Should New Testament prophets pronounce judgments and curses or should they edify, comfort and exhort the people of God and nations? From Isaiah to Jeremiah to Elisha, Old Testament prophets commonly pronounced judgments and curses on nations and peoples. In fact, prophesying doom and gloom on nations and pronouncing judgments on individuals was seemingly part and parcel of the prophetic ministry before Jesus Christ, the Prophet, became a curse for us.
Thousands of years later, some New Testament prophets are still operating in this flow, but are all of them speaking on behalf of the Spirit of God? Or could some of them be prophesying out of hurts and wounds, pride or some sinister spirit? The apostolic is posing some pointed questions in the spirit of order and stabili
ty of the essential prophetic ministry. At the heart of the matter is a single, yet critical question: Is it Biblical for modern day prophets to pronounce judgments and curses on people and cities today? It’s a controversial question that many are not bold enough to ask, but it’s one that needs to be discussed among apostolic and prophetic believers who are committed to restoring the accurate prophetic ministry. No matter how controversial the question, the answers are always found in the Word of God.
Anyone who has moved in prophetic circles has surely heard some questionable prophecies. Take, for example, the prophet who announces, “Mr. Government Official better repent for not taking my advice or he will die in nine months.” Then there’s the prophet who exerts control over his congregation by proclaiming, “If you leave this church, then something bad will happen to you!”
Let's not forget the prophet who declares, “The stock market will crash because idolatry and sin has brought the wrath of God Alm
ighty.” All of these judgments and curses are prefaced with “Thus saith the Lord.” But did God really say that? Or has carelessness, hidden sin, Jezebel, or some other ungodly influence led some prophets to tap into spirits that are anything but holy?
Prophetic judgments are nothing new to the prophetic restoration that began in the 1980s, but unfortunately many such ill-advised, ill-conceived and downright dishonest declarations have caused believers to doubt or discount this vital ministry. Practically every year someone somewhere in the world prophesies that God will send fires and earthquakes to California and floods and hurricanes to Florida. The reasoning for such prophetic judgments and curses is typically sin or disobedience to God. But just because an earthquake shakes California, or a hurricane approaches the shores of Florida doesn’t make a prophetic word accurate or a prophet credible.
California fires and Florida storms are usually annual events. Florida lies directly in the path of hurricanes (note: hurricane is a Caribbean Indian word for “evil spirit” and “big wind”) and South Florida averages some 10 storms every year. To prophesy such things is like saying, “The Spirit of God shows me that the water will be wet,” or, “The government will be charging you sales tax on your next purchase.” That’s not to say that God doesn’t reveal such devastating events to a prophet. He has and probably will again. Rather, it’s the spirit behind the announcement that is cause for concern.
Still, prophets arise frequently to pronounce such stormy judgments on South Florida, California and beyond. Foretelling hurricanes became an especially popular prophecy after Hurricane Andrew killed 11 people and caused $1 billion damage in South Florida in 1992. Thank God, the region has not seen another hurricane of that magnitude hit the area despite periodic erroneous prophetic announcements. But what happens when someone prophesies a hurricane and coincidentally gets it right? Could that advance a prophet’s status in the eyes of believers?
Or what about the other possibility? Could the purpose of the storm be the judgment of God because of sin? Does judgment draw people closer to God? These types of tragedies require us to ask some important questions. Are prophetic curses revealing the mind and will of the Lord in order to scare an individual into repentance? Is that the character of God? Is it Scriptural for a prophet to pronounce curses and judgments as the result of sin? Each question seems to lead to two others like it. But, again, the answers are found in the Word of God.
When you begin to study this issue out there are several Scriptures to indicate that New Testament ascension gift prophets are not called to speak prophetic curses or judgments on the world. First of all, the Word says that unbelievers are judged already, if they don’t believe in the Son of God (John 3:18). So does it make sense to pronounce another curse against them? Scripture also says, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). The Bible tells us that we have the ministry of reconciliation and that, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). The word imputing (Greek logizomai) means to consider the facts and to take them into account when making a decision. Therefore, this Scripture makes it clear that God is not considering the fact of our sins in rendering a decision about His intent toward the world. His desire is to reconcile the world back to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.
Doesn't God give every rank sinner every possible opportunity to be born again? Does it make sense that God would offer up His Son on a cross for the sins of the world and then send a prophet to pronounce judgment, curses, even everlasting death in an eternal fire on the very people He died for? Are we in a time of grace or not? Yes, one day there will be a resurrection of the just and the unjust, one to everlasting life and the other to everlasting judgment (Acts 24:15, 2 Peter 2:9) but is to curse, pronounce death, sickness, trouble, fires, hurricanes or pain on people and cities because of sin Scriptural?
I went to an area in Nicaragua devastated by an earthquake in 2000. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and several little children were killed. I remember praying for a sobbing woman who was kneeling on a pile of rubble that was once her home. She had lost her only child, a 2-year-old daughter, to a falling block wall. I was shocked to discover so many people saying that God had sent the earthquake as a judgment against them. No, they weren’t prophesying it, but it was the same spirit in the message. The result was an intense hatred toward God. The question of crying families was, “How can I love Jesus after He has destroyed my home and killed my children?”
Jesus didn't destroy those homes and children. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Paul said, “Love your enemies. Bless and curse not” (Romans 12:14). Yes, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21), yet even Balaam said, “Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it” (Numbers 23:20).
The other side of the prophetic coin deals with the prophet’s heart. Certainly we have seen legitimate prophets predict the fall of evil governments and individuals receive true rebukes of the Spirit. The balance is found in the maturity and purity of the prophet’s heart. The Lord may indeed show a prophet that an individual is going to die in six months if he does not change his ways, but should the prophet pronounce it as a judgment? Or should the prophet stand in the gap, interceding for the person in faith? Such words of knowledge should grieve a holy prophet and spur him to action to intercede in prayer as the Spirit leads.
Part of pronouncing curses and judgments, then, boils down to motives. Is the prophet truly speaking what saith the Lord, no matter what the Lord saith – for good or bad? Or is the prophet decreeing destruction out of pride, arrogance, or rejection? Is the prophet seeking to be admired, feared or revered? Is the prophet speaking forth curses to put on an air of superiority or to look powerful? What kind of prophet would take any pleasure in cursing someone to death when Jesus came to bring life? While the Spirit of God can do as He wishes, the prophet in and of himself does not have any authority to curse or judge.
Rebellious prophets, tapping into spirits of divination, are not following the Biblical pattern for the New Testament prophetic ministry. Even rebellious Old Testament prophets met with God’s rebuke. It’s important to distinguish that a mature prophet can err, but that same prophet will admit his mistake and learn from it. Prophets who intentionally set out to manipulate, control, deceive or otherwise harm people through prophetic judgments or curses are out of order.
So, is it part of the New Testament prophet’s ministry to pronounce curses and judgments? While the answers are undoubtedly in the Word and we certainly have some solid foundational guidelines, no one has uncovered all of the truth in this matter yet. Perhaps, then, we should all agree that more sensitivity, prayer and careful examination of such prophecies are warranted. I am convinced that a love for Jesus and the people He died for will help bring balance to this issue.