The last two weeks have been an introduction to the gift of prophecy. This morning the Lord spoke to me John 16:12. That’s it. Not the context of John 16:12. Just John 16:12. So I looked it up.
John 16:12 ESV I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
That’s really not what you want to hear.
I don’t know about you, but when you look up a verse that sounds heavy, like this one does, it may cause a little anxiety. I know enough about God to know that He’s with me no matter what happens, but I really don’t want to go through anything difficult.
Still, we ended in John 16:13 last week and it may be helpful to back up and start here this week. In context, the disciples have been on the receiving end of a lengthy monologue by Jesus. It’s packed with information. The events of John 13-17 have been likened to a death-bed conversation.
If you’ve ever been through that kind of thing, you know you remember what gets spoken. Jesus is about to be crucified. He throws a lot at the disciples. They already have lots to process. Then Jesus says, “I’ve got more to tell you but you can’t handle it right now" (paraphrase mine). This is where much of the church is at. Even before 2020, much of the church couldn’t handle what God wants to say. We’re still not there as a body. We’re not ready.
How do we get ready to hear what God has to say? By preparing! By spending time in the word, in prayer, in worship. By seeking God and believing there’s more to the spiritual life than we currently understand.
Jesus goes on to say:
John 16:13 ESV Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Jesus references the outpouring of the Spirit in this verse and defines what Holy Spirit will do. Holy Spirit will hear things from God the Son (verses 14-15) and will speak or show those things. This, of course, is dependent on later instructions to go the upper room.
One of the things that interests me about this passage is that after Jesus death and resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples on several occasions and teaches them. Why didn’t he tell them the hard things he referenced in John 16:12 above? The reason is that there are still difficult things that God needs to share with his church. That’s why we’re told to hear what the Spirit is saying in the book of Revelation (seven different times).
This idea that God stopped speaking has got to go. God is God. He knows we need him. He knows the future. Knowing the future is a key feature of our God that distinguishes Him from other Gods. He knows that and even references that idea Himself through the prophet Isaiah:
Isa 41:21-23 ESV Set forth your case, says the LORD; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob. Let them bring them, and tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come. Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be dismayed and terrified.
When Jesus tells us that there are some difficult things we can’t handle now, but then says the Spirit will show us those things, he means it. Here’s a difficult question. When was the last time God showed you something to come?
When was the last time He showed you the future?
If He never has, why not? Are you ready to hear what God has to say? Don’t get me wrong. God does not show up in my bedroom every night and have hour long conversations with me. I wish that were the case. There are times when He speaks, mostly in very few words or even a single word. There are times when I instantly know it’s Him. There are times when I realize it’s Him after the fact (John 14:29).
Along those lines, I mentioned last week that God had spoken the word "Overachiever.” It could have related to a development in the gulf. God didn’t say anything else. The storm did develop somewhat, but it was not an overachiever. For the record, I did NOT prophesy that. I only mentioned it because God can be vague and doesn’t always come out with direct word-for-word prophecies.
Having said that, there is another development in the Gulf. We’re near the peak of hurricane season and anything is possible. Is it possible that the word overachiever wasn’t for that storm, but for another? Will there be a storm that suddenly develops into something of immense proportion, defying expectations? Maybe. Or maybe it was a coincidence. Holy Spirit can show you things to come, but it’s not always clear. Still, you want to pay attention to the signals.
If you step out and prophesy something that doesn’t come to pass, there are consequences.
If you prophesy it, it's yours. You own it! There have been plenty of people that have prophesied something and it did not come to pass. Then the person prophesying changed the meaning of the prophecy and said something like, “God really meant ….” I’m not going to do that. Again, I didn’t prophesy a storm, but did consider that God was speaking to me. He may have been. You don’t always realize this in the moment. A great example of that would be Jeremiah in his book (Jer 32:6-8). God’s not afraid to tell you the future…
He’s not afraid to tell you the future. It’s not always pleasant. Jesus told the disciples that they would have trials and tribulations. No one wants to hear that. But you need to hear what’s coming. Maybe for yourself. Maybe for others. Knowing the future is not essential for prophecy. According to Paul, prophecy is simply for encouraging and comforting. But the future aspect of the gift is available through Holy Spirit as shown in the scriptures.
We serve an all-knowing God. How does that fit into the gift of prophecy? You might be surprised. Stay tuned for next week’s email!