We need some kind of warning!


I sat in horror on the morning of the 11th of September 2001. I was in Kansas
City, Kansas, watching the impact of two aircraft on the world trade towers, the
aircraft plummeting into the Pentagon, another seemingly on it’s way to Camp
David crashing into western Pennsylvania. As the day unfolded my heart was
deeply moved. I felt sorrow for the US, though I am not a citizen. Concern for a
relative in New York. Relief that I was safe, for I was due to fly later that day
and my flight was canceled. I also felt rising anger, but not at the perpetrators.
It was a frustration, a whispering in my spirit that the voice of the church had
been largely silent prior to this national tragedy. Why was there no warning of
yesterday’s events, or the tidal waves that hit P.N.G. or of the explosion of Mt
St Helens?

But today those feelings have passed. Today I am touched by concern for the
minorities in the US. For the taxi drivers in New York who are in hiding. For the
Middle Eastern families who may rapidly become targets of racial frustration.
Today I am burdened for the church, and for her prophets – the eyes and ears
of the church.

The nation of Canada has an early warning defense system. It was constructed
in the 1940’s to ready the people for incoming attack aircrafts. The sirens, air
horns, warning systems and wiring still stand today. You can go to any major
city in Canada and see these massive horns on stands, street corners, roofs
and shopping centers. This system was tested just a year ago and guess what
they found. Less than 10% of the system is still functional. For the most part,
these air raid sirens have become nesting places for birds, squirrels and other
animals.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of men to seek it out
(Prov. 25:2). Why is it then that so much of what God has concealed remains
concealed? Consider Christ’s warning that: “the eye is the lamp of the body. If
your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your
body is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34). If the gift of prophetic insight is not alive
and well in the church, the whole body will be in the dark, or at least partially
blind.

An early warning system

Some years ago there was a movie in the box office called “Twister”. In one
scene a town was destroyed by a tornado. A woman was talking to her ‘twister
chasing’ niece and she remarked, “Jo, we just didn’t have any warning. No
broadcast, no phone call, nothing! The sirens went off and seconds later we
were hit… you’ve got to do something to give us more time!” As she said this, I
wept. I was grieved and deeply moved – in the same way as the events of
yesterday moved me.

In the church our early warning system is the ministry of the prophetic. Just as
in the movie, our ‘systems’ are not providing warning of real danger. God
lamented so long ago to His servant that, “I sought for anyone among them
who would repair the wall and stand in the breach before me on behalf of the
land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezek. 22:30).

I am not saying that the prophetic is completely non-functional. The prophetic
has provided good insight to the Scriptures, it has been leaned upon in matters
of church government in some quarters and it has been thoroughly overused in
the realm of personal prophecy. But the prophetic should provide some warning
of national and impending disaster. The Lord told Ezekiel, that the people
should take one of their number as a sentinel, it was his job to look for
judgment coming, for impending incidents. That sentinel had two options if he
saw something. He could blow the trumpet, or decide not to if he was unsure
of what he had seen. Should the trumpet be blown, the people had two options
when they heard the trumpet. They could respond or decide not to (Ezek. 33:2-
6). I wish to explore why our warning system, our watchmen seem to have
been largely silent.

1. Cry wolf syndrome
Sadly the prophetic has done itself a great disservice in crying wolf. Episodes
like the misinterpretation of Y2K by most in the prophetic did much to discredit
the ministry. Leaders learn to ignore the constant warnings given them by
messengers because they have failed to get it right in the past. We must take
responsibility for this, repent and endeavor to get it right in the future.
Immature, untrained, self appointed or eager ministries have also discredited
the prophetic with much ‘doom saying’ and ‘date-setting’ that again and again
turned out to be wrong.

2. We do not want to hear bad news
In the church today many have swung out to an excessive or extreme position
in the prophetic. Many today will not receive a ‘bad report’. We seek only
positive confession, only good news and therefore lean toward those
messengers who tickle our ears. In Jeremiah’s day the Lord said “Blow the
trumpet through the land; shout aloud and say, “Gather together, and let us go
into the fortified cities!” Raise a standard toward Zion, flee for safety, do not
delay” (Jer. 4:5). Sadly the leaders of Israel at the time took Jeremiah’s report
rather poorly, and did not respond to the warnings.

3. Abuse
In some quarters we have abused our watchmen. Many of them have either
been asked to leave, or have left voluntarily. There are good reasons behind
asking some to leave, as outlined above. There are also some good reasons
why valid prophetic ministries would decide to leave and remain silent. Men
like Jeremiah, who gave true warning to the leaders, was abused by his
‘church’. “Pashur struck the prophet…and put him in stocks”! (Jer 20:2). To the
warning of danger, they retorted, “You shall die! Why have you prophesied like
this?” (26:9). Jeremiah earnestly wanted his city to be prepared, but they
continued in their unbelief.

Conclusion

The Body of Christ functions best when it’s eyes and ears function. We not
only need to restore the watchmen to their place on the walls, but to also heed
their advice rather than rejecting them. The report they bring to us may not
always be a good report. But still we should not stone the messenger for the
message they bring. We should take careful note, get further confirmation and
then take action.

The other side of the coin is for prophetic individuals to understand that without
the Body, they are nothing. Their ministry is without effect unless they are
rightly attached to Christ- and His Body. The watchmen need to take care and
only say what they see, endeavoring not to manipulate leadership with ‘a word’
and not falling into despair when things do not work out the way they had
anticipated.

We see a perfect example of the way an early warning system functioned well
in the New Testament, in the ministry of Agabus. Agabus came from
Jerusalem to Antioch and warned them of a coming famine – he blew the
trumpet, he said what he saw and they listened. Thankfully they also
responded. Everywhere the disciples went they took up offerings for the church
in that region, preparing them financially for the famine that came just as
Agabus had declared (Acts 11:27-30).

I look forward to the time when the congregation of the saints can say, “We
are in fear of nothing for the Lord has appointed watchmen for our walls, and
they provide good testimony of the coming of God and the movements of our
enemies.” Leaders, servants, prophetic persons and all the Body must work
together in this effort if it is to succeed. We should pray that eye salve be
brought, that we may restore sight to the blind, and that we remove our hands
from over the eyes and respond willingly to what the eyes are seeing.

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