LEARNING TO PROPHESY
All too often there is a tendency in our churches to criticize one who stumbles in some way while prophesying. But it is not easy to learn to speak prophetically in front of others. It takes much prayer and spiritual maturity to move with confidence in the prophetic realm. After all, it is no easy thing to speak forth in front of others, knowing that they will be judging your words. I know of no short cuts or easy methods in this learning process. The move we understand this difficulty, the more understanding and supportive we will be of those who prophesy.
Making the leaders to know how it’s not easily personality to prophesy as a man, than as Holy Spirit help and use us as His vessel to minister to His people. Let me uses this illustration; usually I have a table in front of me, if I may ask you to use your imagination for a few minutes. Now, imagine that I have two men bringing a large plank into room and lay it on the table. Then I tell you to imagine a small boy, six or seven years old, standing next to me. I reach into an imagination toolbox, get a saw and hand it to the boy. I tell him, “son, take this saw and cut this plank into two please!” then I leave the room. I gave him no instruction—not even as much as how to hold the saw!
“Now, how long is it going to take this child to cut the plank?”
“A very long time of cause!” I now have 27 years old man carpenter next to me. I give him the saw and say, “sir, please cut the plank into two pieces” and I leave the room. How long is it going to take him to cut the plank?” “Yes,” “very quickly!” Why was the 27 years old professional carpenter able to cut the plank easily or more quickly than the six years old boy? The answer is obvious. First, the carpenter was trained in the proper use of the saw and second, he had superior strength by virtue of the age, exercise and maturity.
If we don’t expect a small boy to be proficient with a saw, why should we expect a Christian to prophesy expertly the first time he or she prophesies? One must learn to use the gift of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the gifts are supernatural, but the learning to use them is a process which takes time and patience on every one’s part.
SEPARATING GIFT FROM MINISTRIES
These are a carpenter with all the tools in the toolbox. He has a saw, a hammer, a wood plank, a level and so on. It is the matured craftsman who can best use the proper tools to accomplish the task at hand. The carpenter is the “minister” and the tools in his toolbox are the “gift” of the Holy Spirit.
God uses people who are called and prepared by the Spirit to accomplish His work on earth. They serve the church, the body of Christ. I believe that every believer has a ministry call for, Apostle Paul tells us, “now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 cor. 12:27).
Apostle Prophet Pastor
Teacher Evangelist Miracle workers
Healers Administrators Those Gifted to Bring
Servers Encouragers Messages I Tongues
Leaders Showers of Mercy Givers
The above list was taken from 1 cor.12:28, Eph. 4:11 and Rom.12:6-8. I believe every member of the body of Christ has a ministry call of at least one of the above ministers.
For simplicity of illustration, I have divided the nine gift of the Holy Spirit into three categories in the toolbox illustrated above; they are the ministers “tools”
REVELATION GIFTS POWER GIFTS VERBAL GIFTS
Word of knowledge Faith (Different) Kinds of Tongues
Word of wisdom Gifts of Healing The interpretation of Tongues
Discerning of Spirits working of Miracles Prophecy
Each minister has the tools in his toolbox that are necessary to perform his or her ministry purposed. To go back to our analogy of the carpenter, an auto mechanic has different tools in his toolbox than a carpenter. So also each of the ministers in the body of Christ will have different gifts of the Spirit in order to be able to fulfill his or her ministry.
The “tools” of Gifts of the prophet
The prophetic ministry is a public speaking ministry. Thus, the prophet often operates all the verbal gifts: different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, and the gift of prophecy. The prophet may also operate the revelation gifts: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge and the discerning of the spirits.
Finally, on a limited basis, some prophets will operate the power gifts: Faith, the gifts f healing and the working of miracles. The one who operates in the gift of prophecy, but is not a called prophesy, may also have another ministry call as well.
Once we come to understand the difficulties for those just learning to prophesy, we can be more patient and encouraging. As church leaders we can also be somewhat directive in our teaching and advice so as to help shorten the maturing process. After all, all of us are still, to some degree, learning to use our “tools”!
DIFFERENT KINDS OF PROPHECY
Prophecy is wide and varied in its scope. There are a number of ways to divide, or categorize prophecy. For example, there are prophecies concerning individuals, groups of people, and nations. There are prophecies of prediction, prophecies of rebukes, and prophecies of guidance and so on.
I will divide prophecy into various categories and sub-categories. This analysis is not to be held too rigidly. My purpose is to assist called prophets of the last day in better understanding the various kinds of prophecy, not to try to over categorize the prophetic word.
PROPHECY RELATIVE TO HUMAN ACTION
Some prophecies involved the need for human action and some do not. There are 1) prophecies that are independent of man of man, 2) prophecies based on past action by man but man not requiring no further action on man’s part, 3) condition prophecies based on man’s future action.
- PROPHECY INDEPENDENT OF HUMAN ACTION
Prophecy independent of human action is that prophecy which God brings about regardless of what any human being does or does not do. An excellent example of this category of prophecy is found in Isaiah:
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah9:6, 7)
Here was see a prophecy that God without doubt intended to bring about regardless of human action or inaction. This prophecy concerning the coming of Christ was completely independent of man. Man could do nothing to neither stop nor fulfill this prophecy. God alone was in control of its fulfillment. Note that the end of verse seven says, “The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
Another example of this kind of prophecy is found in Genesis, chapter 25. The Lord was speaking to Rebecca about her two as yet to unborn sons:
And the LORD said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23)
God acted to bring the prophecy to pass. Let’s look at Paul’s analysis of this passage:
(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),
it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.”
As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
¶ What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!
For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. (Rom.9:11-16)
I believe that prophecies in this category pertain to the eternal plan and purpose of God. Satan and his agents in the kingdom cannot evens stop these prophecies, as he uses even thee human to afford it too occur on earth. From God’s viewpoint, must happen. Therefore God sees to it that they do happen.
- PROPHECY THAT DOES NOT DEPEND ON FURTHER HUMAN ACTION
Prophecies in the category are those which are based on past human deeds or actions but that require no further action. An example of this type of prophecy is found in book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah prophesied to the king of Judah a period of 70 years of Babylonian break the “”break the “yoke” of the king of Babylon within two years. Hananiah the removed and broke the wooden yoke Jeremiah symbolically wearing. Here’s God response:
Now the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
“Go and tell Hananiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “You have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made in their place yokes of iron.”
‘For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him. I have given him the beasts of the field also.”
Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Hear now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie.
“Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the LORD.'”
So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month. (Jer28:12-17)
There was no “if” or “but” given Hananiah. His past action sealed his fate. God spoke. Hananiah died.
LAW ON INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECY
Assuming that God is desirous of speaking to man in mysteries, many believers erroneously that prophecy cannot be understood before it is fulfilled; and further
More, that it is given in such lofty figures of speech with so many allusions to manners, customs times and places unknown to the average reader that it cannot be understood without special help. The regrettable thing is that long with this concert of prophecy, some add further complications by overlooking simple fact which, if taken literally as written, would make a clear understanding possible.
- CONDITIONAL PROPHECY BASED ON MAN’S OBEDIENCE
Conditional prophecy is that prophecy which is dependent upon man’s further action to cause it to come to pass. The word “if” is often used in this type of prophecy although not always. An excellent example of this type of prophecy is found in the Lord’s word for Israel:
“…if you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you will pay attention to His commands and keep all His degree, I will not bring on you any of the disease I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” (Exo. 15:26)
Another example of this conditional prophecy is found in Deuteronomy 30:15-20
A New Testament example of condition prophecy is found in Revelation:
¶ “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
“and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent.
“But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”‘ (Rev. 2:1-7)
In each of these examples man must act in accordance with stated condition in order to fulfill the prophecy. Human action is a, prerequisite for fulfillment. in the case of the “if” prophecies, when man does not do what is required of him, the prophecy goes unfulfilled. In case of the “repent” prophecies, if man does not repent, then certain consequences flow. On the other hand, if man does repent, certain other consequences flow.
PROPHECIES CATEGORIZED BY CONTENT
I don’t believe in reducing God’s word formulas. Nor do I like putting God’s prophetic words into little boxes. Yet I do think it is helpful to recognize the following six different categories of the prophetic word. Please not that one prophetic utterance many contain two or more of these categories. They are:
Words of edification build up the hearer.
Words of exhortation motivate and renew the spirit of the hearer.
Words of comfort do just that, comfort the hearer.
Predictive words foretell things in the future.
Words of rebuke point out sin and extend a call to repentance.
Directive words ate those which give guidance to the hearer concerning some action or decision most often relation to the immediate or near future.
But for purpose of this section, I will just refer to “mature” and “immature” prophets. The first three types of prophetic word, edification, exhortation and comfort, may be delivered by either prophet but who is simply operating the gift of prophecy. Why is this so? Because prophetic words in these three categories generally can’t do harm to the hearer.
We all need to hear the Lord’s words of edification, exhortation, and comfort from time to time. They are for building up of the body of Christ. Furthermore, these words are easy to give. It is very reasonable that the Lord would give these kinds of words through the fledgling prophet or one who simply moves in the gift of prophecy. It does not take a mature prophet will all the authority that that entails to deliver these kinds of words.
Then latter three kinds of words, predictive, rebuke and directive, are generally delivered by a more matured prophet. Why? First, they can do much harm if they are not correct or are given at the wrong time. It takes a seasoned prophet to know when he is receiving this kind of word from God and what he or she should do about it.
For instance, a mature prophet often will given a word of this kind but he knows that time is not right to deliver it. A less mature prophet lacks such wisdom on timing.
A mature prophet takes no pleasure in delivering these kinds of words, especially word of rebuke. A less mature prophet is all too often eager to deliver words of rebuke. A mature prophet also realizes the heavy responsibility and burden of directional words. Again, the less mature prophet may not.
Words of prediction, rebuke, or directive are most often delivered with authority and, if the speaker is a tested and proven prophet, the hearers are more likely to hear and respond. It simply makes good sense that God would select His mature prophets to “go and tell my people” these kinds words. The young prophet who is not too far long in learning process is not as likely to be given a harder word to deliver.
However, this is not hard and fast rule. God certainly has the prerogative to set this rule aside and may, on occasion, use a less mature prophet to deliver His word, whatever its content. This is especially true in the absence of a mature prophet.
TIMING OF THE PROPHETIC WORD
There are two different time frames in the delivery of the prophetic word. God cause his word to be given in what I call the “word of the Moment” and / or the “word of a season.
- THE WORD OF THE MOMENT
The word of the moment is an utterance which is spontaneous to the speaker. It occurs when God sovereignty moves on an individual to speak forth a word that He wants the hearers to receive immediately. This kind of word can be delivered by either a called prophet or a person moving in the gift of prophecy.
For those churches with a more free move of the Holy Spirit, an utterance of this kind most often comes in the weekly public service. This is known as a public utterance and will always be in harmony with the rest of the service if it is truly from God and if the leadership is moving the service in harmony with the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Occasionally more private prophetic utterance of the moment occur when believers are together in prayer, counseling, worship, or even in conversation.
- THE WORD FOR A SEASON
I define the word for a season as the word of the Lord delivered offer some time has been spent in prayer. It is a word the Lord wants delivered to an individual or a church. Its content will often be prediction, rebuke of guidance.
Most often this kind of word is delivered by a called prophet who has been burdened by the Holy Spirit on behalf of an individual or church. The prophet may spend days, weeks, or even months in prayer with this burden. Then, when it has fullness in his or her spirit, and the Lord’s timing is right, that person knows it is time to deliver the word. Although less common, this word may also be delivered by one who is not a called prophet but whom the Holy Spirit has burdened about a situation and who has thoroughly prayed that burden through.
This word for a season is often delivered in the form of a preaching or prophetic message to an entire church or group. A speaker who has a prophetic call may come from outside a church with this kind of word. Note, this word does not need to be a long preaching. I recall once when the Lords sent our church a clear directive word which was delivered by a visiting speaker in less than fifteen minutes. It was very powerful and we knew at the time that it was the word of the Lord to us for that season.
Note the word “season” does not necessarily mean now. It can apply to the past, present, and future. And remember, all prophecy, both public, is to be submitted for judgment. It is this judgment of the prophetic word we now see and practice bas bibles order us to do always in glorify Jesus Christ and the Kingdom above.