But for Joshua, this was an opportunity to shine and redeem an image that has taken a bashing on many fronts in recent times. Obviously relying on polls and media coverage that gave it overwhelmingly to the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, the man of God as we call them here declared that God had showed him that the next President of the United States would be Clinton. To be fair to the prophet, he really did not categorically mention the name Hilary Clinton. What he said was that a woman would win. So, I have been trying to make excuses for our embattled prophet but I must confess that the more I try, the more my logic flies in the face of common sense.
So, what if Joshua was merely speaking in parables? Do we not know that men of God do not speak literal language? Are we not aware of the several parables Jesus told which even confounded the supposedly learned Pharisees and Sadducees of his time? Has it not occurred to many of us that Joshua might have been speaking in parables when he said a woman would win the US election? Maybe, the prophet’s message was that we might have a sitting male President in Donald Trump but the buttons of power would be pushed behind the scenes by a woman – maybe Melania, his wife, or Ivanka, his daughter.
So, what if the man of God was merely referring to the popular votes which won? In this case, his explanation might be that the US Electoral College was unknown to the spiritual realm where he operates. In fact, Joshua toed this line in the face of social media backlash after it emerged that Clinton had lost. The argument was not only laughable, it worsened a bad situation as many thought it was proof of how naïve these so-called religious leaders think we are.
As I thought more about the US Electoral College system, it dawned on me that maybe, we have been too hasty in concluding that the election had been won and lost. Technically, the votes of the people do not directly elect the President of the US. It is the Electoral College electors that elect the President. Since the election results were announced, there’s been some talk about a possible revolt by the electors in the Electoral College who will formally vote on December 19.
In my desperate bid to defend the prophet, I asked myself more questions. What if this prophet truly heard from God and somehow God changed His mind? Have we not read in the Bible of instances where God sent prophets to deliver a particular message only to change His mind and cause the prophet much embarrassment?
Jonah was one such prophet. We all know the popular Sunday School story of how Jonah tried to avoid prophesying to the people of Nineveh but got swallowed by a fish that eventually berthed him on the shores of Nineveh after three days and three nights. Jonah eventually delivered God’s message to the people of Nineveh that they will be destroyed for their wickedness and sinful life. It did not happen.
As if Joshua was reading my mind, he was recently reported as telling his congregation that God simply changed his mind following the prayer of the American people. The Republicans heard that a notable cleric in Nigeria had prophesied a Clinton victory. So, just like the people of Nineveh declared total prayer to avert the wrath of God, the Trump camp declared total fasting and prayers to avert a Clinton victory. How ridiculous. So, in the last three weeks, Joshua has given three explanations of the same prophecy.
These must be tough times for the cleric’s Public Relations and reputation management team. It is about time they told him to keep quiet and save what’s left of his depleting personal brand equity. It is tough enough to defend a prophet who claimed he could see the winner of the US election but could not even foresee the collapse of parts of his church building which led to the death of several worshippers and then he turned around and blamed the tragedy on a hovering aircraft within the church airspace.
As illogical as this hovering aircraft argument sounds, the teeming worshippers at the Synagogue may have swallowed it hook line and sinker. Just as they would have swallowed the popular votes theory, the story about God changing His mind and anything else that proceeds from the mouth of Prophet Joshua. They would tell you how a prophet is with honour except in his home; how the Lord commands us to “touch not His anointed and do His prophet no harm”. And don’t be surprised if these are some of the most popular biblical verses in your church. Our religious leaders know their flock and they strategically propagate these self-serving verses for a reason. It’s the only way they can get away with murder.
Ogunbor wrote in from Lagos via firstname.lastname@example.org