They tell the prophets, "Shut up! We don't want any more of your reports. Don't tell us the truth. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. We have heard more than enough about your 'Holy One of Israel.' We are tired of listening to what he has to say." Isaiah 30:10-11
I sat in a local church one night, waiting to hear from the "prophet." The reason I showed up was because the guy claimed to be a prophetic Messianic Jew and he was speaking shortly after 9/11. Intrigued, I wondered if he might have some insight on end times prophecies and how the Jews and other religions play into the big picture. I'm not going to tackle here how the gift of prophecy fits into our times, but I do know that you can recognize modern day prophets simply as truth-tellers.
I'd never heard a self-acclaimed prophet in upfront ministry before, and none of my expectations prepared me for that night. In a nutshell, the guy began "prophesying" great blessings to rain down on this local church. Blessings, blessings, and more blessings. People would find jobs, more money would show up, happiness would abound, the answer to every prayer they prayed would be granted, all according to prophecy. "As a sign of the fulfillment of these promises 'from God,'" the prophet continued, "you will see rain in the natural world before the weekend is over." All of his words were met with exuberant amen's and halleluiahs. Who wouldn't be on board for that? Everybody liked this guy. What was not to like? Okay, maybe there was one person who didn't jive with him.
As I got up to leave in the middle of the service, disgusted, I knew there would not be rain, either in the natural world or the spiritual world. And there wasn't. Why?
The fact is, most people don't like true prophets, and therefore I concluded early on this guy could not possibly be a true prophet. People don't like what real prophets have to say. Their names are not found on the popularity charts. God's prophets always came to convict people of their sin and to tell them how to get right with God before they could experience the blessings they sought. But people want you to tell them all nice things—things that make them feel happy and good about themselves. They don't want to hear about what they need to change.
If we want the spiritual blessings and more of God, we must always be willing to hear the truth. A great work of God in our lives comes after a season of testing, purifying, and preparation. It is only if we are willing to hear and accept the hard things that we can experience the beautiful inspiring and worthwhile things.
Jeremiah responded to Hananiah as they stood in front of all the priests and people at the Temple. He said, "Amen! May your prophecies come true! I hope the LORD does everything you say. I hope he does bring back from Babylon the treasures of this Temple and all our loved ones. But listen now to the solemn words I speak to you in the presence of all these people. The ancient prophets who preceded you and me spoke against many nations, always warning of war, famine, and disease. So a prophet who predicts peace must carry the burden of proof. Only when his predictions come true can it be known that he is really from the LORD." Jeremiah 28:5-9