Discerning God’s prophetic word during COVID-19
George Methodist church with Peter Veysie
9:30am Trinity Sunday
7th June 2020
My testimony of being called at Kearsney college 40 years ago at a full moon. How did I discern that this was the call of the Lord?
- Most prophetic words that are recorded in scripture come out of a reluctance from the one called to speak them. Examples Isaiah and Jeremiah Daniel in prison etc…
- They also found themselves not listened to and ridiculed by the people.Unpopular voices. There are lots of unpopular voices speaking out now against racism but it’s time for us to listen and repent !!!!
- They lived and spoke through some crazy actions in their lives like Isaiah called to demonstrate the prophetic words through being naked (Isaiah 20: 2-4) etc…
- God used them to speak during a time mostly of exile. Very difficult time.
- I am concerned about self appointed prophets in our day.
- There are so many voices out there and so how do we discern the voice of the Lord ?
It is critical for us to not just accept everything we have heard and possibly even seen. We need a guide and directive as to how to discern and I want to share with you
7. 8 simple principles:
i. Through the Word 2 Tim 3:16
ii. Through Jesus. What he said and did. Hebrews1:1+2
1In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
iii. Through nature and God’s creation.
iv. Through other people.James 3:17 17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.18Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
v. Through music and worship.Psalm 57:7. My heart is steadfast. I will sing and make music
vi. Through circumstances 1 Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always,17pray continually,18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
vii. Through the Holy Spirit . John 14 -17
viii. Through prayer. 1 Tim 2:8 Pray, lifting up holy hands and without anger or disputing ?
8. So in the light of all of this Jeremiah speaks a prophetic word and we can discern what God was saying then and what he is saying now to us through Jeremiah 29 ( a misquoted scripture by the way – especially Jeremiah 29:11)by carefully examining the text, the historical background and its message for today.
Jeremiah 29:4 -14
A Letter to the Exiles
 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.  (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.)  He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:
 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.  They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD.
 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
And so let’s have a look at this scripture within the context of our own situation to see what the Lord is saying to us ?
- Context of the word. Here’s the context: the Israelites were in exile, a punishment from God as result of their disobedience. The prophet Jeremiah confronts the false prophet, Hananiah, who had boldly proclaimed that God was going to free Israel from Babylon in two years (spoiler alert: God doesn’t do this).
Jeremiah calls out Hananiah’s lie and then states the promise we read in 29:11. God does indeed have a good plan for the Israelites, and it is a plan that will give them hope and a prospering future. Sounds good, right?
The thing is, before he shares this promise, he gives them this directive from God: “seek the peace and the prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (29:7)
This is not at all what the Israelites wanted to hear! They wanted to be told that they were going to go home. They wanted to be told that their suffering was going to end. Instead, God’s plan was for them to stay right where they were, and to help prosper the nation that enslaved them!
And then came the biggest blow of all. In verse 10, God says that he would fulfill this “after seventy years are completed in Babylon.” This meant that none in the current generation of Israelites would ever return to their home. But the next generation would. Sometimes we need to just stay faithful in our dificult situations for the sake of the next generation.
- How does it line up with what Jesus would say and do. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis keep contributing to the place where you have been planted.
Willie Liebenberg Blossom where you are planted. Phalaborwa local preacher.
Stand up for justice
- In terms of nature and God’s creation plant,take and allow nature to speak to you
- Check it out with others before you go ahead and do it. Remember who Jeremiah was writing to. Verse 1+2
- What does it do with your heart of worship? If it stirs you to worship it’s probably a God prompt.
- How does it impact your circumstances. Verse 11 only really makes sense when we ask the difficult questions!!! Most prophetic words do not make you feel comfortable – returning to the Methodist church has not been easy – 9 years now since a prophetic word was spoken over us us to come back. 2011 – David Wilkinson.
- How do you get guidance from the Holy Spirit as you think about the challenge for the Israelites that as they prosper a foreign king so they would prosper and remember in a foreign land for 70 years. Lots may be foreign to you now but the Lord is calling us to plant build continue to have families as foreign as it might feel.
- Lastly we are called to pray every day and I am sure you have been praying through this challenging and difficult time not only with the COVID-19 virus but also the racial tensions around the world today.We will need to pray that we “1) incarnate the love of Christ is to erase racism (e-rac-ism) and resist abusive power relationships; 2) to be incarnators of Christ in community is to heal the sins of racism in our world, and to prophetically call for a just world of power, wealth and natural resources; 3) to lift high the cross is to be prepared for “persecution for righteousness sake” (or as Jesus put it elsewhere, “Beware when all speak well of you:). May we hear Christ in each mural calling the church to an abject spirit of repentance and forgiveness, to abjure apathy and excusatory allowances, and to participate with whole heart, mind and spirit in the ongoing healing and restoration of God’s beloved community, in our towns and cities first, and then a girdling of the globe with justice and grace”. (Leonard Sweet -Facebook 7th June 2020.)