But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.(Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
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I chanced on this Scripture and it scared me. I immediately understood why a senior friend in the Lord warned me to stay clear of the phrases “God said”, “God told me that” or “I heard from God that”. These phrases are truly serious phrases that can set the tone for abuse. Now check out the word presume. Microsoft Word gave me eight meanings: believe, assume, guess, deduce, imagine, suppose, postulate and posit. This is serious: to ascribe all these to God is most definitely dangerous.
Now, I personally believe that this Scripture should be a guiding principle for anyone who speaks, writes, declares, teaches or preaches the word of God. We should guard against presumption— assuming that God has spoken when He hasn’t. That places a great demand on us to take our walk with God seriously, building a relationship with Him to avoid presumption. It will help us decipher when it is God speaking and when it is “suggestions” and “presumptions” in our own minds.
I love Paul. When it was his own instruction, he stated it categorically. “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord….” “Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment…” I suppose therefore…” (1 Corinthians 7:12a, 25a, 26a). Brillant! Paul says, these ones I am saying are my own instructions, they are not from God.
What am I saying? I am simply saying let those of us involved in any form of communication on behalf of God guard against presumption. If only we will stop presuming, I believe many of the abuses in the faith will not spill over into our times. By the way, I am not also “fear mongering”, we should also not be so cautious in speaking God’s word. It is also guaranteed, we won’t get it right and perfect all the time because we also see in part and hear in part. (1 Corinthians 13:12)