Articles

The Gift of Prophetic Insight, by A.W. Tozer
 

 The Gift of Prophetic Insight
By A.W.Tozer

*"Of the sons of Issachar,who understood the times, and knew what Israel
ought to do..." *1 Chron 12:32

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 prophecy.

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