Lately I’ve received a couple e-mails from self-proclaimed prophets who are “prophesying” about the U.S., the elections, and the state of the world. This isn’t unusual – I tend to receive these anytime we’re facing a transition – like every New Years.

Here are my thoughts on these emails, acknowledging that I lifted much of this analysis from Dawn (I agree with her completely).

1) I’m always skeptical of these things when I don’t know the person. Not that they’re not true, but we are admonished to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” and to be vigilant about the “many false prophets” who have gone out into the world. (See 1 Jn 4)

2) I’m always leery of prophets who start off their prophecies by establishing their credentials as a Prophet. Prophets must always be in a submitted position and operate out of submission to a higher authority. That authority person is the one that introduces the prophet as such and will call them a prophet. The prophet should never refer to themselves as the prophet or a prophet. Not only does this reflect a position of independence/non-submission, but it also opens the door for pride to enter (God won’t speak through a person who is prideful). If someone in fact claims to be a ‘Prophet,’ then that means that we can in turn judge them and their prophecy according to OT law. That means we can stone them if the prophecy doesn’t come to pass. This is why it is a really good practice to learn to say “this may be me or this may be God” If you say “This is the word of the Lord”…you better be prepared.

It’s important to note that a ministry position of a Prophet is different than giving a prophetic word. Those who are acknowledged as (or claim themselves to be) Prophets are referring to the ministry position (see Eph 4). Anyone who is in Christ can give a prophetic word (see 1 Cor 12); but few people have the ministry position of a Prophet.

3) The prophet’s job is to deliver a message that edifies or builds up the person (whether a Prophet or someone giving a prophetic word; see 1 Cor. 14:3). There may be a harsh reality to the word but in the end there is a place for repentance and an opportunity to return to God.

4) You will be able to judge a prophet by their fruit. This is why when someone I trust speaks a word to me I am more open to receiving it. Whereas when someone who’s life is not right and they are not submitted speaks I cannot not truly rely on their word.

5) A prophetic word could be for a person, a church, a community, a people group, the Church, or a nation. It’s important to ask for godly wisdom and discernment in evaluating and applying prophetic words because, for example, a word delivered to our church doesn’t necessarily apply to the church down the road.