1. Prophetic Seasons 

Every prophecy is not for every person; every prophecy is not for every season.  A prophecy could be right and potent, but if it should miss its season, it loses validity and potency while retaining authenticity.  That a prophecy is authentic does not mean that it is still valid.  That a passport is genuine does not mean that it might not have expired.  Expired drugs could be dangerous, so are some prophecies, applied indiscriminately without regard to their season.  We can learn from expired prophecies, but not so safe to put all our weight on them. Unfortunately, not always do we take time to check expiry dates when we pick up essential items. 

Prophecies often have a timeframe within which they could be activated or forfeited.  For example, God told Prophet Samuel to go to Jesse’s house and anoint one of his sons as king of Israel in potential replacement of King Saul.  If Samuel waited until 50 years before he went to that address, authentic as the message was, he would not have found whom God had meant.  Did God lie then?  No.  The prophet missed the time (1 Samuel 16:1-3).

Eli was a descendant high priest.  To his ancestors, God promised a perpetual priesthood (Numbers 18:8-9).  However, when Eli and his sons began to live lives that contravened the implicit terms of that apparently perpetual promise, God changed His mind (1 Samuel 2:30).  Prophecy A was the Promise – You shall be my priests forever.  Prophecy B was the cancelation of the Promise – “be it far from me.”  Anyone standing in Season B to claim Promise A would have been acting out of context; but it happens at times, especially when people are deaf to or deliberately ignore prophetic updates.  Not that God changes, but the human actors do, and they are crucial in the fulfilment of certain prophecies.

To apply Prophecy A of Season A to Season B could be presumptuous.  Imagine someone proclaiming in Season B, “I was there when God promised a perpetual priesthood to Eli’s family.  God does not lie.  It doesn’t matter whatever happens.  Eli and his sons are priests forever unto God.”  Such a proclamation would not be a lie, but it would not be the truth.  It is not false prophecy emanating from a false spirit or a deliberate intent to deceive; it is wrong prophecy emanating from ignorance, from sincere human error.  False prophets sometimes predict correctly, which does not make them prophets from God; but prophets of God also sometimes make wrong proclamations, as when Samuel wrongly announced Eliab as king designate, which did not make Samuel a false prophet or a messenger of Satan (1 Samuel 16:6-7).  He was wrong, but he was not false.

When a people are not current with God; when they do not stay tuned in to His channel, the tendency is there to feed their hungry people with the worms from yesterday’s manna that had truly fallen from God (Exodus 16:20).  True prophets might sometimes give wrong prophecies without having lost their call (1 Samuel 16:6-7), and false prophet even when they are right would still be messengers of hell (Acts 16:16-17; Revelation 13:13-14; 16:13-14), and smart folks pretending to be divine would give fake prophecies, even if they appeared true (Jeremiah 23:25-26).  True prophets, wrong prophets, false prophets, fake prophets.

Back to Eli’s household and their prophetic seasons.  Prophecy A was what God said in the past about that household, it was not what God was saying in the present about the same people.  A few years back, for example, God was so displeased with priests in Nigeria that there were strong denunciations and prophetic outcries against them from prophets within and prophets without the country, and judgment loomed.   That sparked many calls to repentance and prayers of confession to the point of making it almost a ridiculous ritual in certain prayer circles.   Revival has not yet come to the nation; there are still very corrupt priests in the land, but God’s message to the nation in this season (as distinct from His message to specific individuals in the nation) is not warnings about imminent judgment demanding national repentance but calls to strategic prayer and watchfulness, which should birth the new nation of a man-child being threatened and besieged by the desperate Red Dragon (Revelation 12:1-3).

The New Testament presents us with one more example.  Once upon a time, Jesus sent out His disciples with a COMMANDMENT to “take NOTHING for their journey” (Mark 6:8).  Note: it was a commandment. Sometime later, however, the same Jesus called the same disciples, reminded them first of “WHEN” in the past they had been commanded to take nothing with them, then He proceeded to say to them, “But now…”  In that new season, they were being permitted to take everything they could take, plus all that they had been refused in the past (Luke 22:35-36).   A preacher with his palace in the past might have insisted that because Prophecy A had been so clear and so strong a commandment, there couldn’t be Prophecy B.  He might have said, “I heard the voice of God clearly then.  He said, ‘Take nothing as you go.’  It was a commandment.  Therefore, any other voice saying something else now cannot be the same Lord.  It is the devil.”  Such a past-tense preacher would not be lying, but his proclamations would not be valid.  It is expired prophecy.  Followers of such a legalistic voice would pine away and die for nothing along their journey, while thinking ignorantly that they were making a huge sacrifice for the Kingdom of God.  “Take nothing” was a valid prophecy for yesterday, but not for today.  That it came from a very credible prophet then, does not mean that applying it today is appropriate.

Sometimes, fulfilment to a valid prophecy might not be as prompt as seems apparent in the proclamation.  A prophetic “now” could linger for ages, making observers to think that the prophecy had failed.  For example, whereas God announced what looked like a prompt termination of Eli’s priesthood (1 Samuel 2:30), that family continued in the priesthood in the face of everyone who had heard the prophecy and had expected its fulfilment ‘now-now,’ as they would say in Nigeria.  Fulfilment of that ‘prompt’ prophecy came in phases, over at least 150 years, up to the time of King Solomon when Abiathar became the contemporary casualty of the old curse (1 Kings 2:26-27).  With Eli’s successors still in the priesthood, observers of prophecy at that time might have mocked the prophet who had announced the termination of that priesthood.  Did God lie?  Or was it the observers who were wrong in their interpretation of the seasons and the process of fulfilment of that prophecy?

It is not enough to identify a prophecy as the authentic word of God.  We should also be able to discern the season for which it is meant.  Prophecies also have their “times” and “seasons” (Acts 1:6-7).

From The Preacher’s diary,
January 26, 2023.
(to be continued) 

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