Sat | Feb 23, 2019

Devon Dick | That prophecy about murder rate

Published:Thursday | January 24, 2019 | 12:11 AM
Passengers taken off a bus and their personal belongings search at a checkpoint in Spanish Town, St Catherine, during a state of public emergency.

Ruddy Mathison, a Gleaner writer, claimed that the prophecy made by a bishop came true: ‘. . . official police statistics show that there is a 21 per cent reduction in murders islandwide, fulfilling a prophecy he made . . .’ Then in the same feature, Mathison said that I questioned the bishop’s gift (Gleaner, December 29, 2018). What Mathison did was to malign me by saying that while the bishop’s prophecy was fulfilled, I was questioning that gift. But what did I say? ‘When or if this prophecy comes true, he would be our leading bishop and prophet. The nation would have to heed his voice and get a new coat of arms. But what of the unthinkable that this prophecy fails? How would God be defended and validated?’ I presented both possibilities and the consequences of both.

But, was the prophecy fulfilled as Mathison claims? The bishop said, ‘I am declaring that by the power of God that works in me as a man of God, that the murder rate will substantially be reduced. You will see less [sic] than 1,000 murders this year or a little over 1,000’ (Gleaner April 16, 2018). According to Jamaica Constabulary Force figures, there were 1,281 as of December 29, 2018: 1,281 is not fewer than 1,000. In addition, 1,281 is not a little over a thousand. A little over 1,000 would be no more than 1009. Did fewer than 1,000 killings mean 719 killings for the year? No. So 1,281 killings could hardly mean a little over 1,000? So Mr Mathison, on what basis do you claim that the prophecy was fulfilled?

This is not the first bishop to claim that they were hearing from God and declared a reduction in murders. About a decade ago, another bishop said a similar claim and the murder rate did not abate. There was also another prophet who predicted that Portia Simpson Miller would win the general election in 2007, and Portia did not win. He also prophesied that Hillary Clinton would become president of the USA in 2008! Do you remember on March 16, 2012, a lady said that Dudus, the Don, cannot get more than five years (in jail) and ‘she bind dat, and cramp it and paralyse it’ in Jesus’ name? The rest is history.

There are things that need clarifying when persons say they are hearing from God. Is it an audible voice, or is it an inner voice? Is it a medium through which God speaks, such as scriptures, Holy Spirit, songs, sermons, sayings, nature, etc?

Lord’s name in vain

All these four persons, I believe, mean well. However, when Christians make a mistake, then it should be acknowledged and not try to cover it up or put any spin to it. Furthermore, there is the danger of taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Many persons believe that taking the Lord’s name in vain is when we exclaim ‘Jesus Christ!’ or when we take an oath in the name of God. However, taking the Lord’s name in vain is to swear falsely. The Bible speaks against flippant and frivolous oaths. God abhors when we use His name to give fake authority to our pronouncements in order that persons would listen.

Taking God’s name is to use God’s name to make reckless prophecies, promises and pledges. Using the name of God is to represent the power, presence, dignity and character of God and should not be done lightly or unadvisedly. It is never to be used for selfish economic gain or to promote partisan political agenda.

Let all Christians protect the name of God from false prophecies.

- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of ‘The Cross and the Machete’, and ‘Rebellion to Riot’. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.