God Revealed to Me…

I cannot tell  how many times I have heard religious folks say,

  • “The Lord spoke to me…”
  • “God revealed to me…”
  • “I felt led by God to…”
  • “The Holy Spirit guided me…”

And many other such phrases, indicating that God somehow directly communicates with them and does so on a regular basis.

Honestly, my first thought is usually “God has never spoken to me like that–am I not His child, too?”

But then I take it to Scripture, and I want to ask, “Exactly how has God spoken to you, and in what way is He leading you?” If they define what they mean in a biblical way, perhaps we are no so far apart.

For instance, if they mean they searched Scripture diligently and discovered what God wanted them to do, I totally understand walking in God’s wisdom and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in that way. Or if they mean they sought godly counsel from wise Christians who gave them biblical advice, I understand that, too. But if they mean that God actually spoke words and sentences to them, communicating through a dream or a vision, that is outside my realm of Christian experience. I will not insist they didn’t hear those words or see those visions, but I will remind them that God Himself instructs us:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4.1)

One major test (perhaps THE major test) is to check what you hear against what God has already revealed in Scripture. In that way, God’s revealed and tested word continues to stand as the basis for every other word or message we receive in life. No external message (from someone claiming to speak for God) or internal message (from a feeling, a heart-tug, or a word coming into our mind) can stand above and supersede God’s already revealed word.

Ezekiel 13 powerfully exposes the rampant false teaching among the Jews just before Nebuchadnezzar leveled the city in 586 BC. God describes those false prophets as those who…

  • “prophecy from their own hearts” (13.2)
  • “follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” (13.2)
  • “have seen false visions and lying divinations” (13.6)
  • “say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them” (13.6)
  • “have mislead My people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace” (13.10)

Our deceptive hearts can fool even ourselves, and we can think that a certain strong feeling to do something is the word of the Lord. Let us be careful not to blindly trust in our feelings one way or the other. God has certainly planted a conscience within each of us which either condemns us when we do something wrong or commends us when we do something right, but that’s not the same thing as God speaking to us directly.

Examine the Scriptures and find how God spoke to prophets. He did not leave them with feelings; He always spoke clearly, directly, to the point. That’s how God communicates. If you tell me that God told you to do something, please don’t be offended when I ask how you received that word. I’m testing the spirits, and maybe I can help teach you how to test the spirits, as well.

How tragic to lean on our own hearts and our own spirits for guidance! How terrible it will be for those who follow their feelings to stand before Jesus and say, “But it felt so real!” and to have Jesus respond, “But I never said that. That wasn’t Me speaking.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3.5)

A 200-Year Prophecy

Atheist Carl Sagan posed the question:

“…has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science?” [1]

Gates of All Nations in PersepolisYesterday, I introduced two of my favorite Bible prophecies. Today, I share a third concerning Cyrus the Great, King of Persia.

Cyrus Called by Name

The prophet Isaiah records this startling prophecy:

24       Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer,
who formed you from the womb:
“I am the LORD, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,
25       who frustrates the signs of liars
and makes fools of diviners,
who turns wise men back
and makes their knowledge foolish,
26       who confirms the word of his servant
and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’
and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built,
and I will raise up their ruins’;
27       who says to the deep, ‘Be dry;
I will dry up your rivers’;
28       who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,
and he shall fulfill all my purpose’;
           saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’
      and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ ” (Isaiah 44.24-28)

Cyrus cylinder in the British MuseumIn the greater context surrounding these verses, God is proving a point: “I am the LORD and there is no other” (Isaiah 45.5-7). In order to prove that He is the only God, He calls Cyrus specifically by name almost 200 years before Cyrus came on the scene! In fact, when Isaiah penned this prophecy, Assyria was the superpower. Babylon would come next, pushing out the Assyrians and capturing Jerusalem. But after Babylon reigned in power for about 100 years, the Persian empire would rise and overcome them. Cyrus the Great is the Persian King who brought Persia to the height of power.

Jeremiah also had prophesied concerning the fall of Babylon and concerning the length of time the Jews would remain in bondage:

‘Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the LORD, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.’ (Jer. 25.12)

For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.’ (Jer. 29.10)

The fulfillment of these prophecies are recorded in Ezra 1.1-2:

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah…”

How did Isaiah know Cyrus’ name so many years in advance? How did he know Assyria would fall to Babylon and Babylon would fall to Persia? He didn’t! God spoke those words through the prophet, and the events transpired exactly as God had foreseen.


[1] Carl Sagan. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. Random House, Inc., New York: 1996, p. 30.

A Religion with Prophetic Accuracy

Carl SaganAs one of the latest foremost proponents of atheism, Carl Sagan writes:

“…to entertain the notion that we are a particularly complex arrangement of atoms, and not some breath of divinity, at the very least enhances our respect for atoms…”[1]

He continues:

“…to find that our ancestors were also the ancestors of apes ties us to the rest of life and makes possible important–if occasionally rueful–reflections on human nature.

Like it or not, we are stuck with science. We had better make the best of it.

But superstition and pseudoscience keep getting in the way, distracting…providing easy answers, dodging skeptical scrutiny, casually pressing our awe buttons and cheapening the experience.”[1]

In a footnote, Sagan insists, “We are, as I like to say, starstuff.”[2]

While comparing religion and science, Sagan poses a poignant question:

“…has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science?”[3]

Now that’s a good question! One of the absolute greatest evidences for the Bible is its incredible track record of prophecies and prophetic fulfillment. Over the next few days I’d like to share some of my favorite Bible prophecies.

Today, let’s think on the promise to Abraham in Genesis 22 and Jacob’s prophetic blessing on his son Judah in Genesis 49.

Promise to Abraham

To Abraham, God promised, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall posses the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22.17-18).

CrossThe rest of the entire Bible contains the account of how God fulfilled this momentous promise! Abraham’s family did, indeed, become a great nation, one which has endured to this day. The Old Testament traces the seed of Abraham all the way through Egyptian bondage, their exodus from Egypt, their settling in Palestine, their series of judges and kings, their captivity in Babylon, their return to Palestine, and finally their rebuilding of Jerusalem and their house of worship. The New Testament picks up 400 years after the Old Testament leaves off, but it continues the same story–the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham!

The final fulfillment of that promise is through Jesus Christ, as Paul points out in Galatians 3.14, “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith,” and Galatians 3.16, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.”

Judah Is the Royal Tribe

Again back in Genesis 49.8-10, we find a prophecy Jacob spoke concerning his son Judah:

8       “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons shall bow down before you.
9          Judah is a lion’s cub;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
10       The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
      nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
            until tribute comes to him;
      and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Lion of JudahThis prophecy was not fulfilled until King David came to the throne some 900 years later! David was from the tribe of Judah, and after him throughout Israel’s history someone from David’s family was always on the throne. What tribe do you think Jesus was from? He is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (Rev. 5.5).

In a second, much later prophecy, an angel informed Mary: “The Lord God will give to [Jesus] the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1.32-33).

How did Jacob know kings would come through Judah’s lineage? How did Jacob know Jesus, the great and final King, would also be from Judah? He didn’t! He prophesied by the power of the Spirit of God.

Those are pretty specific prophecies, aren’t they? Carl Sagan wondered if there was a religion which had this kind of precision in its prophecies–I’d say yes!

The Bible itself tells us that if someone gives a prophecy and it does not come to pass, we don’t have to listen to another thing that person says (Deut. 18.21-22). So if the Bible claims to be Scripture, every prophecy had better come to pass; otherwise it invalidates itself. That is a tall order, but in my studies it always measures up to it’s perfect standard.


[1] Carl Sagan. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. Random House, Inc., New York: 1996, p. 13.

[2] ibid., p. 14.

[3] ibid., p. 30.