At the Point of the Sword
Heb. 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart....Eph. 6:17 ...[T]ake ...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
I Cor. 14:24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.
Rev. 2:16 'Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.... Mt. 10:34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 "For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man's enemies will be the members of his household....Mk. 6:4 ..."A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household."
Lk. 2:34 ..."Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed - 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul -to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
Mt. 7:1 "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. ...5 "...[F]irst take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye...Jn 7:24 "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."
In just these few passages, we have revealed to us the essential definition and nature of true prophecy and true prophetic ministry. These scriptures speak so eloquently for themselves that it is almost unnecessary to write further. But let us tie it all together as briefly as possible.
True prophecy and prophetic ministry is the applying of the living word of God to the hearts of men in such a way as to cut through all surface appearances to expose what is truly in their hearts, designed toward their falling down in repentance to worship God. Further, true prophets are those who, before wielding the “sword” of such prophecy, have already first had that sword cut to the quick to exposing the secrets of their own hearts. This means they have to have first been brought to a place of humble transparency in which they already know their own hearts are an open book. They can have nothing to hide.
That’s it. That’s all. That’s everything. That is what true prophecy and true prophetic ministry is and does. If it does not do this, it is not essentially prophetic, even though it may be “revelatory.” And this, I think, is something that requires discerning distinction. That is to say, revelation and prophecy are not really the same thing, though we have come to class everything that is revelatory as prophetic, and even the scriptures do in a measure apply the word prophecy that way to revelation.
But in its essential sense as described here by the Word itself, prophecy is that which applies the sharp word of God to men in a way that cuts to the hidden reality in their hearts beneath all surface appearances and airs. By this understanding, words of knowledge and words of wisdom are not [P]rophecy in the capital sense. Accurate predictions of future events are also not Prophecy. Even exposure of hidden or unknown facts are not Prophecy. These are all revelation. They are “prophetique.” But they are not core Prophecy. Prophecy exposes the secrets of men’s hearts in order to lead them to surrender to Christ.
One of the ways we know this is true is because of what true Prophecy effects among men and because of the reputation that true prophets have among men, especially family, as a result. True (capital P) Prophets as described by scripture are specifically rejected as a norm by the populace and especially by their families precisely because their application of the Word exposes what men do not want revealed.
No one is offended by predictions of the future or of hidden facts. No one is offended by statements like “I see the Lord doing a new thing in your life…..” or, “The Lord has shown me that you are going to be called to minister in such and such a place.” That is revelatory, and we call it prophetic, but it is not Prophecy. There is no edge to it. Remember, the living Word of God is sharp and piercing to the discerning of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Prophecy has an internal edge. And core Prophets are those who wield such edge to such piercing effect.
Today, and as has always been, it is popular to be revelational. Men flock to prophetic meetings to hear so and so “prophesy” about the fortunes of people’s lives and about the destinies of nations. But men do not flock to meetings where they really believe the secrets of their hearts will be exposed.
I have known very few Prophets in that sense. The first prophetic meeting I ever encountered featured a real Prophet. He “read my mail,” and I did not like what he had to say, even though he said it as kindly and as impartially as one could say it. I sat and watched as he prophesied over others, one woman shaking her head back and forth…”no, no, no,” she was insisting, yet sobbing, because what he was saying was spot on. That is the power of real Prophecy. It is a lost gift and office in today’s church.
But the reason I am writing about this is to set in order bad understanding about human “judging” in relation to real Prophecy. We live in what is a humanist church context. There are few to no real Prophets, though there is much revelation. And in this context, we have it drummed into us Sunday after Sunday that our “unconditionally loving” God is a prophetic God who speaks only as a “gentleman” and has only words of healing to bring to His people.
God’s word (we are told) does not cut like a sword and has no edge (like it did in the Old Testament), especially because “people today are already hurting enough as it is.” Our God then has no interest in creating division through wielding a sword over any cause, even if cancerous spirits of false doctrine, behavioral lawlessness and scriptural illiteracy are running rampant through the bloodstream of the body. (Today, the victimization of people has become the number one cover for preventing the exposure of sin lurking beneath their pain and alleviating them for accountability to God in the cleansing fear of the Lord. Healing ministry is accepted, Prophecy is not.)
Consequently, anyone wielding a true prophetic sword is simply considered to be one who is insensitively “judging” everyone else, in violation of Jesus’ exhortation against judging one another. “Stop judging” the true Prophet is exhorted. “You don’t know what people have been through. Who do you think you are?” The truth however is that the true Prophet never is judging. And the reason he is not judging anyone is because he himself has already faced the judgment. The sword has first “pierced his own soul also.” He already knows what it feels like. And so he is fearful in his own wielding of the piercing Word. And this is a real requirement of true Prophets.
But it is not just that the prophet has first been pierced, but that, as a result of being first pierced, the prophet—in spirit reality—is no longer the one who is actually speaking! This truth is exemplified and explained by Jesus:
Jn. 8:15 "...I am not judging anyone. 16 "But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me....12:48 "He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. 49 "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak... 14:10 "...The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.
This is the whole key to wielding the true prophetic sword versus issuing human judgment. It's not about the wielder. It's about Who is speaking from inside the wielder. Jesus said He judges no one (as He exhorted us also), yet says, "But even if I do judge, My judgment is true, for....I do not speak on my own initiative." This is the meaning of these seemingly contradictory back-to-back statements. To paraphrase Paul, Jesus says, "...nevertheless I judge, yet not I, but the Word judges from within Me."
This is also the meaning of "judge righteous judgment." This is what He could have continued to say in Matthew 7, "Judge not, that you be not judged, but even if you do judge, make sure it is not you, but your heavenly Father who speaks through you....." (Is that not what He said would happen if we were to be brought into court?)
The true prophet is not judging because He is internally divorced from the Word. He is first identity severed from the word. He is not speaking on His own initiative. The Father is speaking through Him. And how does the prophet get identity severed from his own word? It's by being first pierced by the same sword which divides the thoughts and intents of the prophet's own heart. See how the gospel of identity severance and the qualification required for wielding the prophetic sword of the word go hand in hand. This is the practical meaning of identity severance when it comes to ministry (and I would recommend everyone re-read that article with this application in view).
True Prophets always need to examine themselves and first ask, “Have I already been judged by the word that I am bringing? Have I allowed the word to pierce the thoughts and intents of my own heart? Am I hiding anything myself?” Unless the Prophet can answer these questions transparently from a place of inner humility, then he indeed may not minister the “sword” of internal exposure to others. For then it is indeed he that is speaking, and not the Lord through Him. He is failing the command to not judge. He is a hypocrite. And his prophetic judgment will come back upon him. (For those who remember it, this is exactly what happened in the 1988 Swaggart scandal.) So this is a word of wise admonition to all sword bearers of the piercing Word.
Nevertheless, Jesus expects His Prophets to indeed arise, to let the sword first minister to themselves, so that they can then go out and be the holy dividers they have been inducted into His army to be as the forward edge of the Lord’s Voice through them, and to bear all the unfortunate costs and stigmas that go along with that.
When Jesus tells the church at Pergamum that if they don’t repent, He will come and fight against them with the “sword of My mouth,” He is telling them that He will raise up His sword wielding Prophets to take them on who will bear His sharp, piercing and convicting Word. That means somebody has to be qualified to answer that call. (It might have to be you.) And when you see an angel telling John in Revelation 10 that he is commissioned to yet “prophesy” concerning many nations, and the next thing you read is fire-smoking Prophecy breathing out of the mouths of the Two Witnesses, what do you think is going on? You better believe that somebody has to be qualified, prepared and commissioned to answer that call! (It might be John, and it might have to be you.)
And so if that is the case, then it is incumbent on us to understand the difference between human critical “judging” and fire-breathing Prophecy that cuts to the root of the thoughts and intents that men don’t want unveiled, including beneath the pain of their victimization by whatever has happened to them and which has become their defense against accountable exposure before the Lord of Hosts.
This then is just a wake up call to our people to start re-sharpening our prophetic swords, and to not let the humanistic mantra of “stop judging” stop us from answering our call to duty. But it is an equal call to us to make sure we have allowed the sword to first pierce our own soul also, so we may be qualified conduits of the Lord’s own Voice in wielding the conscience-penetrating Word in the impending day of conflict.
To the Two Witnesses the Lord says,
“Prepare to arise.”
"Draw near, O executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand." Ezk. 9:1
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created January 30, 2019