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February 2010 • by Rev. Dave Roberts.+

No, you didn’t read that wrong. It’s not about Sears. This month’s message is about those in the Body of Christ whom the Bible calls “seers,” decidedly a King James word but one that has been carried over into the New International Version, the New English Bible and several other translations as well. Yet few ever seem to question what it is.

Maybe it’s my more esoteric nature that causes me to want to write things that are not often taught, preached or discussed from the ordinary pulpit or Bible study. Even churches that are self-proclaimed Bible-believing and teaching have several subjects they just won’t broach and if they do, they explain it in terms that often obfuscate the reality of what I believe is part of our Christian experience and heritage.

The ministry of a seer is one of them. And I’d like to discuss it briefly (because of space limitations) here.

I am a Christian clergyman who believes that the gift of prophecy, mentioned throughout the Book of Acts and in I Corinthians, is still valid today. It should not be used to add to the canon of Scripture (the Bible), but rather to encourage, edify or warn people about a current or future situation or to explain something from the past.

It is the ability to know and to repeat, when necessary, what you believe you may have heard from God the Holy Spirit about a situation. I’ve talked about this gift before and while those of the dispensationalist camp will say that prophecy has ceased, as has speaking in tongues, I would remind them that the same verse (I Corinthians 13:8) they’re quoting also says that knowledge will cease. Has knowledge ceased? No. I believe that the utterance gifts of God are still available for God’s Glory and our edification when used in the right context.

But there is one office, a gifting, that is mentioned in the Old Testament that I believe also appears today in some individuals but is not readily recognized: the ministry of a seer.

I Samuel 9:9 in the King James Version says this: “Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for [he that is] now [called] a Prophet was beforetime called a seer.” (Other translations of the passage read much the same). The term is used through the historical books of the Old Testament and is mentioned again in Amos, generally as a title given to someone such as “Samuel, the seer,” but little is mentioned about its function.

I hadn’t thought much about it until one night in December I was talking with someone whom I realized has always had a pretty good grasp of the overall plan of God as long as I’ve known him, and that’s been about a decade. We could be discussing something and his take on it was from a broader view that was almost “above it all,” the details and particulars, and to be able to see the general picture from Heaven’s vantage point. In the time I’ve known him, I’ve never heard him employ the oft-misused terms of “God told me” or “God showed me.” He never needed to because when he spoke on the level of what appeared to be his spiritual gift, the authority God had given him to speak something like this carried it. (And he’s a pretty humble guy who may not even recognize himself as he reads this).

Recently, President Obama gave his “State of the Nation” address. We all know what that is. But what this fellow was doing, however, was giving something that could probably be called “The State of the Church.” At the risk of sounding like I’m splitting hairs, let me give what I believe is a simple distinction between the ministry of a seer and the ministry of a prophet.

A prophet repeats what he believes God the Holy Spirit has said to him. A seer relates what he believes God the Holy Spirit has shown him. One example of each with mention of the gift of knowledge between.

A person with a prophetic gift might say something to the effect, “You need to recognize that you’ve been guilty of the sin of self-pity and repent of it.” Why that might be significant is that it may not be evident to the speaker’s natural mind or knowledge that the person has a problem in that area of their spiritual life. As a corollary to that is a word of knowledge, another gift mentioned in I Corinthians 12, that would be to know the details of a person’s physical life experience, and might come out something like, “The job that you lost last week was to prevent you getting into a worse situation with your co-worker.” This would be valid if there was no prior knowledge of the bad relationship in the workplace.

But the ministry of the seer would be one who would say something akin to this: “The spiritual climate of that community has always been to be blessed as opposed to its neighboring town that lives under the curse of never-ending entitlements.” I can think of an example of this when I compare two towns in Kansas, about 25 miles apart, but in two different counties. The one that has always been a dry county (alcohol is not sold there) has always seemed “cleaner” spiritually and socially. Its neighboring county to the west has a much higher incidence of abuse-related crimes and gangs. You may know what I’m talking about when you are driving through a place and sense that it just doesn’t feel right and/or you’re just never at peace when there.

For the person who is gifted as a seer, they often can see beyond the “feelings” and discern the spiritual climate of a location or situation, be it spiritually, politically or socially. It’s as though they are allowed to “see” into the spiritual realm, somewhat like what happened when Elisha asked God to open up the spiritual realm that was all around his servant so he could see the reality of the situation. II Kings 6:16-17.

I believe that at the moment of our death, part of crossing over into Eternity is that we begin to see fully what has always been all around us. During our earthly lives, our spiritual gifts allowed us glimpses of it but only that. In our mortal state, we couldn’t have survived witnessing the Reality that God has for us only one heartbeat away. The Bible says that we are surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses in the spiritual realm which, at any moment, we’re going to enter. What the Welsh called “the thin places,” – there are times when it seems some of us are allowed to sense, discern, see, feel or hear a thin sliver of the Eternal. And because it is a spiritual experience, it happens in your spirit, not in your mind. Your mind may not understand it because the Bible has already told us that the things of the Spirit are not understood by the mind; our minds can only accept that they exist and do happen on occasion. Romans 8:5.

One of the problems I’m having about writing my memoirs is that I could relate all kinds of instances in each of the above realms (words of prophecy, words of knowledge or some which seem to be that of a seer) that have come through my life when I didn’t expect them. For some reading those memoirs, or even this message this month, it would convince them that I’m a heretic and, if they’re living in their religiously natural, but not spiritual, minds they will not be able to see it any other way. After all, if you just want religion and emotion but not faith and to desire earnestly spiritual gifts, then you will not progress much beyond your mind’s boundaries. And that is often what faithless, but religious, people want.

St. Paul says to earnestly desire spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 14:12; Colossians 1:9) but especially that we may prophesy. The latter, if it is done under the control of the Holy Spirit, shows a sensitivity to the spiritual realm that can edify and bless the people of God, “the Church.” But if it does not glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and testify of Him (Revelation 19:10), or given without love and with the motive to control, manipulate or intimidate, it is of no value and needs to be repented of and discarded. (I Corinthians 13:1).

There are people out there who see the spiritual realm as well as hear from it. There are the counterfeits but if there are counterfeits, then there is the genuine and that is what we are to ask God for and to protect by making sure its use always matches up with His Word and brings glory to Him.

Now, stir up the Holy Spirit’s gifts that are in you! (II Timothy 1:6).

© Copyright 2010 by Dave Roberts

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