Prophets and seers are two streams of the same prophetic gift. (The seeing gift is also related to the ability of “discerning of spirits”).
Be sure to review this page, What is Prophecy?
Some people can know events in the spirit before they happen in the physical. This is a prophetic gift, one of the spiritual gifts. “Seers” are a group within this prophetic gifting, in that they “see” the events in the spirit before they happen. This is the most broad example of what a seer is.
Generally speaking, a seer is someone who can “see” what God or other spirits are doing in the spirit world. Normally, on this site, I speak of seers as those who see more clearly actual entities. In this post, I’m speaking more to the general gift, as part of the prophetic.
What do I mean by that? I’ll look to what L.A. Marzulli calls the “Guidebook to the Supernatural”, a collection of ancient works collectively known as the Bible, has to say.
Seers of the Bible
In the histories of the ancient Hebrews, seers are mentioned often. For instance, in about 1000 BC, 1 Samuel 9 records “When a man went to inquire of God, he said, ‘Come, let us go to the seer,’ for today’s prophet was formerly called a seer” (ESV). In fact, Samuel was called a seer several times.
A couple hundred years later, prophets, those who spoke God’s word, were considered separate from seers, who saw what God was doing, although often prophets saw visions. In fact, a large percentage of the Bible consists of visions and dreams… the records of what people saw in the spirit world.
Consider this odd verse from the Prophet Isaiah:
For the LORD has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes (the prophets), and covered your heads (the seers). Isa 29:10 ESV
I wonder why the prophets had to have their eyes closed, but the seers their heads covered? Something to do with the pineal gland? Hmm. I’ll muse on that one.
Check out this example, recorded about an invasion in the 7th or 8th Century BC. A certain Hebrew prophet would always know where the invading armies were, God having revealed it to him, and he’d let the Hebrew king know. The Hebrew king would then send the army to stop the invasion.
The invaders discovered the prophet had a direct line to the God of Israel, and decided to send an army to kill him. One morning, the prophet and the servant woke up to see the town surrounded. The servant freaked out, but the prophet said (paraphrasing) “Relax, those with us are more than those against us.” The servant asked what he meant. The prophet prayed that the servant would “see”… and he suddenly saw an army of angels in chariots of fire surrounding invaders. The prophet prayed that the army would be struck with blindness, and the army made it so. I suppose the human army was lucky the prophet didn’t ask for the angels to kill them.
Another example was recorded by the prophet/seer Daniel. He mentioned that an angel observed the “Prince of Greece” coming to attack and defeat the “Prince of Persia.” He was talking about powerful spirit entities that rule over specific territories. Historians have verified this was written many years before Alexander the Great (of Greece) invaded and defeated the Persian Empire.
Other Seers in the Old Testament
The Bible records that many, many people had encounters where they saw angels or other things in the spirit. They literally saw them, sometimes while in the presence of other people who could not see them. Other times, the angels or other spirit phenomena became visible to them.
Does just seeing an angel make someone a seer? Perhaps not, as angelic entities apparently can appear at will to people. However, the broadest definition of Seer is someone who has something spiritual revealed to him or her visually.
The very first two people recorded, Adam and Eve, not only saw Yahweh (the name of the God of Israel in the Old Testament, whom also is the Most High God, the Creator), but they also saw “The Shining One” 1, an angelic entity that deceived Eve and is later in the Bible called Satan. He was a shining entity. Angelic entities were often described that way in the Old Testament.
Abraham hosted not only the visible person of Yahweh but also several angels from time to time. God revealed to Abraham events in the future, thus qualifying him as a seer: he received visual revelation about future events and about events in the spirit realm.
One of the first Seers in the Bible, under the broad definition, is Hagar, the slave of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who was harsh with her. When Hagar fled to the desert, God appeared to Hagar in his visible-angelic form (the Name of Yahweh, in this instance). Prophecy is revealed to her by God, and she declared, “You are a God of seeing, for she said, Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.“ 2 That’s pretty awesome.
There are many others. Jacob had an incredible vision in a dream – yes, seers get visions in their dreams, as well – of a stairway to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. Joseph had vivid dreams. Job had vivid dreams. Micaiah saw into heaven. Jeremiah saw quite a lot, including highlighted objects. Ezekiel saw a ton.
Jesus the Seer
Jesus Christ apparently saw into the spirit world. The Apostle John recorded Jesus saying
Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. (John 5:19-20, ESV, emphasis added).
What does that mean exactly? Jesus could perceive with his eyes certain things in the spirit world. For instance, he could see the Holy Spirit hovering over someone, and then through his spoken word, release God’s will and power for that person, and miracles happened.
This principle is prevalent in the Bible. In the very first chapter of the Bible, the Holy Spirit is hovering over the waters, and God’s Word speaks, and the spoken word released the miracle of Creation.
Other Seers in the New Testament
The Apostle Peter saw things on occasion. In circa 30 AD, as recorded in Acts 3, Peter “directed his gaze” on a crippled man, spoke to him to get up and rise. A miracle occurred and the man stood up. Peter saw something and then released God’s will in that man’s life.
The Apostle Paul could also “see,” at least on occasion. Once, he was preaching to a crowd about Jesus and the grace of God (about the only things Paul talked about), and in the middle of his sermon, he stopped, and saw a man in the crowd who was lame from birth.
And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.”
Just how do you “see” faith? It’s something in the spirit and Paul’s spoken word released it and the man was healed.
A young seer I know saw a spirit of depression on a man. She knew that God wants good things for people, not bad things like demonic assignments of depression. She approached him and asked if he wanted released from it. He said no.
A different seer I know saw a similar thing on a man at a mall. She approached him and asked, and he said yes, he wanted gone. A short prayer to Jesus broke the assignment and the demon left.
Seeing Highlighted Objects
Let’s jump back a few centuries before Christ to the prophet Jeremiah, who actually saw the Word of God in human form. Jeremiah wrote in about 600 BC. God asked Jeremiah, “What do you see?” Jeremiah replied that he saw an “almond branch.” God then prophesied to him through what he saw. The link between the prophetic word God gave to Jeremiah and the almond branch is lost in our English translations, but in the original language, there’s a pun being employed.
Now, what is going on here? Certainly Jeremiah saw more than an almond branch. But somehow, in the spirit, the almond branch was highlighted. He surveyed his surroundings, somehow the almond branch stood out, and so Jeremiah mentioned it. So Jeremiah saw something and a prophecy came through it. (This is discussed more deeply this eBook Hearing God).
There are probably hundreds of examples in the Bible of people seeing angels and lots of interesting, terrifying, and amazing things in the spirit. But I will end with one more intriguing example: Jesus on the Cross.
What Jesus Saw From the Cross
When Jesus was crucified, he hung on the cross much of the day, and he said a few things that witnesses recorded. One of the things he said was a quote from Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” When you read the rest of the Psalm, you see many prophecies fulfilled by Jesus, some on the day he was killed, including the means whereby the Roman soldiers divided his clothes.
Psalm 22 also says,
“Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.”
To the ancient Hebrews (who were the writers and the intended audience of the Psalms), the “bulls of Bashan” are demons. I think of the scene in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Aslan is killed, and he’s surrounded by horrendous monsters, celebrating his death.
The “Bulls of Bashan” encompassing Jesus on the cross must have looked far more terrifying, and Jesus could see them.
The New Testament authors record that the demons celebrated and orchestrated Jesus’ death. But they didn’t know what was going to happen next.
Jesus descended to Hell and spoke to the demons and fallen angels already there, announcing they had actually lost, not won. God then resurrected Jesus, and in doing so, God disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities (demons) and put them to open shame, triumphing over them in Jesus. One of the New Testament writers declared that if the demons had known what was going to happen, they wouldn’t have crucified Jesus.
So Jesus looked down from the Cross, the instrument recognized as the most humiliating, torturous and cruel of deaths devised by the ancient Romans, and espied the demons celebrating their supposed victory, when all along, it was on the Cross that Jesus defeated them. This is why demons will flee at the name of Jesus, the only Jesus who died on the Cross and rose again.
Bringing it All Together
I know there is a lot of interest in exploring the prophetic as well as the seer gifts. Some questions to ponder:
Is the ability to see a gift or a physical attribute?
For Christians, prophetic and seeing gifts are distributed by the Holy Spirit. But what about those who see clearly before encountering the Holy Spirit? Are their abilities gifted to them from other spirits, or are they engrained physically in their brains?
For some, is it a function of the brain they are born with, and for others, the gift is given after being filled with the Holy Spirit? Contemplate these things. And thanks for reading!