Heavy Are The Shoulders That Wear the Mantle

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Various congregations practice all sorts of titles beyond the recognized pastor, deacon, and elder. They commonly embellish with Minister Doe, Evangelist Jones, Psalmist Lee, and Prophet Smith. The thing is, calling oneself “Prophet Smith” is pretty much an automatic indicator that Brother Smith is no prophet at all.

Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Shemaiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and John never announced themselves as prophet—their status preceded them and was widely known. Called “seers” until the days of Samuel (1Sam 9:9), prophets discern, reveal, interpret, advise, anticipate, foretell, prognosticate, instruct, and rebuke. The Biblical prophet does all of these things, not just one or two of these things which is the difference between the spiritual office and the spiritual gifts enumerated in 1Cor 12:4-11.

An instance of prophecy or psalmistry does not make one a prophet. For example soon-to-be-king Saul “prophesied” under a sudden anointing, but people were skeptical whether he should be regarded as a prophet (1Sam 10:11-12, 19:24). So simply uttering Words of Knowledge and Words of Wisdom does not establish prophethood (consider the talking donkey in Num 22:28-30). People incorrectly conclude that since prophets prophesy, anyone who prophesies must be a prophet. This is faulty modus logic; it is equivalent to saying that mechanics work on engines so the teenager who performs his own tuneup is a mechanic…or…that carpenters build with wood so the dad who builds a treehouse is a carpenter. Dentists and proctologists are both medical doctors who operate on the same pipe but what they do is very, very different.

No biblical prophet relishes the prophet’s mantle. Prophets are scorned, abused, targeted for assassination, and murdered (Ex 10:28; 1Kings 22:8, 22:24; 2Kings 1:9-15, 2:23, 6:13-16, 6:32; 2Chron 18:7, 18:23; Mt 5:12, 14:10, 23:30-31, 23:37; Mk 6:27; Lk 6:23, 9:9, 11:47-50, 13:34; Acts 7:52). People mistreat prophets as if prostitutes, only seeking their counsel when it suits them. The prophet’s office is weighty and wearisome, not unlike that of a pastor (which makes sense since prophets were essentially pastors before the establishment of civil government in 1Sam 8:7). And few congregational pastors would ever confess choosing that avocation of their own volition but rather as obedience to divine appointment. Somehow people intuitively understand that the pastoral mantle is dreadfully unalluring. Those who with a smile call themselves “prophet” know not whereof they speak.

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