We frequently get emails and letters in response to the Langstaff Letter. One recent letter read: “I’ve been shaken as to how wrong the prophetic has been with regard to this election.” It seems as though many people echo those words. Some are still not able to accept Trump losing the election. Some suffer from the grief of the loss or live in unbelief. In this letter, I will seek to shed some light on why election prophecies did not come to fruition. But first, here are some foundational words about prophets and prophetic ministry that we need to heed when we look at this question.
FOUNDATIONS FOR PROPHECY
- Prophets and Prophecies in the Word. Prophets and prophecy are genuine biblical ministries and need to be respected as such. They were an essential part of the Old Testament, and they were a ministry in the New Testament. Prophets are included in the list of ministries in Ephesians 4:11.
- Prophecies need to be tested. 1 John 4:1 (NKJV) tells us to “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” How do we test prophecy? Here are a few of the many ways:
- Is the prophecy consistent with scripture? God will not contradict, thru prophecy, what He has already declared in the Word.
- Are we interpreting the prophecy correctly? We can often have a true word and a wrong understanding of what it means.
- Are there conditions to the prophecy? For example, the often-quoted prophecy in 2 Chronicles 7:14 starts with “if my people.” Revival would come if certain conditions were fulfilled.
- What about the prophecy’s timing? This is often the most difficult aspect of prophecy to get right. For example, in 1973, I was at a Presbytery meeting in a Charismatic church. While I was there, I received a prophetic word in which a prophet saw me writing letters, lots of letters. It is only recently that I realized that the word really applied to me writing the Langstaff Letters, which did not start until nearly 50 years after I received the prophetic word.
There are other ways to test prophecy, but this will do for now.
- Don’t expect prophets and prophecies to be perfect. No prophet gets it right all the time. To use a baseball term: they don’t bat 1,000. An error in prophecy does not produce a false prophet any more than someone who makes an error in teaching is a false teacher. No matter what our ministry calling is, we are all on a journey of growing in maturity in our giftings. If one makes a mistake, one should admit it. I once asked a nationally known prophet if he ever missed it. He replied, “When I miss it, I miss it by a million miles.” His willingness to admit he was wrong at times increased my confidence in his ministry, which blessed my life over many years.
- Be wary of prophets who feel they could never be wrong. Recognize that prophecy is “in part.” As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:9 (NKJV), “For we know in part and we prophesy in part.” No one knows it all. One of the prophets who spoke strongly about Trump being re-elected was Jeremiah Johnson. He is to be applauded in that after the election, he wrote a wonderful letter acknowledging his error. It takes a “big” man to do something like that. I have included a link to the letter below.
THE ELECTION PROPHECIES
Many people, including well known national and international leaders in ministry, prophesied or predicted that Trump would win the 2020 election. What does one make of so many of them being wrong? What happened?
I am going to suggest a possibility which some will find difficult to agree with. The key to understanding what happened is to understand that many prophecies are conditional. Prophecies show forth God’s intent and plan for a situation. However, that plan may change based on the way people respond. The idea that God could say something and later do something different is disturbing for some people. Yet, let us realize there are many examples of this in scripture.
Craig Keener is a professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is a Charismatic Christian but is not a Trump supporter. He has written a very fine article entitled “When Political Prophecies Don’t Come to Pass.” I recommend you read it and have included the link below.
In his article, Keener writes, “In contrast to prophecies about God’s long-range purposes, most prophecies in the Bible about his short-range purposes are conditional, whether stated as such or not. Thus Jonah’s “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4) was not fulfilled in Jonah’s generation because Nineveh repented.
Jeremiah explains this process plainly: “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation, I warned, repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it” (Jer. 18:7-10). Perspectives on how conditional prophecy works vary. My own opinion is that God foreknows human choices or final outcomes, but he also accommodates time-bound people within time” (www.christianitytoday.com).
TRUMP AND THE ELECTION
Now, I believe it was God’s original plan and intent for Trump to have a second term in office. However, things changed, and it was not to be. If the prophecy was conditional, what were the changes? Why might God’s plan have changed?
Trump Himself. Trump has always been a proud man concerning his accomplishments. There is no question that he accomplished much during his four years as president, much more that he is credited for, and much more than any other president before him did. But increasingly, he spouted how good he had been, declaring he was the greatest one-term president since Abraham Lincoln and other statements praising himself. Proverbs 27:2 (NKJV) says, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth.” Maybe, Trump did not give sufficient credit to God for his election in 2016, and for all he accomplished during his term. God will not share His glory with another, and I suspect God took His hand off Trump during this election for this and other reasons.
Let me give you a Biblical example of God making a change. Take the case of King Saul. God told Samuel He was sending Saul to be anointed as commander over His people Israel. (1 Samuel 9:16) Later God told Samuel, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments” (1 Samuel 15:11, also see 1 Samuel 16:1, NKJV). God would tell Samuel He had now chosen David to be commander over His people. So God had a change of plans along the way.
Now this causes problems, especially theological problems. Some people’s response is that God doesn’t know the future (Open Theism). However, I believe that God is omniscient. He knows everything, including the future. I like how Craig Keener puts it concerning conditional prophecy, “God foreknows human choices or final outcomes, but he also accommodates time-bound people within time” (www.christianitytoday.com).
Trump Followers. Ron Cantor, a Messianic leader based in Israel, said he twice heard from God that Biden would win because of the church’s idolization of Trump (messiahsmandate.org). Increasingly throughout the four years of Trump’s presidency, many (not all) people began to exalt him and idolize him, believing that he needed a second term as president for America to survive. Politically speaking, to some, he was the nation’s savior. The Trump rallies were undoubtedly inspirational and rallied the troops. Nonetheless, they were almost the religious equivalent of a rock concert. Trump was their hero, Trump was their hope, and I am not sure God was pleased with that. As Chuck Colson said, “Salvation will not arrive on Air Force One” (breakpoint.org).
I believe that it could be that for these two reasons, God changed His plans, and Trump lost the 2020 election; this could be the reason that I believe God lifted His hand from Trump during this election season.
MY OWN EXPERIENCE
I voted for Trump, and I supported his campaign. In a previous Langstaff Letter, I gave my reasons for supporting him, and I made reference to how on September 29th, 2016, God gave me three words about the 2016 election: First, that Hilliary won the first debate, but Trump would win the election. Second, it may not turn out the way people think it will. Third, it would be a mixed blessing. There would be good things, but there would also be chaos and confusion.
I can dare to say that word came true. Then in 2019, well over 12-18 months before the 2020 election, I felt I received another word, “Trump will win the election in 2020, but he will not complete the four years.”
That word was wrong. It is my belief that things changed, and God’s plan was altered, as conditions, previously mentioned, did not take place.
To Trump Supporters – Don’t lose heart. God may not be finished with Trump, particularly if he humbles himself (See James 4:10). Winston Churchill was seen, by some, as a washed-up politician in the years before World War II. Then, at the right time, he stepped onto the pages of history as Britain’s wartime Prime Minister.
Richard Nixon was defeated by John F. Kennedy in 1960, and it looked like his political future was over, but he came back to win the presidency in 1968. Don’t rule out what God may yet do with Donald Trump. (See also ‘Langstaff Letter:Is There a Future for Trump,’ about Trump and King Nebuchadnezzar).
To all – Don’t despise prophecy. Fifty years ago, when I first came into the Charismatic Renewal and began to lead Charismatic meetings, there was a prophetic man in our midst. He would often come out with a prophecy, always about the same thing. I must confess it irked me. I began to despise prophecy, until one day, at a pastor’s meeting, an Assemblies of God pastor shared a passage out of Thessalonians 5 (NKJV), in which it says, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” The pastor spoke about prophecy being like feeding on chicken. Eat the meat and throw away the bones. Ever since that day, I determined not to despise prophecy. As a result, I have been greatly blessed in receiving prophetic ministry many, many times. It is one of God’s gifts in ministry, so respect and receive when it comes.
I look forward to your responses on this critical topic.
Check out Jeremiah Johnson’s letter here: https://cf.jeremiahjohnson.tv/jjm-apology-01-07-eub
Check out Craig Keener’s article here: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november-web-only/political-prophecy-false-bible-scholar-trump-election.html