I got an email from somebody yesterday, and I think it would be helpful for me to post this.  Let me know what you think, and if you have anything that I should have added.  Do you agree with my response?  Why or why not?

In order to not reveal names, I’ll summarize the email.  This person went to a conference in which the speaker claimed to have received a word from God.  Apparently, God told the speaker that America would soon experience a famine (physical, as opposed to spiritual), and that we should begin preparing for it.  The speaker went on to say relay that God is moving in judgment against our nation.  It is said that the speaker’s appeared physically sick from having to deliver this message, there was a heaviness in the air, and almost everybody there was crying.

This email was forwarded to me, and I was asked the question, “What do you make of this?”  Here was my response:

 

Thanks for sharing this with me.  To be honest with you, I’m pretty skeptical.  Any time somebody says that they’ve heard a word from God and they’re not talking about having read Scripture, I hesitate to fully buy into what they’re saying.  Without the authority of Scripture, I cannot be certain that what they’re saying is 100% true.  I say that about myself, too, whenever I get hunches and the like…I want to always be pointing myself and others back to Scripture as our unfailing source for truth.  When it can’t be backed up explicitly with Scripture, you’re on shaky ground.  

This kind of falls within the scope of determining God’s will.  If someone said to me, “God told me that you and I need to run a marathon next spring,” I couldn’t definitively tell them that they were wrong.  They could also not definitively tell me that they were 100% right.  So, did God tell my friend to tell me to run in a marathon?  Maybe…but there’s the same likelihood that He didn’t.  So, we’re back to square one.  It was a hunch.  We would need to go back to Scripture:

1) Take care of your physical body (1 Corinthians 6:19).  Running would fall into taking care of my physical body, right?

2) Don’t neglect your family (all kinds of Scriptures telling me to love my wife, care for my children, etc.).  Does running cause me to love my family more?

3) Don’t neglect meeting with the church (Hebrews 10:25).  Do I still have time to regularly meet with others to worship God?

If I could fulfill all of the above, then I may have the freedom to pursue running a marathon…that is, if my knees would hold up!  But I still may not be certain…so I use biblical, God-given wisdom before I move on (Proverbs 8-10 speak of the importance of wisdom; Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:9, 28).  I talk with people who know me and can help me determine if this is what the Lord would want me to do (Proverbs 18:2, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment”).

Ok, so back to the initial email.  Read Matthew 24:4-8:

4Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.

So one point that we can take from this is that when we see wars, rumors of wars, famines, and earthquakes, we know that the end is coming soon.  The only problem with this is that we’ve seen all of these things since the time of Jesus!  The end has been “coming soon” since the time of Jesus!  It should be no shock to us when we see these things, as they’re evidence of living in fallen world.  They certainly do point us to Christ’s coming back, but aren’t helpful in terms of determining an exact time.  

When people claim to know that a famine is coming, I again say that I’m skeptical.  It could be a ploy to get people emotionally connected with the speaker (I’m not accusing this particular speaker of that…just an option to think through).  But since we can’t definitely tell that it was God speaking to _______, we have to say that there’s an equal chance that it was a demon that was speaking to ________.  I don’t mean to get weird with this email, but since there’s no way to be 100% certain that it was God, you must be open to it being from someone else.

If a preacher says, “God has told me to love Him and love others,” I can get on board with that.  (see Matthew 22:36-40).  But if he tells me a famine is coming, I have to throw up the red flag of caution.

Hope this helps.  I pray the Lord’s blessings on you as you exercise biblical discernment.

–Ben

Do you have any further thoughts or contradictions?