Why do we not have many prophets today like the days of old? I thought God was the same yesterday, today and forever?
In short, we do.
I think you’re confusing what a prophet is, as in “one who prophesies”, and the priesthood calling of prophet, seer, and revelator, a.k.a. the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the very least, we have 15 prophets though, as all of the 12 and the counselors to the president are prophets, and it is not beyond reason for a seventy to prophesy by the Spirit. Nor is it out of bounds that anyone, male or female, might prophesy. Prophesy is a gift of the spirit as we read in Moroni 10:8,13,17:
8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.
13 And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things;
17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.
Dallin H. Oaks taught,
“Speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost and within the limits of his or her responsibility, a person may be inspired to predict what will come to pass in the future.”
What we need to remember is that the Lord has structured His Church in these last days so that only one man holds all the keys to the kingdom on earth at one time. And only one man may receive revelation on behalf of that kingdom as a whole.
But anyone can receive revelation, including prophesy, for their stewardship. Take for example a Patriarch. Patriarchal blessings almost always contain prophesy. A patriarch is a prophet.
As the Lord revealed to Oliver Cowdery in D&C 28:4-7:
4 And if thou art led at any time by the Comforter to speak or teach, or at all times by the way of commandment unto the church, thou mayest do it.
5 But thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom;
6 And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church;
7 For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead.
And in D&C 43:1-7 we learn concerning those not set apart receiving revelation for the Church:
1 O hearken, ye elders of my church, and give ear to the words which I shall speak unto you.
2 For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand.
3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.
4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.
5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments;
6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.
7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.
Note the reason for this order of things. “That you may not be deceived.” The Lord has established a pattern and a standard that we may move forward with confidence and not be blown about by every prophesy, commandment, or revelation claimed by any old person.
Two important points are established in the hierarchy of the Church. First, only the president of the Church may receive revelation for the whole Church. If any other man or woman claims to have knowledge for the Church that the prophet does not, we may safely discard that information. Second, if anyone receives revelation even within their stewardship that is contradictory to the prophet we may also discard it. Even within our stewardship, the Lord is a God of order. He will not inspire us to do differently than He has told His prophets. Of course we must be wise in this. If we feel prompted not to attend a ward activity, in spite of the fact that we’ve been counseled to attend activities in general, we should follow the prompting. If we feel prompted to not pay our tithing, we should pay our tithing anyway. The prompting is false. Laws of the gospel are given by he who presides over the Church through revelation from God.
Gerald N. Lund taught,
“Revelation from God does not contradict gospel principles or go contrary to established Church policy and procedure.”
Dallin H Oaks taught this principle as well,
“First, we should understand what can be called the principle of “responsibility in revelation.” Our Heavenly Father’s house is a house of order, where his servants are commanded to “act in the office in which [they are] appointed” (D&C 107:99). This principle applies to revelation. Only the President of the Church receives revelation to guide the entire Church. Only the stake president receives revelation for the special guidance of the stake. The person who receives revelation for the ward is the bishop. For a family, it is the priesthood leadership of the family. Leaders receive revelation for their own areas of responsibility. Individuals can receive revelation to guide their own lives. But when one person purports to receive revelation for another person outside his or her own area of responsibility—such as a Church member who claims to have revelation to guide the entire Church or a person who claims to have a revelation to guide another person over whom he or she has no presiding authority according to the order of the Church—you can be sure that such revelations are not from the Lord.”
Finally, Boyd K. Packer speaks on the matter of common sense in these matters. Unfortunately common sense is becoming all too uncommon. But we can still be wise in these things:
“You should know also that, in addition to static and interference which jam the circuits, there are counterfeit signals.
Some have received revelations and heard voices that are put there deliberately by wicked sources to lead astray. You can learn to recognize those and tune them out, if you will.
Now, how do you tell the difference? How can you know if a prompting is an inspiration or a temptation?
My answer to that must surely expose my great confidence in young people. I believe young people, when properly taught, are basically sensible.
In the Church we are not exempt from common sense. You can know to begin with that you won’t be prompted from any righteous source to steal, to lie, to cheat, to join anyone in any kind of moral transgression.
You have a conscience even as a little boy and girl. It will prompt you to know the things that are wrong. Don’t smother it.
Once again the scriptures tell us something. Read the Book of Mormon—Moroni, chapter 7. I quote only one verse:
“For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night” (Moro. 7:15).
You read the whole chapter. It tells of a way to judge such things.
If ever you are confused and feel that you are being misled, go for counsel to your parents, and to your leaders.”
Truly the Lord does not change. Prophesy abounds. We all have the right to prophesy, as long as we use wisdom and follow the Lord’s order.