What Happens When It Fails!
By Ima Nkanta
They come in different genres. Some are deliberately delivered to evoke doomsday fears, others very weird, hilarious and laughable prophecies based on trends and occurrences.
We have also had prophecies on politicians seeking elective offices that are merely entertaining. Greedy politicians feast on them to either feather their interests or leverage on them as tools for mudslinging against their opponents.
To what extent these prophecies impact on the victories or failures of political office seekers depend on their sources. While politicians favoured by prophets as divinely anointed to win the elections will hype the prophecy to score some political mileages, those on the negative end will condemn the prophecies.
In his perspective, a poet Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha, observed that political prophecy does have impact on the polity, albeit negative as it drives fear through the spine of those desirous to know what fate hangs over them in the future. “In Nigeria, as a year comes to an end, all kinds of predictions are thrown into the public space,” he said, adding: “The two words –prediction and prophecy – are often used as synonyms. While a prophecy is a message that is claimed by a prophet to have been communicated to them by a deity, a prediction is a forecast, not necessarily of divine origins.”
Eghagha went to criticize so called prophets for preying on the intelligence of gullible politicians to swell their pockets. “Indeed, when some of these ‘prophets’ make screaming headlines through doomsday prophecies, it is to catch the attention of politicians and big businessmen and powerful people,” he stressed.
According to him, politicians, however, powerful have a weak point – fear of death, failure to win elections and the uncertainties of life. And fear pushes them to seek voices beyond the terrestrial to assuage their anxieties. He accused some politicians for doing the most berserk just to forestall negative prophecy from occurring by engaging rituals.
In his words: “The prophets thrive on the innate fears of the powerful. They sell a dummy that what has been foreseen can be averted through burying live cows or slaughtering virgins or sacrificing their beloved ones or some equally spurious requirement.”
Blaming power drunk politicians for the widespread of political prophets, Eghagha said; “Being in power creates its own uncertainties, its own fears and worries. The powerful man also knows how limited his power is over control of the future. No one who is in power wants to fail or leave in disgrace. So, they seek for voices.”
A theologian, Craig Keener, who is a professor of biblical studies argued over the accuracy of political prophecy, noting that “in many elections, prophecies are more than 50/50 guesses.”
He frowned at prophets who rushed to the media with prophecies on an election, when they really didn’t hear from God but a mere product of conjecture.
Keener said: “Whether from false prophets or not, very public mistaken prophecies risk great dishonor to God’s name and must be treated especially seriously. People already apt to mock Christians can find more grounds for ridicule.”
Keener went on to describe such prophets in biblical term as presumptuous. “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken, that prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed,” Deut 18:22.
But a Catholic priest, Justine Dyikuk and lecturer in mass communication outrightly dismissed political prophecy as fake, arguing that the economic difficulties faced by many Nigerians, has given rise to political prophets for their own selfish gains.
He said: “These are not genuine prophets; they are just psychologists preying on the mind of unsuspecting people. They are just entrepreneurs who are in there for profit.”
In the build-up of 2023 elections, many clergymen awash the media space with all sorts of prophecies about their preferred candidates who they insisted were divinely anointed to succeed the incumbent.
In Akwa Ibom State, for instance, stakes were very high. While the incumbent governor had insisted God showed him Pastor Umo Eno as his successor, politicians who disagreed with the governor, yielded themselves to some renowned clergymen as their prophets.
A prominent clergy caused a major upset when he gathered more than a dozen prophets in clerical attires, embellished with Jewish prayer tunic, to present and anoint Senator Bassey Albeit Akpan as the successor to Udom Emmanuel.
That same week when the gubernatorial election was held, Pastor Umo Eno was declared winner of the election with a wide margin. The election was applauded by international and local observers as free and fair; leaving Senator Bassey Albeit Akpan in the limbo.
Just as Akwa Ibomites were preparing for the March 18, 2023 elections, another prophet tore the social media apart by declaring God told him the same Senator Bassey Albeit Akpan will be the next governor of Akwa Ibom State. He boasted that if the senator was not sworn in, according to his prophecy, his right hand should be cut off. The prophet, Philip Osung has since gone into hiding, as many in the social media called for the chopping off of his hand.
Akan Okon, a former commissioner in Akwa Ibom State who lost the gubernatorial primaries to Pastor Umo Eno of PDP has been driven by political prophecy to venture into all manners of litigations against Pastor Umo Eno. Having exploited all available legal means up to the Supreme Court to no avail, Akan Okon hasn’t given up. His prophet has since assured him he would win in courts to become the governor of Akwa Ibom State. Recent media reports indicated he was back to Supreme Court to file legal processes to enable the apex court review her judgment against his interest.
How the church fares when political prophecy fails
The church is described as the ground and pillar of truth (1Timothy 3:15.) Failure of political prophecy to come true within the bounds of time is tagged as false prophecy, raising the following concerns:
One of the most probed institutions is the church. As powerful as she is, the church has become near helpless in the face of persecution, mudslinging and violence. To survive satanic onslaught launched against her by other religions; integrity of the church has been the defense. Until very recently, church leaders were held in high esteem. As churn out prophecies that were later found to be false, the church is gradually losing honour and her integrity brought under questioning.
Craig Keener writes: “Whether from false prophets or not, very public mistaken prophecies risk great dishonor to God’s name and must be treated especially seriously.”
Integrity is the foundation of trust and trust is what enable our audience accept our gospel. Stephen Covey says: “When you trust people, you have confidence in them — in their integrity and in their abilities.”
According to the scriptures, God hates lies being decorated as prophecy or falsehoods given a prophetic authority – as we see today.
In Jeremiah 23:9-12, God came down to question the integrity of the prophets who prophesied lies.
Division in the body
Political prophecy is a dangerous tool the enemy uses to cause disunity in the body of Christ. Those who engage political prophecy, even when it violates biblical principle of examining prophecy for correctness, do so for personal purposes rather than for unity of the body.
In his citation in the Theology of Israel’s Prophetic Traditions, Von Rad pointed out that, “An alleged spirit-inspired prophetic word given to the church is fallible if it is not critically evaluated by the diverse church community.” Such unevaluated prophecies left to go public will ultimately cause division instead of leading to peace and restoration of the body.
Biblical pulsate for prophecy in the body is for purposes of edification, exhortation and comfort of the body. 1 Corinthians 14:3 (KJV) “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” But Von Rad observes: “The predictions of false prophets create anxiety, fear and distress for those who hear them. Much of what we hear today has no paraklesis or comfort, nor offers corrections that edify the church or inspire the transformation of personal or social issues. If the words given by the prophets do not reflect truths that build up, rather than tear down, they are manipulative and socially dangerous.”
Many churches have suffered serious setbacks due to political prophecy that has not come to pass.
Greed and avarice
Nothing motivates today’s political prophets more than money and avaricious living, just like in the old testament days when a weird seer, prophet Balaam got intertwined with greediness for gains to insist on helping the adversary defeat Israel. King Balak of Moab had hired Balaam for an irresistible fee to make prophetic curses potent enough to deter Israel from advancing forward.
Jude 1:10-11 (KJV) denounces Balaam’s crave for avarice. “But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”
Paul also warns against too much exposure to money to the extent that we begin to idolize it. 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Zeno warns on danger of avarice, the insatiable desires for wealth, however dubious its approach to getting it. This is why Zeno warns that, “The avaricious man is like the barren sandy ground of the desert which sucks in all the rain and dew with greediness, but yields no fruitful herbs or plants for the benefit of others.”
The crave for wealth and fame has increased persecutions against genuine pastors, as critics boldly attacks biblical tithes and prosperity of the church, urging Christians not to pay tithes and first fruits, etc.
Strangely, some hyper grace teachers have cashed in on this to wage ceaseless onslaught against the traditional giving principles of the kingdom. Their central message is that pastors are taking advantage of the flock to amass wealth, to the detriment of the poor church folks. This front has further worsens divisions in the body and impede church growth, particularly the small congregations that depend largely on the giving of members.
The red flag here is that the flamboyant lifestyle of modern political prophets is attracting in droves young ministers into the political prophesying, and if the next generation of ministers are all prophets then who will be the evangelists, the pastors, the teachers? Isn’t the complete ministry gifts and offices in jeopardy?
“For, false Christ and false prophets shall arise, and shall show signs and wonders to seduce if it were possible, even the elect, “Mark 13:22. No other time in the church age has heresies spread faster than now. And this is fuelled by penchant for miracles, riches and power more than salvation of souls, sanctification and self-denial as precursors for a godly lifestyle of a believer. For the political prophets, salvation messages have been replaced with messages that evoke fear; they prophesy impending loss of political office to the opponents, except by undergoing some spiritual rituals so prescribe by them, howsoever unbiblical.
Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Obedience Olakunori observed: “Many of these false prophets and teachers operate with marine powers, thereby representing Queen of Coast. Some are occultic, using various charms and pretending to be pastors, men of God, even Bishops with all sort of titles, some are dogs that go back to their vomit 2Peter 2:22b.”
Extrapolating on the characteristics of heretical teachers, an English puritan preacher and writer, Thomas Brooks stated, “False teachers make merchandise of their followers.”
‘But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not’ (2 Peter 2:1-3).
Brooks added: “They eye your goods more than your good; and mind more the serving of themselves, than the saving of your souls. So they may have your substance, they care not though Satan has your souls (Rev. 18:11-13). That they may the better pick your purse, they will hold forth such principles as are very indulgent to the flesh. False teachers are the great worshippers of the golden calf (Jer. 6:13).”
Political prophesying risks the judgment of God, now and in the future. Jude 1:14-16 (KJV) writes: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.”
If stories we hear of how people who sold their souls to the devil for fame and wealth through diabolical influence, miserably die in their prime, then anyone who finds himself deceiving people through prophesying, should better beat a retreat to righteousness and true faith in the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood.