The Spirit of Prophecy: An Examination of the Prophetic Call

Art Katz

This is not merely a discussion about prophets and their calling.  It is a challenge to all who would presume to speak for God.

These articles represent the thinking throughout this website and over 45 years of knowing God has led me to the same conclusions.  I consider Art Katz to be one of the few true prophets of our time.

he being dead yet speaketh.

Heb_11:4

stand at crossroads

Most things he says are hard to hear for we comfortable Christians who know little of the training of God.

Preachers of Righteousness
Meekness – The Key to Revelation
The Body of Christ – The Place of Formation
Prophetic Formation and Integrity
The Anatomy of False Prophets
The Seriousness of the Word Spoken
Proclaiming the Word that is “Given”
The Voice of the Prophet
Prophetic Proclamation
Righteousness that Avails

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Preachers of Righteousness

Preachers of Righteousness
(Links to ArtKatzMinistries.org –Opens in another window)

Art Katz

(the bolding is not in the original.  I bolded areas so as to make it easier for someone to quickly get the import of what he says.
To view the original, click the link below.  Other than the bolding, this is an accurate copy)

Preachers of Righteousness
(Links to ArtKatzMinistries.org –Opens in another window)

I believe that God wants to make a statement concerning the phenomenon of the preached word, not only for those who are responsible for bringing the word of God, but also for the whole church at large. In my observation, we do not adequately esteem the spoken word as being the word of God. We do not understand what ‘preaching the word’ means or the condition of the vessel that brings it. It is the responsibility of the church to provide the environment and atmosphere conducive to bringing the word of God. When I say ‘word of God,’ I am not speaking about a biblical message. It is better understood as the appointed and express word that God Himself gives.

I have therefore entitled this essay, Preachers of Righteousness. The thing that makes any preacher righteous is that he is not speaking his own word. The word is not his own; it is God’s, and that alone is what makes it righteous – in the refusal to speak out of his own capability and savvy. It is a phenomenon that has been so little addressed by the church. There is hardly any understanding of the dynamic and great weight of the divine things between God and man involved in true proclamation. While the world may have its oratory, it is only in the church that the phenomenon of true proclamation is found.

Preaching is a divine function; it is a phenomenon that needs to be respected, esteemed, cherished, prayed and travailed for. True preaching as the word of God can only be proclaimed by a preacher of righteousness. It means that a divine perspective is being brought to men on the earth, and more often than not, in the earth. It is a collision between perspectives and value systems. When God speaks He is not speaking to adorn, support or endorse what is in the world. He is bringing a heavenly perspective unique to Himself. It is a divine perspective. And invariably that perspective is at odds or at enmity with that which prevails as the conventional and acceptable wisdom of the world. God ‘turns over the apple cart’ of those things that are cherished, esteemed and held dear by men – even in the church.

The church is called to be pilgrims, strangers, and sojourners in the world. And not the least of the functions of preaching is to stab God’s sleeping people into an awareness of the degree to which they have unconsciously succumbed to the world and its values. One of the functions of the church is to ‘blow the whistle’ and to reveal the farce, the falsity, the charade, and the whole deceptive mechanism that constitutes the world. God is in complete opposition to the conventional wisdom of the world. And if we knew it and were hearing that kind of word and receiving it, we ourselves would also be in opposition with the world. We ourselves would be uncomfortable and know our pilgrim status and know that we are here for certain purposes. Are we agitated in our spirit like righteous Lot? Are we exacerbated by the evil all around us?

It will take courage to bring a word of that kind because even within the church itself there is a vested interest in its own self-perpetuation. It does not want to have its apple cart turned over. And in order to continue the vices by which it is sustained – often the gifts, offerings, tithes of its members – it shrinks therefore from offending. But the word of God in its essence is an offense. So, for a man to bring such a word, and threaten his own security by upsetting those who are paying his bill, is almost a contradiction in terms. To compound the predicament, many preachers themselves are so ensconced in the system that they do not see the necessity for a word of this kind. They could not even conceive of it, let alone bring it.

For this reason, the preached word will be resisted and unwelcome. It brings a heavenly view into the earthly place. This means that there will be every kind of powerful opposition by the world’s powers of darkness. They want to retain or allow their wisdom to be accepted as normative. The world and its system trivialize the things that are ultimate and absolute and make absolute and ultimate the things that are trivial. It seeks to diminish the solemn and significant things of God – even to keep them from consideration. It is a complete turning of things upside down. The function of preaching is to set them right.

True preaching is to bring the divine perspective to bear in a way that will affect men’s understanding and their lives. A plumb-line has dropped from heaven, and adjustments will have to be made with the word that has come. You cannot go on with ‘business as usual.’ One of the ways in which I know, whether the word that proceeds out of my mouth has been received, is to see to what degree men will continue with ‘business as usual’ after the word. If the word that is preached makes no requirement, it is not God’s word. It can be biblically correct, it can be a wonderful homily, it can encompass biblical themes, but if it makes no demand, it is not the word of God. God will not send His word into the earth that we should be amused and entertained. His word requires, and invariably it is a radical requirement. And for that reason we hear so little of a true preached word, for men do not want to be required of, or require of others what they would not have required of themselves.

One of my great complaints about the church is how little it requires of its members. And therefore it is essentially a passive ‘pay-the-bill,’ ‘come-for-our-Sunday-fix’ and go home with nothing really altered. Our witness is therefore almost negligible. We do not constitute an island of reality in a sea of unreality. We are so one with that unreality that we cannot distinguish the voice of God when it comes. We are not attuned to hear a word that calls us into the heavenly perspective in order that we might live a heavenly life while in the earth. Such a word would occasion an opposition if not a persecution to those who bring it – as well as upon those who receive it. So we intuitively shrink from hearing and considering the word, which if taken seriously would invite an opposition from the powers of darkness.

God says that it pleased Him “through the foolishness of preaching” to save them that would believe. We need to know that preaching is the epitome of foolishness. If we do not know it as that, we do not know what true preaching is. God entrusts a heavenly word to proceed out of earthly lips, out of a man who is dust and who knows it, and who is so aware of his frailty. For the true preacher of righteousness, the proclamation of the word is always an urgent issue of life and death. He feels that it is a once-and-for-all moment that will not be given again. He sees it not as a sermon but that very eternity is at stake. And that is the way we ought also to feel who are hearing that word. The proclamation of the word is not the exclusive responsibility of the speaker; there is also a responsibility put on the people who are hearing it, so as to draw it out of God’s very heart as something cherished.

It makes a world of difference what the attitude of that corporate fellowship is. If they are sitting with arms folded, looking cynical, looking at their watches, thinking that it is ‘just another sermon,’ then that is exactly what they will get. But if they feel that this is a once-and-for-all occasion that will not be given again and that the man who has come has been sent, then it will affect the character and the quality of the word that issues out of the man’s mouth.

A lot of us, who are mumbling under our breaths and holding the preacher at fault for the failure really to deliver the goods, do not know to what degree we are affecting the spoken word. The Lord may be chastening an entire fellowship by the diminishing of the word through the minister, who accepts it as being somehow his own failure. It is a humiliation that he has to bear in the office that he is functioning in. It may be the result of his own failure, but equally that of the fellowship that fails to understand the significance of the spoken word.

What we do on Saturday night or before a meeting will adversely affect our ability to hear the word and respond to it. If we were watching television and think nothing of indulging ourselves in totally unspiritual conduct, and think that the pastor will bring the goods the next morning, then we will be dulling our spirits. God will not accommodate an attitude of indifference or carnal mindset. We should be up the night before on our knees, if not our faces, praying for the word the next day.

Do we see the word as mere instruction, or do we live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God? We ought to be bearing the speaker up and identify with him in the peculiarity of his calling. We should be sensing his trembling and frailty. We are in something together, and we have got to know it and pull together if we want the true word of God. And God is not going to give it if He sees a heart that is not willing to be changed by the word or even suffer its inconvenience.

The preacher of righteousness therefore has an unwelcome task. It is a task of an ultimate kind that requires an ultimate anointing, lest it be dismissed as merely something interesting or moving. It is God speaking through a man that requires a man’s life. Something is at stake in the hearing of the word. Those who heard Paul at Mars Hill were eternally accountable to God for that hearing. To hear an apostle once is enough to be held responsible for that word and its eternal consequence. The whole atmosphere of church life and the whole corporate character of church would be elevated, deepened, made more serious, and made more significant if we rightly understood the phenomenon of preaching. Not least would be the giving of ourselves in prayerful support of those who are called to this remarkable and awesome task.

The man who brings the word is at the same time himself the message. You cannot disassociate the one from the other. He is not some kind of antiseptic, impartial mechanism with a voice that God happens to employ. He is a living organism, and the word’s credibility and power of penetration are altogether related to the truth of the man who is bringing the message. If he himself has not lived it, if he himself is unwilling for the cost of it, then his word will fall to the ground. It will be an interesting word, but it will not be requiring. He is for that reason a candidate for the dealings of God and the sifting that the requirements of God necessarily call for. You cannot require of others what you have not given yourself.

The proclamation of the word is not a professional function but spiritual. The man is integral to the word he proclaims. It may well be that we are getting shallow words because the men who are speaking are living shallow lives. They have kept their defenses up. They have kept themselves safely from the kinds of challenges and threats that would have deepened their knowledge of God in the school of suffering. They are unwilling to enter the fellowship of the Christ’s suffering. They do not want to suffer humiliation and disappointment. And so they guard their lives in such a way that keeps them from the imprint of God, and therefore they cannot conceive of the kind of word that requires. In a word, the true preacher is a sufferer. He not only suffers while he brings the word, but there has also been a necessary history of suffering that has preceded it.

I am suspicious of any man who comes to the pulpit and who has every appearance of ‘having it all together’ and can hardly wait to open his Bible to let forth. I doubt whether such a one is a preacher of righteousness. A disposition that is meek and lowly is more appropriate. In Spurgeon’s generation the pulpit was called the ‘Holy Desk.’ You were coming up to a sacred responsibility to which no man was capable. But the pulpit now has become only a piece of furniture where you place your bible and papers.
The first function of the word is death. It is a word that must necessarily kill before it makes alive. It is a word that cuts and wounds before it heals. But if you are a nice guy and don’t want to offend anybody, then you void any possibility of life being ministered. If you cannot bear to see anyone made uncomfortable and you therefore refrain from the cutting, you disqualify yourself as a preacher. The true preacher of righteousness needs therefore to have had the experience of the pain of death in himself that enables him to bring the word of death. Only then can it become the word of life. If he is self-conscious about how he is being received and understood, he can forget about any redemptive word of life. He has got to be dead, both to the rebuke and rejection of God’s people, as well as their praise.

We void the word of God as being the word of God whenever there is any Cross-avoidance or where there is any unwillingness to suffer disappointment, and even an unwillingness to bring pain. We live in a kind of a patsy, religious culture that wants the whole thing to take place in one meeting so that the people can go home happy. And the pastors who are acting out of their pastoral concern do not want to see the congregation agitated or offended.

They want the whole thing nicely wrapped and packaged and delivered in one meeting. But often the man of God brings a word that is not going to send the people home happy; he may send them home disturbed or perplexed and let them steep in the death of that word. In contradistinction, our whole culture is instant and pleasure-oriented. It avoids pain and suffering, which is another way of saying it avoids the Cross. And so the service has got to be an enjoyment, not an agitation that leaves people with unanswered questions.

The preacher has got to live with the tension that however much he has prepared himself and felt assured that this was the word of God, he may well have missed it. Or even if he brings it, he may well have corrupted it by some inadvertent thing that will slip out in the course of his speaking. It might even have the effect of dulling the word or even contradicting it, or give the hearer a reason to abdicate from the responsibility of the word because they have found something defective in what the speaker said. It is an uncanny kind of suffering that is unique to preaching and the function of the preacher.

It is like walking through a minefield. God’s people are instinctively looking for a flaw or a failure in the speaker so that they will have grounds to invalidate the word itself. So the man has got to live with the tension of that framework of understanding. The sense of weakness, the sense of infirmity and the sense of frailty are intrinsic to the preaching. The man may look virile and sound authoritative, but in his own heart and experience, he is fully aware that he is a “son of man.” He is susceptible to the nature of man and its weakness. And even if he is speaking correctly he is yet capable of corrupting his own word by some inadvertent illustration, a wrong inflection, or some kind of thing that will remove the obligation of his hearers to take that word seriously. It is a remarkable tension. But I would say that a Christian is one who has voluntarily given himself to the understanding that living with tension is a form of suffering intrinsic to the life of faith itself.

Paul speaks about “preaching Christ.” This does not mean that every message has got to be ‘about’ Him. The true preaching of Christ more often than not is implicitly a Christ-centered message even when He is not explicitly the subject of it. If it truly is the word of God, then Christ is being preached. What He is in Himself, what He represents in Himself, the essence of His divinity and humanity is being set forth in the word – even if the subject is, for example, about Israel.

Much can be said of the preparation of a preacher, not in the shaping of his message, but the shaping of his character, his life, and his own relationship with God. He needs a private, personal, unseen, devotional time with God on a daily basis. What the man is publicly is altogether a statement of what he is in private. If there is no authentic, daily, continuous and devotional life at the onset of the day, then there is little likelihood of being the bearer of the word. That is why we can hear the same message from two different speakers. We yawn at the one as it goes over our head or bounces off harmlessly, while the other man is gripping and penetrating. The difference between the two is that the latter has a continuous, daily intercourse with God in devotion. And devotion is not devotion if you are going before the Lord for the express purpose of finding a text or a message for the day. That is a utilitarian spirit; it is a commercial transaction and no longer a true devotion.

While it was yet dark and before the daybreak, Jesus was with the Father in a communion of prayer in a devotional relationship. It was not for the purpose of receiving instruction for the day. But when the daylight had broken and the demands came down, what had been wrought in His private devotion would then be expressed throughout the rest of that day. If you are a religious professional, you will not have the time for that kind of devotional life. You would be too busy with a multitude of details, and therefore that neglect will be reflected in the lack of authority and penetration in the word that is preached.

The preacher of righteousness will trust the Lord for the word to be given. If the Lord is giving the word, He will be the Alpha and the Omega of it. He gives the beginning, which is usually creaky, and He will also bring the end. Preachers like that don’t grow on a tree; they come out of a fellowship. And their first and early messages are usually an admixture of flesh and Spirit. He needs, therefore, a loving environment that can bring correction to his attention at the appropriate moment. And he can hear and receive because it is not calculated to shoot him down, but to encourage his growth and maturity. The church itself is a key factor, providing an environment in which proclaimers of God’s word come forth.

The bringing forth of the preachers of righteousness in the Last Days is an exquisite work of God. But it will not take place without the participation of saints who understand the drama and the significance of it and are willing to give themselves in encouragement in the bringing forth of such men and their word. There needs to be a bearing with him because he is often going to be ungainly and frequently speak at the wrong time. He may even spoil an otherwise good service! So it takes maturity in a people that are not service or success-oriented to bear with such a man over a process of time, till he comes to a place where he can bring the word of God to a people.

The preacher of righteousness brings not only the word of God, but also the voice of God. How often do we hear those scriptures in God’s lament over Israel, “They failed to heed my voice…” There is something about the texture of God’s voice that comes forth in true preaching. The word brings a dimension, a cogency and a seriousness in its sounding. You can almost tell where a man is in the realm of the Spirit by the timbre of his voice. It is an index of the depth of God’s working in that man that will affect in a personal way how his voice comes forth.

The man is caught up with the word. The voice of God and the word of God that comes forth are a statement of the proximity of that man to God over a long course of time. It will reflect his willingness to bear the dealings of God that have dug deep and sifted, and refined him. Obedience to speak the words of God implies that even the expression of those words be in the mood which God Himself gives – not our own more acceptable mood or disposition. Our life is not our own; our mood is not our own; our emotions are not our own. Therefore God has to have the full possession of mind, body, soul, and spirit.

Something needs to go forth to raise up men who will bear the word of the Lord, preachers of righteousness, in every locality in this final generation – men that are willing for the ‘school of preaching,’ for the dealings of God, for the Cross of God and for the sufferings of God. The word of the Lord needs to go forth out of mouths that can be trusted in order that God’s people can be fed, nourished, nurtured, challenged, changed, prepared, and fitted for the Last Days’ obligations upon the church. There are requirements and mandates called for, especially to cynical, rationalistic Jews. They will need to see a demonstration, even in the spoken word, that indicates something more than mere oratory.

They need to see a heavenly discourse coming down from above, incarnate, being expressed through man.

Katz on Prophecy #11

The Spirit of Prophecy: An Examination of the Prophetic Call

Art Katz

Meekness – The Key to Revelation

(the bolding is not in the original.  I bolded areas so as to make it easier for someone to quickly get the import of what he says.
To view the original, click the link below.  Other than the bolding, this is an accurate copy)

The key then to apostolic or prophetic seeing and the receiving of the revelation of the mysteries of God is found in Ephesians 3:8,
To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.

In other words, all true seeing is given to men like Paul, who indeed see themselves as the ‘very least of all saints.’ Paul is not being deferential and polite, and making the kind of statement that a chamber of commerce speaker would make. He actually saw himself as this. He was the apostle to whom was afforded such visions that God had to give him a thorn in his side, lest he be exalted beyond measure for the magnitude of the revelations that were given him.

We must not, however, pass by apostolic character, which is to say, the deep humility, the authentic meekness and the Christ-likeness of the apostolic or the prophetic man. If the man is the thing in himself, then it is more than his knowledge. It is his very life; it is his character; it is his knowledge of God; it is what he communicates as one who comes to us out of God’s own presence. This statement, ‘the very least of all saints’ was Paul’s actual, stricken, heartfelt consciousness of how he unaffectedly and continually saw himself before God.

It is a remarkable irony that the deeper we come into the knowledge of God, the more we see ourselves as less. Instead of becoming more exalted by the increase of our knowledge of God, the further down we go in seeing how abase and pitiful we really are. It is a contradiction and a paradox, and it is a paradox to be found only in the faith. Authentic meekness or humility is not something that one can learn, emulate, or pick up at school. It is the dividend of God out of the measure of actual, real relationship with Him. It is the revelation of God as He is and the unutterable depths of it, that bring a man to this kind of awareness of himself. The revelation of what we are is altogether related to the revelation of who He is. The two things then necessarily always go together.

Then I (Isaiah) said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips,
and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts’ (Isaiah 6:5).

This is the prince of prophets, Isaiah, speaking here. The foundation of the church, as we have said, is the revelation of God as He in fact is. That is the foundation. It is not as we think Him to be, which is more often than not a projection of the way we would like Him to be, especially when we have chosen to celebrate one attribute of God and ignore another. The key knowledge is the knowledge of God as He is, both in judgment and in mercy, and the foundational men to the church are those who can communicate God in that knowledge. Paul had this knowledge because he saw himself as the ‘least of all saints,’ and saw himself as the least because he had this knowledge.

The Lord Jesus Himself was absolute. He used language in such a fierce and uncompromising way; He overthrew moneychangers’ tables. Was He meek even while He was violent and offensive? This act set in motion the things that eventuated in His death. How do we reconcile the act of violence that Jesus performed and the meekness of God? When we think of meek, we think of lamb-like, quiet and deferring. This is an aggressive act, and yet we are saying at the same time that it is meek.

Meekness is total abandonment to God; all the more in an act or a word that would give an impression to the contrary, and lay the obedient servant open to the charge of a reproach for being violent, or being angry, or being too zealous. If God wanted to be violent and we withheld Him because it contradicts our personality, disposition, or preference, then we are putting something above and before God, namely, our own self-consideration.

A true prophet will not relent nor refrain. He cannot be bought or enticed into being ‘one of the boys.’ He shuns the distinctions and honors that men accord men. He necessarily has to or there would be a compromising of what he is in God. He is scrupulous in character and will never use his position to obtain personal advantage. He is naturally unaffected, normal and unprepossessing in appearance and demeanor, despising what is showy, sensational or bizarre.

He is not necessarily the man that is going to be wearing the hairy garment. He may be wearing rather a three-piece suit! He will not call any attention to himself by externalities. He is the thing in himself, in the depth and the pith and marrow of his being because of his communion with God and his history in God. The false will always lack meekness, but it is the indistinguishable sign of the authentic prophet, and also the quintessential character of God.

¨The Spirit of Prophecy: An Examination of the Prophetic Call
Art Katz

#10 – The Body of Christ – The Place of Formation

Katz on Prophecy # 10

(the bolding is not in the original.  I bolded areas so as to make it easier for someone to quickly get the import of what he says.
To view the original, click the link below.  Other than the bolding, this is an accurate copy)

It is not to be imagined that God is going to send men like that out into the world and into the nations who have not first been sharpened and made acute within their own fellowship. They need to bring the word into the band of souls to whom they are daily joined. If the fellowship will not bear and be supportive of their prophets, then there will not be men to be sent.
He must be sent from a body who understands these things and recognizes the significance and the fatefulness of his speaking and acting. He needs to be sent with the laying on of hands, which means, “We not only identify with you, but we sustain you by our own intercessions, because we are going to suffer the consequence of what you are doing. We are in this with you.” That is the ‘Antioch’ that we are waiting for, that men could be sent out of such a context with such an identification.

Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers:
…And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,… (Acts 13:1a and 2a).

In other words, when men of those two callings were found ‘together,’ that is to say, something more than sitting in the same room, “the Holy Spirit said…” Anybody who knows anything about this knows the painful tension between a teacher and a prophet. It is not because they are wanting to act contrary, but both of them, acting out of the integrity of their call, of necessity rub the other raw. The teacher wants it to be according to the Word—line upon line, precept upon precept. If there was not, however, the press that comes of visionary things to get the teacher beyond the safe, prescribed place according to the Word, the teacher himself would be limited. There is, therefore, interplay, with both men acting out of the integrity of their call, and yet necessarily chafing one another. That is where love comes in, namely, to bear the strain and the tension of that, and to receive therefore the benefit of it, and not to flee from it because there is a painful or irritating tension of interrelationship.

The Spirit of God called out of the congregation at Antioch, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Paul for the work to which I have called them (Acts 13:2b).” It was in the fellowship that they became separated from their own ambitions and defects. The Body of Christ, the prophetic body, the supportive body, is an enormously crucial thing in the shaping, the perfecting and the sending of the prophetic voice into the earth. That is what we are talking about as a prophetic community. They do not all have that call, but they all have that awareness. They all understand the primacy and importance of the prophetic word. Institutional situations will never produce a prophet. But there will never be any ‘Antiochal’ sending bodies unless we desire them and are willing for the cost of them.

Do we have the ability to recognize those who give evidence of the call? We are not to dampen them but encourage them. At the same time we are to show to them the admixture of flesh and Spirit still operative. By such a process of gentle and loving admonition and exhortation the Body can be a help to them. The prophet needs to be separated even from the self-consciousness of his own calling, let alone any subtlety of ambition that needs for him to be seen, applauded and recognized. He needs to be able to bear the reproach and rejection of what will invariably be the consequence of his faithfulness. Indeed, the prophet’s whole life and history in God is calculated toward that end. It is aggravation, consternation and every divinely calculated thing, because that is how the prophetic person is formed. There is no cheap way to incubate it. He has got to pass through the essence of the issues of life in order one day to address them with penetration and authority in others, compelling them to decisions for or against God.

While his most radical obediences will most likely be performed alone, the prophet is a man both communal and corporate, not in an idealized sense, but as one himself frequently critiqued of others and desiring it. The moment of obedience may come as one standing alone before Ahab, but the thing that makes that moment powerful and confrontational is that which preceded it, that is to say, in the man coming out of a true corporate life.

That corporate life is not some idealized or romantic community out in the remote boondocks. It is rather a situation where that man is more subject to review and examination than any other that make up that community. If the community is not rendering that service, then I cannot think of anyone in greater danger than the prophet. The prophet must make himself accessible. A prophet who prefers privacy and who is unattended by others or is surrounded by a self-affirming, paid and mutually congratulatory staff is likely false or will become so. There is a difference between living in an interactive community and being surrounded and affirmed by a staff of paid employees.

It is another situation when you are living in proximity and relationship and where others have every freedom to critique you and speak into your life. The true prophet knows that unless he is receiving that kind of input and examination, then he will move into deception and that without even knowing it. Just because one has an anointing from God, it does not mean that one is invincible. The presence of an anointing does not necessarily mean that God’s statement of approval is on the individual’s life in its entirety. You can be anointed in the place of ministry, but the defects and contradictions in your life, personally and privately, need to be both attended and seen to.

Prophets are not to go out before they are threshed. They should be welcoming the threshing and expect it, because there are subtleties of soul in all of us—little insinuations of ambition, little presumptions of pride, little romantic notions of what we think prophetic service is—that God has got ruthlessly to deal with. This is necessary so that when the prophet speaks, it is God’s word, not only in its content, but also in the mood and spirit of its delivery.

PUBLISHED IN: ART KATZ

The Spirit of Prophecy: An Examination of the Prophetic Call

Art Katz

# 9 – Prophetic Formation and Integrity

Katz Prophecy 09

(the bolding is not in the original.  I bolded areas so as to make it easier for someone to quickly get the import of what he says.
To view the original, click the link below.  Other than the bolding, this is an accurate copy)

It is an ultimate calling that points us again to the premium, not of the office as some abstraction, but that it rests and inheres with the man himself. The man is the thing in himself. He is the prophetic man. His message is not some kind of an addendum. He is not a disembodied spirit who simply brings a word. He is bound up with the word. If you reject him, then you are rejecting the word with him, which is to say, rejecting the Word made flesh. We need to see the inseparability of the office and the man, and that is why prophets are not born in a day. That is why they are not going to be produced in a three-month school, or any comparable kind of thing. It is a work; a process whereby God invests Himself into the man in His own essential Person.

The prophet does not come to an identification with the seeing of God in a day. There is a history of dealings, of heart-rending and heart-aching disappointments, setbacks, castings away and conflicts that he just lives with as being inherent with the call; and he bears it. He grew up in the world, and the values of the world as a man. He is recruited and called in, and brought out of the world, its values and seeing, and brought increasingly into the place of God’s seeing.

If the prophet’s word is going to devastate others, then he himself must first experience devastation. He has first to come out of his own false alignments and come increasingly into the place of God’s seeing, and then in coming to that place, a courage to bear the reaction against him. You wonder why anybody would want to be one! The first evidence of a false prophet is somebody who likely wants to be a prophet! It has nothing to do with what you want to be; it has to do with the God who calls. It is nevertheless remarkable how many people are attracted to becoming a prophet because their definition and view of prophet is other than what we are describing. Their view is of something much more exciting, romantic and self-glorifying.

PUBLISHED IN: ART KATZ

¨The Spirit of Prophecy: An Examination of the Prophetic Call

Art Katz

# 8 – The Anatomy of False Prophets

Katz Prophecy 08

(the bolding is not in the original.  I bolded areas so as to make it easier for someone to quickly get the import of what he says.

To view the original, click the link above.  Other than the bolding, this is an accurate copy)

We need to be jealous for the truth of the prophetic calling. If the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, then we cannot be careful enough in the consideration of this subject. Do our present-day prophets speak out of their own hearts and spirits? Do they draw from each other, or do they come to us out of the secret place of God? Out of what formative relationships in the Body have these prophets come? Has there been an appropriate nurturing, not only of the gift, but also of the character of prophetic men before they minister to the church? How long and how rightly have they been part of a local fellowship? Have they been sent out by the same in a sending that is more than a ceremonial, officious thing? Do we even know what a true sending is?

False prophets validate each other, where the one applauds, affirms and establishes the other, but it is not a fellowship that has validated them. They have not risen up out of the organic work of God itself, like the church in Antioch. Instead they pay tribute to each other and compliment each other, especially as those who are flowing in much the same thing. What is the source of their prophetic speaking? Where does the prophet get his word? If it is not out of the council of God, the secret place, how is it then God’s word? If men do claim to be commissioned, we have a right to look for evidence that they have indeed stood in that place.

In Jeremiah chapter 23, God gives us a powerful statement about true and false prophets. It is one thing to have an indictment against Israel, but when you begin to indict the prophets of Israel, the loftiest, the best and the noblest thing, then that must be a symbol or a statement of the low condition of a nation prior to its judgment.

”For both prophet and priest are polluted; even in My house I have found wickedness,” declares the LORD (v.11).

It is remarkable how self-serving this reciprocal thing is between heads of apostolic and prophetic movements or fellowships and their prophets, and how comfortable they are with one another and how they affirm one another. The people are in an unspoken agreement with their ministers: ”You present a biblical message. We will pay the bill and have a Sunday service that will leave our lives free from any kind of demand that would really touch our true vested interest and values. We don’t want a message that is going to challenge where our heart really is.” As the priest, so also the people. As the pastor/preacher, so also the congregation. Into that situation we have to come prophetically—and likely be stoned!

Therefore their way will be like slippery paths to them, they will be driven away into the gloom and fall in it;
for I shall bring calamity upon them, the year of their punishment,” declares the LORD (v. 12).

It implies that there is not an immediate judgment, but rather an appointed future time in which God judges those who profane His house—even those who originally had authentic and holy callings. That may well be why the Lord is allowing to continue that which is presently being called prophetic or apostolic and is so popular, but for them, as with the priests and prophets of old, there will be a year of visitation or a time when God calls a halt.

Moreover, among the prophets of Samaria I saw an offensive thing: they prophesied by Baal and led My people Israel astray (v.13).

There is a consequence for false prophecy. It will affect the entire nation and therefore the entire church by the same principle.

Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing:
the committing of adultery and walking in falsehood;
and they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
so that no one has turned back from his wickedness.
All of them have become to Me like Sodom, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah. (v. 14).

Their view of truth and God is corrupted by their sensual and ungodly living. Walking in lies and committing adultery (or the frequency of divorce and remarriage) go hand-in-hand. If you are going to commit adultery spiritually or physically, then there is a way in which you have to inwardly justify yourself, and you can only do that at the expense of the truth of God. There is also a consequence in that it strengthens the hands of evildoers. There is nothing about their proclamation that causes repentance and return, but rather a condoning of those who are in a place opposed to God, who Himself hates divorce. It is something like judges today who cannot bring sentence upon transgressors. They cannot bring the severity of the law against the lawbreaker, because their own life personally is itself a transgression.

Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets,
‘Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood and make them drink poisonous water,
for from the prophets of Jerusalem pollution has gone forth into all the land.’
Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you…’ (vs. 15-16a).

Notice that God still calls them prophets! It is maybe because the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. They still retain their official title, but what they are performing under that title is in God’s sight an abomination. There is nothing more profane than when the sacred is not authentically sacred. When we take the sacred phrase, ‘Thus says the Lord’ and merely employ it as a device to obtain the attention of our hearers, then we are desecrating the sacred. We are making the sacred profane and once we have done that, what can be hoped for? If we are not as a priestly people setting forth the distinction between the profane and the sacred, what can be hoped for in the world?

They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination,
not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise Me,
‘The LORD has said, ‘You will have peace’;
and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart,
they say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’ (v.16b-17).

This must be the very quintessence of what a false prophet is, namely, the giving of a false comfort and a false assurance of peace that does not regard the truth of the conditions that need to be faced. It is an unwillingness to bring a hard word. The things that are prophesied are normally flattering and encouraging to the flesh, rather than challenging or threatening. False prophets have historically prophesied peace when there is no peace. ‘Calamity will not come upon you’ is unhappily the kind of prophetic statement that is coming forth even today, especially in Israel. They are giving a false comfort to those who are not even properly aligned to God. Humanly speaking, we would not see these people as those who despise God. God sees them, however, as despising Him, and we need to see it as God sees it. The false prophets are actually bringing a kind of encouragement to those people who are already out of right relationship with God and give them an assurance that their relationship with God is in order.

But who has stood in the council of the LORD, that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened? (v.18).
Here is the key verse. Everything in God, in the last analysis, comes down to the issue of relationship. He will never give anything independent of relationship. When He called Moses up to the Mount to receive the tablets of the law in order that he might teach them, Moses was first to come up and be there. How dare we say, ”Thus says the Lord,” who have not stood in the council of the Lord and heard His word? I think it is impossible for a flamboyant, gainsaying, gain-seeking minister to even be in that place. To be in the council of the Lord requires a certain humility, a certain brokenness, a certain utter dependency upon God, a certain capacity to wait and a certain separation from self-interest, fame, fortune and recognition. Men given to those things cannot be in the council of the Lord, and yet they are the first ones to so readily say, ”Thus says the Lord!”
The characteristic of ministries today is toward the separation of ministry from relationship. We have made ministry a thing in itself. We talk about worship and the Lord, but somehow we are able to perform it out of an independent, virtuoso ability. Relationship is not only the key to the bestowing of the gift or the tablets of the Law, but the ongoing ability to rightly teach them. Once you sever relationship from ministry, you are on exceedingly dangerous ground. The ministry flows out of the life and the life out of the relationships, and if we break that connection and have a ministry independent of that, then it is not going to be a ministry that God recognizes, employs or honors.

But who has stood in the council of the LORD…?

This phrase implies a closeness to God. How is it, then, that these prophets who were speaking prolifically and influencing the nation toward evil were not in this place? Why did they not get the word of the Lord out of His council and out of His presence? That there should even be a moment’s hesitation about answering this question is a real statement about us! They were adulterers and walking in lies, and therefore, how can such men be in the council of God? This God is holy and you cannot come into that presence in that condition. You do not even desire to come into that place in that condition. That is why you get your words from others, or out of your own skull. Standing before God requires sanctification. It requires something about our own condition that permits that kind of relationship, particularly as it is in abiding.

It is being in the council of God and being in the presence of God that the word may come, but if you make the word and the attainment of it the condition for entering the presence, then you have already stepped off holy ground. You are coming in the spirit of utility and not in the spirit of devotion to God for His own sake. Moses was told to come up the Mount and be there, not for the benefit that was going to accrue to him for coming, even the ministerial benefit, but simply because God is God!

He is the Creator and we are the creation. We are simply to be there, and if no word comes, then no word comes. If we come looking for a word in that expedient, utilitarian sense that we have, then it is no longer the holy ground. It is the spirit of the world that has the underlying premise that one must do this in order to obtain that. We simply do not know what it means ‘to do’ or ‘to be’ for its own sake. If we have never come to that place first with God, then how shall we come to it with men? There is, therefore, a warp in all that we do and say that does not have its true place out of the presence of God, which place cannot be entered in the spirit of utility.

Seeking the Lord is an extraordinarily difficult thing and few there be that have the incentive. It itself is a suffering, and in fact, just to be more ruthlessly honest, it is a dying. Living on the earth, in the flesh, in the world and in time, and to confide and to commune with God, is an extraordinary and ultimate attainment. If you attain it, then maintain it, because you do not want to have to do it all over again. We are talking about something very critical. What then shall we say for the whole rash of popular and sought-out prophets that have arisen in recent years? Are they speaking from the council of God? God’s judgment about the failure to obtain His word in that place is severe:

Behold, the storm of the LORD has gone forth in wrath, even a whirling tempest;
it will swirl down on the head of the wicked (v. 19).

The word ‘wicked’ is almost exclusively used for those who should know better. It is those who profess or should have every reason to know God and are yet, by intent, acting wrongly. That is wickedness.

The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart;
in the last days you will clearly understand it (v. 20).

Notice that the judgment is deferred. It is not immediate, but it will come later for something now that is an offense to God, namely, the whole compromise of His prophets and the way it has affected the nation.

I did not send these prophets, but they ran;
I did not speak to them, but they prophesied.
But if they had stood in My council,
then they would have announced My words to My people,
and would have turned them back from their evil way and
from the evil of their deeds (vs. 21-22).

We can know when the word is out of the council of God because it has this salutary effect. It will affect the nation or fellowship in turning it toward God, rather than away from Him and from their evil ways and their practices. Generally speaking, when men will invoke the phrase, ”Thus says the Lord,” it is almost a testimony to the fact that the Lord is not saying. If He is saying, then we do not have to embellish the statement by legitimating it. The statement itself will ring with the truth of God and the sense of God. Is it a quickened statement of God of an original kind that we need to hear in the crisis place that we are, or is it just some kind of an embellishment to give a charismatic endorsement to our meeting? If it is the latter it will have the effect of cheapening the whole integrity of that which is prophetic and make it a shamelessly light kind of thing that anyone almost at will can offer¾ and does!

When Israel’s prophets said, ”Thus says the Lord,” then you know that what is following is going to be a judgment that is so horrific that God validates even the words that bear His resonance, because they are words of ultimate judgment. It must, therefore, be clear from the inception that this is not the prophet speaking out of himself. We have it passed down to us as written prophecy of a kind that has affected the history of Israel. But in contemporary spoken prophecy we need to discern whether it is the Lord speaking authenticated by what is being said in terms of the anointing and the authority it bears, rather than in having it labeled for us.

The call to the prophet is the call to the Cross. It is a frequent, if not, continual form of suffering of an exquisite and ultimate kind. Can we say, ”Thus says the Lord” without actually articulating those words or implying those words in our statement, except that our word has indeed come through the Cross? It is out of a death. It is not our own word, but His, which can only come from that Cross-centered place. That was true for the prophets before the advent of the Cross. Elijah preceded the Cross historically, but he knew the death of it when he said, ”…there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” Jesus knew the Cross before He became crucified on it. The Cross only exemplified and made visible the thing to which His life was all along submitted.

Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?’
declares the LORD. ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’
declares the Lord. I have heard what the prophets have said who
prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ (vs.24-25).

The heart of the offense in being false before God is that all of this takes place as if He is not seeing and does not understand and is not aware of what is being done. It is an enormous presumption, one that God notes. It is, in effect, a complete absence of the fear of God or the reverence for God as God. Those that do so really believe they are hearing from God and that what they are communicating is the council of God! They have reached such a place of deceit, that they have persuaded themselves of it, and that when they say, ”Thus says the Lord,” it is in fact the Lord saying. We can come to that condition by a gradual erosion, a little day-by-day, slight kind of a thing, that when the process is finished, one is not only false, but one thinks that one is still true. Thus there is a daily vigilance required over the issues of the heart in order that deception does not have its ultimate work, where the man deceived thinks that he is in the right while leading many to their doom. That is why God urges us to exhort one another daily while it is yet today, because tomorrow is already too late.

…who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another…(v.27a).

That is to say, to communicate a sense of God that is not God and allow those listening to think that it is God because they have attached the name of Jesus to it. False prophetic things and things that are deceitful will affect how people perceive and understand God, especially if it affirms them in their shallowness or a certain lightness and frivolity is communicated. God cannot help but suffer loss. They are prophesying ”in the name of the Lord,” but because it is false, the effect of it is to get people to ”forget His name,” which is to say, to lose the sense of God as God, of what He is fearfully and majestically in Himself.

We can know that it is God’s word because it is likely to be the word that is expressed in verse 29:

‘Is not My word like fire?’ declares the LORD; ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?’

In other words, ”My word breaks up the deeps; it demolishes and it burns.” If you want to distinguish between a prophetic word that is God’s word and a prophetic word that is assumed by man, conjured out of his own mind and imagination and that is false, then here is the distinction: God’s word is like a fire. His word burns and is like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces. It is devastating and brings an effect and contains a power that breaks in or burns through. It will never be some innocuous, syrupy thing that confirms us in what we already are, especially when our lives are slovenly and slack. His word should burn in our heart and reveal its true condition and not as we presumptuously thought it to be.

Every true word requires, and if we do not respond, then it means that we have not really heard. ”Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts (Heb. 4:7b).” If we have heard, then it should evoke a response in us. Not to respond is to harden. There is no such thing as neutrality. The word of God when it is the word of God has to have consequence for ill or good. We can never ignore it or allow it to pass and nod our heads by saying, ”Yes, that was a good and interesting word. I enjoyed that.” It requires or we harden, and that is why we find so many people in a hardened condition, and then God’s last appeals would be a prophetic cry, but it has got to be like a hammer upon a rock that breaks through until the necessary repentance and release.

”Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, ”who steal My words from each other. Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, ”who use their tongues and declare, ‘The LORD declares.’ Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the LORD, ”and related them, and led My people astray by their falsehoods and their reckless boasting (‘and by their lightness’- King James Version); yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the LORD (vs. 30-32).

There is a certain levity, a certain kind of air of casualness that seems to prevail in conferences and sessions where men who have not been sent of God have had opportunity to speak as if they had been sent of God. The unhappy thing is that great numbers of Christians in the world have never heard a true prophetic word spoken in the authority of God, and all they hear they assume to be normative. They have no basis for comparison. But to hear such a true word once is to be ruined forever for anything less. There is, therefore, a great cry and need for that word and that authority to come into the earth, that the church might be rightly ‘ruined’ and made candidates for the truth. It is the word that has become ‘event.’

False prophets steal God’s words from each other and often speak the identical kind of word. If we were to survey the last thirty-five years, has there not been a succession of fads, panaceas, gimmicks and things that we latch onto? There is a way in which one can test by a raised finger: “Which way is the wind blowing? What is current? What is now popular? I know that if I speak on ‘prosperity and faith,’ the people will love it; or prayer, or worship, or church growth, or power evangelism.” We seem to go through periods where certain themes have found a place of popularity and then you just move in that; and you pick up what others are saying, and then you begin to say it. It is easier to hear the word from other men and to imitate and repeat that, knowing that it has already found approval and acceptance. We desperately need to hear all the more, therefore, what is on God’s heart; and the only one who can communicate that is that one who is close to His heart through a consistent communing. There is a door of dying to reputation, name and acceptance to find your way into the place of the secret council of God; but it is in that place alone that the word of the Lord will be given.

PUBLISHED IN: ART KATZ

The Spirit of Prophecy: An Examination of the Prophetic Call

Art Katz

# 7 – The Seriousness of the Word Spoken

Katz Prophecy 07

(the bolding is not in the original.  I bolded areas so as to make it easier for someone to quickly get the import of what he says.
To view the original, click the link above.  Other than the bolding, this is an accurate copy)

There is a weight of responsibility on God’s people to correctly identify whom God has set before them, and there is a choosing. In making that decision and choice, something is struck that will profoundly affect that believing life for the rest of its days. Just the presence of the man, let alone the radical content of his word, puts a premium of requirement upon the hearer. What do you do with this man and this word? Something has come in a moment of time that requires something from you, and if you will not recognize it and give it, then you are not just going to go on, you are going to fall back. Something unexpected and incisive has come and your response to that will affect your whole continuance and future in God.

In the light of that, the prophet has a great responsibility to be the authentic thing that compels God’s people to choose with an earnestness that was never theirs before. How much more seriously do we need to consider our own walk, and for that reason, how dare we give ourselves over to casual, carnal lifestyles ourselves? There is a seriousness of God now coming to their fellowship that is making a requirement like nothing that it has ever known. All of a sudden they are having a guest speaker, and the moment he opens his mouth something is struck and something is required that was never required or even hinted at before and will be full of portent for all of their future.

The prophet’s function is so absolutely the matter of life and death, more so than can be said of other callings. If it is a false word, then it could be death. If it does not bring a warning, then it could also be death—literal, physical death. If it does not indicate the issues that are eternal, then it could be robbing the hearer. It is not an exaggeration to say that the rejection of the prophets was the death of Israel.

How can one say more for something that is life or death for a people, and yet God invests that in flesh and blood, in mere man, who is subject to every frailty and weakness of his humanity! It is an enormous weight of responsibility that he can say, “Thus says the Lord”, or even if he does not intone that inscription, it is implied, and the weight of that has to borne on the faintness and weakness of his mere humanity.

When God calls Ezekiel, “Son of man,” He is not just mouthing a few words. It is as if the prophet needs to be reminded of his humanity. God chooses a frail piece of humanity for so ponderous a task because it is a statement against the mystery of the principalities and the powers of the air. The prophet himself in his own person, in the election of God, is itself a statement against the wisdom of the powers of darkness.

One would think that God would reserve such elect speaking for Himself. He alone is qualified and has the authority, and yet to invest it in flesh, the very mystery of incarnation, runs smack dab into the heart of the wisdom of the powers of the air. They would never have done a thing like that, but would have chosen something appropriate to the task, for example, something weighty, monumental, dignified and that carries all the credentials. God’s prophets, therefore, are extremely conscious of their frail humanity, not only at the inception of their call, but also in all the whole longevity of their use.

PUBLISHED IN: ART KATZ

The Spirit of Prophecy: An Examination of the Prophetic Call

Art Katz

#6 – Proclaiming the Word that is “Given”

Katz Prophecy 06

(The bolding is not in the original.  I bolded areas so as to make it easier for someone to quickly get the import of what he says.
To view the original, click the link above.  Other than the bolding, this is an accurate copy)

The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. If it is not God’s moment, then we need to hold it. Something happens internally to the prophet when he contains and holds his own spirit and does not just spit it out. An ejaculation is always a great relief, but to hold it until the appointed time is beyond the issue of what relieves us. It is the issue of what glorifies God. There is still a ‘you’ involved when we blurt out something. We need to come to a place where there is no interest or satisfaction in ourselves. It is all the same to us to speak or not to speak, to be seen or not to be seen, to be used or not to be used, to be set aside or to be employed. Only then can we be used.

God’s purpose is not the alleviation of our tension, but the revelation of His glory. We are alleviation-minded and not glory-minded, and so long as we remain in that condition we will never be used to minister the Life of God. We have a question and so we expect an answer. The question may even be good and interesting, so why not ask it and get an answer! We have a need and we want it met. That is not being ruled by the Spirit of God but by self-interest. The fact that it is a ‘spiritual’ interest does not void it from being self-interest. The prophet does not operate by his own curiosity. Though something is good or valid, that does not justify expressing it. The only issue is what God intends in that given moment.

The prophet is not at liberty to address everything he sees. He can only address what God would have him to see. He does not proceed by his own seeing, or by his own hearing, his own subjectivity or his own impressions. He is the Lord’s, and maybe that is why God is more jealous over the prophetic man than any other. The prophet is one who is the communicator of God’s own word. It is not the prophet’s word. The prophet is dead. He has no life until God gives it, and God gives it for His purpose and glory only. Even when you see those who are being addressed falling like flies and going down on their faces under the power and the impact of that word, he himself subjectively experiences often absolutely nothing in that moment. He is absolutely impervious and totally unaffected by what has brought others down on their faces. He is simply out of it because it is not his word. He cannot exalt in it. It is not his work. It is the strangest of feelings to be somehow beside yourself and detached from the power and the effect of your own word, nor are you allowed in any way even to touch it or to draw forth any satisfaction for yourself.

There are times when a prophet will enter a fellowship that seems to ‘have it all together’ and they are worshipping enthusiastically—andeverything seems to be right—yet he is grieving! He is almost doubled over and knotted in the inner man. He is anguishing in his soul, while everybody else is having a good time. How many people have been in such functions where they are the only ‘freak’? Everyone else seems to be ‘moved by God,’ and there is all kinds of talk about ‘the presence of God,’ yet you feel no presence at all. You are not conscious of any anointing. You do not see any blessing. All you see is a sea of soulish carnality and self-deluded people priming and pumping themselves up, and your one presence in that room is a contradiction to all that is going on. To top it all, you are not there as an observer; you are going to speak! What will you speak? Will you speak so as to confirm what people think is the spiritual reality they are celebrating, or do you take your whistle out of your pocket and blow it, and cry out, “Phony! Pretense! False! Self-effected! Hyped up production! Emotional! Sensual!”?

There are situations where you are not sure what to say or what to do. It is a remarkable kind of suffering to be in that kind of predicament, and then even after the moment passes, we are still assaulted by the thought of perhaps having missed the moment when we should have done something and we did not. It is a suffering, but that suffering is at the heart of the church. There is a suffering that remains to be filled up in the Body. This kind of suffering is inevitable, frequent and we have long borne it. Many of us have agonized over the condition of the church, and the Lord knows it, and there is a certain inevitability about it, a certain tension of not knowing. We will always wonder if we did rightly. We need to bear that suffering, and the Lord honors that. When the redemptive answer comes, it will come out of that willingness to bear that suffering as being intrinsic to the prophetic.

PUBLISHED IN: ART KATZ

The Spirit of Prophecy: An Examination of the Prophetic Call

Art Katz

#5 – The Voice of the Prophet

Katz Prophecy 05

(The bolding is not in the original.  I bolded areas so as to make it easier for someone to quickly get the import of what he says.
To view the original, click the link above.  Other than the bolding, this is an accurate copy)

God puts a great premium on the voice of the prophets. It is not just their words, but their voice that carries the urgency and divine seriousness of God. If you change that and yet retain the technical word, you have lost the message. There is the resonance of God in his speaking that conveys not only the content and the meaning, but also the disposition of God’s own heart and how He feels about what is being said. The mood of the speaking has nothing to do with the prophet’s choosing. There are times when he is like a piece of putty and he cannot alter it. He is uncomfortable speaking like that and wishes that he had the liberty to give the word the flourish that it needs. He is, however, as much bound in God in the manner of the speaking as the content of the speaking. Other times the same man is beside himself. He cannot be contained. He is falling off the edge of the platform (so to speak) in the intensity of the moment. In both cases, it is not the man who makes that determination, but God.

When the prophet, whom God has raised up early and sent often (Jer. 7:25), is not heard and the word is rejected, then the next and last thing is judgment. It is, therefore no wonder that there is an urgency in the speaking and that his words are designed to shock more than edify. The prophet is, therefore, often seen as being horrid, slashing and offensive. The most common accusation is ‘unloving,’ which he has to bear. That is the way it often sounds and appears, but how many of us can see that the harsh word is uttermost love? For a prophet, not to have spoken it would have been unloving—if that is what the urgency of the moment required. That is not a justification to be in that mode continually, but in the moment that God calls for it, it must not be withheld.

[The prophet’s mood is often in violent opposition to the mood that has already been established in the congregation, especially by the ‘worship team.’ We ourselves are frequently in conflict with worship teams and worship leaders. They seem often to have an independent purpose for their own activity, no matter what, and establish some kind of mood, however contrary to God it is. Instead of working in conjunction with the word that is to come, or sensing the mood and heart of God, they have already got their choruses numbered and what they are going to sing and do. They have their musical virtuoso, talent and amplifiers and they are going to ‘do their thing,’ and leave you to make the best of it afterwards as well as you can. Many messages have been dulled and the power of them lost because of that unspoken opposition and tension where worship ministry is celebrated as the ultimate thing in itself. We need perhaps to pull the plug out of every overhead projector and every amplifier! Let us rather just splutter and choke along and miss a word here and there and come into the spirit of God’s worship, than that we should be led with choruses and more choruses and more choruses. What it seems they are often really trying to do is to effect an atmosphere for a service, rather than touch the heart of God, let alone prepare for the receiving of a holy word for those assembled.]

A prophet will often send people home jarred and unhappy with many unanswered questions. He has not that mentality that wants everything to be wrapped up in one package with a ribbon on it, in one service, and send people home happy. He will let the people go home pained and even agonizing. He will raise perplexing questions that he himself has not adequately answered, and they themselves have got to wrestle and fight their way through to a truer place in God. There are very few pastors, maybe one in a hundred, who would be willing to allow his congregation to suffer that kind of stress and tension. “Send them home happy” is the unspoken premise of contemporary religion to which prophets do not subscribe. They are not in the mood for sending people home happy. They are of a kind to send them home agitated with questions that the hearers are compelled to consider and that cannot be asked and answered in one service.

The prophet’s suspicions are alerted if there is any bombast, theatrics or sensationalism that conjures up a manner or a mode of excitement or anything else that the ear loves to hear that would draw out those who are bored and want some kind of alternative to their boredom. The one who speaks of coming judgment should not invest it with anything more than the word itself. He does not have to bring to it an additional quality so as to make it compelling to the hearer. The word itself speaks for itself. Anyone who would seek to bring an extraneous element through his own personality or manner of speaking is likely false. The prophet, therefore, does not have great latitude in how he deports himself. If we are highly individualistic and want to cut a swath for ourselves or do our own thing in our own way, then we are disqualified.

Though the prophet’s life is wholly given over to God, there is no surrender of identity. In fact, his authentic identity is established. He loses his life but he has found it. Prophets are distinct, flesh and blood men with personalities. They are not robots who bear the word of God as a mechanical contrivance. They are formed in the womb, and that forming is God’s.

PUBLISHED IN: ART KATZ

The Spirit of Prophecy: An Examination of the Prophetic Call

Art Katz

#4 – Prophetic Proclamation

Katz Prophecy 04

(The bolding is not in the original.  I bolded areas so as to make it easier for someone to quickly get the import of what he says.
To view the original, click the link above.  Other than the bolding, this is an accurate copy)

The prophets of God in the redemption history of the faith have always been the oracular kind. Their word distinguishes their calling. The prophetic word is weighty and we know it when we hear it. It makes a particular demand upon our attention and likewise a requirement in our obedience. That kind of word can only come out of the council of God. Our concern is the debasing of the church, a decline in the value and the valuing of the spoken word, when that which is not out of His council is being announced as the prophetic word.

What an importance, therefore, this puts on true prophetic proclamation. The prophet speaks with an urgency. If you can hear God in that speaking and take it to heart and repent, then you will be saved from the very thing of which he is forewarning. To compound the issue, it may well be that the man is offensive in your sight, and you want to discredit him and find every reason for doing so. That gives, therefore, an urgency to the message of the prophet that makes prophetic proclamation distinctively different from teaching, evangelism or pastoral preaching. Jesus said about Himself:

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin (John 15:22).

In other words, “My appearing and My speaking have removed from you all pretense. The truth has come in Myself, and now you are responsible. Before I came you had an excuse for your superficiality and for your religious ‘carryings on’ that you thought was the real thing, but now that I have come, now that I have spoken, you have no excuse. The divine standard has fallen. The reality of God, the revelation of His purposes has been presented, and now you are responsible for that. You cannot go on as you were before. If you choose to reject what has come, then be assured that you cannot go on as before. You will either fall back to something much less even than what you had before, or go on to a qualitatively new thing.”

The truly prophetic man not only embraces both the past and the future; he himself is both. He is living in the eternal future while at the same time being in a clear continuum with the biblical past. There is something about his whole manner and being that shows in the unselfconscious and unpretentious way he bears himself. He is not in this world. We do not mean by that that he is a vain kind of flighty creature. He already hears a resonance of the things that are coming to pass.

His anticipation, awareness and appropriation of that reality are so real for him, that even when he does not explicitly speak it as a subject matter, he already unwittingly expresses the aura of it. He brings a sense of the unbroken continuum of the faith. He is in the Son, the eternal and changeless One. He comes to a people who are locked in time and culture and who are slavish products, if not victims, of their age. He shows forth the one, timeless, irrevocable statement of God on truth and reality throughout all ages and the ages to come. The prophet stands more than any other beyond the conventional categories of time. He sees the eternal thing toward which everything is tending, and in a compelling manner, he brings the significance of that into the present moment for those who are hearing him.

To obtain ‘the mind of God’ and to be able to articulate that is inherent in the prophetic calling. There is always going to be a tension of opposition between the mind of the world and the mind of God, between our own thoughts and His thoughts. Prophets are always, therefore, going to run into a place of opposition and resistance, because God’s thoughts are not only pure, they are also contrary to our own and invariably make a painful requirement. You cannot hear God without being required of. We came to that conclusion in our weekly Bible studies: “If we are not hearing some requirement from God every time we assemble in the examination of His Word, then we are not hearing God. We are only using His Word as a text to have a study.”

When God speaks, something has got to give. If we do not want to give that something, then there is going to be a tension of resistance and rejection of the word. If people cannot find their opportunity to oppose the word by virtue of rejecting the word, they will find their point of opposition in rejecting the man. And God will always give them something to find to fasten on to. There will always be something provided if men want to find a way to absolve themselves from the implications and the requirements of God’s word. Yet at the same time, for the man who is bringing it, he is not to justify it as an excuse where if he has defect he says, “Well, that is what God uses.” He needs to be grieved over the fact that there is any defect and seek in every way to rectify and make right, and to be impeccable and without offense before God and man. However earnest he will be in that, men will still find offense. They found it in Jesus, and they will find it in us, but “…blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me (Luke 7:23b – King James Version)”.

PUBLISHED IN: ART KATZ

The Spirit of Prophecy: An Examination of the Prophetic Call

Art Katz

Righteousness that Avails

(The bolding is not in the original.  I bolded areas so as to make it easier for someone to quickly get the import of what he says.
To view the original, click the link above.  Other than the bolding, this is an accurate copy)

Was Abel so naive as not to suspect that this invitation to take a walk in the field was an invitation to death? Did he not suspect or intuit, knowing his brother, that this invitation was not some innocent chat but a prelude to his own death.

Was his willingness to take that walk something of the righteousness of God in Abel, sensing that his death had something to do with the possible redemption of his brother and not, therefore, unwilling to give it?

That is itself the very definition of righteousness.

Abel prefigures Jesus Christ himself in this episode, our Lord and savior who gave his life in just that way to just that purpose. Why his offering was acceptable – the firstlings of his flock with their fat – was because it was a symbol and a statement of himself as offering. The animal sacrifice is a statement of our own willingness to be laid upon the altar, and the Lord accepts it as that statement. It is a statement of uttermost sacrifice – the best of the flock.

Where a man himself would be that sacrifice, should God want it – and in fact, by making that sacrifice – it is reiterating that statement to God. “This is a substitute, but what it represents is my own willingness to be on the altar of God for your purpose at any moment that is required.” That is what validates the offering. That is what makes that offering acceptable in God’s sight.

The man himself is the offering. And, as the episode unfolds he becomes that willingly and not by artifice. It was not that he was tricked to go out in the field. I think that a man who has this kind of relationship with God could only too readily intuit and sense what that walk into the field would mean. But he did not withhold himself from making it, because he had already made it in giving the best of the flock – which is to say, the giving of himself.

What made it valid was that it symbolized and represented the sacrifice of himself which is now being called for. When you make that offering, you are saying to the Lord “whenever it is called for, it is made, it is done, it is settled in my heart.” My life is not my own. I am only breathing and walking because now it pleases you as it serves your purposes. The whole end of my life and its purpose in being is your glorification whether by my life or by my death. The issue is settled. And when I put up my sacrifice before you, my offering, it is the reiteration of that statement.

This is exactly the opposite of what Cain’s offering meant. Cain was buying something. He was seeking to transact. He was in a commercial venture, wanting to receive some kind of blessing in exchange for something that did not cost him greatly. It was despicable, because the man’s life is lived unto himself and for himself – as is seen in his willingness to ventilate his hatred in the murder of his own brother. When God penalizes him for that murder, his cry is like a stung animal: “This is too much, isn’t this too severe for me?”

How is it that God does not require your life, but just makes you to be a wanderer? And you think that that is too severe? And you are afraid that someone is going to take your life? God assures that it will not be taken by giving you a mark. And you are complaining? Where was your sensitivity for Abel’s life? How is it that you are bemoaning your fate now and sucking your lower lip at the severity of this penalty? You did not hesitate a moment to take your brother’s life.

If our offerings are given as an exchange for reward. . . That is what Cain’s offering was, an unspoken transaction. I will do this if God will give me this. Or, even and especially, to obtain a protection from harm or loss of life. . .

I am not talking about a commercial transaction that God is going to help me in the field because I have made this cheap sacrifice, but the matter is whether God is going to preserve me from suffering. God is going to protect me because I am righteous and have made an offering that is acceptable in his sight. Even there, though it has moved from a commercial motivation to a spiritual is still transactional. It is still not the celebration of God as God in and for himself. Now there is a spiritual end – my protection.

You may ask, is it not the theme which is to be found through all the psalms? The psalmist is crying out, where are you, Lord, and how long must I suffer this oppression and persecution because I stand for you and am righteous? Is not the psalmist asking God to act exactly in this way? In a sense yes, but in a greater sense not because the psalmist who is suffering for righteousness’ sake wants to be alleviated from that suffering but he wants God vindicated through that suffering. He wants God to show himself faithful to his own covenant promises and his identification with his own people. That is the greater motive. Not the alleviation of the distress and pain, but the vindication of God’s name. That is the cry of the heart of the psalms.

Who is putting up an offering before the Lord free from any subtle, unspoken transactional thing that puts God at obligation to give an answer to our benefit? The only answer is, the one who has put his life on the altar is free from the necessity of any kind of transaction. There is nothing that redounds to him for benefit, because his whole life is an offering. What he is putting on as a spotless animal with the fat is a statement of his life, reiterating again to God: “It is not my own. So much as I give up this animal, so much is my life given up and it is yours to be required at any moment of your choosing – even now when my brother wants to take me out into the field for a walk.”

(Sermon Clip) Grieving Over The Spirit and System of the World

by Art Katz

Art Katz – Joseph – a man of the Spirit

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