In Reply to: Re: Failed prophecy posted by Ancaru on March 07, 2006 at 09:08:23:
Thanks for that lead, Ancaru. I’ve provided some excerpts from that letter, with a few of my comments thrown in. I find the reasoning Zerby uses here quite illogical and self-serving. No matter how false or unfulfilled a particular prophecy is, they always find an convenient explanation, usually based on a lone biblical example, that doesn’t upset their theological position. I’m still searching for something more recent from them on the subject, which I’ll post once I find it.
THE "JONAH PHENOMENON!" --Why Dad took off for Heaven despite prophecies that said he'd stick around!--By Maria #252 DO 2969 11/94
[Note from Perry: An hour before Berg died, people in his own household prophecied that he would be healed. And people in other homes were receiving “prophecies” about his healing even after he was already dead]
2. I don't think that the prophecies that seemed to indicate that Dad would be healed here on this earth are a result of the people who gave them being off the track. Just an hour before Dad went to be with the Lord, even when some of our staff here knew how serious things were, quite a few of them received similar indications that Dad would be raised up and healed.--Things that seemed to very much point toward a physical healing right here and now on this earth. So it did occur to me that it was quite unusual that quite a few people on our staff as well as those at another unit had gotten prophecies that seemed to be going in the opposite direction of what actually happened.
5. Our people here have never had problems with getting off the track in their prophecies. [What a joke! Receiving prophecies from fictional characters or from someone still alive, eg, Art Linkletter.] So I believe that these were straight from the Lord, and that the Lord had a very good reason for giving them.--And as I say, I don't think it was to deceive us or hide Dad's homegoing from us. At that point in time, the Lord would not have been trying to cover things up or hide Dad's passing from us here. So what's the answer?
6. Well, the only thing I can think of is something that sounds so "natural" and so typically "earthly" that it is hard to imagine that it would also be true in the Spirit: I'm convinced that the Lord had offered Dad a choice, and that he had chosen to stay with us, but then, in the very last moments, he changed his mind. I believe that's why so many of the prophecies seemed to be indicating that he was going to be healed here, that there was still work for him to do and that the Lord was going to raise him up to continue with us for a while longer, etc. [What I find odd about the first sentence is that she relys on her thoughts about the subject. Why didn’t the Lord just tell her the answer, like he supposedly does on all other matters? She corrects herself in paragraph 10]
10. I'm desperately praying as I'm telling you this because I don't want to just be speaking off the top of my head, just my own ideas. But what just came to me is that Dad was waiting for me to give the official "release order," so to speak, which I didn't do until less than an hour before he went to be with the Lord. [How convenient. She’s praying as she’s talking so that means what she says is from the Lord and not her own ideas?]
12. Concerning any prophecies that members of our worldwide Family may have received after Dad's homegoing, but before they heard the news, that seemed to indicate that Dad would be raised to health to continue with us here, I think that's probably a different story. In the case of any such prophecies that seemed to indicate that the Lord was going to heal and raise him up, I think the Lord was deliberately hiding Dad's homegoing from them until they were able to get our official announcement about it in the GN, along with the beautiful messages from Heaven, the compilation from Dad's Letters, the reading list, etc. [So God lies to members until they can read the “truth” in the GNs?] Many of the messages or visions that people interpreted as physical healing in this life could have just as well been interpreted as deliverance from this life into the next, gloriously healed and strengthened. Even though the Lord meant them to apply to the spirit world and heavenly healing, the wording was such that it could also be interpreted as physical healing, and that's the way most of you took them.
14. In fact, it seemed that up until that time Dad had no thought of leaving us, and that's why almost all of the prophecies pointed in that direction. But at the last minute, the pros of going obviously outweighed the cons, and from what I got, it was because I cast the deciding vote when I consciously told the Lord I was willing to let Dad go.
16. Obviously, Dad could have stayed had he so chosen. By faith, the Lord had already defeated the Enemy because of our prayers, and that's why all these people got so many encouraging verses that indicated that the Lord was going to raise him up. And if Dad had chosen to stay, then he would have been healed and raised up, just as the prophecies indicated. And in fact, he was apparently planning that himself, until the very last minute.
17. (Following is an excerpt from a letter to Mama from Apollos, asking more about the prophecies that indicated that Dad was going to remain with us in the flesh.)
19. You have explained that the reason people received prophecies about Dad being physically healed was because Dad was planning to stay here with us. But the question that I still have is that if a prophecy is the Lord talking, it seems to me that because He is there in the great eternal now, and He is not bound by what we mortals do or don't do at any given time, when He says "this and that is going to happen," that's it, it's final--regardless of what we do or don't do in the meantime. In other words, if we view the prophecies we receive as direct Words from God in which He is telling us what He is going to do about any given situation, if a prophecy says, "Next week this and that will happen," then it seems that we should be able to assume that this indeed will be the case. Others might have similar questions. [He then gives the example of Jonah and the non-destruction of Nineveh]
Mama's Response: How God Leads His Children: One Step at a Time!
22. Thank you for your questions about the prophecies that some folks received which seemed to imply that Dad would be healed here and now, when the Lord already knew that Dad was going to leave us to be with Him. Well, it seems perfectly logical to me that since Dad had chosen to stay, the Lord was honoring our people's prayers and encouraging them with the fact that He was healing Dad. Until Dad changed his mind and decided to go, that's what was going to happen. Why should this be so strange? This is the way we make decisions and operate here in the natural world, so why should it be so much different in the spirit world?
23. By the way, I think that was a great example about Jonah, and I think we should publish that, as it might help the Family. If it helped you, I think it would help others also, to provide them with a Biblical precedent like that.
24. Let's face it, we are human, we are in this world, and when we make our plans, sometimes at the last minute, due to fresh information we receive or new or different circumstances that arise, we change our plans completely. But in the meantime, the Lord usually goes along with us, and He gives us promises and encouragement according to what we're planning. Now that I think back, I can recall several times when this same principle was at work. We were planning one thing, and the Lord responded accordingly, but when we changed our minds and decided to do something different than what we were previously planning, the prophecies or promises that we got for our earlier plans no longer applied.
31. The Lord apparently knows that it's best that we don't always know all the details of the future, at least not very often. He usually hides the future from us and makes us take things one step at a time. I suppose it's because He likes to see us exercise our faith. [They want it both ways. They are prophets who can foresee the future, but on the otherhand the Lord hides the future from them.]
36. So instead of blaming it on God or automatically concluding that folks are false prophets when something they prophesy doesn't come to pass exactly as they said it would, we might consider that maybe somebody here on earth changed their mind, and as a result God changed His. [God sure changes his mind a lot when it comes to TF.]
37. How many prophecies of healing have we received for people that we were absolutely convinced were promises of God's supernatural miraculous healing without the help of any doctors or medicines? But the next thing we know, the person is in the hospital having an operation. Does that mean that God's promises weren't true, or that those who gave them were false prophets? No, of course not! In many cases that was what God was going to do and would have done if the person had wanted it badly enough; but he or she made the choice against it. [How ridiculous. Does she really believe that people who are so seriously ill that they need an operation would actually make a choice not to be healed? That is so typical of TF, blaming individuals instead of their own false doctrines.]
More on the "Jonah Phenomenon!"
40. (From Apollos to Mama:) Thank you, Mama, for elaborating on the God-goes-along-with-us perspective on prophecy, or what we could loosely term the "Jonah phenomenon." Thank you for taking your time to go into such detail to explain it all.
41. I feel that understanding this principle helps to sort of put prophecy in its proper place, in the right perspective. In other words, even though we view prophecy as a wonderful means by which the Lord speaks to us and encourages us, it is not necessarily a "written-in-stone" unalterable means of discerning God's will. Just because someone receives a prophecy that indicates something will happen or should be this or that way, we shouldn't get locked into taking it as "Thus saith the Lord, this is how it will be, this is exactly how it will happen," or "This is exactly what you must do!" I understand that our own decisions and choices, based often on the knowledge and wisdom that He gives us (which, of course, are also "gifts of the Spirit"), are still very instrumental in our determining God's will, even after specific prophecies may have been received.
42. And even when specific prophecies are given for an individual or situation, we know, as Dad has frequently said, that even then prophecies are conditional, depending on our choices, our yieldedness, etc. He said, "We've got to do everything we can do.... Look at the things the Lord said about Rachel, they didn't sound conditional. Of course in a way, every prophecy is conditional that we must obey and we must follow the Lord and yield to Him.... Even those early prophecies about Saul didn't sound like he was necessarily going to be a failure, but he failed the Lord in the end" (ML #847:20,21).
43. Otherwise, if all the prophecies we receive are perceived to be the inviolable Word of God, the need for any further thought or counsel or prayer or decision-making would be negated. But because, as you say, the Lord sort of stoops to play by our rules and work within our frame of reference, often guiding us according to our own finite understanding of the overall big picture which He alone sees, His guidance to us via prophecy is not something that we should just jump on and follow blindly. We still need to use all of the other gifts of the Spirit to determine and confirm if what the prophecy says to do is really the best thing, bearing in mind that Dad taught us that there were at least six other ways to find the will of God. (See ML #829, "The Seven Ways to Know God's Will!") Dad also said, "Most of the time God uses your good common sense and the gifts of the Spirit he's already given you, such as wisdom, knowledge, etc., rather than some direct, spectacular, miraculous, supernatural revelation!" (ML #51:42.)
44. In my opinion, this "God-goes-along-with-us" perspective enables us to use and benefit from prophecy without our having to worry too much that whoever happens to be giving a prophecy might possibly wind up exerting more influence or directing us more than they actually should be. I'm not sure if my reasoning here is expressed clearly enough or even sounds so reasonable, but I just wanted to say that I personally feel that understanding this concept of the "Jonah phenomenon" could really benefit the Family, assuring everyone that just because someone in their Home might prophesy something, it's not necessarily something they have to be completely locked into. Like Dad said, prophecy is usually the voice of the Father encouraging His children, and any specific guidance to move or act in a certain direction should be weighed against some of the other means of finding God's will, which should also point in that direction.
[It seems to me that Apollos was grasping at straws, trying to make some logical sense out of the number of false prophecies uttered by Fam. members, and Zerby elevated his thoughts to the status of God’s word—after all, doesn’t God speak directly to TF via the GNs?]