[anzac] KATZ - WHAT is a PROPHET??

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From: "REVIVAL List" <revival_list@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2006 14:31:17 -0500
WHAT is a PROPHET?
-by Art Katz.

What rises in your own thought and in your own heart when the
word 'prophet' is evoked? What image, what sense of things
comes to your own understanding? We need to remember that the
false prophets were those who wore rough garments to deceive,
and that the only reason they could succeed was because the
people whom they deceived had an anticipation or a stereotyped
view of prophet that their false depiction represented. Does a
prophet have to be some long-haired wilderness guy in a rough
garment, who acts strange and peculiar, and who looks with great
intensity in his eyes? How would you define what a prophet is?
How is he different from an apostle, or a teacher, or an evangelist?
Are prophets still existent or are they strictly an Old Testament
phenomenon? Is there such a thing as a New Testament prophet,
as being something very different from the Old?

There is a tremendous amount of difference and controversy that
broods over this subject. The church has really suffered from a
kind of dichotomy between the Old and the New, as if the New
has displaced or rendered the Old null and void. That is not the
way that God sees it. That is the terminology that men have
employed, but not the terminology that God Himself has given,
and we have suffered for that. Jews have also suffered for that
because it leaves them secure within the framework of their own
Judaistic understanding: "You have your Book; we have our Book."
It is implying that: "You have your God, and we have our God". It
is an impression that God never intended, but that we have
allowed Judaism to luxuriate in and find safety in. We need,
therefore, to fight for the one faith, the one unbroken, continuous
faith, given from the beginning, and that is climaxed, concluded
and consummated at the end by the same God who gave it in the
beginning. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

If that is the way we see the faith, then can we expect and will we
need prophetic men of the Old Testament kind in our own
generation, and especially at the end? Is there a conjunction
between beginnings and endings? As it was in the beginning, so
also at the end? The issues of the beginning do not change, but
are even brought into more intensive focus and significance at the
end, but it is not different or other than what was at the beginning.

I am astonished at the novelty and fascination with prophetic
things for our charismatic generation. What trails we break in
order to pursue after the 'prophet of the hour' without a
comparable fascination or interest in the prophets of the Book! I
cannot understand this kind of schizophrenia. We are fascinated
by the contemporary 'prophets', who are so infinitely shallow and
who themselves have bypassed completely any interest in the
great Hebrew prophets of old through whom God spoke, not only
in addressing the Israel of their own generation, but the Israel that
is yet future. We need to be constantly reminded that the
prophets are the prophets of Israel. They are the spokesmen of
God to that nation. It is not unfair to say that nothing more reveals
God as God as is seen in His dealings and judgments with Israel.
To put ourselves, therefore, in a dysjuncture from Israel and the
prophets of Israel, is to put us away from the hearing of God's
prophets, and thereby affect our whole consideration of what we
mean by prophetic. This will condemn us to a kind of shallowness
about the very things of which we are already victim.

We need to ask what the essential differences are in, for example,
Ezekiel or Jeremiah's message? If we can come to some
understanding there, then we are cutting right into the truth of what
the prophetic call is. Is it the soothing and benign comforting of a
false kind, which is generally what people want? Their souls cry
out for it, particularly in time of distress and consternation. The
true prophet, however, is rubbing salt into their wounds. He
deepens the dilemma and makes more clear the painful
contradictions of the age, and he says, "There is no peace." He is
bringing the dilemma into yet a deeper focus and saying, "You are
not going to find peace until there is a judgment for this." He brings
an unwelcome message that the flesh wants to shrink from, and
the most common way to nullify the message is to kill or render
null and void the man who brings it.

That is why we are probing what the classic, timeless elements
are that have constituted prophets in every generation, whether or
not it is Elijah, Isaiah, or Jeremiah. What in fact, is the difference
between Isaiah and Jeremiah, or Samuel, or any of the minor
prophets? However diverse these men are, is there anything
central that runs through them all, that is intrinsic to being
prophetic? Whatever the differences, what are the things that are
the same? What is the heart, the quintessence of that which is
prophetic? The quality of the man rarely comes through in his
speaking or writing, but they all share the same label 'prophet'.
We are trying to get at the heart of what that prophetic definition
is, because if we have not as yet seen it in New Testament times,
do we have a reasonable right to anticipate that we will? I cannot
imagine that the age is going to close, with all of the great tumult
and controversy of last day's collision between kingdoms of
darkness and light, in that final warfare that eventuates in the
victory of one and defeat of the other, without again men of this
kind speaking. What does restoration mean, at least in part, if it
is not the restoration of these offices that we have not seen in
modern times. We even sense the need for the restoration, but
we are so quick to grasp at anything that appears to be it,
without critically examining what is being offered as 'prophet,' and
in that might lie one of our deepest mistakes.

This is an hour of restoration, but one that requires our jealousy
and watch-care. I know of one late pastor in New Zealand who saw
as his prime function to instruct the church on how to identify,
recognize, and honor the prophetic office when it comes. He was
preparing his fellowship to be able to perceive, to recognize and to
give honor to the true thing when it comes. I really appreciated that
man. I think that I can say with a certain confidence that when I
am speaking before a congregation, the blessing is the greater
when a pastor or a leader in the congregation acknowledges the
man in his prophetic call. When they are unwilling to make that
acknowledgment, they still get something, but they do not get as
much. There is, therefore, a blessing in the receiving of the man
whom the Lord sends.

If we were to examine the callings of all of the prophets and their
responses, we would see how often these men cry out, "But I am
a child and cannot speak." After all of our examining we would
have a portrait, and it would be a composite portrait of the
prophetic genius. However much these men differ in their calling
and personalities, there is some central thing that runs through
them all that is designated 'prophetic', and that is what we are
wanting to identify, because certainly the cry for that particular
thing is with us in our final generation and in these last days. We
cannot even conceive of the church independent of the restoration
of prophets. Somehow and all of the sudden, this subject has
broken upon the consciousness of the church, and now there is a
sudden flush of excitement and men seem to be running
everywhere to hear prophets. These prophets seem to have come
to an instantaneous popularity. They were not on the scene before
and all the sudden they are here. They are also being heralded in
very lavish ways, not just as prophets, but as 'the oracles of the
hour'. This is, therefore, a phenomenon that we need to examine
to see how legitimate it is, and whether indeed it is the Lord or
some kind of counterfeit. We should be well along enough in the
Lord to know that whenever the authentic thing is about to come,
it is often preceded by something fictitious or counterfeit. I want to
say that I am watching this present prophetic phenomenon very
carefully and have an extreme sense of caution in my own spirit&#151;
if for nothing more than the suddenness and the popularity&#151;both
of which have not been my experience. There is nothing sudden,
but rather there is a growth, and there is nothing popular, but quite
the contrary, there is reproach.....

[~For more excellent teaching on True vs. False prophets,
please see Art Katz's online book from which the above is taken-
http://www.benisrael.org/OnlineBooks/prophetic_call/ProphCall_01.htm ]

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