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Tag Archives: prophecy

The Oracles of God

From a biblical perspective, an oracle refers to a priest or priestess acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from God. Whenever a forefather, judge or king was about to make an important decision in the Old Testament, prophets and seers were requested. Depending upon the oracle received, these leaders would base their ultimate decision upon these words of wisdom.

Then what advantage remains to the Jew? [How is he favored?] Or what is the value or benefit of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, to the Jews were entrusted the oracles (the brief communications, the intentions, the utterances) of God, Romans 3:1-2.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses logic and reason to justify the Jewish practice of circumcision. As individuals follow the Torah, Old Testament laws relayed to Israel from Moses, spiritual insight is gained. However, this process is exercised by talking steps of faith, not by sight. As the faithful follow their spiritual convictions, brief communication, intentions and utterances from God are received.

And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice, 1 Kings 19:11-12.

It’s not uncommon to feel like the prophet Elijah in the passage above. There are moments, periods and time when God is silent and believers feel all alone, desperate for comfort and direction. During this ordeal, Elijah withdrew to a cave to contemplate his next step, In the minutes that followed, a series of weather related events got Elijah’s attention. Despite the wonder and awe of these natural disasters, God was not behind these events. As Elijah’s spirit grew impatient, an oracle of God appeared in the form of a whisper. May this story encourage you to be ready for the next oracle to be spoken via the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Re-examining the Anointing of Jehu

Sometimes the message that God is trying to communicate to you doesn’t make sense initially. Take the prophet Elisha for example, who is about to retire, but is called by God to anoint a new king . The passage below details instructions given to Elisha to follow. The first two verses seem clear, but the end of verse three raises some concern. “Why is God telling me to run? What is going to happen immediately following my anointing for me to flee?”

And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets and said to him, Gird up your loins, take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. When you arrive, look there for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi; and go in and have him arise from among his brethren and lead him to an inner chamber. Then take the cruse of oil and pour it on his head and say, Thus says the Lord: I have anointed you king over Israel. Then open the door and flee; do not tarry, 2 Kings 9:1-3.

During the anointing of Jehu, Elisha reveals several accomplishments that this new king will fulfill during his reign. One of these promises is to overthrow queen Jezebel. Perhaps inspired by this prophecy, Jehu doesn’t waste anytime. The passage below details Jehu’s encounter with Jezebel. Jehu’s call to action was simple, “who is on God’s side?” Two of the three body guards of Jezebel, knowing of her evil deeds, took Jehu’s advice, throwing Jezebel off a balcony, falling to her death.

Now when Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and she painted her eyes and beautified her head and looked out of [an upper] window. 31 And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, [Have you come in] peace, you Zimri, who slew his master? 32 Jehu lifted up his face to the window and said, Who is on my side? Who? And two or three eunuchs looked out at him. 33 And he said, Throw her down! So they threw her down, and some of her blood splattered on the wall and on the horses, and he drove over her, 2 Kings 9:30-33.

While the example I have chosen is extreme, procrastination is a major factor that prevents many individuals from achieving their full potential. A sense of urgency is rarely demonstrated. People pften fall into the trap, “I have plenty of time to do this or that.” Yet, as each passing day goes by without acting, time becomes your enemy. As I re-examine the anointing of Jehu, the call for action should be for today, not tomorrow. Don’t second guess yourself. Rather, seize the day just as King Jehu was a man of action.

by Jay Mankus

Explaining the Absence of the Holy Spirit

In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul reveals how God dishes out a variety of spiritual gifts.  These special abilities are given out by the grace of God.  Some of these are ordinary such as giving, serving or teaching.  Other talents are extraordinary, fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, spiritual gifts like healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues often elicit jealousy in those that don’t possess a supernatural gift.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

To address issues like envy, the apostle Paul writes a similar letter to the church at Rome.  In the passage below, Paul compares spiritual gifts to a church body with many parts.  Apart or own their own, a spiritual gift glorifies individuals, not God.  However, when individuals submit to God by joining a local congregation, your gift makes a difference by filling a spiritual hole.  The purpose of any spiritual gift is to serve God by offering your body as a living sacrifice.  While certain gifts will always overshadow your gift, hearts and minds need to stay focused on the common good.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully, Romans 12:4-8.

Jesus and first century church leaders warned about counterfeit, fake and imposters who come in the name of Jesus.  These individuals still exist today, often perpetrating frauds on those who watch on television or attend a rally.  When truth exposes these people like Steve Martin in a Leap of Faith, modern churches are harmed by these spiritual stains.  Whenever spiritual gifts are used to glorify self, the Holy Spirit will move to another area, region or country.  While most people wish they had another spiritual gift, for now God seeks humble servants willing to be the hands and feet of Christ today.  The dedicated, faithful and obedient persevere during spiritual droughts, hopeful that the presence of the Holy Spirit will return when God’s timing is right.

by Jay Mankus

Restoring God’s Prophecy Over Your Life

A prophecy is compared to a miracle of knowledge. This supernatural declaration is spoken by a man or woman of God who has earned the reputation for disclosing prophetic messages that come true. Many Old Testament prophets had a success rate of over 90% with some not fulfilled by the end of their life. Unfortunately, modern prophets have a much lower rate of accuracy, leaving behind a wave of doubt that discredits anyone who possesses the gift of discernment today. One of the most famous prophecies in the Bible is Jesus’ words to Simon Peter about becoming the rock upon which first century churches were built.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of the living God.” 17 Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, favored by God] are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood (mortal man) did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it [by preventing the resurrection of the Christ]. 19 I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth [gwill have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven,” Matthew 16:15-19.

At some point in Peter’s life, this personal prophecy went to his head. On numerous occasions Jesus’ disciples debated who was the greatest among them. While not verbalized in scripture, I am sure Peter quoted Jesus, “I am the rock, what are you?” Thus, on the Eve of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus tries to warn Peter and the others, “the Spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Falling asleep while Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane serves as a foreshadowing, a precursor to Peter denying knowing Jesus in public three times. In the passage below, Jesus restores Peter’s confidence about God’s prophecy over his life. However, not without pain as Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times, just like his public denial. After this conversation Peter became a new man, able to fulfill Jesus’ final prophecy in John 21:18, crucified upside down on a cross.

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do—with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 Again He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you [really] love Me [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend]?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep, John 21:15-17.

Depending upon your own relationships through out life, you may not have encountered a prophet. For those who haven’t been blessed by an individual, the Bible is filled with rhemas. A rhema is a Greek term that refers to an utterance or thing said. Anytime anyone opens the Bible, the Holy Spirit is able to convict, encourage, inspire or uplift souls through the living Word of God, Hebrews 4:12. Some of these passages refer to the future Christians. For example, the apostle Paul writes about the good works God has prepared in advance for a congregation in Ephesus, Ephesians 2:10. Therefore, even if you have yet to have an individual prophecize over your life, God has something special in store for you. As the Bible prompts hearts, restores minds and fans into flame spiritual gifts and talents, it won’t be long until the Holy Spirit fulfills God’s prophecy over your own life.

by Jay Mankus

Heaven Help Me

The Beatles released their fifth album Help on 6th August, 1965.  The featured song begins with the lyrics (Help!) I need somebody (Help!) Not just anybody (Help!) You know I need someone help!  More than fifty years later, these words can relate to anyone who is in trouble.  When circumstances appear to be spiritually related, individuals may choose to cry out to God in prayer, “heaven help me.”

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah lived until the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah’s reign. 698 years Before Christ, Isaiah was sawed in half, dying a martyr’s life after prophesizing for roughly sixty years. Despite the fate he would suffer, the Holy Spirit gave Isaiah several words of encouragement. In the passage above, Isaiah reminded Old Testament readers that God will help his children in their time of need.

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life, Psalm 54:4.

The saying heaven help me is an idiom.  Typically, this expression is used to acknowledge that you are or could potentially be in trouble.  In 1988 artist Deon Estus released the song Heaven Help Me.  The lyrics refer to a man struggling to know what to say, asking God for wisdom so he doesn’t ruin the relationship of his dreams.  Country singer Gretchen Wilson takes a difference approach to heaven help me, asking God for divine intervention while wrestling with temptation.  Regardless of who you are or where you are in life, everyone will reach a point of desperation where only God can fix your situation.  In times of despair, don’t be afraid to ask for God’s help.

by Jay Mankus

 

Digesting Prophecy

The dictionary refers to prophecy as a “miracle of knowledge, a declaration, description or representation of something future, beyond the power of human sagacity to foresee, discern, or conjecture.”  In ancient days, Jewish leaders relied on prophets, people with the gift of discernment, able to see or sense future events.  Men and women of God relied on a special anointing to help advise and guide kings starting with Saul, then continuing this practice throughout the Old Testament.

Then the angel whom I had seen standing on the sea and the land raised his right hand [to swear an oath] to heaven, and swore [an oath] by [the name of] Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, but when it is time for the trumpet call of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God [that is, His hidden purpose and plan] is finished, as He announced the gospel to His servants the prophets, Revelation 10:5-7.

Unfortunately, modern times have revealed false prophets, schemers and teachers.  These individuals have deceived vulnerable souls, in some cases extorting money from desperate and poor people hoping for a miracle.  These factors have made believing in the concept of a genuine prophet today difficult.  When I read passages from John the revelator, it takes time to digest what is written, especially in the passage above and below.  Any curious person would want to know the mystery of God.  Pursuing this hidden information might unveil God’s purpose and will for your life, but this quest will not happen over night.  Rather, digesting prophecy is a lengthy process, causing one famous pastor to wait 20 years before preaching on Revelation.

Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking to me, and saying, “Go, take the book (scroll) which is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went up to the angel and told him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey,” Revelation 10:8-9.

In verse 9, Christians are encouraged to read the Bible, chew and meditate upon the messages within this book.  According to the revelation above, some of the teachings of the Bible won’t sit well, like a bitter taste in your mouth.  Other topics will taste as sweet as honey.  Thus, as you begin to digest prophecy, its not an easy process.  Certain aspects will remain confusing and hidden, leaving your understanding about parts of the Bible in the dark.  As a former Bible teacher, this is frustrating, especially when you have to address the unknown in class.  Nonetheless, I press on, honesty confessing that there are books and issues that I am still digesting.  May this blog motivate you to diligently study the Word of God so that the unclear becomes clear as people digest prophecy.

by Jay Mankus

Spoiler Alert

As society evolves, new words arrive on the scene to define what’s really happening.  Such is the case of a spoiler alert, derived from someone watching a repeat of an episode, film or show.  Individuals sometimes memorize lines or think out loud, ruining a punch line before a first time listener can enjoy it.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” Genesis 3:15.

While clergy, pastors and theologians may use lofty words, the Bible is full of spoiler alerts.  These clues are known as prophecy, a foreshadowing of what God is planning to do in the future.  Following the fall of mankind, also known as original sin, the author places a subtle hint in between the punishment of Adam and Eve.  The passage above promises to send someone a second Adam to restore that which was lost.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” Luke 19:10.

A well known doctor echoes this point in the New Testament.  Luke issues this spoiler alert to his readers, highlighting purpose for Jesus’ life on earth.  Meanwhile, the disciple John shares another spoiler alert at the end of the book of Revelation.  The plot for life has been exposed, but the hardest part is the waiting for God’s prophecies to be fulfilled.  May faith carry you to the finish line or as show biz states, “the grand finale.”

by Jay Mankus

The Rise of the Sons of Ishmael

This summer has seen an increase in acts of terror across the country and throughout the world.  Before the shock of one tragedy sets in, another takes its place, taking the lives of innocent children, men and women.  Cable news experts on terrorism tend to blame the overflow of refuges from Syria taking Jihad into other foreign countries in the name of Isis.  However, the Bible suggests the root of this axis of evil is the rise of the sons of Ishmael.

The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery, Genesis 16:11.

Rarely, does one selfish act of lust result in long lasting consequences.  Yet, when Sarah refused to believe that she would be the grandmother of Israel, panic set in, allowing her husband to have a one night stand with a concubine.  Subsequently, Hagar becomes pregnant, conceives and gives birth to Ishmael, the father of all Arab nations.  This opened the door for the sons of Israel to be haunted and hunted by the descendants of Ishmael.  This was the day that terrorism was born.

He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers,” Genesis 16:12.

The events of today are merely the fulfillment of this prophecy made by an angel of the Lord.  The Bible does not say or suggest that Sarah could have reversed this curse upon the Jews.  Rather, this passage is a painful reminder of how one careless act can impact an entire generation of citizens.  In view of this upsetting news, one of the best things you can do is pray for God’s mercy.  Although everyone will eventually die, prayers for safety can serve as a hedge of protection as the sons of Ishmael continue to rise.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Sad Sign of Troubled Times

The History Channel has a series of shows related to prophecy.  Nostradamus programs tend to get the most publicity, concentrating upon his published collection that first appeared in 1555.  While there are shows dedicated to Bible prophecy, there is one author who gets overlooked.  The apostle Paul makes a prediction in a letter to one of his disciples which is like a headline from one of the major tabloids.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 2 Timothy 3:6.

Apparently, there was a growing trend of bad boys having a negative influence on woman during the first century.  Based upon the vocabulary used in the passage above, Paul suggests that men were preying on gullible women, then manipulating females to get what they want.  Based upon the amount of children born out of wedlock and dysfunctional homes in America today, Paul’s prophecy is a sad sign of troubles times.

Always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth, 2 Timothy 3:7.

The notion that love is blind applies to this moral dilemma.  While many individuals often say, “I’ll never do that again,” when push comes to shove several repeat the same mistakes time after time.  Thus, bad boys continue to intrigue naive woman, curious what it would be like to date them.  Unfortunately, despite having a knowledge of right from wrong does not stop the desperate or tempted from tasting temporary pleasures.  May the Holy Spirit pierce through this darkness so that these sad signs of a fallen society will turn around soon.

by Jay Mankus

A Lost Art or a Ceased Power

When you study history, centuries are remembered by the movements within each age.  Whether you are talking about the Renaissance, Industrial Revolution or Nuclear Age, culture. technology and trends shape the next generation.  As philosophers like Plato once proclaimed, these shifts have caused human beings to turn their faith from above to within.

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you, 1 Timothy 4:14.

During periods of spiritual Dark Ages, individuals wandered away from the truth.  As access to the Bible was limited to priests and spiritual leaders, saints were unable to fully practice the apostles teachings.  Thus, the notion of laying hands on individuals was likely a foreign concept.  It wasn’t until the 15th century when Johan Gutenberg’s printing press provided Bibles for the masses, making sure there no excuses from here on out.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress, 1 Timothy 4:15.

Within one of the apostle Paul’s letters is an interesting concept, spiritual gifts are conceived following the laying on of hands by elders of a church.  In fact in the next verse, spiritual progress is attributed applying spiritual gifts and laying hands on needy people.  This leads me to ponder, is this a lost art or a ceased power limited to the Pentecost generation?  While theologians will tend to lean toward the latter, perhaps this lost art is the difference between a dying church to one on the verge of revival.  Whatever you believe, the next time you have an opportunity to reach out, say a prayer and release the power of the Holy Spirit, just do it!

by Jay Mankus

 

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