Rubel Shelly - Faith Matters - Prophesying Women

Prophesying Women: In defending public, speaking, stand-up roles for women in the worship assembly, Rubel Shelly of Woodmont Hills notes that:The evangelist Philip had four unmarried daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9).

In fairness you should read the entire article by Clicking Here.

Prophesying and music went together. Therefore, you may want to read Rubel Shelly's repudiation of the none use of instrumental music in worship.

A parallel article was delivered at the Restoration Forum at Abilene Christian University (ACU), Dr. Shelly had already established a foundation hostile to the purely A Capella view by repudiating those who resist full fellowship with instrumental groups.

You should understand that the true prophets were sent to pronounce judgment upon the priestly leaders who had led the nation into worship like the nations to meet their own mercenary needs.

The effeminate prophesying was singing and playing musical instruments often in the belief that they could arouse the dead gods. This was a direct insult to God who had already delivered His Word to them through Moses.

When Israel rejected God's direct rule he sent the professional "prophesiers" from the Philistine "high place" as a judgmental sign of their rejection:

After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: 1S.10:5

"This is the first mention in the OT of a band of prophets. These were men who went about in companies and were able by means of music and dancing to work themselves up into a convulsive and ecstatic frenzy (2 Ki. 3:1-10).

Their abnormality was believed to be caused by the invasive influence of the spirit of god.

The word prophesied here does not mean either foretelling the future or preaching after the manner of the later prophets,

but engaging in the ritual dance of the prophetic guild (19:18-24). Their behavior was commonly regarded as a form of madness (2 Ki. 9:11; Jer. 29:26)" (The Int. Bible Ency., I Sam. p. 932).

David had soothed Saul's madness with song and harp but in the end it drove him over the edge and Saul tried to murder David. When David was running from Saul, he was taunted with the boast song the musical women had composed to honor David and insult Saul. David knew that it was a lie and that he wasn't really that brave and had not killed that many of the enemy. Therefore, the way to escape judgment was to fall into a form of praise which was pretending to be insane to attract favorable attention:

And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 1Sam 21:12

And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled (scratched or drummed) on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. 1Sam 21:13

This is the boasting praise usually associated with David's singing with musical instruments:

Halal (g1984) haw-lal'; a prim. root; to be clear (orig. of sound, but usually of color); to shine; hence to make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; also to stultify: - (make) boast (self), celebrate, commend, (deal, make), fool (- ish, -ly), glory, give [light], be (make, feign self) mad (against), give in marriage, [sing, be worthy of] praise, rage, renowned, shine.

This same form of prophesying in a musical sense would be madness if done in church. Therefore, Paul precluded charismatic music by demanding that the women be silent when the church came together in assembly.

If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 1Co.14:23

Paul quotes Isaiah 28 to show that speaking or singing in tongues in the "prophesying" sense was a sign of unbelief.

This mad prophesying or singing with musical instruments was a judgmental sign always heaped upon people who reject God. Therefore, God through Samuel prophesied that the kings would destroy the nation and he gave them other signs:

And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him,

Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands. 1S 10:19

Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king. 1S 12:17

Organizing the people into groups of a hundred or thousand was a "ministry system" imposed upon Israel by God as they insisted that they would be governed by a like the nations king and worship like the nations.

Joel also prophesied of mixed blessings as young boys and girls engaged in this form of judgmental prophesying and the old men engaged in dreaming or the enchanting methods of the Chaldeans:

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: Joel 2:28 (Like enchanter)

And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. Joel 2:30

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. Joel 2:31

This word for "prophesy" is used of those who sing their predictions by "making themselves into a prophet." When used of true prophets, it is a pronouncement of doom upon those who hear it:

Naba (h5012) naw-baw'; a prim. root; to prophesy, i. e. speak (or sing) by inspiration (in prediction or simple discourse): - prophesy (- ing), make self of prophet.

Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them:

they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Je.14:14

When people compose the song or sermon in their own heart rather than "delivering the Word as it has been delivered to you" you know that they are "prophesying" in the form of ancient and modern paganism. This also describes "speaking in tongues" in the Old Testament.

The musical Levites had been used to panic the enemy or signal the army going into battle. After the battles were over, David had too many musicians on his hands. As a result he made them into musical prophesiers to "excel over" the people to force them to worship or, later, to drive or oversee the slaves as they were forced to build the temple:

David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. Here is the list of the men who performed this service: 1Chr.25:1

Now, let us look at Philip's daughters:

And the next day we that were of Pauls company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. Ac 21:8

And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. Ac 21:9

And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. Ac 21:10

We don't have a single word they prophesied! To the contrary, when God wanted Paul to receive His message, He sent Agabus who was a male. Philip's daughters were fulfilling the prophecy as a sign (like the tongues) that Israel as a nation was doomed. The Holy Spirit drew a deliberate contrast between "prophesying" as a musical warning sign and being an inspired prophet. Philip's daughters were not invited to prophesy "in church."

The maddening prophesying of Jezebel's 950 false prophets was in competition with one true prophet. Remember that Paul said that one word from a sane mind was worth 2000 spoken without understanding through singing or speaking that which was not Biblical (1Cor 14:6).

Elijah did not sing, dance, play musical instruments or bruise himself. He simply spoke the quiet word and God poured out a baptism of fire upon the sacrificial victim and many of the false prophesiers were put to death.

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Kenneth Sublett

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