Prophecy alive and well (and not scary) today? This post will be part of a series to define prophecy throughout the Bible and now in the lives of New Testament believers: 21st-century us!
Prophecy. The images that first come to my mind are Moses from “The Prince of Egypt,” a street corner evangelist, and fire and brimstone. Other than in either charismatic or theological Christian circles, its not a word that gets much modern-day use.
Part of the purpose of this blog is to illuminate how prophecy is accessible, relevant, and even vital to the 21st century Christian believer. But first, let’s define what “prophecy” means in the Bible!
The word prophecy first occurs in the NIV Bible in Numbers 24 and is a great example of the human role in God’s communication through man. Balaam, a powerful non-Jewish man, experiences this moment:
“2 When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him 3 and he spoke his message:
“The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor,
the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,
4 the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,
who sees a vision from the Almighty,[a]
who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:
5 “How beautiful are your tents, Jacob,
your dwelling places, Israel!” (Numbers 24:2-5 NIV)
I love this example because it shows the power of the Spirit of God and His heart toward His people to always bless. Balaam, in this moment, has been called on by the King of the foreign land Moab to curse Israel on his behalf. And yet, God shows up. Since Israel is God’s people, God speaks out His heart over them even when the “point” of this moment was to defame them!
Here, there are a couple of keys to receiving prophecy from God that we will continue to unpack. First, this prophetic word came from Balaam’s survey of Israel — God’s kingdom. It is often in putting our attention on something God has done or is doing that we receive a Spirit-led idea of what God wants to do next. Second, it is the Spirit of God who comes upon Balaam to give him these words. It wasn’t Balaam who mustered up the eloquence, or energy, or even courage. God began the work, and God finished it (his prophecy goes on to describe some more beautiful blessings in the future for Israel). This is again emphasized by verse 4, Balaam says these are “God’s words.” (Interestingly again this is connected to his vision, albeit in this moment spiritual.) Third, Balaam describes himself at this moment as “prostrate” with his “eyes opened.” True prophecy will always lead us to worship, or adore God more and more. It will cause our vision to align with what God is doing in a situation, and we won’t be able to help loving and being in awe of God because of His goodness!
As we continue to dive into what it means to prophesy with your words and your actions, remember this ancient example that demonstrates how prophecy is a communication from the loving heart of God that causes people to draw closer to Him. Although a lot of the prophecy in the Old Testament contains judgments from the Lord, it is always with the purpose of disciplining His people to bring them back to Himself. And thanks be to God, in the New Testament, where we live today, prophecy can become an exciting and hope-filled part of every believer’s life!
Declaration: Thank you Jesus that I am excited to prophesy and to speak God’s word and draw near to Him more and more! Thank you that I am understanding what it means to see the world from God’s perspective and to come into alignment with His will for me and the world around me. I know I am powerful, able, and worthy to live out the life He has called me to, in the name of Jesus Christ!