…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
Reading the Bible, we’ll find …
true prophets carry the Word of God (Truth),
and the heart of God
by the Holy Spirit.
True prophets are also intercessors, empowered and led by the Holy Spirit in agreement with Jesus and God’s will in prayer.
8:27 … the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
8:34 … Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Romans 8:27, 34 (ESV)
intercessors stand in the gap before God on behalf of the land,
Ezekiel 22:30 (NKJV)
So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.
example, in the wilderness,
21 They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things in Egypt,
22 Wonders in the land of Ham
And awesome things by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them,
Had not Moses His chosen one
stood in the breach before Him,
To turn away His wrath from destroying them.
Psalm 106:21-23 (NASB)
True prophecy testifies about Jesus, His truth and His character.
Revelations 19:10 (NKJV)
… Worship God!
For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy
John 1:14 (NIV)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
True prophecy can be accurately verified and confirmed, after it takes place.
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure …
20 But know this first of all, that
no prophecy of Scripture
is a matter of one’s own interpretation,
21 for no prophecy
was ever made by an act of human will,
but men moved by the Holy Spirit
spoke from God.
2 Peter 1:20, 21 (NASB)
… not one’s own personal or special interpretation (AMP),
or prophet’s own interpretation (NIV),
( eg. extrapolated from the news, world events, disasters, extra-biblical sources, etc,
not vague or unclear, imprecise, hazy )
… not an act of human will,
or from human initiative (NIV)
moved by the Holy Spirit
spoken from God.
And, … we have the prophetic word confirmed (NKJV)
Let’s explore the Bible.
Let’s capture a glimpse of God’s heart for individuals, cities and nations.
Ezekiel 33:11 (NIV)
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord,
I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked,
that they turn from their ways and live.
Turn! Turn from your evil ways!
Why will you die, people of Israel?’
Ezekiel 18:23, 30, 32 (NLT)
23 ““Do you think that I like to see wicked people die?
says the Sovereign Lord.
Of course not!
I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.
30 … Repent, and turn from your sins.
Don’t let them (your sins) destroy you!
32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord.
Turn back and live!
Lamentations 3:32,33 (NIV)
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.
God’s word changes our yielded hearts.
Like the prophet Isaiah, …
when we encounter the Lord,
we see our own sin, our unworthiness
… and are deeply humbled by the depths of His lavish grace to us all.
Isaiah 6:1, 5-8
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me.”
Interestingly, in the previous chapter, Isaiah prophesied 6 times,
“Woe to you …” (Isaiah 5:8-25),
When Isaiah, himself encountered the Lord,
“Woe to me!”
In the holy presence of the Lord,
Isaiah saw where he stood.
Truly, it’s by
God’s mercy & grace
“your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for”
“Whom shall I send?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me.”
Matthew 5:45 (NKJV)
… for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
… For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Jesus is our example,
“… I will send my beloved son. Perhaps they will respect him …”
Luke 20:13 NASB; Matthew 21:37, Mark 12:6
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,
42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
45 Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
Before Jesus entered the city,
to warn of judgment on the temple and Jerusalem (in AD70),
and finally give His life for us all.
He saw the city and wept over it
Similarly, before the great flood in Genesis,
Genesis 5:3, 5-8 (NIV)
3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
God was grieved in His heart.
In the midst of the judgment & doom on the world,
Grace and mercy.
… But …
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
… Noah was a just man,
perfect in his generations.
Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
… a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5)
Peter calls Noah a preacher of righteousness
i.e. while he built the ark, … he pleaded to the people to turn back to God, repent, & be saved.
In the final days & hours, God sent a prophet ,
… God waited patiently
in the days of Noah while the ark was being built (1 Peter 3:20 NIV)
How long did God mercifully, wait patiently?
120 years (Genesis 6:3)
Furthermore, Noah’s grandfather Methuselah died in the year of the flood,
after living 969 years, … the longest living person in the Bible.
Methuselah‘s name means “Man of the dart/spear“,
or alternatively “his death shall bring judgment“
(wikipedia, Cornwall & Smith, The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names),
which was given by his father, Enoch. (Genesis 5:21)
Similarly, in the last days & hours of Jerusalem & Judah before the exile,
God sent a weeping prophet to live in Jerusalem, … Jeremiah.
“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem,
look around and consider,
search through her squares.
If you can find but one person
who deals honestly and seeks the truth
I will forgive this city.
Jeremiah 5:1 (NIV)
In Romans, Paul quoted Isaiah’s prophecy,
It is as Isaiah foretold, “If the Lord of Hosts had not left us seed [future generations from which a believing remnant of Israelites came],
We would have become like Sodom,
and would have resembled Gomorrah [totally rejected and destroyed]!”
Romans 9:29 (AMP)
God’s magnanimous mercy and grace, … and holy justice.
God waited patiently
When Samuel was sent to prophesy to Saul that God had rejected him as king,
1 Samuel 15:10-12, 35 (NKJV)
10 Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, 11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.”
And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night.
12 So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel …
35 And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death.
Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.
The Lord shared his heart
I greatly regret …
Before Samuel went to see Saul to prophesy God’s word,
Samuel grieved and interceded for Saul all night.
it grieved Samuel,
he cried out to the Lord all night.
Pause for a moment,
Samuel prayed …. all night
… for one man, Saul.
Samuel humbled himself before the Lord praying for Saul.
His all night intercession sets the tone & attitude
in which he shared God’s word with Saul.
After sharing God’s decision with Saul,
Samuel mourned for Saul
Samuel felt God’s heart for Saul.
Years earlier in 1 Samuel,
when the Israelites asked for a king,
and God gives them a king
Samuel said to Israel,
1 Samuel 12:16
16 “Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes: 17 Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the Lord, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking a king for yourselves.”
18 So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.”
20 Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. 22 For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.
In this account, Samuel the prophet certainly had delegated prophetic authority to call God’s judgement,
18So Samuel called to the Lord,
and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day;
and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
at the same time,
Samuel was moved to ceaselessly intercede,
and teach the good and right way
… turning people’s hearts to the Lord.
i.e. God’s ways & grace.
23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.
Samuel took his intercession for the people so seriously that
he considers it a sin if he does not!
In Israel, Samuel was anointed as both Prophet and Priest. (1 Samuel 3:1, 20,21).
Part of Samuel’s priestly ministry was to pray and teach God’s way.
On the garments of the priest, there’s an interesting detail,
Exodus 28:12 (NLT)
Fasten the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod as a reminder that Aaron represents the people of Israel. Aaron will carry these names on his shoulders as a constant reminder whenever he goes before the Lord.
For us in the new covenant,
Revelations 1:6 (NIV)
and has made us to be a kingdom
and priests to serve his God and Father …
In Jonah’s case, the prophetic book is both a word from the Lord to the Gentile people of Nineveh,
as well as to Jonah’s own heart, representing Israel.
God is concerned for both Gentiles and Jews.
Both Nineveh and Jonah needed to turn from their ways.
The book opens with the prophetic word given to Jonah, about the coming wrath of God,
Jonah 1:1,2 (NLT)
The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
then, an unexpected twist in the middle – immediate repentance by the whole Gentile city!
God’s grace, mercy in judgment,
grace, forgiveness for the whole Gentile city, in the Old Testament,
Jonah 3:10, 4:1 (NLT)
10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.
This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry.
For this generation in Nineveh, judgment was adverted,
because of God’s mercy.
Jonah became upset and angry,
that God had mercy on the powerful enemies of Israel,
and the book ends with God dealing with the prophet, Jonah’s own heart …
with a compassionate question
Jonah 4:9-11 (NLT)
9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”
“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”
10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly.
11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
Twice, God asked Jonah
“Do you have good reason to be angry?”
Nineveh was a rising military force in the region, and Jonah own country’s enemies.
Jonah was angry that God did not send his wrath, his judgment upon the wicked city of Nineveh, and fulfill the prophetic word he proclaimed to the city,
instead God had mercy on them, because they repented.
In Jonah’s mind, Nineveh were Gentiles, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12).
Jonah sat down at a place east of the city, and waited to see what would happen to the city (Jonah 4:5)
… Nothing happened to the city!
The Lord asked Jonah,
Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?
Shouldn’t the city of Nineveh be given a second chance?
In fact, just prior to Jonah entering Nineveh to prophesy,
Jonah miraculously received the mercy of the Lord —
instead of receiving judgment
in a great storm, and in the belly of a great fish,
for running away and disobeying his prophetic assignment (Jonah 1:3)
On the ship in the terrible storm,
12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” Jonah replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land.
Jonah 1:12, 13 (NIV)
Jonah personally experienced how much the Gentiles, total strangers on the ship deeply cherished his life.
They were reluctant to throw him overboard in order to save themselves.
In the belly of the great fish, Jonah cried out to the Lord,
and he received a second chance from the Lord (Jonah 2)
Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?
For Nineveh, a Gentile city, in the midst of judgment …
when they turned to the Lord, and turned from their evil way,
they received grace and mercy from the Lord.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions
—it is by grace you have been saved.
Jonah 3:5,8,10 (NKJV)
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
The gospel of Jonah reflects the Spirit of Jesus, until He comes back a second time to judge the earth.
Salvation, mercy and grace for both Jews and Gentiles who repent and embrace His grace through Jesus.
2 Peter 3:9,10 (NIV)
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. …
Jonah’s account highlights that if we’re not careful,
we can have the right word from God,
but a wrong heart in ministering His word,
(see things from our human perspective, a judgmental attitude )
Let’s follow Jesus … full of grace and truth
John 1:14 (NASB)
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
As God deals with others … He is also dealing with our own hearts too.
Romans 9:22-24 (NIV)
22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?
In God’s great patience and mercy, through Jesus,
from objects of wrath … to objects of mercy …. to objects of glory!
so that His power, and the riches of his glory are made known.
On a side note, Jonah was sent by the Lord to prophesy to the Gentiles,
and a whole city turned their hearts to the Lord.
The Lord had mercy on a Gentile city in the Old Testament !
Romans 10:12,13 (NASB)
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
In Jesus’ ministry, Jesus mentions Jonah’s ministry and Nineveh turning their hearts to the Lord to the crowds in Israel.
Luke 11:29,30, 32 (NASB)
29 As the crowds were increasing, His began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah.
30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
32 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;
and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
Indeed, this is God’s heart
Luke 19:10, John 3:17 (NKJV)
for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Hebrews 9:26-28 (NIV)
26 … But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
If the Lord lead/direct us to go & share God’s word with our enemies or marketplace competitor,
what would we do?
Years later after Jonah, God raised up another prophet, Nahum, who prophesised to another generation of people in Nineveh. This time, the people did not heed God’s word and repent. Nineveh fell in 612 BC.
The 2 books Jonah and Nahum are included in the Bible
demonstrating both God’s mercy and God’s judgment.
God is just and fair, … mercy if we turn back to him;
each generation is accountable for the consequences of their own actions.
Psalm 97:6 (NIV)
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
God is just, impartial and fair,
yet, not wanting anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9)
The Lord gave Pharoah and Egypt 10 opportunities to turn their hearts to Him, through 10 plagues (Exodus 7:8-12:31; Psalms 78:42-51; 105:27-36)
Thankfully, some did turn their hearts and followed the Lord.
37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.
Israel after they left Egypt, Israel tested the Lord 10 times in the wilderness (Numbers 14:20-23), before He pronounced, “22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors.” Numbers 14:23 (NIV), except for Caleb and Joshua.
God is just and fair.
God loved both the Egyptians and the Israelites, His desire is they, and all of us to turn our hearts to Him.
The mighty King loves justice.
You have established fairness;
You have administered justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Psalm 99:4 (HCSB)
34 Then Peter began to speak:
“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism
35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished
that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out
even on Gentiles.
Acts 10:34,35, 45 (NIV)
There is no favoritism with God.
Romans 2:11 (HCSB)
This is consistent with the word given to Jeremiah,
Jeremiah 18:7-10 (NIV)
7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,
8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil,
then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,
10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me,
then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
On a separate note, from the second part of this passage in Jeremiah,
prophetic promises are conditional on our response & lives;
its not a blank cheque, and not fatalistic.
The first mention of the word prophet in the Bible
is with reference to Abraham (Genesis 20:7).
Abraham was God’s friend (Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23)
Just before the Lord poured his judgement on Sodom …
Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? (Genesis 18:17 NIV)
Abraham, God’s friend, interceded for Sodom.
Genesis 18:23, 32 (NKJV)
23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? …
… 32 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more:
Suppose ten should be found there?”
And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.”
Sadly, there were less than 10 righteous people in Sodom.
However, consider … 10 is less than 1% of a population of 1000+.
Listen to Habakkuk’s prayer
Habakkuk 3:1,2 (NKJV)
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.
2 O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid;
O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years!
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
God worked on Moses’ heart after he fled and lost everything as a prince of Egypt. He ended up shepherding sheep for his father-in-law Jethro in the wilderness for forty years….. until he personally encountered God. (Acts 7:30)
Moses spent forty years thinking he was somebody; then he spent forty years on the backside of the desert realizing he was nobody; finally, he spent the last forty years of his life discovering what God can do with a nobody!
– D. L. Moody
After leading the Israelites out of Egypt,
there was a time in the wilderness when God wanted to destroy all Israel because of their stubborn wickedness.
God offered to make Moses into a mighty nation instead.
An irresistible offer for Moses indeed!
But .. Moses was not gripped by vain glory or selfish ambition.
Deuteronomy 9:13, 14, 25-29 (NKJV)
9:13 “Furthermore the Lord spoke to me, saying,
‘I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people.
14 Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven;
and I will make of you a nation
mightier and greater than they.’
Like Jesus, He saw the city and wept over it,
Moses chose to intercede for Israel.
Moses interceded for a whole nation,
for forty days and nights.
He perservered, he did not give up.
O Lord God, do not destroy Your people
Above all, Moses heart was set on God’s glory.
9:25 “Thus I prostrated myself before the Lord; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the Lord had said He would destroy you. 26 Therefore I prayed to the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord God, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look on the stubbornness of this people, or on their wickedness or their sin, 28 lest the land from which You brought us should say, “Because the Lord was not able to bring them to the land which He promised them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness.” 29 Yet they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your mighty power and by Your outstretched arm.’
forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself (more than a month)
The Lord heard Moses,
and in His mercy, the Lord chose not to destroy Israel
10:10 “As at the first time, I stayed in the mountain forty days and forty nights; the Lord also heard me at that time, and the Lord chose not to destroy you.
11 Then the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, begin your journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.’
God also restored his promise to Israel,
possess the land which I swore to their fathers to give them
Psalm 78 (NIV)
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a passing breeze that does not return.
Paul was persecuted by his fellow countrymen, they rejected his message (Acts 28:23-28). Like Moses, Paul wrote … My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. (Romans 9:2,3 NLT)
God commended Moses as more humble than anyone else who was on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3 NIV) .
In Numbers 12, Moses’ leadership was challenged by those most closest to him, who served alongside him — Miriam and Aaron.
Moses held his peace, he humbly submitted the matter to the Lord …
… the Lord vindicated Moses.
Numbers 12:10-13 (NIV)
10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”
13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”
Miriam was judged.
But … Moses immediately interceded for Miriam,
the Lord heard Moses,
… and Miriam was healed after 7 days.
Moses was more humble than anyone else.
Before this incident, … in the previous chapter in Numbers,
some others were filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,
27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”
28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”
29 But Moses replied, “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!”
Moses was not obsessed with exclusively having God’s anointing on his life. He was secure in his eternal relationship with God, and not possessive of his temporal earthly position. He thoroughly understood God is sovereign, and Jesus’ words – “…apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV).
In fact, he wanted everyone to be filled, and anointed by the Holy Spirit.
The Lord fulfilled this in Acts.
Acts 1:5, 2:17,18 (NKJV)
5 for John truly baptized with water,
but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
Moses was more humble than anyone else.
Moses did not abuse his authority to stop a genuine move of God’s Spirit.
Like the Lord, Moses was magnanimous.
The disciples of Jesus also learnt this lesson,
Mark 9:38-40 (NIV)
38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us.
In Hosea, listen to the heart of God for a people bent on backsliding from the Lord
Hosea 1:1-4, 7,8 (NKJV)
“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called,
the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I devastate Ephraim again.
For I am God, and not a man—
the Holy One among you.
I will not come against their cities.
In the book of Hosea,
the Lord led the prophet, Hosea, to experience His heart.
What’s it really like to be God ?
Hosea 1:2,3. 2:5-7 (NIV)
2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him,
“Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her,
for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”
3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, …
Hosea was to remain a faithful husband to his promiscuous wife.
2:5 Their mother has been unfaithful
and has conceived them in disgrace.
She said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my food and my water,
my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’
6 Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
7 She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
Hosea 3:1,2 (NIV)
The Lord said to me,
“Go, show your love to your wife again,
though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress.
Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites,
though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley.
Hosea redeemed his unfaithful wife, Gomer,
unconditionally love her,
Hosea was asked to
Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites,
i.e. love his adulterous, sexually immoral, unfaithful wife
like how the Lord loves his people.
Hosea in Hebrew means salvation.
On a further note, Hosea’s actions to Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites,
parallels Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:25-27 (NIV) about a faithful marraige, and Christ’s relationship with his people, the church.
25 Husbands, love your wives,
just as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for her
26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish,
but holy and blameless.
Psalm 141:1,2 (NIV)
Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
In the book of 1 Kings, the writer wrote these notes about king Ahab,
25 (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)
1 Kings 21:25, 26 (NASB)
In the midst of the darkest, vilest period, … God sends two of the most powerful prophets in the Old Testament — Elijah & Elisha,
to turn the nation back to God. And, magnificently demonstrated in the devastating judgement on the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel.
1 Kings 18:39,40, 45 (NASB)
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried,
“The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
45 … the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling …
When things are at their worst, … God sends His bold prophets to turn His people back to Him.
Some of the most outstanding miracles of God in the Old Testament, were recorded during the time of Ahab and Jezebel, through the ministry of Elijah & Elisha.
In spite of Ahab & Jezebel killing the true prophets of God, the Lord miraculously preserved a righteous remnant for His glory,
18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:18 (NASB)
3 Ahab called Obadiah who was over the household.
(Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly;
4 for when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the Lord,
Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water.)
1 Kings 18:3, 4 (NASB)
Rather than Elijah thinking he’s the only (one and only) prophet left standing (1 Kings 19:14).
Therefore, ultimately God works through the body of Christ to accomplish His purposes on this earth — prophets like Elijah, lay people like Obadiah, … and unknown others. God used their different gifts and talents for His glory.
The Holy Spirit led Elijah by God’s Word into God’s work.
The Lord miraculously provided & sustained Elijah’s everyday needs during the 3+ years of famine, and hid him from Ahab, … who had a death execution warrant on Elijah.
James notes the consistent prayer life of Elijah
(a human being just like us),
and the righteous life he lived before the Lord.
James 5:16-18 (NASB)
16 … The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are.
He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.
18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
We can go on and on throughout the Bible about the intercession of the prophets Daniel, Jeremiah, etc
In the last days of Jerusalem, just before the exile, Jeremiah wept, interceded, pleaded and prophesied to the people and the rulers to turn back to God, and follow God directions so that their lives would be spared. As a consequence, he was persecuted, locked up and his words ignored by the leaders.
Interestingly, in the midst of war and impending disaster,
Jeremiah prophesied … hope
… that seventy years later, God would bring the exiles back to the land.
The true prophets were God fearing, … not man-fearing.
They walked righteously before the Lord.
In spite of intense persecution and rejection of their message,
they identified with the sin of the people.
and made intercession for them,
— for those who rejected their message, … for those who persecuted them,
just like Jesus did.
Isaiah 53:12 (NIV)
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Towards the end of the 70-year exile, Daniel fasted, prayed and confessed on behalf of his people; as he humbly sought the Lord in sackcloth and ashes.
Daniel 9:2-4 (NASB)
2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely,seventy years. 3 So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed
Finally, in Revelation, the offering of incense with the prayers of all God’s people to the Lord preceded the 7 trumpets of judgement,
Revelation 8:2-6 (NIV)
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.
5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
In Revelation 11, the 2 witnesses will prophesy
with amazing great power.
as they clothe themselves in sackcloth; in humble prayer, confession and intercession before the Lord for the people to turn to the Lord.
Revelation 11:3-6 (NASB)
3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
And … just before the hour of judgment, God sends one of the angels to speak to all peoples to repent before its too late,
Revelation 14:6,7 (NIV)
6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice,
“Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come.
Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
The Psalmist cries out to the Lord,
Psalm 119:136 (NKJV)
Rivers of water run down from my eyes,
Because men do not keep Your law.
As we’ve seen in the various Bible passages, the Lord is relentless in His pursuit of His people to return back to Him,
not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.
a relentless love.
Before we speak,
do we intercede ?
Before we speak God’s word,
… can we feel God’s heart ?
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
June 10, 2015
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License