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You may have heard it stated “everything is prophetic,” usually stated with such a matter of fact tone you hardly dare question. The short answer is “No, everything is NOT prophetic.” I think the main misconception on the charismaniac lite end of the spectrum is the mistaken belief that symbolism equals prophecy.

While God does use symbols frequently in the Bible, not all symbolism is prophetic. There is nothing wrong with symbolism. It’s a powerful tool to communicate ideas and principles, but it is overstepping to ascribe prophetic significance to mere symbols, no matter how powerfully they may speak to us.

At the very core of what the Bible calls prophecy is God’s Truth, whether it is defined as forth telling or foretelling. The most important point is that it is GOD’s truth, not just some nifty little symbolism in our everyday lives. The weight given to a nicely communicated metaphor as a teaching tool to convey a biblical message should not be given the same weight as “thus saith the Lord.”

A harmful offshoot of this misconception that symbolic=prophetic is that members of the congregation who are naturally inclined to learning from and/or noticing symbolic relationships will be declared ‘prophetic.’ Some people are simply wired to have an affinity for noticing the metaphors and similes in life around them. They simply notice relationships, and if they are Christian, these relationships sometimes point them to Christian principles.

On the deep end of charismania you may find ‘leaders’ who think their observations are equal to Jesus’ parables, and should be regarded and applied as such. Be very careful about anyone who does this. Be doubly careful of people who extrapolate their experiences into a blueprint for what “God is doing in the church.” I’ve heard everything from numbers of children to divorce to unemployment to riches being proclaimed as ‘prophetic.’

One of the worst examples I heard was a ‘preacher’ who was extensively traveling overseas and was not getting proper rest or nutrition. The people around him were telling him to take some time off. He didn’t listen and ended up in the hospital with very serious health issues resulting in major surgery on his intestines as he almost died.  He went on to describe in great detail how his huge incision marks and painful surgery were some kind of prophetic indication of the state of the church. It was ridiculous. My ten year old leaned over to me and said, “Guess he shoulda listened to his friends.” But everyone else it seemed was spellbound by his wonderful prophetic insight and oh so humble willingness to let God use him as a message to us lowly ones.

The natural inclination to perhaps see lessons in nature or life should not be confused with Biblical prophets who were inspired by the Spirit of God to write words which foretold/foretell events which unfolded later in history, or are yet to unfold; such as the myriad Old Testament prophecies of the life of Jesus the Messiah, and His return.