Gideon D. Asche
Years ago, I was on a trip to Dallas to meet with a woman named Freda Lindsey, and I found myself in the right place at the right time for her to introduce me to a small, unassuming man from Britain, who Freda told me was a prophet.
My first internal response was to say; Ya…Right, Sure he’s “a prophet,” and I’m emperor of the North pole. I would never disrespect Freda, so I politely shook the man’s hand and went on my way.
Freda wasn’t a woman to trifle with. She had incredible knowledge and understanding of scripture. I don’t think she feared anything but disappointing God.
Her late husband was a well-known Evangelist and Preacher in the 1940’s. By the time I met Freda, she had helped build over 6000 churches of various denominations around the globe and founded 3 Bible colleges, one of them in Dallas.
In short, she wasn’t naïve or easily duped and was the wrong person to argue scripture with.
Yet she honestly believed this man to be a modern-day prophet. Bemused, I didn’t understand how she could be so well educated and still buy into the “prophet’s” story. I, on the other hand, saw right through him.
A day or two later, I had lunch with Freda. As hard as I tried; I couldn’t resist questioning the “Prophet’s” qualifications. Freda quickly educated me to the fact prophecy is a complicated gift not limited to the foretelling of future events or calling down fire like Elijah did.
An equally important aspect of prophecy is simply the “telling-forth” of God’s intentions or desires. Literally, speaking out God’s words directly to the one God is trying to get His message to. Usually, because the target audience isn’t paying attention.
She asked if I had ever heard of Nathan and King David. I have a degree in Theology, so I am more than just familiar with the Law and the Prophets. She told me this British guy was more like Nathan; his words were personal and direct.
Freda wove scriptural references all through her explanation of prophecy and where it fell in the big picture. I asked how she could tell if a prophet was a legitimate prophet, and what makes her think there are still prophets in the world. I offered up my own spontaneous prophecy about who was paying for lunch, ending with… “Thus sayeth the Lord.” Freda’s expression told me to quit acting the fool.
To the question of how she knew prophets were active today, she responded.
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7
She told me a legitimate prophet is never wrong and stressed that in the old days if a prophet turned out to be wrong they “threw rocks at him until he was dead,” citing Deuteronomy 18:20-22. Death was a little extreme, so I was glad it turned out my personal prophecy was fulfilled. She paid for lunch.
I must admit if I had the opportunity to go back in time and become any one of the great prophets: Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel – Nathan would be my last choice.
Nathan didn’t get to perform any great miracles or predict a great victory or even anoint a king. He didn’t offer Israel redemption for some act of disobedience or lead God’s army in battle. No; God sent Nathan into the private chambers of the most powerful man on earth with a message that would anger him instead.
How would you like to have been the one who drew that mission?
A mission to tell the King you know him as an adulterer; tell the King his unborn son wouldn’t survive. A mission to tell the King that tragedy and pain would reside in his house for the rest of the King’s days….. Not me! Nope; I think I’d prefer to be a prophet in the style of Samuel or even Ezekiel, it would be much safer.
Many theologians believe Nathan may have been a close blood relation to the King, possibly the son of one of Jesse’s other sons, giving him access to King David as his uncle, but that wouldn’t protect Nathan from the King’s wrath.
King David had just ordered his most loyal General (Uriah the Hittite) be left to die in battle. He did it for no other reason than to prevent revealing the sin for which Nathan was now openly rebuking the King. All the king had to do was deny the accusation, declare Nathan as a false prophet and the problem and Nathan would disappear.
Nathan had no knowledge of David’s sin, he only knew God’s words and that he was to speak them to David. He must have been exceptionally confident that God was behind him.
The day finally came for the British “Prophet” to speak at a small Bible College in South Dallas. I was Freda’s personal guest, so a student usher escorted me to a prime seat, close enough to see the man’s face. I figured I was well enough trained that I could gauge his sincerity; look for telltale signs of making it up as he goes along.
I even brought a notepad so I could make notes of his errors and mention them in the inevitable discussion about his speech. I was of the opinion that few things had damaged Christianity more than False Prophets and False Messiahs.
I was intent on making my educated, well-founded, opinion known.
The service began with a good 45 minutes of song and worship. Twenty-five-hundred people singing and praying in unison was impressive; I could see how it would prepare a person to accept this man as a prophet. These people wanted to believe anyway. The battle was already won.
I waited eagerly as the man came on stage. He walked up to the lectern, which was set way too high for him, making him even less impressive to look at. The entire place went silent; he didn’t have anything in his hands, no notes.
I wondered to myself, “Is he gonna wing it. Maybe go from memory or make it up as he goes along?” I considered this a point in his favor. A prophet shouldn’t need notes.
He asked someone to hand him a Bible, and a person in the front row handed him the book. He didn’t open it, he just spoke. He held it like it was a sword and spoke as if he was wielding one. I expected this part; they all put on a good show, but his words; it was his words that took me by surprise.
He explained the Word of God is clear about false prophecy, there is no place in the Body for prophecy based on anything but God’s words. I figured he was gonna prepare the field, plant the seeds of belief before he “prophesied.”
A clever man, this British prophet – I had to chuckle inside. He returned the bible to the front row and addressed the Auditorium with a simple message.
“Sorry Mates, God didn’t tell me to say anything to you.”
He left the stage as an audible disappointment filled the place. Me, I was impressed and a little in shock. Something told me this guy might be the real deal.
He hung around for a couple of days and prophesied to various individuals he ran into on campus. The next day, I ran into him. I was crossing the field between the Library and main chapel on campus when he stopped me.
He looked at me and said. “Fear… that’s what’s in yer eyes mate. He says… let it go; you have no reason to fear what is ahead… He says He will be with you … You will know it is Him; you will see His hand.”
I wanted to laugh and tell him I was a visitor not a student and ask why he didn’t just say that from the stage. Something so generic would be swallowed whole by 90% of the audience as a personal word to them. They’d all believe he was a “prophet.” Why waste it on me?
The Prophet left as swiftly as he came up, I never had a chance to respond. I’m sure I exhibited that classic bovine expression, my wife says I’m known for, as he walked away.
No one but I knew I was between assignments, or that my upcoming field posting, my first field assignment, was in a place my boss called “unhealthy for our kind.” I was terrified. I didn’t think I showed it but it was clear this man could
read me like the funny papers.
What I took home with me from all that was pretty basic.
#1 Prophesy is not a calling I would garner, and
#2 Anyone claiming to be a prophet must be vetted by scripture and the accuracy of their words.
But… if God calls you to speak for Him – Speak for Him.
He’ll give you the words, and you might even save yourself a Whale Ride.
A few years later the man’s words came back to me. It was on the side of a road in the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic. I saw God step into an untenable situation, prevent a firefight that we would have lost, and provide a way out that can only be attributed to Him.