Modern religion and its shallow focus on comfort and prosperity have severely distorted the proper application of God’s true Word. Prophecy, and its proper function have suffered from tremendous distortion. Rather than exhorting and bringing comfort to people from the revelation of God’s will, many claiming to be prophets have degraded the gift to materialistic fortune-telling. Much prophecy of today has become nothing more than repackaged psychic readings, focused on the fortuitous predictions of temporary pleasures. Many bearing true prophetic gifts may fail to recognize the gift that they possess, because their expectations are based on an over exposure to false prophecy. It is imperative to understand that the nature of prophets and prophecy has changed since the Old Covenant dispensation. The prophets of old, spearheaded the advancement of God’s people and operated with a different mantle than today’s prophets. In those days, much of Yahweh’s will for His people had not yet been disclosed or revealed at all, therefore the faith of His people was founded on the word of prophecy. The role of the early church prophets was to reveal and reprove the law and foretell of the coming of the Lord with clarity, so that New Covenant believers could trust in the promises to come. The gift of prophecy, which still exists today, serves a slightly different, but distinct purpose as well.
Prophecy does two different things – It is to “foretell” and to “forth-tell”.
Foretelling is the declaration of future events as revealed from the Lord, pertaining especially to the kingdom of God
Forth-Telling is to utter forth, declare, a thing which can only be known by divine revelation; declare the divine will, to interpret the purposes of God, or to make known in any way the truth of God which is designed to influence people. It can only be uncovered and revealed through prophets.
The first aspect, foretelling involves speaking on unknown future events. While this aspect is not dead, it’s role has shifted as we have advanced closer to the end of this age. The broader future of mankind has already been laid out in scripture, and there is essentially no “brand new” Kingdom future to be revealed. In addition, scripture tells us not to add or subtract anything from the Word as it is. (Revelation 22:18-19, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The only completely unknown things about the future lie on the other side of our perfected restoration, and during this time, prophesy will have ceased (1 Cor. 13:8-13). So, prophesying that far into the future contradicts scripture in more ways than one.
The word is sufficient to sustain us, because it is complete. The major problem that exists today, which has actually existed since the beginning of time, is that people are unaware of the depths of God’s loving intentions for His people which is declared in His Word. Both individuals and the Body of Christ as a whole have displayed a unhealthy ignorance of God’s Word, which is His covenant with us. This is exactly why prophecy has been manipulated to such extremes today, and it is why prophets like Elijah and Jeremiah spent most of their energies reiterating and reminding God’s people of His laws. Satan’s kingdom is constantly at work to distort the truth.
From this, we can see how the other aspect of prophecy, forth-telling, has been, and always will be a major component of prophecy. As we near the end of this age, the forth-telling ability of prophets will be greatly needed throughout the entire body to boldly and clearly proclaim the carnally obscured revelations of God’s instructions and promises. This ability to declare the misunderstood or unrealized truths of God’s Covenant is the primary function of prophecy today. For those who open their Word and are discouraged by things they cannot understand, the forth-telling gift of prophets clarifies the loving intentions of Bible Author.
We should never go as far as some to say, that prophecy ceased with the Apostles. We should not say that prophecy concluded with the canon of scripture, and we should certainly never say that the Holy Spirit no longer prophesies through people. The Lord has used donkeys to get man’s attention, so I would never declare that God would never speak to the edification of His children. Such teachings venture dangerously close to blasphemy. However, we do need to understand what real prophecy entails. The foretelling nature of prophecy has not disappeared. It is often needed and used at a more personal level to establish the personal nature of Yahweh. However, personal prophecy must still line up with God’s overall will. It will always pertain to His kingdom agenda. In addition to this, numerous scriptures tell us that prophecy is greatly needed. It is listed 2nd among the office functions of the church instituted by Jesus himself in Ephesians 4:11, 1 Corinthians 12:28 & 1 Corinthians 14:5. As we know the Bible says, it is not until that [He] which is perfect is come, that prophecy will cease.
In today’s generation the office of the prophet is sorely needed. That ability to see the beyond the surface information, and into the revelation of God’s word and declare it with certainty is prophecy. It just so happens to be less glamorous than the self-seeking, good fortune variety. So, if you feel that you have been failing as a prophet just because you haven’t been “fortune-telling”, it’s time to reevaluate your purpose. If you think you don’t posses a prophetic gift because you can’t see a person’s future house or dream life, it’s time to consult the Spirit. We must foretell when appropriate, and forth-tell when needed, all by the leading of Holy Spirit. Due to the perversion of the Gospel, and the deception of Satan, many have grown weary or fallen into sin. This is where true prophets are called. It is to remind us all of the truth, when we can’t perceive it or fail to obey it. It is to lovingly exhort us all towards the promise of total redemption. It is to bring reassuring comfort in knowing on a personal and communal level, that no matter how it appears in the natural, God has spoken and He is faithful to perform His Word.
– Pastor Jeremiah Shepherd