The Mixed Bag of the Prophetic
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From New Testament times, the prophet’s office has, at times, been a mixed bag that people have alternately sought after and yet often rejected for various reasons. Even in 1 Thess. 5:7, we read the exhortation “despise not prophesying.” Sometimes we despise prophesying because of the flawed character and arrogance of the prophets. Sometimes we despise prophesying because of a lack of clarity and understanding of the nature of the prophetic. Sometimes those identifying themselves with prophetic office have unknowingly operated not as authentic seers but rather as psychics or clairvoyants. We need good teaching and clarity regarding the prophet’s place and the role of the prophetic in the church.
What is prophecy? Our definition of the prophetic is the God-given capacity to hear the voice of God and to share what you hear for the benefit of others and your own benefit. It is not for the elite few – it is for every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
[1Co 12:7 KJV] 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (for the suitable purpose of your own benefit and the benefit of others)
[2Ch 20:20 KJV] 20 … Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. (to advance, prosper, progress, to succeed, to break out, go over, to accomplish, to finish well)
The prophetic purpose is to PROSPER you and move you out of stagnation into the place where everything you say and do is as effective as if God said it or did it.
What Our Attitude Toward the Prophetic Should Be
We should approach the prophetic with a spirit of zeal – not an attitude of passive skepticism saying in our hearts, “go ahead and impress me – I dare you.” That is the seat of the mocker Psalm 1 warns about. In Luke 17:21, Jesus said the kingdom doesn’t come with observation. We must do more than put our prophetic words on the shelf. We must war with our words (1 Tim. 1:18) and engage zealously with the prophetic both as a receiver and an originator of prophetic unction on behalf of ourselves and those around us.
[1Co 14:1] 1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy. …
Follow: To run swiftly after so as to catch a person or a thing. To run after. To eagerly and earnestly endeavor to acquire.
Desire: Burn with Zeal. To burn with envy or hate. To pursue, to busy oneself about. To seek after so as not to be lost or torn from oneself.
What is Prophecy For
[1Co 14:3] But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men [to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort. …
Prophesy is for edification, exhortation, and comfort. Not repudiation, rebuke, or to excoriate someone. Jesus calls us to wash feet, not step on toes. Rev. 19:10 tells us that the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. In the Old Covenant, men prophesied in the Spirit of Elijah; in the New Covenant, we prophesy in the testimony of Christ – Not just the Historical Christ – but the Christ that Col. 1:26 declares is IN YOU as the HOPE OF GLORY.
[Col 1:27-28 KJV] 27 To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Christ in you is the Hope of Glory in your life. Christ in Me is not YOUR hope of glory. Christ in YOU is your Father – Christ in me is just your brother. The prophetic spirit properly handled by the prophet or prophetic person will activate the Christ in you.
[Phl 4:19 KJV] 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
The glory out of which God supplies ALL your need is the glory that is in the inside of you. The prophet’s role is to speak to the Christ in you and activate the Christ in you, even as John the Baptist did with Jesus. John 10:41 tells us that John did no miracle, but amazingly Jesus did no miracles until John spoke to who He was. John activated Jesus in His miracle ministry. The prophet speaks to the Christ in you – who Jesus is on the inside of you and activates the supply that Paul spoke of – that meets every need and causes everything you say and do to become as effective as if God said it or did it.
The Difference Between Old Testament and New Testament Prophetic Ministry
[Luk 9:51-55 KJV] 51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, 52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. 53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw [this], they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save [them]. And they went to another village.
When Jesus said, “you don’t know what spirit you are of,” He wasn’t saying they were demonized. He was in that moment reconfiguring the prophetic from an Old Covenant paradigm of judgment and the law of sin and death to a New Covenant paradigm of grace and mercy.
Some prophets will object, saying, “our message is a message of repentance!”. Yes, it is. Romans 2:4 tells us that it is the GOODNESS OF GOD that leads men to repent. In other words, when people need to repent – give them God’s goodness. Isn’t that what God did in sending His only son Jesus?
Now there are those in the office of a prophet who say – yes – the rank and file when they prophesy should restrict themselves to edification, exhortation, and comfort, but they contend “I am in the office of a prophet – I have the 007 anointing”. I defy you to find one New Testament prophet who ever prophesied outside the parameters of 1 Cor. 14:3 “edification, exhortation and comfort.” This is not to say you don’t need REBUKE, REPROOF, AND CORRECTION, however (you KNOW you do!). Whose job is that? Paul told Timothy:
[2Ti 4:2 KJV] 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Who was Timothy? He was an apostle in training. As important as it is to answer the question “who is the prophet in your life,” you must answer “who is the apostle in your life,” and are you headed for the exit when he/she gets up into your business?
The Deferential Mandate of the Prophetic
[Jhn 3:30 KJV] 30 He must increase, but I [must] decrease.
As a prophet, John made way for Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our profession (Heb. 3:1). One of the primary callings of a prophet is to establish before the people an OPEN DEFERENCE to the apostle’s office. To point at the activated anointing on a God called apostle and say, “Behold the lamb of God that deals with the sin in the world and in US”. When John deferred to Jesus – Jesus went out and confronted the nation and fulfilled His personal destiny. When prophets today defer to the ministry of the apostle, we will see men and women with apostolic mantles go out in the power of the Spirit and manifest a testimony that the world cannot ignore, and the church cannot marginalize.
[Act 13:1-2 KJV] 1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Even the apostle Paul’s ministry was activated and launched by the college of prophets and teachers that gathered and ministered to the Lord until the Spirit spoke and the commissioning of Barnabas and Saul was declared. (This house the Father says is a DECLARATIVE HOUSE in the nation just as the church at Antioch was 2000 years ago).
Prophecy Destroys Unbelief
1 Cor:14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. … 24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or [one] unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: …
One of the purposes of God in the prophetic is to deal with unbelief. An unbeliever comes in, and by word of knowledge in prophecy, the secrets of his heart are revealed, and he will then be prepared to accept Christ. The word of knowledge component of a prophecy is specifically there not to validate the prophet or the prophecy but to address the Thomas mentality or unbelief in the heart of the person receiving the prophetic word over their life. This is where prophecy begins in all our lives, but it takes us from skepticism and unbelief to the confidence of God, knowing that the prophetic is installed in our lives not just to circumvent unbelief but to establish us and bring us to the point of breaking out and breaking through into the flow of the river of God in our lives.
Occasionally people say, “… if a prophet doesn’t tell me something that he could not have known otherwise unless God revealed it, then his prophecy isn’t valid…” Is this true? Must a prophecy contain a word of knowledge to be valid? Only where unbelievers are concerned. As a believer, if you demand a word of knowledge before you will accept a prophecy as valid then you are steeped in unbelief. You aren’t an unbeliever, are you? This is the Thomas mentality of many Christians, even those who claim to value the prophetic. It isn’t the prophet’s job to deal with your unbelief. It doesn’t take ANY FAITH to accept a prophetic word that tells you secrets not otherwise known. This is disparaging to the prophetic and is no different than going to a palm reader or a psychic.
Prophecy Must Be Judged
1 Cor:14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. …
Only you can establish the ultimate value of the prophetic word someone gives you. To judge a prophecy, you should wait for two or three prophets to speak over you regarding whatever is going on in your life at the time. Never reject a prophetic word because it contains something or refers to something you never thought of or anticipated. Wait for confirmation. Then access the value of the word. Be cautious about asking a prophet to explain the word they have given.
Prophets get into trouble when they try to explain the word they have given or impose upon you their idea of what you must do with the word they have given. A prophet who gets pushy over the word they have given to the church, a leader, or an individual is operating in witchcraft and should be ignored no matter their stature. A prophet’s job is to deliver the word and leave it with those that God calls “the others.” Let the others judge, and the first authority to judge the word is the person who received the word. Prophets who get in the flesh become wizards. Apostles who get in the flesh become sorcerers. Learn to judge righteous judgment when a prophet or an apostle errs. This doesn’t mean you burn them at the stake. It means you bear in mind that they are come from dust just like you and me and do not look at them in a manner that is not godly for you or helpful for them.
Conclusion: You May ALL Prophesy
In Numbers 11:27-28, Moses was laying hands on a company of Elders that they might partake of his spirit and assist in the leadership of the people. Two of the elders (Eldad and Medad) were late for the meeting, and the Spirit fell on them, and they prophesied spontaneously outside this closed meeting. The report came to Moses as though they had done something wrong, but Moses spoke the heart of God in reply:
[Num 11:28-29 KJV] 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, [one] of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. 29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, [and] that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!
Modern-day prophets are here not just to hear from God for you but to model hearing from God for all the people. A prophet who speaks the words of God without mentoring the people and teaching them how to hear from God for themselves has done that people a great disservice.
1 Corinthians 14:31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted… 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
We should COVET to hear from God and share what we hear. Paul told Timothy to stir up the gift of God in his life:
[2Ti 1:6 KJV] 6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
That word “stir up” means “to resuscitate”; and “to kindle, to enflame.” So let us ask the Father to revitalize not only the hearing of the prophetic word in our lives but the origination of the prophetic word in our mouths that we might become that instrument of breakthrough and blessing to all those around us.
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