Apostasy
The turning from and opposing of one’s former religion.
Manifestation
A demonstration or expression, or a supernatural appearance and show of power.
Second Advent
The Second Coming of Christ. He will return with His angels to take His people home to heaven.
Millerites
Nineteenth-century followers of William Miller’s teachings which included the belief that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would occur around 1843.
The Fox Sisters
Three New York women of the 1800s—Kate, Leah, and Margaret Fox—who played an important role in the formation of the modern Spiritualist movement.
The Gift of Prophecy in "the Time of the End"
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
Summary: Biblical prophecies show us that the spiritual gift of prophecy was to have a resurgence in our recent history.
 
This article is part of a series. We recommend that you first read: Prophecy: God's Guiding Gift.
 

The Gift of Prophecy in the Time of the End

In the book of Revelation, God gave us a picture of His true Church in our time, also called the remnant:

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17).

The remnant keeps the commandments of God, and the law is therefore restored in its fullness. As prophets of God need to live and speak in harmony with God's law, the true gift of prophecy can only occur if the law forms an integral part of the theology of the prophet. One of the identifying features of the remnant of God is the Spirit of Prophecy. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.

And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10 NKJV).

Christ warns against false prophets in the last days who will mislead God's people. As we are also admonished to test the spirits and to hold on to what is good, it is vital that we apply the criteria provided to test the prophets in our time.

The Recent History of the Gift of Prophecy

After the death of the apostles, prophets enjoyed respect in many circles until 300 AD, but the decline of spirituality in the Church and the resulting apostasy led to a diminishing of both the presence and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, false prophets caused a loss of confidence in the prophetic gift.

The decline of the prophetic gift during certain periods of Church history did not mean that God had withdrawn the gift permanently. The Bible indicates that as the end approaches, this gift will be present to assist the Church through these difficult times. More than that, Scripture even points to an increased activity of this gift.

Before the First Advent of Christ, God gave the gift of prophecy to John the Baptist to prepare the way for His coming. In a similar way, the prophetic gift must be restored before the Second Advent, so that everyone will have the opportunity to prepare to meet their Saviour.

Christ mentions the rise of false prophets as one of the signs that His coming is near (Matthew 24:11, 24). If there were to be no true prophets during the time of the end, Christ would have warned against anyone claiming that gift. His warning against false prophets implies that there would be true prophets as well.

The Former and Latter Rain

The prophet Joel predicted a special outpouring of the prophetic gift just prior to Christ's return:

And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth; blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come (Joel 2:28-31).

 CC BY-ND 2.0 Tim on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/lindenbaum/317316893

Pentecost saw a remarkable manifestation of the Spirit. Peter, citing Joel's prophecy, pointed out that God had promised such blessings (Acts 2:21). However, Joel's prophecy did not reach complete fulfillment at Pentecost, as the "great and terrible day of the Lord" is a reference to the Second Coming of Christ.

Pentecost, then, was a foretaste of the full manifestation of the Spirit before the Second Advent. Like Palestine's early rain, which fell in the autumn shortly after the crops were planted, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is the spiritual early rain, which was to nurture the fledgling Church. The complete and final fulfillment of Joel's prophecy corresponds to the latter rain, which, falling in the spring, ripened the grain (Joel 2:23). Likewise, the final bestowal of God's Spirit will take place just before the Second Advent after the predicted signs in the sun, moon, and stars:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come (Joel 2:31, see also Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6:12-17).

Like the latter rain, this final outpouring of the Spirit will ripen the harvest of the earth (Matthew 13:30, 39), and "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Joel 2:32).

Joel's prophecy regarding the darkening of the sun and the falling of the stars was fulfilled in the unexplained Dark Day of New England of May 19, 1780. Then, on November 13, 1833, the world witnessed the greatest meteoric event in recorded history when meteors lit up the sky, falling at an estimated rate of 200,000 per hour.

These unusual signs signified the beginning of the time of the end. It was during this time that the Millerites were studying Bible prophecy and discovering the truth about the end of time. As the Millerites studied Scripture, and especially the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel, they realized that these phenomena were linked to the prophecies about last-day events.

Movements Arising in the Mid-1800s

As the world neared the final years of Earth's history, God was not the only one awakening in many an interest for His Word. Satan was also at work to detract from the significance of the times ahead. Satan has always been an ardent student of the Bible. He has had ample opportunity to learn God's plan for His people and to devise a counterstrategy.

During the 1800s, there was a resurgence of prophetic claims and many movements were founded by various false prophets. It has always been Satan's strategy to confound true issues by creating numerous diversions to hide the truth. God has always used prophets to support His people and to lead them into a fuller understanding of His truth. God's prophets are never sent to start new movements that contradict God's truths already given. Nevertheless, many such movements arose in and around 1844:

A group of Shakers. Public Domain https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_group_of_Shakers.jpg...

1. The Mormon movement, headed by their prophet Joseph Smith (1805-1844), who claimed to have received many revelations from God. Some of these revelations led to abhorrent practices, such as baptism for the dead and polygamy. Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob in 1844 while he was waiting trial.

2. The Shakers featured prominently during this period and followed their prophet, Ann Lee, who claimed to be Christ incarnate in woman's flesh. They believed in the dual (father-mother) personality of God and practiced a communal form of life in which spiritism formed an integral part. Read about Christian Science, another movement that sprung up in the mid-19th century and held to spiritism and a father-mother view of God

3. Modern spiritism commenced in 1848 with the Fox sisters and made communication with the dead fashionable.

4. The modern New Age movement traces its roots to many so-called prophets who also arose during this crucial time period.

All these movements are based on revelations which modify the Word of God to suit their needs. But God does not change:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created (James 1:17-18 NIV).

So did a true prophet arise tin preparation for the time of the end that fulfills the Biblical criteria of the prophet and upholds the true Word of God? Read the next article, A Prophet for the Remnant, to find out.

This article is adapted from Truth Matters by Professor Walter J. Veith, an international speaker who has studied Biblical issues in-depth in his quest for truth. His popular series Genesis Conflict brings the debate between Creation and evolution to a new climax as he dissects the arguments with a scientific eye. His highly-acclaimed series Total Onslaught sheds light on the state of the world today as we move to a one-world government and an anticipated apocalypse.
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