by Lyn Packer
A prophet is supposed to hear from God clearly and deliver what they hear, and in the Old Testament it seems that there were very definite repercussions if they didn't get it right.
How do we judge a prophecy and can we judge a prophecy solely by whether or not it comes to pass? Obviously that is a standard many hold to, yet if we judge every prophecy by that standard alone we have a problem. We are finite people with a finite life span and even in scripture some prophetic words did not come to pass for centuries. Are we to judge a prophecy by setting a time limit or a date by which a prophetic word must come to pass or are there other factors we need to consider? Obviously there are other factors as well that come into play.
If a prophet gives a prophetic word and specifies a certain time when it will come to pass then that does set a time limit on that prophecy; but even then part of the prophetic word can be accurate and part wrong. Putting time limits in prophetic words is always risky, even when you sense God say a time specification. Why? Because God's sense of time often does not correspond to our understanding of time.
How do we judge a prophecy?
Some simple things to weigh a prophetic word by are as follows:
- Judge the prophecy and not the person giving it. (God speaks through people who might not always line up with our preconceived ideas of how a prophetic person should look, speak or act.)
- The new covenant prophetic word must be for edification, exhortation and comfort (1 Cor 14:2-4). Because of redemption all prophetic words will be bathed and soaked with Father's love and heart for that person or people.
- The word must carry the Saviour's heart and redemptive purpose. There is a huge difference between Old Covenant prophets and New Covenant ones. (Old was under the law – judgement; new is under Grace – love & redemptive purpose)
- The word given will not violate Scripture or God's character and values. Check – does it line up with the Word, God's heart, His nature and character?
- Inner witness. Does the Holy Spirit in you witness that this is a word from God? (It is possible for someone to prophesy from their soul – what they see or sense with their natural senses about a person or situation)
- Does the word come to pass? This is not always easy to gauge, as sometimes years go by before a prophecy comes to pass, so for me this is one of the lower things on the list of how I judge a prophecy. It should not be the first thing we go to.
- A prophetic word does not have to be, but may be, confirmed with outward circumstances that come into agreement with that word. eg signs and wonders.
Pastoring the Prophetic
All this might make it seem that giving and receiving prophetic words is risky and that it would be better not to have that gift operate. Unfortunately some people and churches have chosen this route. Because of the risk factor they have chosen to shut down the operation of that gift in their lives and churches. Unfortunately this is a knee-jerk reaction, not a scriptural or even a wise one.
Part of the reason it may happen is if pastors aren't prophetic themselves and they then place a lower value on this gift than others. Another reason is because a lot of pastors don't understand the gift and don't know how to pastor prophetic people. So an ostrich situation can happen – if I ignore it maybe it will go away or sort itself out. Not so, but unfortunately that can be some peoples' viewpoint.
Sometimes the shutting down of the gift or gifts simply comes from the very practical fact of 'a lot of stuff to do and little time to do it in' so Pastors can make growing in the prophetic and pastoring the prophetic a low priority.
The gift of prophecy is a very needed gift in the church today, just as it always has been. There is a restoration of that gift happening at the moment and it is being used both in church and out in the marketplace with great effect in peoples' lives. But if we don't want to go around the same mountain again and have the same problems happen we must learn to use and pastor the gift with wisdom so that it grows up into its fullness in our lives – personally and in the corporate life of the church.
In order for that to happen part of what we need to understand is that we carry some responsibility in delivering a prophetic word, so in next month's article I will look at that responsibility .
Content from list is taken from "Prophetic Bootcamp" by XP USA.
PROPHETS AND HEARING FROM GOD (2)
Lyn is recognised as a Prophet within New Zealand and other nations she’s ministered in. Her ministry is revelatory and catalytic, propelling people into encounter with God. The governmental prophetic gift she carries is expressed through prophetic, revelatory insight and strategy, prophetic words (personal, corporate and national), teaching, art, and writing. Click here for more info...