By Gabe Liliedahl
September 9, 2023
We’re going to focus on the topic of future prophecy this week.
God has no problem with showing someone the future and we see the evidence all throughout the Old Testament. Our base scripture for the idea that God shows us the future is John 16:13.
John 16:13 ESV When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
While this is available to all believers, not every believer fully embraces the idea. I have no idea why. God is a supernatural God.
If He shared the future with people before, He still can.
The tendency in most churches is to teach a much different scripture. You’ll hear about John 14:26 way more often than John 16:13.
John 14:26 ESV But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
We need Holy Spirit to remind of us things. It’s comforting to know that he will do that for us. It’s also helpful to know He can show us the future. Ask him about it! I bring this up because the future aspect of prophecy is not lost. For the last three weeks, I’ve presented the basics of prophecy.
As a reminder, we are to desire it (1st Cor 14:1) and it’s for encouraging and comforting others (1st Cor 14:3).
All that you need to prophesy according to those requirements is to hear God’s voice for another.
We’ll likely talk about that more in the next email. I really wanted to get into the future aspect of this gift more today. There’s a lot of confusion and even fear surrounding the gift of prophecy.
Usually people fear it for various reasons, including misuse and abuse of the gift in the church.
Then there are the false prophet scriptures. Then there’s the scripture where people will say to Jesus, “We prophesied in your name,” to which he responds, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:22).”
All of that forms a great, big blockade that no one wants to deal with.
Don’t get me wrong, I see why people would be reluctant to pursue it. My issue with it is that God tells us to desire the higher gifts and to prophesy especially. If you boil down those gifts to one word, it would be power.
If God tells you to desire His power, you desire His power. He knows you need it and He wants you to have it.
It’s just that even though Holy Spirit can show you the future, it doesn’t mean you’re required to speak it. That idea is not the norm. It’s the exception to the rule. The best example of this can be found looking at one individual from the Bible: Agabus.
Acts 11:27-28 ESV Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).
Note that the Bible calls Agabus a prophet. Now let’s look at what he did. He foretold a famine. He prophesied. According to Paul, prophecy is meant to encourage and comfort. Let me ask you something. Does Agabus’ prophecy meet those standards? Is a famine encouraging? Is a famine comforting? Absolutely not!
The Bible says his prophecy came to pass later under Claudius’ reign. Agabus’ prophecy was correct. In the New Testament. After Jesus ascended.
A New Testament prophet is defying the rules and traditional thought about this type of thing.
His career doesn’t stop there. We see him again in Acts 21.
Acts 21:8-11 ESV On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”
Note that the Bible distinguishes between the Prophet Agabus and the daughters who prophesied.
There is a difference between those that prophesy and a full-blown prophet.
For the record, there were women prophetess. You may remember Debra from Judges 4 and Anna in Luke 2:36-38. Anna had some kind of revelation of Christ, we just don’t know the details.
Going back to Agabus, he performs a prophetic act (see Ezekiel 4 or Jeremiah 13). He ties Paul’s belt around his own hands, indicating bondage. He then tells Paul, “You’re going to jail" (paraphrase mine). Does that sound encouraging? Do you think it brought Paul comfort? Does it fit the standards of 1st Corinthians fourteen? No, it does not.
Clearly Agabus operated on a different level. The power of God never stopped in the New Testament. Paul gives guidelines for the gift of prophecy for the church. It’s just that there appears to be a second level of gifting.
In fact there’s a third level found in Ephesians four, which we won’t get into today. All that to say that there are different levels of gifting, yet we are all told to desire to prophesy, level one style.
You don’t have to be an Agabus to prophesy.
All you have to do is get an unction from the Lord. Some of kind of prompting to speak something comforting into another’s life. Something that will encourage someone. Even an atheist can encourage or comfort someone. But only a believer who was inspired by God to prophesy encouragement or comfort could truly bring hope into someone’s life. You never know the level of breakthrough you could provide to someone in need, if you just get the Spirit’s insight into what they need.
I hope this letter brings some clarification into what it means to prophesy! Until next week!