On Understanding the Times, by A.W. Tozer

 The Gift of Prophetic Insight
A.W. Tozer

Excerpted from Of God and Men

" Of the sons of Issachar, who had understanding of the times, to
know what Israel
ought to do..." 1 Chronicles
12 : 32

A prophet is one who knows his times and what God is trying to say to
the people of his times. What God says to His church at any given
period depends altogether upon her moral and spiritual condition and
upon the spiritual need of the hour. Religious leaders who continue
mechanically to expound the Scriptures without regard to the current
religious situation are no better than the scribes and lawyers of
Jesus' day who faithfully parroted the Law without the remotest notion
of what was going on around them spiritually. They fed the same diet
to all and seemed wholly unaware that there was such a thing as meat
in due season. The prophets never made that mistake nor wasted their
efforts in that manner. They invariably spoke to the condition of the
people of their times.

Today we need prophetic preachers; not preachers of prophecy merely,
but preachers with a gift of prophecy. The word of wisdom is missing.
We need the gift of discernment again in our pulpits. It is not
ability to predict that we need, but the anointed eye, the power of
spiritual penetration and interpretation, the ability to appraise the
religious scene as viewed from God's position, and to tell us what is
actually going on.

There has probably never been another time in the history of the world
when so many people knew so much about religious happenings as they do
today. The newspapers are eager to print religious news; the secular
news magazines devote several pages of each issue to the doings of the
church and the synagogue; a number of press associations gather church
news and make it available to the religious journals at a small cost.
Even the hiring of professional publicity men to plug one or another
preacher or religious movement is no longer uncommon; the mails are
stuffed with circulars and "releases," while radio and television join
to tell the listening public what religious people are doing
throughout the world.
Greater publicity for religion may be well and I have no fault to find
with it. Surely religion should be the most newsworthy thing on earth,
and there may be some small encouragement in the thought that vast
numbers of persons want to read about it. What disturbs me is that
amidst all the religious hubbub hardly a voice is raised to tell us
what God thinks about the whole thing.

Where is the man who can see through the ticker tape and confetti to
discover which way the parade is headed, why it started in the first
place and, particularly, who is riding up front in the seat of honor?
Not the fact that the churches are unusually active these days, not
what religious people are doing, should engage our attention, but why
these things are so. The big question is Why? And no one seems to have
an answer for it. Not only is there no answer, but scarcely is there
anyone to ask the question. It just never occurs to us that such a
question remains to be asked. Christian people continue to gossip
religious shoptalk with scarcely as much as a puzzled look.

The soundness of current Christianity is assumed by the religious
masses as was the soundness of Judaism when Christ appeared. People
know they are seeing certain activity, but just what it means they do
not know, nor have they the faintest idea of where God is or what
relation He has toward the whole thing.

What is needed desperately today is prophetic insight. Scholars can
interpret the past; it takes prophets to interpret the present.
Learning will enable a man to pass judgment on our yesterdays, but it
requires a gift of clear seeing to pass sentence on our own day. One
hundred years from now historians will know what was taking place
religiously in this year of our Lord; but that will be too late for
us. We should know right now.

If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation it must be by other means
than any now being used. If the church in the second half of this
century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first
half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-
the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of
man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions,
nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the
Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried
and found wanting.

Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of
the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard
a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will be
not one but many) he will stand in flat contradiction to everything
our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict,
denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and
opposition of a large segment of Christendom. Such a man is likely to
be lean, rugged, blunt-spoken and a little bit angry with the world.
He will love Christ and the souls of men to the point of willingness
to die for the glory of the one and the salvation of the other. But he
will fear nothing that breathes with mortal breath.

We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the church,
and it is my belief that the one gift we need most now is the gift of