Larger font
Smaller font

The Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Church

 - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    Some of the Physical Tests of a Prophet

    There are also what might be called physical and spiritual tests of the prophet of God. In these paragraphs those of a more physical nature will be considered. Looking through the records of the past, and especially the writings of the Bible prophets concerning the work and experience of God’s holy servants, we find here and there certain characteristics of the prophet of the Lord when in vision. We have already observed that some of these messengers of the Most High had such visions in the public assembly or in their own homes while others were around them, but there are other distinguishing marks that we shall notice. When a prophet actually goes into vision, and while he is in vision, the following features should be observed:BSPC 132.6

    1. He Loses All His Natural Strength

    Daniel’s testimony concerning this particular feature of his experience is given in the following expressions: “There remained no strength in me.” Daniel 10:8. “1 retained no strength.” Verse 8. “I have retained no strength.” Verse 16. “There remained no strength in me.” Verse 17.BSPC 133.1

    Having been deprived of his strength, Daniel would naturally fall, perhaps gently, to the ground. This is evidently what happened, for in verse 9 we find him “in a deep sleep” with his “face toward the ground.” Then, he said, an angelic “hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.” Verse 10. The margin of the Revised translation gives the wording, “He set me tottering upon my knees.” This condition characterized Balaam also, for we read in entering a vision that he “saw the vision of the Almighty, falling.” Numbers 24:4. The text in the Authorized Version reads “falling into a trance,” but it will be observed that the words “in a trance” are supplied and hence not in the original text. The thought is that of actually falling to the ground, and it is expressed by Rotherham as he “falls down”; Goodspeed as “prostrate”; the Douay as “falls.” The same thing happened to Saul, afterward called Paul, in the vision on the road to Damascus. Though the record does not say he fell to the earth, it does say that “Saul arose from the earth.” (Acts 9:8.)BSPC 133.2

    A good statement concerning this physical condition as found in one of the Jewish writings is as follows:BSPC 133.3

    “All the time when they had the prophetic experience, their limbs trembled, their physical strength failed them, their thoughts became confused; and the mind was left free to comprehend the vision it saw.”—MAIMONIDES, The Mishneh Torah (known as the Yad Hachazakah), Book I. Edited and translated by Moses Hyamson (New York: Bloch, 1937), p. 42b.BSPC 133.4

    2. He Is Supernaturally Strengthened

    In Daniel’s further testimony as to what happened to him in vision, he tells us what the angel did after he lost his natural strength: “He strengthened me.” Daniel 10:18. “I was strengthened.” Verse 19. “Thou has strengthened me.” Verse 19. “Be strong, yea, be strong.” Verse 19.BSPC 133.5

    In making His servants the prophets fit channels for the transmission of the divine message, God deprives them of everything that might indicate human strength and power; then He Himself empowers them with His own strength, and so the more effectively can He use them as He desires.BSPC 134.1

    3. He Has His Eyes Open

    This is expressed twice in recording the experience of the prophet Balaam: “Whose eyes are open.” Numbers 24:1 “Having his eyes open.” Verse 4. This undoubtedly refers to the spiritual as well as the physical sight; both are open.BSPC 134.2

    4. He Does Not Breathe

    This is an unusual physical characteristic of the prophet, and Daniel in his prophecy referred to this when he said, “Neither is there breath left in me.” Daniel 10:17.BSPC 134.3

    It seems that there can be very little dispute as to the wording of this text, for practically all the translations agree with the thought expressed in the foregoing text. The Douay Version gives, “moreover my breath is stopped.” We are here face to face with a remarkable phenomenon, that of a man speaking and moving as the prophet did in vision, and yet with no breath in his body. We need not, however, be surprised at this; for after all, God can just as well keep a man alive without breathing as He could with breathing. This was one of the miracles wrought when the prophets of God had these “open” visions. So different were the prophets of God from the false prophets of their day. The impostors might go into a trance and be possessed of evil spirits, but the prophet of the Lord, when in vision, was a constant miracle of the wonder-working power of the mighty God of Israel. And as such he was possessed of the Divine Spirit speaking the message of God in and through him.BSPC 134.4

    5. He Speaks Without Breathing

    This is listed here in this connection, but the matter has already been dealt with in the foregoing paragraph.BSPC 134.5

    6. His Tongue Is Controlled by the Lord

    Because the Lord has strengthened the prophet and empowered him with His own Spirit, naturally it is God who speaks through him. David declared, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and his word was in my tongue.” 2 Samuel 23:2.BSPC 134.6

    In the light of this consideration the expression in 2 Timothy has particular force and cogency. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” 2 Timothy 3:16. Rotherham renders this, “Every Scripture is God-breathed.” How significant! The prophet loses all natural strength; he is supernaturally strengthened. He ceases to breathe, yet God breathes through him. So the messages that come are “God-breathed.” God takes the human vehicle and through him breathes his own message to men.BSPC 135.1

    7. He Is Unconscious of His Surroundings

    One might conclude that the prophet, in ecstatic vision, would be unconscious of his surroundings. Notice how the apostle Paul describes his own condition when in vision:BSPC 135.2

    “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body I cannot tell: God knows;) how that he was caught up into paradise.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.BSPC 135.3

    As to the manifestation of these characteristics in the experience of Mrs. E. G. White in her earlier visions, note the following testimonies. One of the most comprehensive descriptions of her in vision is that given by James White, in 1868:BSPC 135.4

    “Her condition in vision may be described as follows:BSPC 135.5

    “1. She is utterly unconscious of everything transpiring around her, as has been proved by the most rigid tests, but views herself as removed from this world, and in the presence of heavenly beings.BSPC 135.6

    “2. She does not breathe. During the entire period of her continuance in vision, which has at different times ranged from fifteen minutes to three hours, there is no breath, as has been repeatedly proved by pressing upon the chest, and by closing the mouth and nostrils.BSPC 135.7

    “3. Immediately on entering vision, her muscles become rigid, and joints fixed, so far as any external force can influence them. At the same time her movements and gestures, which are frequent, are free and graceful, and cannot be hindered nor controlled by the strongest person.BSPC 135.8

    “4. On coming out of vision, whether in the day-time or a well lighted room at night, all is total darkness. Her power to distinguish even the most brilliant objects, held within a few inches of the eyes, returns but gradually, sometimes not being fully established for three hours. This has continued for the past twenty years; yet her eyesight is not in the least impaired, few persons having better than she now possesses.BSPC 135.9

    “She has probably had, during the past twenty-three years, between one and two hundred visions. These have been given under almost every variety of circumstance, yet maintaining a wonderful similarity; the most apparent change being, that of late years they have grown less frequent, but more comprehensive. She has been taken off in vision most frequently when bowed in prayer. Several times, while earnestly addressing the congregation, unexpectedly to herself and to all around her, she has been instantly prostrated in vision.”—James White, Life Incidents in Connection With the Great Advent Movement, pp. 272, 273.BSPC 136.1

    F. M. Wilcox has well expressed the matter as follows:BSPC 136.2

    “The physical manifestations in many of her visions correspond to the experience of the prophets of old. We refer to the physical manifestations under which many of these visions were given, similar to the experience of Daniel and other prophets of the Old Testament.BSPC 136.3

    “We do not, however, regard these physical manifestations as the principal convincing evidences of the divine call to Mrs. White. Rather, they constitute subsidiary or contributing evidences. The great proof of her call to divine ministry was shown in the answer of her work to prophetic prediction; in the spirit which characterized her ministry throughout the years. In the correspondence of her teachings to those of the Bible. In the marked manner in which she was used of God to save His church in many crises. And by the fruit her ministry bore through all the years of her earthly life and which is still appearing as a result of her labors.”—The Review and Herald, January 19, 1950.BSPC 136.4

    Larger font
    Smaller font