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By the stripes of the prophet

By Femi Aribisala

As a new believer, the Lord asked me one of his intriguing questions.  He said: “Femi, would you like to be a prophet?”

I did not answer.  The last thing I wanted to be was a prophet.  I saw no glory in it but problems and difficulties.  Later, I addressed the question indirectly.  I told the Lord I did not want the ministry of Isaiah.  To me, Isaiah’s ministry is frustrating.  He is called to preach to people who will not receive his word.

Femi Aribisala

God says: “Go and speak this message to the people: ‘You will listen and listen, but never understand. You will look and look, but never see. Make these people stubborn! Make them stop up their ears, cover their eyes, and fail to understand. Don’t let them turn to me and be healed.’” (Isaiah 6:9-10).

Little did I know that Isaiah’s is the only ministry for preachers.

Lack of Credentials

The calling of a prophet does not arise from a careers advisory council.  The wise men asked: “Where is he that is born king of the Jews?”  Jesus was not born: Jesus is born.  He is born every day in the hearts and minds of believers.

Similarly, a prophet is born and not man-made.  God says to Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5).

False prophets graduate from the schools of the prophets.  They have scholarly degrees in Divinity.  They are widely-accepted and welcome in Aso Rock.  They tell the people and the powers-that-be what they want to hear.

But the true prophets are a completely different kettle of fish.  They have no earthly credentials.  They learn at the feet of the Lord himself in the School of the Holy Spirit.  This puts them inevitably at loggerheads with the establishment who question and challenge their authority. (Matthew 21:23).

Amos says: “I was no prophet, nor was I a prophet’s son. But I was a herdsman and a gatherer from sycamore trees. And Jehovah took me from behind the flock, and Jehovah said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” (Amos 7:14-15).

Training ground

They are not all prophets that are prophets.  Most of the prophets so-called today are self-made.  Jesus warns: “Watch out for false prophets! They dress up like sheep, but inside they are wolves who have come to attack you. You can tell what they are by what they do.” (Matthew 7:15-16).

The prophet of God is emptied of self.  Moses spent forty years cocooned in the wilderness.  The Lord takes us through the fire so that we may know we cannot be burned.  He takes us through the waters so that we may know that we cannot drown.

The earthquakes and tsunami floods are breeding grounds for many a prophet.  A thousand may fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand, but we are preserved for a special purpose in God.

The true prophet is bereft of personal agenda.  He is not allowed to have a life of his own.  God instructed Hosea to marry a prostitute in order to send through him the message of Israel’s unfaithfulness and harlotry.  Jeremiah was denied the comforts of marriage.

Ezekiel was bereaved of his beloved wife as a sign to Israel.  Isaiah also had his message written on the papyrus of his life.  He says: “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel.” (Isaiah 8:18).

Proverbial Jonah

One day, after reading the prophets far into the night, I finally told the Lord I was going to bed.  But not before engaging him on the mind-boggling issue of Jonah.  I said: “Father, how did you keep a man alive in the belly of a fish? Your ways are truly unsearchable.”

I went upstairs into my bedroom.  As soon as my body touched the bed, the heavens were opened.  To my astonishment, I found myself under the sea-bed, enclosed in an air bubble.  I watched as the procession of an incredible array of fishes of different designs and architecture floated past, all in supernaturally deep colours; brightly lit by an invisible light.

There I was, a proverbial Jonah in the belly of a fish.  The message was simple even though I was slow, as usual, on the uptake.  When God calls you as a prophet to preach to Nineveh, you don’t decline and go to Tarshish instead.

Healing stripes

The life of a prophet is his ministry.  God requires the two to be identical.  He said to me: “Femi, nothing that will ever happen to you will be coincidental.  Nothing will ever happen to you by happenstance.  Everything that will happen in your life will happen for a reason.”

Therefore, if a lady is called to a healing ministry, ask her what major sickness has ever befallen her.  At any rate, there must have been a miracle healing in her life.  If a man claims to be in a deliverance ministry, ask him how many demons came out of him.

The prophet’s messages come out of his life.  They are fashioned from his day-to-day experiences.  They are the product of the strange, painful and exacting ways whereby God touches every facet of our lives and brings us to nothing.

But more than anything else, a true prophet is a burden-bearer.  We are weighed down by the transgressions we decry; frustrated in the knowledge that few will believe our report.

Isaiah writes: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5).

This scripture is messianic.  But it is also referring to the prophetic ministry in general.  I used to read messianic scriptures and relate them exclusively to Christ.  Until one day, the Lord spoke one directly to me.  I thought: “But this is talking about Jesus.”  But the Lord said to me: “Femi, it is also talking about you.”

I presumed this meant I would travel the world as an itinerant preacher, but that was not the Lord’s intention.  Fifteen years after I received the word, the World Wide Web came of age and I started writing articles of faith on internet posts.  Suddenly, I discovered I could be an itinerant preacher even while sitting in my bedroom.

If you are reading this, then this scripture the Lord spoke into my life is fulfilled in your hearing:

“Listen, O coastlands, to me, and take heed, you peoples from afar! The LORD has called me from the womb; from the matrix of my mother he has made mention of my name.  And he has made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he has hidden me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver he has hidden me.  And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified’” (Isaiah 49:1-3).


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