For the past couple of years we have dedicated much time to address what seems to us to be a crisis in the use of prophetic gifts. Quite frankly, a measure of trust has been lost. Last year we were part of publishing a call for repentance and affirmation among charismatic leaders. Much fruit has been born of that effort and can be seen on the website www.ifli.co. (Initiative for Fivefold Leadership Integrity).
I would also refer you to the panel video discussion on accountability in prophetic gifts involving Dan Juster, Ron Cantor, Michael Brown, Paul Wilbur, Ariel Blumenthal and myself. Part of the victory in this panel was not only the broad-based, scriptural approach to the subject by the panel members, but the very fact of our meeting together after some four decades of cooperative ministry leadership.
Part of our message was the demonstration of the model that spiritual accountability comes from being involved in relationships with like-minded brothers and sisters who have a right to speak into one another’s lives. Trustworthiness, faithfulness and integrity are developed through covenantal relationships. The willingness to work together and receive mutual feedback demonstrates humility and restrains delusional self-grandeur.
Prophecy starts with the cry of Moses in Numbers 11:29 –
וּמִי יִתֵּן כָּל־עַם יְהוָה נְבִיאִים, כִּי־יִתֵּן יְהוָה אֶת־רוּחוֹ עֲלֵיהֶם
Who would grant that all the people of YHVH would be prophets; so that YHVH would give His spirit on them.
What an amazing prayer! Moses prayed that everyone would receive the Holy Spirit and that everyone could prophesy. This is the heart of God.
Joel took that prayer and turned it into a prophecy. Joel 2:28 –
וְהָיָה אַחֲרֵי־כֵן, אֶשְׁפּוֹךְ אֶת־רוּחִי עַל־כָּל־בָּשָׂר, וְנִבְּאוּ בְּנֵיכֶם וּבְנוֹתֵיכֶם
It shall come to pass afterwards that I will pour My spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy.
This prophesy was then quoted by Peter when the Holy Spirit was poured out on Shavuot (Pentecost), as recorded in Acts 2:1-18.
The transition from Moses’ prayer to Joel’s prophecy to Peter’s fulfillment signifies that a change has taken place in the status of prophecy. Prophecy is not only for a few chosen special men of God; it is now a gift made available to everyone. This change of status is not a “cheapening” of the gift; it is an improvement, an enlargement, a universalizing of the opportunity.
Peter then explained how this could happen. Everyone has to repent of their sins, submit to the lordship of Yeshua, and then receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Through the death and resurrection of Yeshua, the Holy Spirit is offered to all who ask and believe. This Holy Spirit is the same as the Holy Spirit that was on the prophets.
Before Yeshua, the Holy Spirit came upon the special few who were prophets. Since Yeshua, the very spirit of the prophets dwells permanently in all the saints. (Interesting to note that the New Covenant language usually speaks of the followers of Yeshua before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as “disciples” mathetes, yet after the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, they are called “saints” hagios.) What makes a person holy is the spirit of holiness dwelling in him.
We could summarize the development of prophecy in these three stages:
Spirit of God on the Prophets
Word of God written in the Scriptures
Spirit of God living inside New Covenant believers.
This expansion of the role of the gift of prophecy involves a change in the way it is handled in the community of faith. (to be continued)