What is the Book of Ezekiel talking about?
Direct prophecy from God is a very rare occurrence. There is a big difference between giving someone personal advice and claiming to utter a “prophetic word” or divine revelation.
The act of giving a prophetic word is greatly abused in modern Christian culture. Further, there is no way of knowing the integrity or the intent of the person “prophesying.” As with many things in the Christian life, the recipient of a supposed prophetic word must consider the following first..
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5
Always bear in mind that if the prophetic word in any way goes against God’s Word, it should be dismissed completely.
There are some within the Christian faith, predominantly in Charismatic/Pentecostal churches, who view/practice the gift of prophecy as giving personal advice with a “thus says the Lord” presentation. Those who practice personal prophecy in this manner are often not any different from those who portray themselves as psychics. In fact, there are prophetic hotlines as “Christian” alternatives to psychic hotlines. Some in the personal prophecy movement advertise with statements such as “come get your prophetic reading,” again, very similar to the terminology psychics employ. This understanding and practice of the gift of prophecy is completely unbiblical.
Biblically speaking, the gift of prophecy is the Spirit-empowered ability to declare revelation from God (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28). Prophecy sometimes, but not always, involves proclaiming revelation from God in regards to the future. In both the Old and New Testaments, God used prophets and/or the gift of prophecy to reveal truth to people. Prophecy is proclaiming the truth of God, it is special revelation, truth that cannot be discerned by any other means. Through a prophet, God would reveal truth that the people needed to know, and sometimes, that truth would be recorded in written form. This, ultimately, resulted in the Bible, the Word of God, the ultimate special revelation from God.
The completion of the Bible impacts the nature of the gift of prophecy. The Bible contains all the revelation we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). As a result, the gift of prophecy transitioned from primarily being a declaration of new revelation from God, to primarily (or exclusively) being a declaration of what God has already revealed, as recorded in His Word.
This is not to say that God would never give one person a message to deliver to another person. God can, will, and does use people in whatever ways He sees fit. But the fact that the Word of God is perfect and complete means that we are to predominantly rely on it for guidance. We are not to rely on prophets, prophetic hotlines, and prophetic readings. God’s Word contains the truth we need. God’s Word presents the wisdom we need to know to properly apply His truth. Beyond that, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide, comfort, and teach us (Galatians 5:16; Acts 9:31). Using the concept of personal prophecy to gain influence over people and making them dependent on “prophetic guidance” is a blatant distortion of the biblical gift of prophecy. Any time people trust the fallible words of men instead of the infallible Word of God, it is a mistake. Any prophesy that is given MUST come to pass if it is the word of God Himself. If this word does NOT come true, the person speaking such prophesy was NOT speaking as a prophet of God, period.
“And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:21–22