Whenever you utter some prognosis – and perhaps call this prophecy – you better also think about what effect your words really have. Psychology has a technical term called: self-fulfilling prophecy. It means that your statement of what would happen might be actually instrumental in bringing about what you have announced.
Imagine a father who tells his children they would never make good progress in their lives. These negative words could easily discourage children. Such words are just the opposite of what children need to be bold and successful.
Here is a story from the bible. Moses had climbed a high mountain to meet with God. He had left the people of Israel in the desert. We are not told for how long he actually was away.
Moses was with God. We learn that God had given Moses two tablets of stone. God had written his commandments on these tablets with his own hands. (cf. Exodus 32:15+16). Undoubtedly Moses had a great time in the presence of God. It was an important event.
While still on the mountain God spoke to Moses. He told him that the Israelites had turned away from God’s commandments. They had made a golden calf and had declared it to be their god. Moses heard the following words: “Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” (Exodus 32:10/NIV).
Moses could have said fine, I want to have descendants that become a great nation. He could have resigned from being the leader of the Israelites. He could have told them: “God is going to destroy you all!” Fatal dangers were multitude in the desert. An authoritative word of discouragement could easily have led to catastrophic events.
Yet Moses did remember his God-given responsibility even at that time. He did not immediately go off spreading the most negative kind of prophetic message. He was careful. He was much closer to the heart of God than to seek greatness for his own children.
Moses started to pray and intercede for the Israelites. He began to entreat God: God had delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians by his mighty hand. Was God going to give the Egyptians reason to mockery? He prayed: “Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel to whom you swore by your own self: I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky…” (Exodus 32:12b+13/NIV).
Moses was not quick to carry a negative prophetic message. He decided to pray on behalf of the people. He heard God’s words but he also had in mind what God had previously done for his people. He recalled God’s great promises for this nation.
Moses reaction and attitude is a great example for us. When it comes to hearing God’s voice and to prophetic utterance we ought to pray and recall God’s previous words (in the bible).
Had Moses done otherwise, his life responsibility of leading the Israelites could have ended in dismal failure. It would have been shameful for Moses himself.
This reminds me of St. Paul’s words: “If I have the gift of prophecy…, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2/NIV). Please think of these words, whenever uttering a negative prognosis should be an option!