The Prophet that Challenged the Path of an Apostle

The Consequences of Prophecy-
The Prophet that Challenged the Path of an Apostle

While Great Men of God are often given impressive commissions to carry out, their paths must constantly follow the direction of The Holy Spirit. Apostle Paul would carry the Gospel to the known world, but when he tried to return to Jerusalem, he was confronted by a prophet who tried to warn him of consequences of his journey.

Little is known about the life of the Prophet Agabus, but what is written about him shows his profoundly faithful character. He was one of the early followers of Christ and is listed amongst the Seventy Disciples/Apostles whom Jesus commissioned and sent to the towns ahead of Him to declare His Message (ref. Luke 10:1-24). Coptic Orthodox Tradition also states that Agabus was amongst the Apostles who were in the upper room on the day of Pentecost who were infused with the Holy Spirit and given the Gift of Tongues.

Agabus was among a group of prophets who had come down from Jerusalem to meet with the growing congregation at the Church in Antioch. While fellowshipping with his fellow Christians, Agabus stood up and through the Holy Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world which would crush the economy during Emperor Claudius’ reign (ref. Acts 11: 27-28).

When Apostle Paul arrived at Tyre, he and his companions sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. The Holy Spirit moved through theses Brothers and Sisters in Christ who all urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. But Paul was steadfast in his conviction that he should return to the capital city. At the end of seven days, the disciples and their wives and children accompanied Paul out of the city of Tyre and knelt on the beach to pray together before Paul and his travel companions boarded the ship (ref. Acts 21:3-6)

When they later reached Caesarea, they stayed with Philip the Evangelist, one of the Seven Deacons chosen to attend to the ministering of food in the early Church in Jerusalem. Philip had been blessed with four daughters who all prophesied. It’s unknown whether they gave Paul similar prophetic warnings concerning Jerusalem (ref. Acts 21:8-9)

While Paul was staying in Caesarea with Philip the Evangelist and his daughters, Prophet Agabus came down from Judea and confronted the Apostle and put on a prophetic performance, reminiscent of Prophet Jeremiah’s displays, for the group to fully understand what was being revealed. Prophet Agabus took Paul’s belt and tied his own hands and feet with it declaring “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.”

When the audience heard the ominous prophecy, they begged and pleaded with Paul to reconsider his plans to go to Jerusalem.

But he would not be dissuaded.

Paul responded humbly “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Recognizing that Paul was resolved to go no matter what they said, they accepted Paul’s decision and declared “The Lord’s Will be done” (ref. Acts 21: 10-14).

Paul would later be subjected to riot violence, false arrest, was nearly illegally flogged, tried before the Sanhedrin, was the target of an assassination plot, was tried before the governor, tried again by the replacement governor, and finally tried by the King of Judea Herod Agrippa before finally being released after being acquitted.

Though Paul’s path was laid out for him by the Lord, it did not mean that he would never experience any troubles. In fact, Paul was warned at least twice by his fellow Christians through their Spirit provoked pleas for him to not go to Jerusalem. If that was not enough, the prophetic performance by Prophet Agabus before Paul and his companions further drove the point that Paul’s treatment in Jerusalem would be cruel and humiliating.

But Paul’s faith stood strong and he was ready to be imprisoned and even die on behalf of his mission to continue spreading the Gospel.

Perhaps one of the hardest things to distinguish prophetically is the difference between the Spirit warning of punishments for being disobedient, differentiated from the Holy Ghost telling us that there will be pain and suffering while obeying.

At first glance, Prophet Agabus looks to be trying to turn Paul away from Jerusalem, just as his companions in Tyre had done and how the audience in Caesarea similarly reacted to Agabus’ prophecy. But it seems that through his previous experience prophesying the famine, as well as his time associating and learning from his fellow Prophets of Jerusalem, Agabus came to realize that this epic cataclysmic event damaged both believers and heathens alike. When warning Paul of his impending arrest, Agabus recognized that Christ’s Followers were not immune to trials and tribulations, even when following God’s Will. Unlike Paul’s well-meaning companions, Agabus doesn’t insert his personal feelings into what the Holy Spirit is trying to communicate; he simply prophesies what he has been told and performs exactly as he has been shown.

You will constantly hear in our recordings and read in our articles that “it is not enough just to hear God, you also need to know what He means”. Unfortunately that cannot come from simply reading the scriptures, but through an intense relationship with Him, spending time with other mature prophetic people, as well as by experience practicing the gift of prophesying.

When Agabus confronted Apostle Paul, he was not chastising him for going to Jerusalem, he was ensuring that he was mentally and spiritually prepared for the figurative and literal trials he was about to endure. Likewise, many prophesies foretelling of future troubles are not meant to stigmatize you for having been unfaithful or disobedient to God, but are blessings letting you know in advance of the things to come and how you can prepare yourself.

Just as the world has been thrust into chaos as we navigate through this pandemic, we must recognize that it is not necessarily meant as a punishment. Both Believer and Unsaved alike have been affected, just like the famine during Emperor Claudius’ reign. There will be future cataclysms and if we listen to God’s Modern Prophets, we can prepare ourselves materially, mentally, and spiritually for them and come through stronger just as Apostle Paul after his own trials.

Prepared by, Kent Simpson, Apostolic Prophet & Eric Sepulveda, PMT Administrator

Inauguration & Responsibilities of a Prophet

The Consequences of Prophecy-
Inauguration & Responsibilities of a Prophet

While more and more modern Christians are beginning to recognize the beautiful gift that our Creator has provided us through His Modern Prophets, many fail to recognize the tremendous duty placed upon them. Through the Prophet Ezekiel, we see both the awesome glory of being exposed to God’s Voice and/or Presence, but also the insanely heavy burden entrusted to those God speaks through.

Ezekiel the Priest’s first experience with the prophetic began under extremely stressful circumstances. The Southern Kingdom of Judah had already had the first wave of exiles forced out by Babylon and Ezekiel was amongst the captives. At the Israelite settlement at River Chebar, Ezekiel began to have visions.

While there are several artistic interpretations of what Ezekiel saw, ranging from everything being symbolic of Israel, to descriptions of engineering surpassing today’s advanced technology, it was awe inspiring and tremendous. Ezekiel’s inauguration as a prophet allowed him a brief opportunity to bask in the Glory of the Lord, where he was filled with the Spirit, and afterwards was presented with a scroll of God’s prophecies for Israel, which Ezekiel was ordered to eat and was surprised to discover was sweet like honey.

God overly stressed the fact that Ezekiel would be sent to prophesy to the people of his own nation, in his own language, with his shared history: the House of Israel. Though God is not sending Ezekiel to a foreign land with a tongue he did not understand, God knows that foreigners would be more willing to hear and change their ways compared to the Israelites, who were hard hearted and stubborn.

God declared that He had made Ezekiel’s face stronger than the Israelites, so that when he confronts them, Ezekiel can stand firm when they challenge what he says. Even more, God has strengthened Ezekiel’s will so that he can butt heads with the religious order who refused to align themselves with God. Ezekiel is not to be afraid as his spiritual forehead was made strong like adamant and harder than flint, so he would not step back when they try to push against him because of their rebelliousness. God equipped Ezekiel to go to the captive Israelites, but recognized that there was a very good chance that they would not listen.

After Ezekiel’s encounter, he returned to the camp at Tel Abib and sat there amongst his fellow captives in astonishment for seven days. After a week of reflecting on what he had seen and heard, God spoke to Ezekiel yet again, declaring that He had made him a Watchman over the House of Israel. Ezekiel would be responsible for warning the People and the consequences of his failure to do so would fall on his head.

If a wicked man was doing evil, and was told to turn away from his ways, but chose not to, he would be condemned for his actions. But if Ezekiel failed to warn him and the sinful man died wallowing in his inequity, then Ezekiel would be responsible and his blood would be on Ezekiel’s hands.

This would even apply to a righteous man, who had been known to do Good throughout his life, but had turned away from the Creator. If instructed by God, Ezekiel’s failure to try to correct their path was the responsibility of the prophet. If God placed a stumbling stone before a once faithful person, and they died, their good works would be forgotten and Ezekiel would again be liable for failing to give him the opportunity to turn back to God.

God warned Ezekiel that the people would bind and restrict him from going out and correcting the captives because of their stubbornness, but if given a Word, Ezekiel was only responsible for speaking and the people would decide whether they would hear or refuse.

Despite his current position as a captive of the Babylon Empire, Ezekiel had been called out by God to reach his fellow Israelites in exile. If he failed to instruct those walking out of line with God’s Will, Ezekiel would be punished for their wrongdoing. But, if they were corrected and still chose to do wrong, their blood would be upon their own heads.

Modern prophets are tasked with a similar responsibility of needing to heed exclusively to God’s Voice. Some are called to try to correct the actions of an entire nation or its leadership, while others are set apart to shift the actions of everyday men and women. In either case, if instructed to correct, they have an obligation to warn those who are heading towards damnation.

God sent His Prophet Ezekiel during a major national crisis, even after many years of warnings from previous messengers. The first wave of exiles had already been removed, but their hearts were still turned away from God even when in the midst of the punishment that had been prophesied. The foolish continued down the same path that had led them to their current situation, but the wise heeded the words of God’s Prophets and corrected themselves.

During this global crisis, many of the things that once made our lives comfortable and stable are no longer able to be relied upon. Our lives have been uprooted and many feel that they are at the whims of forces far greater than themselves. Our world will continue to change radically, but we know that Our Creator has control over all things.

It is no small comfort to know that God still talks to His Sons and Daughters today through His Messengers. While not every prophet will be able to directly experience the same intense vision of God that Ezekiel had, nor will they all be tasked with turning an entire nation away from the destructive path it’s currently on, they are responsible for delivering God’s Message faithfully for the benefit and salvation of their audience.Whatever may come in the next few days, weeks, and months, we know that aligning ourselves with God’s Instruction will bless our families, communities, and countries.

Prepared by, Kent Simpson, Apostolic Prophet & Eric Sepulveda, PMT Administrator

Destruction of the Nation that Rejected God’s Weeping Prophet

The Consequences of Prophecy-
Destruction of the Nation that Rejected God’s Weeping Prophet

The Book of Lamentations is a collection of dirges (funeral songs) that Prophet Jeremiah wrote after the siege of Jerusalem, demolition of Solomon’s Temple, and exile of the Israelites to Babylon. While Jeremiah, known as the Weeping Prophet, poetically describes the terror and devastation that the city was experiencing, the people had had many opportunities to prevent the horror in which they had become engulfed. Despite being a people, city, and nation supposedly dedicated to God, they did not heed the symbolic warnings that His Prophets gave to turn away from their sinful practices. More importantly, the rejection of God’s Messengers and Prophets was seen as a rejection of God Himself.

Jeremiah, later known as the Weeping Prophet, conducted many prophetic performances to help demonstrate the need for Israel to turn away from their idolatry and the consequences of refusing to do so.

Perhaps Jeremiah’s most famous prophetic act concerned the wearing of a linen girdle and traveling to Perath (near the Euphrates River) where he was to hide the girdle in a hole in a rock. Jeremiah would have traveled some 350 miles each way from Jerusalem and back, only to be asked much later to by God to go back and retrieve it. When Jeremiah returned to where he had hidden the linen garment, he found that it was marred and because it was organic, had begun to decompose and was no longer useful for anything.

God explained to Jeremiah the prophetic significance of this now worthless belt. When Israel and Judah were closely and intimately bound to God, they served a purpose and were given renown, praise, and honor, but because of their unfaithfulness serving other gods, they had become rotten and useless. Ultimately, they would be taken out of their homeland and placed in this rocky region for a set period in during their exile (ref. Jeremiah 13: 1-11)

But because God is merciful, He ensured that those who turned back towards Him would be considered and spared.

God led Jeremiah to a potter’s studio where the artisan was shaping a piece of clay. While Jeremiah watched the potter working at his wheel, the soft clay pot he was fashioning became disfigured and distorted. Because the clay was still flexible, the potter was still able to save the clay and reshape it into a new vessel.

Explaining this prophetic sign, He declared that just as the potter is able to reshape the clay in his hands, God would shape and mold those whose hearts were still malleable and willing to turn back to Him. In comparison to the soft clay that would be taken gently in God’s Hands, the stiff necked and the hard hearted would be like a clay vessel that had already been baked in a kiln and no longer able to be molded (ref. Jeremiah 18:1-10).

God instructed Jeremiah to purchase a clay jar from a potter and to bring elders and priests with him to the Dung Gate and to prophesy the coming destruction that was about to befall the city. Because they had filled the land with the blood of the innocent, through their sacrificing of children to their false idols, God was going to bring about a great slaughter. The carcasses of the inhabitants of the city would be food for wild animals, the city would become desolate, and the besiegement of the city would be so great that they would be forced to eat their sons and daughters and eventually kill and eat each other.

After announcing such a horrific sentence on the city and its leaders, Jeremiah smashed the jar in front of the congregation. The prophetic performance was to clearly let them know that the Lord was planning on smashing stiff-necked and hard hearted Israel and Jerusalem so it could no longer be repaired just like the clay jar (ref. Jeremiah 19).

Though Jeremiah’s position as prophet had him mostly focused on Judah, God’s had him deliver a message to the surrounding kingdoms through their emissaries who were visiting the capital. Jeremiah was told to make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and wear it on his neck like a draught animal and in the presence of King of Judah Zedekiah and the neighboring kingdoms’ envoys declare that they must all bow before Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon and be subject to him. If they would not humble themselves and place the symbolic yoke upon their necks and become vassal states, they would be destroyed.

Jeremiah not only performed this prophetic display for the King of Judah and his diplomatic guests, but also warned them not to listen to the false prophets who would try to deceive them saying that they would not have to be subjects to King Nebuchadnezzar. God was clear that any who went against this word were not sent from Him. Only the kings who bowed their neck under the yoke would be spared (ref. Jeremiah 27)

While the Book of Lamentations is filled with songs of grief and resentment for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian Exile, God revealed to The Weeping Prophet what was to happen if they did not turn their hearts back to Him quickly. Both in private and public settings, God used Prophetic Presentations and Performances to help strengthen His Word to His People. But despite these warnings to Judah’s elites and leadership, they continued to ignore the warnings that Prophet Jeremiah brought them and their people, city, and nation suffered accordingly. Great churches, communities, and nations will be brought to their knees if they do not heed the word of God’s Messengers and Prophets.

Prepared by, Kent Simpson, Apostolic Prophet & Eric Sepulveda, PMT Administrator

Consequences of Prophecy-The King who Corrupted a Divided Nation

The Consequences of Prophecy-
The King who Corrupted a Divided Nation

As King Solomon enjoyed greater luxuries and built more pagan temples to satisfy the desires of his cultic priestess wives, the average citizen began to despise the king and a rebellion began to brew. Stirred by a prophetic demonstration concerning the future of the kingdom, Jeroboam, a civil servant, led a coup which divided the nation. Though promised a long-lasting kingdom if he followed the Ways of the Lord, this Champion of the Common Man fell into the same idolatry as those before him damning his country for generations.

Jeroboam’s early life was one of pain and misery. His father Nebat, died when Jeroboam was still young (1 Kings 11:26) leaving his mother Zeruah a widow. His mother’s name means “leprous” lending to the theory that he and his mother may have been outcasts in their community, since lepers were thought to be punished publicly by God for heinous sins. Despite these struggles, Jeroboam worked intensely and became known in the kingdom as a mighty man of valor and because he was seen as industrious and a good manager, he was even placed as superintendent over several of Solomon’s building projects (ref. 1 Kings 11:27-28).

But it was during his time working on these large public works projects, paid for through constantly increasing taxes on the people as well as through compulsory labor shifts (ref. 1 Kings 9:15-19) that Jeroboam began to hear the stirrings of revolt against the King. While the expansion of current defensive walls and fortresses to protect the nation’s borders from foreign invaders were sensible and necessary infrastructure improvements that average citizen’s approved of, Solomon also dipped into the public coffers and workforces to build increasingly elaborate palaces and temples for his foreign cultic priestess wives.

The citizenry of Israel were not the only ones who were angry about how Solomon was allocating the wealth of the nation. The Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had commanded him to not go after other gods. But because Solomon did not follow the Lord’s Command, God decreed that He would tear the kingdom away from Solomon and give it to his servant. But for the sake of his father David, God would not split the kingdom during Solomon’s reign, but would wait till his son Rehoboam took office. But the entire kingdom would not leave Solomon’s family, as God decided that at least one tribe would be given to Solomon’s son Rehoboam for the sake of David and Jerusalem (ref. 1 Kings 11:9-13).

As Jeroboam was returning home after having completed his obligatory work on Solomon’s building projects, he came across Ahijah the Prophet of Shiloh, who was wearing a new cloak. Ahijah began a prophetic procession by removing his new cloak and tearing it into twelve pieces, telling Jeroboam to take ten segments for the Lord God of Israel was announcing that He was about to tear the Kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give Jeroboam ten tribes. This was going to happen because Solomon and Jerusalem had abandoned God, bowing, worshiping, and offering sacrifices to the foreign gods that Solomon’s wives had introduced to the nation (ref. 1 Kings 11:29-36).

God would appoint Jeroboam as King over Israel and he would reign over all that his heart desired, but only if he did as God commanded him and walked in obedience to what was right in the Eyes of the Lord. If he obeyed God’s Decrees and Commands as King David had, God would be with Jeroboam and would establish a dynasty as enduring as David’s and Israel would be given to Jeroboam and his family. They would be the instruments God would use to humble David’s family for their unfaithfulness (ref. 1 Kings 11:37-39).

When King Solomon became aware of Ahijah’s prophecy over Jeroboam, Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, who fled to Egypt where he remained hidden for several decades until Solomon’s death (ref. 1 Kings 11:40).

During the coronation to make Solomon’s son Rehoboam king, Jeroboam returned to Israel and joined a delegation sent to ask the new king to reduce the crippling tax and civil service requirements they were placed under. The newly crowned king asked the representatives for three days to make a decision and initially turned to the elders who had served his father King Solomon during his lifetime for their advice (ref. 1 Kings 12:1-6; 2 Chronicles 10:1-6).

The sages wisely suggested that “If today you listen to the people’s appeals and earnestly consider what they are asking and say that their requests are fair and just, you will earn their loyalty and trust forever” (ref. 1 Kings 12:7; 2 Chronicles 10:7).

But the inexperienced king was foolish and rejected the advice of the elders; instead consulting the young men he had grown up with in the palace. He asked his friends mockingly what kind of message to send back to the assembly that had asked him to lighten the people’s taxes?

They instructed King Solomon’s son Rehoboam to respond contemptuously, informing them that the taxes that Solomon had levied against them would seem light compared to the even heavier yoke he would place upon them. They had been scourged with whips during his father’s administration, but he would scourge them with scorpions instead (ref. 1 Kings 12:8-14; 2 Chronicles 10:8-14).

When the tribes of Israel saw that the King had refused to listen to their petitions, they decided to secede for the United Kingdom, with only the tribe of Judah remaining with the House of David, under the rule of Rehoboam. When the king sent Adoram the Minister of National Service to try to force the tribes to continue Solomon’s public works projects, they publicly stoned him and chased King Rehoboam back to Jerusalem (ref. 1 Kings 12:15-18; 2 Chronicles 10:15-18).

Though Jeroboam was crowned king over the Northern Kingdom, just as God had promised and Ahijah had prophesied, Jeroboam became paranoid that if the people fulfilled their obligation to go to Jerusalem and participate in the required feasts, they would desire to rejoin as a single nation again and then they would kill him. After asking for advice, Jeroboam made two golden calves and re-instituted the cultic practices that the early Israelites had learned while enslaved in Egypt, and which he was exposed to during his political asylum.

Jeroboam’s descent into blatant idolatry further extended to him replacing the Levites with his own priestly classes, creating a national religious feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, possibly to challenge the required feasts of Passover and Sukkot (Tabernacles), and building competing religious centers to Jerusalem in Bethel and Dan (ref. 1 Kings 12:26-33).

Prophet Ahijah, the very same man who prophesied that Jeroboam would take the throne over Israel, would later chastise Jeroboam for becoming more evil and corrupt than the idolatrous Solomon before him. Ahijah prophesied that for Jeroboam’s role in turning the Northern Kingdom towards false gods, the throne would be taken from his family and the nation would be captured and sent into exile.

Jeroboam was a man of humble beginnings, who through hard work, rose through the ranks of government and was put in charge of many important building projects. It was there that he heard the cries of the common citizen to stop the building of temples to Solomon’s foreign wives’ gods through the people’s taxes and forced labor. Chosen by God to lead the Northern Kingdom and punish Jerusalem for turning away from Him, Jeroboam instead further introduced greater forms of idolatry, rather than follow the Ways of the Lord. While he was initially praised as the king who rescued the people from a tyrannical king, he is ultimately remembered as the ruler who ruined the soul of his country and began its ultimate destruction.

Prepared by, Kent Simpson, Apostolic Prophet & Eric Sepulveda, PMT Administrator