One of the main problems to be overcome by many emerging prophetic ministries is the stronghold of rejection. Rejection is a byproduct of Christianity, but it is a special test for those called prophetically. To function in the body of Christ, we must be free from rejection and its companion, the fear of man. The fear of man brings a snare (see Proverbs 29:2 5) and those called prophetically must be free of it. God’s word to Jeremiah is true for those who minister prophetically today.
Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them (Jeremiah 1:17 KJV).
In this verse, the word “confound” means to cause to fall down flat because of fear and confusion. One snare the fear of man brings is confusion. If prophetic people fear those they minister to, confusion will overwhelm them, crippling their ability to minister. Because of the unique nature of the prophetic ministry and the disposition of those God often calls into it, rejection and the fear of man tend to be unusually prevalent in their lives.
The Revolving Door of Rejection
Rejection is widespread among those called prophetically for many reasons. For some, rejection was their launching pad to becoming prophetic. After years of rejection from people, they find God as a Friend who will never leave or forsake them. By spending increasing amounts of time with Him, they begin to know things prophetically as God reveals His secrets to them. When they prophesy what God has revealed, they often experience more rejection, which drives them closer to God. This cycle is then repeated bringing more revelation and more rejection.
Others are called by God to an unusual lifestyle of preparation, including long periods of prayer, fasting, and separation from other people. This can easily lead to misunderstanding and rejection from friends and family. The Lord will place other requirements and restraints on some to prepare them for ministry bringing them more rejection as well. Still others experience rejection as they begin to unknowingly speak prophetically to their friends and family.
Rejection is a specific test for those called prophetically. The Lord’s plan is to deliver us from specific character flaws including anger, fear, and the need for human approval. These character flaws will keep us from fulfilling our ministry. The enemy’s scheme is to reinforce these character flaws in the fabric of our being. Both God and Satan want to accomplish their objectives through rejection. How we respond to rejection determines whose purposes are accomplished.
Understanding and overcoming rejection is especially necessary at this time. Many prophetic people who have been hidden while in preparation are now being accepted by the church. However, being accepted in ministry does not heal the rejection that many harbor. It often does the opposite because they know they are only being accepted for what they can do and not for who they are.
If you are a prophetic person, you must become honest quickly and learn to deal with rejection. If you are a pastor or congregational leader, you must understand these factors to help those under your care who are prophetic. If the emerging prophetic ministry is to fulfill its place, we must all be open and honest in dealing with rejection and its byproducts.
A Dramatic Example
There is a profound example of the need to pass the test of rejection found in 1 Kings 13:1-6. This passage is one of the strangest in the Bible and not readily understood. However, it contains important insights for all those called to prophetic ministry
Now behold, there came a man of God from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, while Jeroboam was standing by the altar to burn incense. And he cried against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, “0 altar, altar, thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you. ”Then he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the Lord has spoken, ‘Behold, the altar shall be split apart and the ashes which are on it shall be poured out.” Now it came about when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar in Bethel, that Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him.” But his hand which he stretched out against him dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was split apart and the ashes were poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. And the king answered and said to the man of God, “Please entreat the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and it became as it was before.
Rejection Part 1 – Anger
Many prophetic people today are angry, and some are even bitter at current leaders due to rejection from previous leaders. We can see that the man of God from I Kings 13 had overcome this character flaw of anger. In verse 6 when the king’s hand withered, he implored the young man to seek God for his healing. This request was from a king who was leading God’s people into idolatry and had just commanded his soldiers to arrest and probably kill the young man!
If this young man had been a bitter, wounded, unhealed prophet, he would have said, “How dare you seek God, you backslidden king! Seek your pagan gods, and see if they can heal you! God will not heal you, seeing you have left Him and have led the people of God astray. From this day, until you are gathered to your fathers, you will not lift up nor stretch forth your hand against any man again.”
But this was not his response. Instead, he sought the Lord, and the Lord restored the king’s hand again. The man of God had overcome rejection in that he did not take the king’s reaction against him personally. Not only was he not angered, but he sought the Lord on behalf of the king. How many of us are willing to seek God on behalf of those who seek our harm? Blessing those who curse us and praying for those who despitefully use and persecute us is a requirement if we want to be like the Lord (see Matthew 5:44-48).
Many today interpret their own anger, born of past rejection, as Gods wrath against others. Even some of Jesus’ disciples struggled with this. When the Samaritans would not allow them to pass through their country James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven and destroy them. Anger has caused many to miss their ultimate calling, including Moses as we have already discussed.
Rejection Part 2 – The Need for Human Approval
Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place.“For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.” So he went another way, and did not return by the way which he came to Bethel. Now an old prophet was living in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the deeds which the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words which he had spoken to the king, these also they related to their father. So he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak; and he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” And he said, “I cannot return with you, nor go with you, nor will I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. “For a command came to me by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water there; do not return by going the way which you came.” And he said to him, “I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.” But he lied to him. So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house and drank water. Now it came about, as they were sitting down at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back; and he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have disobeyed the command of the LORD, and have not observed the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, but have returned and eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which He said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water”; your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers.” And it came about after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, for the prophet whom he had brought back. Now when he had gone, a lion met him on the way and killed him, and his body was thrown on the road, with the donkey standing beside it; the lion also was standing beside the body (I Kings 13:7-11, 14-24 NAS).
Continuing through the story we find our man of God passed another test by refusing a financial reward offered by the king. He also rejected the political opportunity to wine and dine at the king’s table. But later he disobeyed God’s command and turned aside to eat with an old prophet. What caused him to rebuff the king’s lucrative offer, but allowed an old prophet with nothing to offer, to deceive him?
At no point in this saga was the young man of God identified as a prophet. Yet the old prophet referred to him as such in verse 18. This young man, perhaps having endured years of misunderstanding, was now being accepted for who and what he was called to be. Whether it was subtle flattery or genuine encouragement from the old prophet does not matter. The need for acceptance as a prophet caused him to disobey God at the cost of his life.
We cannot look for our honor or acceptance from people. This is one devastating result of the fear of man. Until we are freed from the desire to please men, we are not free to serve God without entanglements. Paul, the apostle, understood that this was the key to being Christ’s slave: “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be the bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 NAS).
Jesus had also spoken this truth when He told the Pharisees, “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? (John 5:44 KJV). It is impossible to have true faith and to obey God without reservation if we are looking to men for honor. This young man full of potential for God, died a premature death because of his need for approval.
Rejection Part 3 – Insecurity
Another thing that caused the man of God to disobey God was insecurity. In 1 Kings 13:18 the old prophet says, “I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord” (NAS). Although he had heard clearly from God to not turn aside, when the old prophet said an angel had spoken to him, the young man was wrongly impressed and discarded what the Lord had said to him. While this may appear to be humility it was really insecurity.
Isn’t an angelic visitation more powerful than a simple word? It is a higher level of revelation, correct? Yes, it is a higher level of revelation, but there was plenty of evidence to show that the young man had heard God clearly. Remember the rent altar, withered hand and other signs? All of these served to confirm the rest of the word, which was to not turn aside with anyone. We are responsible to obey God when He speaks clearly to us, regardless of what others think or say.
We do need to listen to wise and godly counsel, but that is not the issue here. The man of God heard clearly, the rest of the word was confirmed and already fulfilled, and then he directly disobeyed the Lord through insecurity and the need for acceptance. No one in Israel had a more dramatic entrance into prophetic ministry than this man. His end could have been much greater than his beginning, but his life ended prematurely because he was not completely healed of previous rejection
This is possibly the most dramatic introduction of any prophetic person in Israel’s history as one of the most unusual passages in Scripture, it holds key understandings for those called to prophetic ministry.
The Source of Life
Rejection comes so that we might learn what is truly important. When rejection comes to us and affects us, it only reveals that we are trusting in others or their opinions. Instead of being deceived into trying to gain acceptance from those people, we need to recognize that we have fallen from looking to God alone for our acceptance.
Feeling rejected is a wonderful indicator that we have allowed our allegiance to be shifted from God to men. We can quickly repent and even be thankful for the rejection that we experience. If we understand it’s purpose, we can keep our attention focused on God alone for our approval.
There is only One whose approval is unchanging. It is a trap and a snare to receive honor, acceptance, or approval from any person. If our encouragement comes from people, then they are the ones we are worshiping. If it comes from God alone, then He is the focus of our worship and service.
When rejection comes, we should rejoice in God and be thankful that He is delivering us from the fear of man. Do not fall to seeking more approval from other men. Let any feelings of rejection serve to reveal that your heart already has gone astray in looking for acceptance outside of God. Turn back to Him, and you will find an approval so deep that you can obey His will, regardless of the price it may cost.
Adapted from: You May All Prophesy!Steve Thompson