We are living under a new, and better covenant than Old Testament days, and the message that flows from the prophet Joel is both encouraging, and challenging.
The inspiring message from Joel was that in the last days, God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. The manifestation of this great outpouring of the Person of the Holy Spirit, would be dreams and visions, signs and wonders, and great salvation. (Joel 2:28-32)
It was an inclusive message that determined that the outpouring of God, would touch men and women of all ages, regardless of their place in society.
In other words – everyone upon whom the Spirit of the Lord fell, would be capable of hearing, discerning, seeing and speaking the mind, will and intent of God. It was to be an extraordinary, powerful event – and those days are with us, but we have become somewhat familiar with what is happening and have lost the wonder of the moment, that God is revealing Himself.
A prophetic people, but not necessarily a people of prophets.
Israel had a significant encounter that would show how different they were in the Old Covenant to the days we live in now, with a limited flow of revelation through but a handful of people, as opposed to God speaking through and to the entire Body of Christ.
The narrative is found in Numbers 11:24-30 and speaks of how God told Moses to separate 70 of the leaders of Israel, whom Moses then placed around the tent where God would meet with him.
The Lord came down in the cloud and took some of the Spirit that was on him and placed it on the seventy elders. Literally, the moment the Spirit of God came on them they prophesied. King Saul had a similar encounter.
Sounds familiar? Up to this point yes, but the story unfolds a little more. Two of the elders, Eldad and Medad had remained in the camp, away from all the excitement and activity of the Tent of Meeting. But even there, right in the midst of the camp, the experience was the same. The Spirit fell on Eldad and Medad and they prophesied.
Moses’ servant Joshua raised an immediate challenge based on ministerial jealousy. Surely this event was only for those who gathered in the special place around the tent? Moses’ response was a generous one, claiming ‘Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!’ The encounter showed that location did not matter, God is the God of the entire earth and not dependant on ‘portals’ as some teach. Did this insight inspire Joel in his prophetic utterances hundreds of years later?
And now we see where the difference lays.
The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it. (Numbers 11:25) They prophesied just the once, and that was it – they didn’t continue doing it.
One prophesy doesn’t make you a prophet. They were similar to Moses but not quite the same as we shall see. He was a prophet and they prophesied.
There is a similar vein of truth that runs through the Church in our day. A prophetic word or two doesn’t make us prophets (there is much more to the role of the prophet than that), but unlike the 70 elders of Israel, we do continue to prophesy.
Something very significant has happened to us in this day! The apostle Paul’s admonition is to eagerly desire the greater gifts, especially that you may prophesy! ( 1 Cor 12:31 | 1 Cor 14:1 | 1 Cor 14:39) and the truth is, the opportunity is there to hear God, and continue to hear God as He reveals Himself to the Church through individuals in the days to come.
Don’t let your heart become overly familiar with what God is doing that you miss the exciting prospect of all that this means, and begin to think that nothing is happening! God is speaking, you can hear Him. One prophecy doesn’t make you a prophet – but really is wonderful to hear Him again, and again!