search instagram arrow-down

And thus, in discussing prophecy, we have not to consider our own sense and language, knowing that the language of God is very different from ours, and that it is spiritual language, and very far removed from our understanding and exceedingly difficult.

John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, BOOK II CHAPTER XIX (Page 153)

Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Time for another #shorts post.

I’m currently reading through an old Christian book. By “old” I mean medieval times. It’s Ascent of Mount Carmel by John of the Cross. I’m not enjoying it to be honest, and after I finish it I’m done with medieval-time Christian writers. There’s a disconnect between the medieval writers and us. On top of which the writing is hard to read because of linguistic differences. Still, there are some things in the book which resonate, and it’s one of those that forms the topic for today.

It’s a good time to write on today’s topic, because my New Year’s Eve 2021 post was about prophecy and visions. In today’s post, we look at this book by John of the Cross. He describes how easy it is to mistake the meaning of prophecy and visions from God. We interpret them wrong. God speaks these in another language, as it were.

This is something that everyone who follows God needs to be well aware of. It’s easy to be deceived when it comes to visions, revelation, and prophecy. But it’s not only the devil who can deceive us with these things. Sometimes, we deceive ourselves.

So read on, and let’s hear what the medieval writer John of the Cross has to say about it.

A Perspective Problem

First, John of the Cross starts with a simple warning. Warning: Visions from God are not always as they seem, nor do they turn out the way we expect. It’s because us flawed humans interpret visions with our imperfect senses and knowledge.

[…] although visions and locutions which come from God are true, they are not always so with respect to ourselves. One reason is the defective way in which we understand them; […] it is clear that they are not always as they seem, nor do they turn out as they appear to our manner of thinking.

John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, BOOK II CHAPTER XIX (Page 149)

We humans have a limited human perspective. We don’t see the whole picture. This perspective gives us a tendency to take most things in a literal way, even messages from God. This tendency toward being literal screws with our interpretation of visions, messages, revelation, and prophecy from God. Our own limited human perspective screws with our interpretation.

But God’s prophecies may not turn out that literal way at all—in fact they usually don’t.

To give some examples of this, John of the Cross turns to Scripture. He says many ancient Biblical characters also were mistaken about God’s prophecies.

Abraham

His first example is Abraham. God told Abraham he would inherit the land, but Abraham waited so long and God never gave it to him. Abraham finally asked God about this. That’s when God revealed that it wouldn’t be Abraham who possessed it, but his sons. Abraham was mistaken that he would own it himself, as he interpreted God’s Promise in a literal way. And yet God’s Promise was still technically true because the land went to his sons.

To many of the ancients many prophecies and locutions of God came not to pass as they expected, because they understood them after their own manner, in quite a different way, very literally.

In Genesis, God said to Abraham […] I will give thee this land. And when He had said it to him many times, and Abraham was by now very old, and He had never given it to him, though He had said it to him, Abraham answered God once again and said: Lord, whereby or by what sign am I to know that I am to possess it? Then God revealed to him that he was not to possess it in person, but that his sons would do so after four hundred years; and Abraham then understood the promise, which was in itself most true; for, in giving it to his sons for love of him, God was giving it to himself. And thus Abraham was deceived by the way in which he himself understood the prophecy. If he had then acted according to his own understanding of it, those that saw him die without its having been given to him might have erred greatly; […] And, as they had heard him say that God would give it to him, they would have been confounded and would have believed it to have been false.

John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, BOOK II CHAPTER XIX (Pages 149-150)

John makes a good point saying Abraham could have gone way wrong by acting on a mistaken literal interpretation of the prophecy. Abraham did well by listening to God instead of acting on his own, since on his own he was mistaken about the fulfillment of the Promise.

Jacob

The second example was God’s promise to Jacob, that He would guide Jacob down to Egypt and back out again. But Jacob himself died in Egypt without ever leaving. If Jacob interpreted God’s Promise in a literal way, he would have died thinking it unfulfilled. But actually, it was fulfilled when God brought Jacob’s children out of Egypt later.

Likewise to his grandson Jacob, when Joseph brought him to Egypt because of the famine in Canaan, and when he was on the road, God appeared and said: Jacob, fear not; go down to Egypt, and I will go down there with thee; and, when thou goest forth thence again, I will bring thee out and guide thee. This, as it would seem according to our own manner of understanding, was not fulfilled, for, as we know, the good old man Jacob died in Egypt and never went out thence alive. The word of God was to be fulfilled in his children, whom He brought out thence after many years, being Himself their guide upon the way. […] And thus, while the words of God are in themselves most true, it is possible to be greatly mistaken with regard to them.

John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, BOOK II CHAPTER XIX (Page 150)

John of the Cross reminds us in closing that it’s possible to be greatly mistaken about the words God speaks to us.

Just Be Careful

Dreams and visions and prophecies (etc.) from God are good things. They are blessings. We don’t have to reject or deny them or anything like that.

But we do need to be careful. As John of the Cross shows with examples from Scripture, it’s all too easy to be mistaken about what God said. This is because we interpret what He says in a literal way with our human understanding. But leaning on our literal understanding is not the way to ponder the Spiritual messages of an Infinite God. What god says may not turn out the way we think!! We’re often mistaken in our interpretation.

If we act on our mistaken interpretations of things God has said, we can go astray into many mishaps and errors. So we need to be careful, prudent, and not make hasty decisions based on dreams and so on.

We just need to remember to be careful. We need to remember when it comes to messages from God, He speaks these in a different language. He speaks these things in a Spiritual language. How can we accurately interpret a Spiritual language with our human senses?? Maybe we’ll get some important things right, but we’ll get some things wrong too. Let’s remember to never consider ourselves wise, and never lean on our own understanding. Our literal understanding.

To put that in other words, I’ll let John of the Cross close out today’s post with his statement:

And thus, in discussing prophecy, we have not to consider our own sense and language, knowing that the language of God is very different from ours, and that it is spiritual language, and very far removed from our understanding and exceedingly difficult.

John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, BOOK II CHAPTER XIX (Page 153)

That’s it for #shorts Part 43.

Like my content?? Leave a tip at https://ko-fi.com/999_the_end_is_now


Well that’s all for today. If you enjoyed today’s post, be sure to Subscribe using the link below. And please consider Supporting My Blog using the Tip Jar: https://ko-fi.com/999_the_end_is_now. Any amount is much appreciated!!

Until next time, be strong and do good!!

Your new best friend in Christ,

99:9

<<<EXALT THE LORD OUR GOD AND WORSHIP AT HIS HOLY HILL; FOR THE LORD OUR GOD IS HOLY>>>


Follow My Blog

Subscribe to my FREE Substack newsletter so you never miss any of my posts!!
https://999f64.substack.com/

Support My Blog

The Tip Jar: https://ko-fi.com/999_the_end_is_now. Any amount is much appreciated!!

Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: