…Fly me high through the starry skies
Maybe to an astral plane
Cross the highways of fantasy
Help me to forget todays pain
Ooh dream weaver
I believe you can get me through the night
Ooh dream weaver
I believe we can reach the morning light
~ Gary Wright, “Dream Weaver”
The above song keeps running through my head. It’s an odd song to listen to on the Sabbath, I’ll admit, but it is easier to compare worldly things with worldly things, even when the claim is just the opposite. Mostly, I keep focusing on the bolded word above — “fantasy”. That’s what dreams inherently are, after all.
It is also why for me this is a sad day. This article just plain wasn’t what I had planned to write about today. It isn’t fun watching someone sink into the depths of fantasy and lunacy, after all.
Trying to escape reality through various types of fantasy seems to be a human trait. It is, I believe, one of the reasons certain types of entertainment are so prevalent. Drug usage certainly is a means to escape a painful existence into some type of fantasy land. Other addictions work the same way.
I’ve had to watch far too many who would rather believe the lies they tell themselves, and that is just people who are related to me. However, to watch someone in the COG community dig down further into their own mire of self-deception is no less painful to watch. For my family members caught in the trap, there may still be hope, but what hope has one who claims to be sent by God and to speak for God, who may have possibly turned away from the truth for their own self-serving ends? I daresay, it is a scary thing to contemplate.
There is an obvious trend — no, not the right word — tendency — no, not the right word — push — yes, it is intentional even if not intentionally malicious — to be more like the world in the COG organizations. In one sense, it isn’t all that surprising that some might slip away into complacency — it has happened before. However, that some allow themselves to be dragged away by enticing vanities, self-gratifying promises or smooth words is a bit more worrying. Like lambs to the slaughter, they know not what comes until it is too late. They are dragged, cajoled, bribed, frightened — everything except loved — into the slaughterhouse by hungry wolves dressed up like men — shepherds to be exact.
There are several trends occurring at the same time to tear the Church apart, haven’t you noticed? Make no mistake about it. The Church is under attack, from without and from within. Why are some surprised at this, though? After all, even the 1970s were filled with speculations that the endtime Church would probably be scattered about. However, even then, little did we imagine we would be scattered by the hand of our own. It would always be “them”: the false Christians, the atheists, the Assyrians/Germans or even the Pope. We conveniently ignored the passages where brother would betray brother, flatteries (and who would flatter except those close to you?) would cause some to fall, and even relatives would turn on one another.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
I have been around the COG related websites enough times to know that there already are many false prophets out there. In fact, long ago I ran into one such “prophet” who evidently had dreams and believed them, so he eventually was or felt rejected by the church. Of course, he now has all sorts of dreams about the breakups of the organization that spurned him.
That too is nothing new. I remember one time trying to get some background material about a certain elder when I came upon a piece written by someone in Africa who obviously takes his dreams very seriously. He spoke of how he was not impressed by this elder, how he saw him in an unflattering light within a dream, and he “cursed” this elder. The downright slander was appalling, actually. I emailed this elder stating that it was shocking and that I would pray for him. He was kind enough to return my email with thanks, and he related that he had run into this individual, who felt spurned because the church wouldn’t give him any money.
So, when another more well known nonprophet prophet again toots his own horn to now beginning to claim that he is being led by dreams, it is only a slight surprise. After all, how long can one claim to be a prophet without some sort of supernatural backing?
When one errs and starts digging in his heels, then the inevitable occurs. He becomes more and more outlandish/childish. It is a lot like some of these “music” celebrities, whom I refuse to call “musicians”. For them, it is definitely not about the music. It is about the fame and attention. And, in their desperate cry for attention, they will seek to shock or titillate (and they don’t much care which, as long as it is at least one) in order to gain notoriety.
Gerald Flurry dug in his heels, and now he is so paranoid that even Feast sermons are not recorded and sent out (ask Richard Burkhard). Ronald Weinland kept digging in his heels in spite of his promise that if what he prophesied did not come to pass that he would step down as a false prophet — and he believed his own press so much that he did not pay taxes but spent everything on highly questionable trips and items. David C Pack continues to dig in his heels in spite of his public pronouncements upon three unidentified shepherds that never occurred. And, just to round out the crowd, James Malm continues to become more and more unhinged by covering up his mistakes with bald-faced lies, insinuations and gossip.
However, these are not as surprising as the desperation that Bob Thiel has stooped to now in “Dreams, the Bible, and the Continuing Church of God“. I have already shown him to be a false prophet, but it has been barely under my breath that I’ve been muttering for a while, “It is only a matter of time.” Well, now we finally have it. That prediction of mine came true, but it wasn’t a matter of prophecy. It was common sense.
The Attitude and Mind of God
Unfortunately, he does not get it. I do not care if every dream he dreams comes true. I do not care if every pronouncement of his comes to pass. I do not care how large or how small of a following he has. I certainly don’t care about his Alexa ratings. I would not follow him even if all of these things were favorable, for they are not of God.
Anyone, and I mean anyone, who stands up and beats his chest and says, “I am of the Philadelphia remnant” is a liar. Their actions speak louder than words. Philadelphia means “brotherly love” and there is no room for love and a big ego at the same time. True love requires humility.
So, the easiest way to see if someone is not truly a “Philadelphian”? If they beat their chest and say they are, cross them off the list.
Likewise, the easiest way to spot a false prophet is when one continually claims to be one.
2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
~ Pr 27:2
It is important to read and observe. One cannot simply skim the Bible and get all there is to get. The passages must be thought through and meditated upon.
The prophets of old that proved they were true prophets either did so by their signs and miracles or not at all. They did not try to prove them by silly arguments. Likewise, they did not prove them by speculations. Most of all, they did not do so in order to draw attention to themselves. That should be obvious to a discerning mind as well.
How many of the real prophets ran around saying, “I am a prophet”? Many were persecuted in horrible ways, but they did not seek to elevate themselves. Instead, they would say, “Thus saith the LORD”, pointing to God rather than themselves!
Even Christ continually pointed to the Father. Some people erroneously assume that since Jesus did not come out and say, “I am God in the flesh,” in clear words that He was not divine. However, His example was one of extreme humility rather than trying to deny anything at all! It was a humility that few of us can probably understand.
6 Though he was in the form of God,
he did not regard equality with God
something to be possessed by force.
7 On the contrary, he emptied himself,
in that he took the form of a slave
by becoming like human beings are….
Jesus “emptied himself” rather than trying to grasp equality with God “by force”. These are opposing actions. Who tried to seize God’s throne by force? Who tried to bribe Christ into elevating himself? Did Jesus come to save the world by force? No, Christ came as a servant, humbly doing the work of the Father.
If Jesus, the only begotten and firstborn Son of God, came with such humility, then how dare one stand up and beat his chest to do otherwise? Let alone the Pharisaical attitude of pointing the finger at the “Laodiceans”, thus insinuating in such an action that he/his group is superior to all others?
Is that the attitude and mind of God at work? It does not take a great amount of discernment to see the truth on that matter.
I Have a Dream
It is one thing to have a dream. Some dreams, like that of Martin Luther King, Jr’s, are grand and wonderful. Some dreams might be smaller. Someone might have a dream of going into business for himself. However, they are still dreams as long as they are not realities!
Dreams while asleep are not reality, either. They are usually the subconscious mind struggling with various concerns, worries and stresses that one builds up in the waking life. Anyone who has awakened in the middle of the night with the solution to a problem they’ve had can attest to this. Writers sometimes wake up with ideas, particularly after periods of “writer’s block”. However, in order for any of these to become reality, they must be acted on while conscious.
Not all dreams are created equal, though. The Bible does record people having dreams that are different. They contained messages from God. So, while most dreams are going to be about abstract things that don’t relate or more concrete means of coming to grips with a problem or situation, there are the rare dreams that really mean something.
And yet, so what? Yes, I said that. So what? Does that make one a prophet?
I submit to you, no it does not. A prophet is a very specific position. That is why trying to claim it when not called to it is so dangerous. I myself have had dreams that came to pass, but am I a prophet? Of course not. I submit to you that such phenomenon is not that unusual, albeit uncommon, with people being led by God when put in proper perspective. However, the important thing is that those dreams, just like our everyday thoughts, cannot contradict the Bible. Just as important, our dreams and thoughts should never lead us to have an attitude that is contrary to the Bible.
I submit to you: Exhibit A, Job 33:15-18:
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
17 That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
18 He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
How ironic it is for men to be proud supposedly of the very mechanism used to bury it!
There are two instances (three, if you count Job’s recounting of criticism leveled at him) of people having dreams in the Book of Job. The first was by Job’s “friend” Eliphaz the Temanite, who claimed a prophetic type of dream (although to his credit, he did not call it such). However, in the end was he approved of by God? No! However, the second one, that I listed above by Elihu, turned out to be the more righteous answer. Yet, where does it say that Elihu claimed to be a prophet? Indeed, he was the last to speak out of humility!
Yet, even in his speech, he does not claim that God only speaks to human beings via dreams if they are a prophet. The answer really is simple. By stirring up the consciences of His children, they are bothered by lack of sleep and bad dreams when He chooses to break them or warn them.
However, saying all dreams come from God is as silly as saying that every thought or desire that enters our hearts and minds are of God. Yet, if we are truly His, do we not become anxious when we transgress? Do not our hearts yearn and burn to do what is right? Does His Spirit not speak to us very loudly when He desires something of us? So, yes, even thoughts and emotions can be driven indirectly through His Holy Spirit, so dreams can fall under that category.
However, does that make anyone a prophet? No. There is a difference between a dream that urges us to come clean or do something and one that claims to be the very words of God.
More to the point, however, is that even having a dream that is inspired of God does not of itself make one a prophet.
27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
There will come a time when dreams and visions will be common, but where will the prophets be?
3 And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.
4 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:
5 But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.
Consider this well, then. Not everyone who has a dream has the gift of prophecy. Neither does every prophet necessarily see visions in the night. However, this last passage should really make one think and consider: Just how important is prophecy, anyhow? Am I seeking to be led by a man, or am I seeking to be led by God through the Holy Spirit and His word?
Not All Dreamers Were Prophets
Furthermore, consider the biblical evidence that not everyone who dreamed a dream was a prophet.
19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
Joseph was a righteous man, of that I have no doubt. But, was he a prophet? I see no evidence of that in Scripture.
If Joseph would have been a prophet because he dreamed three dreams (one to take Mary as wife, one to flee to Egypt, and the last to return from Egypt), what of Mary? She did not dream a dream, but she saw and spoke to an angel face to face! Was she elevated above Joseph then? I suppose if you are Catholic, you would have no problem saying she was, but I would disagree.
The only other Christian or Jew in the New Testament I’m aware of that had dreams was the Apostle Paul. However, he was a prophet. One cannot read the resurrection chapter without an appreciation of his clear view of the future, much of which is original to his teaching. Furthermore, he was transported up to the “third heaven” in a vision, which alone qualifies him.
However, notice I said “Christian or Jew”! Not all dreamers were of Jewish origin!
2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
These are not the only pagans who had dreams, either! Have you ever really thought about that? If all who have dreams are prophets, then notice these pagan prophets:
- King Abimelech (Ge 20:3)
- The baker and the butler of Pharaoh (Ge 40:5) — Joseph interpreted the dream, but it was not him who had the dream
- Speaking of Joseph, the Pharaoh over Joseph had a dream (Ge 41:1)
- Enemy soldier predicting Gideon’s triumph over them (Jdg 7:13)
- King Nebuchadnezzar, twice even (Da 2:1; 4:5)
However, I saved the best for last: We are not explicitly told that Balaam son of Beor was instructed by God in a dream, but the context almost forces it to be so:
8 And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the Lord shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.
9 And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?
13 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you.
19 Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say unto me more.
20 And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.
21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
~ vv 19-21
While it does not come out and blatantly state so, it seems almost surely that God is communicating to Balaam in a dream.
And he is still a false prophet! In spite of God actually appearing to him in a dream, he did not change his ways, did he? He still did his best to work against God’s will and against Israel.
If you are looking for a dreamer to lead you, that should give you a headache. If that doesn’t, then perhaps the fact that there seems to be about as many dreamers who were pagan and not prophets as there were who were Jewish and of God just might.
What Do You Seek?
Are you looking for a sign? A miracle? A vision that comes to pass?
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
In the endtimes, there will be a powerful false prophet that will raise up and perform signs and miracles. Undoubtedly, he will have enough power to make “predictions” and make them come to pass. However, he will not point to God with all that power and might, but rather he will perform these for a Beast power that will attempt to control the world (and will for a short time). If we are seeking the wrong things, we too could very well wind up in his grasp.
Why seek these things? Do we not believe our own Bibles?
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
~ Lk 16:31