Sometimes God uses prophets to speak into what appears to be for us, a time of fog and mist. Such moments may be what used to be called, ‘the dark night of the soul’ or may just be short seasons where it God’s nearness or His Will are not discernible. In such times it is easy to lose your direction and focus.
The prophetic ministry is vastly more than predictions about the future or words of knowledge – a vast measure is about what God is doing now, bringing explanation, comfort and understanding to present circumstances. Such ministry affirms what God is doing, bringing a renewed sense of vision, purpose and confidence in God, His Word and the leading of the Spirit. Having a fresh set of eyes looking with clarity at difficult situations can be so useful and essential to personal and church growth.
Sometimes the encouragement that prophetic ministry brings is by supporting the leadership of the church and pointing to issues that have already been raised by others. That can frustrates some but there seems to be an added dimension of authority as those issues come under scrutiny. As the image bearers of God He determines the very best for us, and the human messengers he sends come with compassion, insight and the conviction that God has the power, authority and presence to do everything He says. He is Lord.
I would be amiss to suggest that every time that we have a problem deciding or establishing what the Will of God is, that we should seek the advice of prophetic ministry. This was an acceptable mode of enquiry in Old Testament days but as John Piper says, the main way that God guides us by His Spirit is through the scriptures,
“Nothing I say about today’s prophecies means that they have authority over our lives like Scripture does. Whatever prophecies are given today do not add to Scripture. They are tested by Scripture. Scripture is closed and final; it is a foundation, not a building in process.” (John Piper – The authority & nature of prophecy 1990)
Interestingly, following Piper’s comment, scripture is often the resource that prophets will bring to bear on a situation – they already know that the answer often, is the Bible. Sometimes people just need help to see it.
Another aspect of prophetic ministry is interpreting such moments where God seems to be far off, or where things do not seem to go well. This happens often because of the fallen world in which we live. Common grace is encouraging, but sometimes we need to know that the hand of God is near to us, and it is one of compassion, correction or redirection. In Christ, we know that God’s plans for us are good, and He works all things in life for our ultimate good and His great glory. [perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Prophets help us to re-evaluate who He is and our inclusion in Him, helping us to take a default position of always turning to the Lord in faith, trust and obedience. It takes a lifetime.[/perfectpullquote]
One interpretation that may be the discernment of the prophetic person, is that you need to see things much more in the light of scripture and not experience. Looking at things with a Biblical viewpoint, reminding oneself of the Biblical truths and affirming what Scripture already says. There are some things that are worth wrestling with – they form character, conviction and hope. This is important when looking at issues of self-esteem – looking at who God is first, and then our place in Him. Prophets help us to re-evaluate who He is and our inclusion in Him, helping us to take a default position of always turning to the Lord in faith, trust and obedience. It takes a lifetime, but every minute of that adventure is worth it.
Alternatively, another interpretation a prophetic person may bring may be that the struggling person may have got to a place of being like Samson who, not knowing that his strength was gone, got up to do things as before. Disaster was imminent. Finding our place in the great story of God takes faith not presumption. Samson discovered that and Hebrews 11 infers that the remarkable things he saw was not a supreme anointing, but because of faith.
Some people think because the hand of God is not lifted immediately in their lives when they are living recklessly or without concern, that God must not be troubled by their behaviour. John Wimber was keen on the idea that the favour of God sometimes takes a while before He finally removes it. Prophetic input at this point usually calls for repentance and also brings hope for the future but it is always done with kindness, mercy and with the ultimate intention of honouring the Lord.
Discernment in these areas is so crucial and is a key reason that prayer is the main activity of the prophetic ministry. The question is always, ‘what is God really saying’ and in the fog and mist, it may be more than you think …