The Role of Prophecy in Encouraging Vision.                                                            

Christine Darg                 

 

How grateful I am for the ministry of the prophet!

 

Many christians do not acknowledge the existance of  prophets in today's world.  Yet evidence for prophets is clearly found in black and white in the New Testament.

 

  The prophet is one of five ministry offices mentioned in Ephesians 4:11  The office of the prophet has never been withdrawn from the Body of Christ and will continue along with apostles, evangelists,  pastors and teachers,  to be used by the Holy Spirit for the perfecting of the saints  (Ephesians 4 v 12)  until Jesus comes.

 

Although the Gift of Prophesy is sometimes misused by immature believers and counterfeited by Satan,  nevertheless the church must heed the Apostle Paul's admonition to  "despise not prophesyings"  (1 Thes  5:20)   In fact we must learn to esteem the prophetic word.  For it is the prophetic word,  spoken under the unction of the Holy Ghost,  that creates and calls into being that which is invisible.  It is also the prophetic word,  spoken in a moment of dire discouragement or perplexity that,   like the rhema Word of God,  sustains us for many a day,  month, or even years,  until the promise is manifested.

 

Without the ministry of the Prophet and the gifts of prophesy,  my vision for ministry - and the vision of many other ministers - would be less dimensional.  The prophet can be likened to one who adds sinews and flesh onto the bony skeleton and general framework of vision.

 

According to Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,  the words prophesy, to prophesy and prophesying all derive from the Greek word, propheteia,  which signifies the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God.   Prophecy is not synonymous with fortune-telling,  nor does it necessarily always mean a prediction of the future.  Rather,  it is the supernatural declaration of information in the past,  present or future,  which cannot be known by natural means.  Prophesy has the connotation of inspirational speech given spontaneously by the Holy Ghost;  thus it can carry a higher anointing than conventional preaching or teaching and has the effect upon an unbeliever of manifesting   "the secrets of the heart"   and  "falling down on his face"  he worships and acknowledges the presence of God.  (1 Cor 14:24 - 25)

 

Incidentally,  those who say that women cannot teach and preach should note that the five - fold ministry office of  "prophet"  has a female counterpart in the New Testament.  Prophetis (Prophetess) is the femine of prophetes (prophet) and is used of Anna in Luke 2:36.

 

 

To Behold Or Not to Behold

 

 

Now we  "prophesy in part"  (1 Cor 13:9)  whereas the Old Testament prophets had to be 100% accurate - or be sentenced to stoning! 

There is more than one Hebrew word for prophet,  and all shed light on the continuing role of prophets in our midst today.  The Old Testament prophet Nabi  was an inspirational speaker,  who by office ,  was primarily a preacher  of riteousness.  Also called "seer"   (ra'ah),  this word means a  "seeing person"  who perceives the mind,  purposes and counsel of God.  Still another Hebrew word translated phophet (chozeh)  was one who beholds visions or supernatural revelations from God.

 

In the new testament church there was the simple gift of prophecy   (1 Cor 12:10in which any believer can flow,  as long as the gift is exercised by faith.  

However, the office of the new testiment prophet eph 4:10,  is a ministry gift to the Body,  from the ascended Christ.   No man appoints himself to be a prophet of God; and no woman  decides to become a prophetess.  This is a ministry that is appointed in the Body of Christ at the will of the Holy Ghost.

 

Not every believer is a prophet, but every believer can prophesy.  The prophet however,  will  usually prophesy with a greater magnitude,  a greater authority,  a greater anointing,  a greater frequency.  Why?    Because the ministry office of the prophet is more experienced and skilled at bringing forth the word of the Lord and is usually backed with other "seeing"  ministry gifts,  such as the discerning of spirits,  the words of knowledge and wisdom,  in addition to the inspirational gift of prophecy.

 

 

What Profit is the Prophet?

 

 

 

The Holy Spirit imparts vision;  the prophet will continue to build that vision by  'edification, exhortation and comfort'  1 Cor 14:3.  Thus prophetic activity sheds light and encourages vision by creatively speaking it into being planting more clarity to a vision that has already been germinated in the believer's spirit.

 

How vital is vision?  Without vision people perish  (Prov 29 v 18) and, it could also be said,  without the ministry of prophecy to nurture and enlarge vision,  that vision could wither and die.  Many ministers and laymen need to acknowledge that,  without the encouragement and exhortation of the prophetic gift,  many of us would not have gone forward!  Now some Biblical examples of how the gift of prophesy was used by the Holy Ghost to encourage and strengthen vision.  Hopefully,  these will help us recognise the need in our day for this vital gift.

 

 

Paul's Awesome Prophesy 

 

 

When Saul of Tarsus was struck down on the road to Damascus,  he was healed of his blindness and filled with the Spirit by the brave disciple Ananias.  Commissioned by God in a vision,  Ananias ministerd the laying on of hands to Saul.  I am sure that as they fellowshipped together afterwards,  the keen mind of Saul inquired what the Lord specifically said to Ananias in the vision.  Acts 9:15 records that Ananias was told the startling and lofty prophetic word that Saul of Tarsus,  later the Apostle Paul,  was   "A chosen vessel unto me,  to bear my name before the Gentiles,  and kings,  and the children of Israel"  Imagine the vision inpiring awe that filled Saul's heart as he heard these lofty words!  "For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my names sake".  How does such a heavy word strengthen vision?   It perates this way: in the midst of a trial,  the minister remembers that the Lord has already fore-warned him of this tribulation, that the suffering is for the majesty of 

His own name, and he word thus becomes a bulwark,  an explanation,  a comfort and a reassurance,  enabling the minister to persevere. Not only was this a glorious word to Paul, that he would preach before princes and paupers alike,  but it was also a prophecy that would strengthen him during the catalogue of trials listed in 2 Cor 11 23-28 (shipwreck,  scourgings,  stonings etc.)

 

 

 

The Creative Power of the Prophetic Word

 

 

Never forget that the prophetic word creates.  God spoke the worlds into existence.  Ezekiel spoke to the dry bones,  See how the prophetic word creates vision by looking at Gideon in the Old Testament.  He didn't have a good self-image,  "Behold my family is poor in Manasseh and I am the least in my father's house."   (Judges 6:15)  Yet God had chosen him as the leader to defeat the Midianites.  How was he changed from a midiocre man to a commander?  Gideon apparently never forgot the magnitude of the prohetic word of the Angel of the Lord"..  The Lord is with thee,  thou mighty man of valour."  Once the Holy Ghost breathes such a word over you,  you will never be the same again!

 

How was Joshua's vision as a leader and minister enlarged and encouraged?  By the prophetic exhortations of his predecessor,  Moses!   When a mentor pronounces words of blessing over a protegee,  these are moments,  pregnant with possibilities,  of intense import and potential impartation.  Paul later imparted a spiritual gift  and vision over his spiritual son Timothy through the laying on of hands (1 Tim 4:14)   just as Moses had blessed Joshua  (Deut 34:9)

 

 

 

The prophetic The prophetic word,  prophetic actions and their circumstances are often dramatic,   stamping an indelible impression on a persons spirit.

 

This enables him to believe God,  that what has been spoken will surely come to pass eventually..  David never forgot the moment,  as if suspended in time,  when he was singled out by the imposing prophet Samuel and anointed with oil in the midst of his incredulous family,  to be future king of Israel.  The magnitude of such a prophetic word,  coming from such an authoritative personage,  surely imparted vision and willpower for David to endure the long years of preparation,  through suffering and rejection at the hand of Saul.

 

 

Prophecy and Confirmation

 

 

 The prophetic word builds confidence,  because it confirms the word of the Lord.  It never contradicts God's word,  but reinforces it.  Let's look at the New Testament again and see how the prophetic word created vision and confirmation in the life of the mother of our Lord.  God granted Mary many prophetic words at various times through the messenger Gabriel,  Elisabeth, Simeon,  Anna and the wise mens gifts. (God spoke of kingship,  frankincence of the anointing and myrrh of death.)

 

Surely,  Mary would need to be a women of vision to excersise parental authority over Jesus.  Imagine the reassurance,  deep joy and clarity brought to the troubled and pondering mind of our brave Mary when her cousin Elisabeth prophesied to "the mother of my Lord"  words of promise and unmistakable confirmation,  "..and blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord" Luke 2:45

 

By contrast even the prophet Simeon's sombre word,  "Yea,  a sword shall pierce through thy own soul"  must have been recalled by Mary at the time of her deep sorrow and anguish at the cross and burial of Jesus.

 

 

Simeon's was a phophetic word of preparation.  In perplexing times,  when we go through the valley of Bacca (tears),  such a word as Simeon's is remembered and helps us to realise that God sees and foreknows all our sufferings and has a purpose in view.  We realise that circumstances are not happening "by accident"  but that the Lord is sovereign,  bringing good out of our sorrows,  sending sunshine after rain,  joy in the morning.

 

Modern Examples

 

To demonstrate that the prophetic gift is still vital today,  let's look at the life of German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke and not how two prphetic words in particular helped to impart and to strengthen a vision to evangelise Africa.  When Reinhard was only a young lad,  a women in a prayer meeting at his father's pentecostal church stood up and prophesied that she saw a boy breaking the Bread of Life to multitudes of black people in a semi-circle.  Then,  dramatically she pointed to young Reinhard, proclaiming:  'This is the boy'.

 

That prophecy went deep into his spirit and helped to form his vision of preaching in Africa.  It was not until many years later,  when conducting his first mass evangelistic crusade in a circular stadium, that Reinhard Bonnke saw fulfilled before his eyes what had been prophesied and imparted to his spirit as a child.  Similarly, as a missionary evangelist in Africa,  going from strength to strength,  Reinhard received a prophesy one day that he will "Smash through the iron gates of Islam."  It was a word that hit the target in his spirit, and many times he has quoted it,  not only to strengthen his own resolve to reach the whole African continent,  but to help explain the scope of his vision.

 

When times get tough and the devil tries to make us quit,  we remember the words and purposes that have been spoken prophetically over our lives and,  like David,  we are supposed to encourage ourselves in the Lord.  (1 Sam 30:6)  and press on.  When the murder, the devil tries to take our lives prematurely,  we should proclaim,  "There are yet unfulfilled prophecies over my life.  Like Paul,  I will not be disobedient to the holy vision,  and I will not let the devil take me out,  in Jesus' Name!"

 

 

That's why it is very important that we keep a record of all prophetic words that pertain to our ministry vision,  review them regularly and overcome the Enemy by the Blook of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  The word of our testimony (Rev 12 ; 11)  surely includes personal prophetic words.  In my own life and the life of my family,  the prophetic word has been an essential ingredient to divine guidence and vision.  Angels appeared both to my grandmother and my mother,  giving them words of assurance in times of uncertainty.

 

 

When my husband and I were pondering whether to open a news bureau in London or Jerusalem -  the City of the Great King - I felt in my spirit that surely God would have us first go to Jerusalem,  to report on His awesome fulfilment of Biblical prophecies in the last days.  But my husband was cautiously seeking the Lord for guidance.

 

One night we visited a church service where we were totally unknown;  the preacher,  (whom I later learned is one of the most gifted prophets in the Body of Christ),  called my husband forward and prophesied to him these exact words from Psalm 137: 5-6,  "If I forget thee,  oh Jerusalem,  let my right hand forget her cunning.  If I do not remember thee,  let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth;  If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."

 

Needless to say,  that was the definitive word that solved our dilemma!

 

-the end-

 

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