (3:7). May it be that all Your people would be agents of Your word, carrying it with caution, bringing it – prophets!
[For Part 2 in this series, Testing Voices (2)]