By Gabe Liliedahl
September 16, 2023
The last couple of emails have been more about the future aspect of the gift of prophecy. Even though a prophecy for the future can be very exciting, there’s much freedom available for others through the gift as described by Paul.
I’d like to dial it back somewhat for a few weeks and discuss these level one prophecies. If you want a refresher on the different levels, you can go here.
One of the challenges in prophesying is getting out of your own way. Even if you know some of the ins and outs of the gift of prophecy, it can sometimes be difficult to make yourself give a prophetic word. This is the voice of experience speaking to you. Even though the best way to prophesy is not to think about it, you have to think about it. When you do, doubt, fear and everything else will present themselves. A thousand different reasons will flash through your mind, screaming at you that you’ve got it all wrong and there must be another way or possibility. And yet, you will likely have this lingering thought that something needs to be done. Something needs to be said.
You’ve probably already experienced this on some level. Maybe in a conversation on the phone or in person, someone revealed something to you. During the course of the conversation, you experienced a need to share something with them. It may have been a simple sentence or even a Bible scripture. You just knew you needed to give them hope or peace. That’s what the gift of prophecy does. It encourages or comforts someone (1st Cor 14:3).
There are a variety of scriptures that support this idea in action. One of my favorites is with Paul.
Acts 18:5 (Young’s Literal Translation) And when both Silas and Timotheus came down from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the Spirit, testifying fully to the Jews Jesus the Christ;
Translations vary here, but Paul was pressed to speak by the Spirit. Jeremiah expressed it differently.
Jeremiah 20:9 ESV If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
You see this same idea at work in the actions of others, not just in prophesying.
Philippians 2:13 KJV For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Hag 1:14 KJV And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,
God can prompt people to do or say things He wants to do or say. Don’t get me wrong. Not every good idea is a God idea. There are many good ideas that people jump on, thinking that it’s a God idea.
I see it in churches all the time. The wind blows in one direction and someone has the bright idea that the entire church should go in that direction. Two weeks later the same thing happens but in a different direction. Not every good idea is from God.
That applies to things that we want to speak to others. Just because someone tells you something that triggers a memory does not mean God has released you to speak that thing. You have to be careful when prophesying. I can’t walk you through the discernment part in real time Only you can decide if the Lord has prompted you to prophesy.
At this point, someone might think, doesn’t God have to give you a word-for-word prophecy for you to speak to someone else?
The answer is no. That’s not always how it works. There’s evidence throughout the Old Testament that God would sometimes do that. Many people in today’s church wouldn’t even consider prophesying unless God showed up in their living room with proof that it was really God.
The problem with that is the rest of the evidence from the Bible. I can easily cite dreams, or point out the book of Daniel or even the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is one giant message from God given to John in the form of a vision. You may recall that there are plenty of literal statements in that book, but there was also much symbolism.
According to Revelation 1:3, it’s a prophecy. Still the best evidence to dispute the idea that prophecy always comes as a literal word for word prophecy comes from something God says in the book of Numbers. It’s an oldie but a goodie.
Numbers 12:5-8 KJV And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
I’m not saying that the Lord can’t speak literally. He can be alarmingly literal. It’s just that He openly states that He speaks in symbolism. If you read my second book, you know this is a pet peeve with me. People sometimes trap themselves in the idea that God only speaks to them literally. That’s wrong on a personal level but also as it pertains to prophesying.
God Himself disagrees with that idea.
You’ll miss everything God is speaking because you’re waiting on a literal message. That’s not always how it works. I understand the concerns that come with this. Prophecy can be intimidating and complicated. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are some difficult things to acknowledge as we go forward, but hopefully the benefits of the gift will outweigh any concerns you may have.
Next week, we’ll build onto this lesson and explore processing a simple word from God and giving that word. For now I’ll just leave you with our base scripture.
This is why we prophesy. God wants us too!
1 Corinthians 14:1 ESV Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
Until next week!