Direction in an Age of Confusion
20 Years of Prophecy Fulfilled
Chapter 1 (A) My Gift of Prophesy
(Then we will get to know the others..)
In 1985, I attended a Pentecostal Women’s Retreat in Maryland. I had been newly introduced to the Christian faith just three years prior. Both curious and eager to know more, the study conducted by a renowned state district leader, Andrea Reid, conducted a study on ‘Spiritual Gifts’. In the context of spiritual gifts, I Corinthians 12:4-5 details, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”
In the Bible, Apostle Paul introduces the specific spiritual gifts as:
“To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice;
Someone else may be especially good at studying and teaching,
And this is the gift from the same Spirit.
He gives special faith to another,
And to someone else the power to heal the sick.
He gives the power for doing miracles to some
And to others the power to prophesy and preach.
He gives someone else the power to know whether evil spirits
Are speaking through those who claim to be giving God’s messages—
Or know it is really the Spirit of God who is speaking.
Still another person is able to speak in languages he never learned;
And others who do not know the language either
Are given the power to understand what He is saying.
It is the same and only Holy Spirit, who gives all these gifts and powers,
Deciding which each one of us should have.
(I Corinthians 12:8-11 The Living Bible).
On that fateful weekend retreat, I was given the knowledge that identified me with the prominent gifts of Barnabas, St John the Baptist, and Elijah. I didn’t know or realize the impact of those gifts or ‘role models’ at the time, but over the last thirty-plus years, I came to an understanding. Looking back at the eccentric, non-conforming, erratic, at times heart-breaking, experiences that have fashioned my life, I do know this ‘God is Real’. Like it or not, I am a prophet.
The key to prophetic ministry is the art of listening. A prophet knows how to hear God speaking and filer out the noise of the world and evil. “Speak oh Lord, for your servant is listening” taught Eli to Samuel. It takes a long time to learn to filter, discern, focus, and test the ‘speaking’ and most always, subtle or not, it’s the exact opposite of what everyone else is saying, doing, acting, or what they want the Prophet to do…
Modern day ‘true prophets’ appear to be scarce, not because more people don’t have the gift, but because they are not good at listening, have an ulterior motives, or more often the correct divine inspiration is lacking. Furthermore, a prophet is likely to be maligned when the news is unpopular, so they remain silent.
Prophecy can be given almost anywhere and included in areas of preaching, teaching, or counseling. It is provided to us in almost any situation where there is an opportunity for the Prophet to speak or write.
The gift of prophecy is present with unbelievers and to evil occultists such as Balaam in the Old Testament, (Numbers Chapters 22-24). Balaam was a prophet, and King Balak of Moab, asked him to curse Israel in exchange for a reward. Balaam was willing but informed the king that God needed to give him permission to do so, since he had no power, in himself, to curse Israel. Upon inquiry, God told Balaam, “You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed”. King Balak continued to offer rewards, and God said to Balaam, to go to Moab, with officials, but to only do what ‘He’ told him to do. ( Numbers 22:20). Balaam saddled his donkey and left for Moab. God sent an angel to oppose Balaam on the way. The donkey Balaam was riding could see the angel, but Balaam could not, and when the donkey moved three times to avoid the angel, Balaam was angry and beat the animal. “Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth” (verse 28), and it rebuked the prophet for the beatings. “Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn”, saying that he would have killed Balaam had not the donkey spared his life, reminding him not to put a curse on Israel. However, arriving in Moab, Balaam first offered fourteen sacrifices on seven altars and met with the Lord (Numbers 23:1–5). And then declared the message God gave him: a blessing on Israel: “How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced?” And multiple times, King Balak was upset that Balaam had pronounced a blessing on Israel rather than a curse, and kept pressing him to pronounce the curse, while Balaam was overcome by the Spirit of God, could not do so, repeating blessings instead.
Before he left, Balaam reminded the king that he had said from the very beginning he could only say what God told him to say. Then he gave the king four more prophecies, gratis. In the fourth prophecy, Balaam foretold of the Messiah: “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth” (verse 17). Balaam’s seven prophecies were seven blessings on God’s people; it was God’s enemies who were cursed (then).
Later on Balaam figured out a way to get his reward from Balak, advising him to have the Moabites to entice the people of Israel with idolatry. Since he could not curse Israel directly, came up with a plan for Israel to bring a curse upon themselves. The plan worked and Israel fell into sin, worshiping Baal (evil) and other sins. For this God plagued them, and 24,000 men died. (Numbers 25:1-9). Balaam’s name and story is referred to several times in the New Testament. Peter compares false teachers to Balaam, “who loved the wages of wickedness” (2 Peter 2:15). Jude echoes this sentiment, associating Balaam with the selling of one’s soul for financial gain (Jude 1:11). Finally, Jesus speaks of Balaam when He warns the church in Pergamum of their sin: “There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food, sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.” (Revelation 2:14).
Satan’s methods haven’t changed all that much. If he cannot curse God’s people directly, he will try the back-door approach, thus idolatry and sexual immorality are two of evil’s ‘go-to’ temptations among many ‘turn on' persuasions.
We are warned to be wary of ‘False Prophets’ for often they prophesy to achieve evil or self-motivated agendas. Also when a person is ‘seeking news’, you’ll hear what you want to hear from a False Prophet—especially if they are being paid for it. ‘Prophecy’ via psychics, astrologers, tarot cards, is not what God had in mind; again, prophecy is not fortune telling.
Good prophets know when to speak and when to be silent. Because they deliver by diving inspiration through the Holy Spirit, they are always timely and appropriate, His way. However, I can tell you that I have experienced that what I thought was his time, and mine have clashed. Hesitating to speak, uncertain, concerned about being wrong or ridiculed, or unduly noticed.
However, prophets serve to deliver faith and mercy, concern for the church or listener who received the ‘Word of Wisdom’. Generally, prophecy is meant for strengthening, encouragement, and comfort. (I Corinthians 14:3), but it’s not always what people want to hear. So often, prophecy is meant to get someone’s attention, and redirect them. To a righteous path, a change in behavior, attitude, relationships, a course of healing, correction, discipline, acknowledge truth, stripping away denial, exposing darkness, revealing secrets, so that a person can start over. With the prophet’s help ‘the message’ delivered, heard and believed, causes a chain reaction; they may repent, receive redemption, salvation, and grace. Therefore have a closer relationship with God, and a good or better life, by submitting their will, to His Will.
Harsh judgement, criticism, mean spirited, flagellation, rebuke, conflict and chaos are not representative of the Holy Spirit, operating through a true Prophet. Jesus ministry as a Prophet is the best example, for functioning as he did. A prophet doesn’t abuse anyone with thoughtless insensitivity, dogmatic prejudice, or self-righteousness. Sometimes, the truth, even gently or firmly spoken is going to hurt, but the prophet’s mission is to set you free to regain value that has been lost, right the wrongs, healing and service to God. The prophet’s goal is to warn of danger, avoiding anything that will destroy them, their family or community, the world, or faith in a just and loving Father, God.
It is not an easy or selfish mission, so true prophets who are given the tasks of greater magnitude, messages delivered to multitudes, ones who get in the way of ‘true Evil’ – get thrown into lion’s dens (Daniel), down wells (Joseph), imprisoned (John the Baptist), rejected or killed. In Biblical times and now, in contemporary 21st Century, it hasn’t changed that much.
Why do sincere prophets continue in adverse or even dangerous circumstances? Because we are loyal, dedicated, genuinely loving not only God, fulfilling promises we make to Him, because He sent his only begotten son, our Savior Jesus Christ, forgiveness, salvation and ever-lasting life, fulfilling His promise to us. To us, our passion for Christ and appreciation for His death on the cross is so real and everlasting, the choice is made to serve Him, even when we wish to do otherwise.
On June 16, 1998, I made a notation in the margin of my Bible, page 978, next to Isaiah Chapter One:
“Blow the trumpets loudly, I prophesy Judgement & Repentance on the nation. It is ill with corruption of morality and will be exposed to it even in the Clinton White House; an incorrect response by our nation and its leadership which will result in wrath & beginning of Judgement by God.”
The verse is “In that day, the Lord will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword, Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.” (Isaiah 27:1)