The Prophetic ministry

bright-lightEzra 5:1: Now the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem; in the name of the God of Israel prophesied they unto them.

The prophetic ministry has to do with speaking God’s word, but with a peculiar twist. It is to get things done with the creative word of God. The prophetic releases some spiritual energy to get specific tasks done according to the will of God.

The prophetic ministry can be divided into three functions:

  1. Presage function
  2. Predictive function
  3. Productive function

Presage

This has to do with giving warning. This dimension of the prophetic ministry is predominant seen in the Old Testament prophets. They were sent time and again to warn the people against taking certain paths. It is generally a call to repentance.  The prophetic ministry of John the Baptist was marked by a massive call of the people to repentance.

John the Baptist warned the people of the ill of continuing in their wrong ways and the need to repent (Matthew 3, Luke 3:1-18), which was his clarion call. He proclaimed that the people should escape from the wrath to come. As the Elijah that came before Jesus, he was to set the people in order to receive the Lord by leading them to repentance (Matthew 11:13-14, Malachi 4:5-6, Matthew 17:10-13).

To Prophet Ezekiel, God said he has appointed him as a watchman (Ezekiel 3:16-22, 33:1-20). Prophets are watchmen, whatever they see in the spiritual horizon in the negative, they are supposed to warn the people, either to prepare or to repent, or have a change of course (everything still boils down to repentance). Jesus said that we should watch and pray, so that we should not fall into temptation (Mark 14:38).  That is a warning.

As a watchman, God told Ezekiel that if he sees danger and he does not warn the people and the evil came on the people, God was going to make him liable. But if he tells the people of the coming danger and the people did not do anything about it, then their blood is on their own heads.

There was a time that God spoke through Jeremiah that time and again he wakes up Prophets (Jeremiah 25:1-14), year in year out, to warn the people to turn from their evil ways, but they would not yield; therefore God’s judgment on them was sure. They will go into captivity, be killed by the sword, and others will die by famine (Jeremiah 15:1-19). And there was a time that God decided that he was going to send the children of Israel out of their land for 70 years; after years of sending out unheeded warnings to them, through different prophets.

God sent Jonah with a message of warning to Nineveh that within forty days it would be ransacked. This is what a true watchman should do.  And the people threw themselves into repentance and the evil was averted.

The original word for Jonah sounds like a prediction but the recipients changed it into an ordinary warning through their response.

Contrast this with the word that came to Eli concerning God’s intending judgment on his family because of the wrong behaviour of his children. He could not care less (1Samuel 2:22-3:18).

Also Isaiah came with a prophetic word for King Hezekiah that God said that he should keep his house in order, because he would soon die (Isaiah 38:1-8). He got on his prayer gear and gave God reasons that verdict should be changed. And it was. Warnings are for you to do something about it.

But it may not always work like Hezekiah’s case. David was told that his child born of his adulterous relation with Beersheba would die, and because of that David put on his prayer and fasting gear, but to no avail. The child still died (2Samuel 12:13-23).

The prophetic gift can be expressed in dreams (Numbers 12:6), in visions, in an audible voice, or in internal impressions and pictures of the divine word. It always has to do with divine communication, with a definite link with God thoughts in the “now” sense.

Be careful not to be hasty to call yourself a prophet, without a definite call from God in that regard. You can have prophetic expression, even very strong ones, that does not mean you are a prophet. Paul never called himself a prophet but he had numerous prophetic impressions in his time (2Corinthians 12:7).

So who is a prophet? It is a person with a specific call in that direction, an unmistakable call, in the order of the Old Testament Prophets.

But you can be prophetic without being a prophet, e.g. Paul.

Predictive

There is also the predictive role of the prophetic ministry. John also offered prediction functions in his ministry. He spoke beforehand about Jesus and from his words certain people believed in Jesus. There are numerous expressions of the predictive functions of the prophet that we see in the bible. Prophet Agabus predicted a famine (Acts 11:28), and also predicted what Paul was going to face when he goes to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-12).

Isaiah predicted the virgin birth of Jesus (Isaiah 7:14), Daniel predicted the rise and fall of nations on the earth. Jeremiah predicted that Judah will go into captivity for seventy years. Isaiah predicted the name of the king that will command the restoration of Israel back to their land (Isaiah 44:28). Moses predicted that God would raise another prophet like him in Israel, whom they should follow (Deuteronomy 18:15). In the New Testament we read that Jesus was that prophet (Acts 7:37).

We know that the warning role of the prophet is majorly to bring to repentance, but what is the role of the predictive. Is it for show off?

No.

God’s original plan was for cooperation with man to make things happen on the earth. He brought all animals to man and through man named them, because He (God) was fully in man (Genesis 2:18-19, 1:31). The naming was part of what God called good. The naming of the animal was good according to God because He Himself could not have done a better job.

The naming of a child sometimes serves a predictive function and therefore prophetic in nature. The naming of Jesus was obviously prophetic in nature (“Jesus” means he would save his people from their sins); Joseph (his known father) got His name by a prophetic experience with an angel (Matthew 1:19-21).

To be prophetic is the opening of the inner eyes, the spiritual eyes to see beyond normal, the speaking forth under God’s prompting to carry out prophetic functions. By calling his son Jesus, Joseph performed a prophetic function. The predictive function of the prophetic is the continue cooperation of God with man and vice versa to have his will done on earth.

Amos said God not do anything on the earth without telling his servants the prophets (Amos 3:1-8). The purpose of the predictive prophetic is to emphasise man’s union with the will of God, as he declares what is determined by God

Productive

This has to do with speaking something into being. The experience of Ezekiel is apt here. God showed him dry bones and told him to prophecy to the dry bones that they come alive.  After he prophesied, the very dry bones became clothed with human flesh and standing was a great army (Ezekiel 37:1-14).

Moses was told by God to stretch forth his hand over the sea and get it parted (Exodus 14). That was a prophetic act that was supposed to create the reality of the supernatural on the earth.

Wondering about the difference between the predictive and the productive?

In the latter, the prophetic act or word is directly responsible for the effect seen, while the predictive is affirming the divine determination as a function of a walk with God.

When Jesus said of the temple would be leveled and not one stone will remain on the other (Matthew 24), so also when he said Peter will betray him thrice in one night, those are predictive prophetic (Matthew 26:34).

Paul declared that the eyes of an “opposer” of the gospel while on his first missionary journey would be blind (Acts 13:5-12), and it happened like that. That was a productive-prophetic (remember Ananias and Saphira? [Acts 5:1-11] ).

The words spoken were directive responsible for the effect. When Jesus told Peter to launch into the deep and he caught a great heap of fish (Luke 5:1-7), which was the productive expression of the prophetic in action.

This brings out the “Godness” in man, who declared it and it stands in his creative works.

 

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