Notes on Prophecy

To possess a spiritual gift without purpose is to waste the gift that has been given.

Gifts are given only by the Holy Spirit, but we can learn how to focus, to direct, to sharpen the gifts, so as to become specific and aimed at a goal with Kingdom values.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit can be desired and requested (1 Corinthians 14:1), but they are not earned.

We can teach about the gifts, encourage one another to use the gifts, help others to progress into higher level of ministry, but we cannot give gifts.

We can pass on the anointing, by guiding others to come closer to the Lord, we can impart anointing (Romans 1:11) and discover gifts in others, but we can pass our mantle to others only in obedience to a specific command from God (1 Kings 19:16). No one can appoint himself to the office of prophet, not even to the ministry of prophet, although potentially everyone who is born again and filled with the Holy Spirit can prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:5).

Old Testament

All the Old Testament prophets answered a call for a specific task assigned to them by God. They all testified to a call. The call was more important than any manifestation, recognition by man, position, power, material gain.

Note for our time: real prophets dissociate themselves from manifestations, recognition, gain (Amos 7:14-15). “Prophetic” frenzies are not a sign of a prophetic call (1 Samuel 10:5-12). Real prophets are not pleasers of men (1 King 22:5-14; 2 Chronicles 18:4-13).

The prophets were not possessed, they did not become machines, they were not passive instruments in the hands of God. Prophet in Hebrew (navi) comes from a root that means “bubbling over”, but also “to call”, either one who is called by God or calls God. They kept their own distinguished personality and will, and they followed their unique way of life.

  1. Isaiah may have been of noble lineage, well-to-do and well known, with access to the royal family, at times respected, at times hated by the successive kings of Judah, possibly martyred;
  2. Jeremiah ministered for a long time, paying dearly with personal suffering, rejection, persecution, struggles. He lived a single and lonely life. He freely showed his personal feelings. Although poetic, he seems not to be sophisticated and dictated his words;
  3. Ezekiel, a priest, married, eventually a widower, stern and apparently detached from his hearers, but consumed with the vindication of God’s glory;
  4. Hosea, an evangelist with a strong call to repentance, highly educated (the best biblical Hebrew can be found in his writing), married a prostitute;
  5. Amos, an herdsman;
  6. Micah, probably a peasant farmer, but a master of poetry, a champion of the poor and oppressed;
  7. Habakkuk, possibly a musician, showed a philosophical attitude. Etc.

The OT prophets are consumed by the personality of God, His reality, His majesty, His supremacy, His holiness. They all brought revelations of the heart of God, there is no new law, no new worship, no new liturgy. They criticize the rigidity and formalism of traditional worship, because it did not allow an intimate and direct relationship with God as a person.

Note for our time: all that we need to know has been revealed and it is contained in Scriptures. Prophecy that adds revelation is a false prophecy. Prophecy is not intended to accuse, point the finger, demolish, destroy. God is not a destroyer, He is a redeemer. Spoken words that have no redeeming value are not prophecy. If it is meant to correct (and it is extremely rare: we have no need to use prophetic style, gifts and methods, to correct evident wrongs. Nathan did not prophesy to King David to bring him to repentance of his obvious and public sins. He told him a parable. 2 Samuel 12: 1-4)), prophecy redirects lovingly towards the type of relationship wanted by God with individual believers and bodies of believers. The revelation of the heart of God, which is essentially the only source of true love, is sufficient to attract the hearer towards the source, God Himself, without the need of first convicting of wrongs, sins, wrong attitudes, void religiosity.

The OT prophets are often associated to a place of worship: Samuel is called in Shiloh, Jeremiah speaks of the Temple, Isaiah is called when he receives a vision in the Temple, Ezekiel has a vision of the Temple rebuilt, Haggai encourages rebuilding the Temple. There is a priestly function within the prophetic ministry.