Called to Prophesy
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. Jeremiah 23:21
suggested further reading: 2 Timothy 4:1–8
“If God is the author of my ministry, then I, though alone, am superior to the whole world. If prophets are not called by God, they may increase a hundredfold in number, but what they speak means nothing, for we must believe in God alone.” That is what Jeremiah seems to be saying here. We now see the reason for his saying that the prophets ran but were not sent; that they prophesied but have received no commands from God.
This passage specifically teaches us that no one is worthy of being heard unless he is a true minister of God. Two things are necessary to prove that: a divine call as well as faithfulness and integrity. So we may safely reject anyone who pushes himself forward, pretending to be a prophet, for God alone may claim the right of being heard.
A simple, naked call is not sufficient for a prophet; he who is called must also faithfully labor in prophesying the words of God. Both are mentioned here, for Jeremiah says the prophets ran, though they were not sent; and they prophesied, though they were without a command from God. The same idea is repeated here in two different Hebrew clauses, but the stronger expression is found in the second clause, for sending properly refers to a call, and commanding refers to the execution of the office.
God, in the first place, chooses his prophets and commits to them the office of teaching. Then he commands them what to say, dictating to them, as it were, his message. Thus a prophet may not declare anything he devises but only be a herald of God’s message.
for meditation: When we hear men speak on behalf of God, how can we know that they are true prophets? Jeremiah says we can tell a prophet is true if he is called by God and speaks with faithfulness and integrity only the words of God. Think of that the next time you listen to someone whose reputation appears to be more important than the message of God’s Word. Most importantly, pray for your church leaders daily, that they might simply be heralds of God’s message.