2 Chronicles 20:20 NKJV: So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”
Here, we are told by the Holy Spirit, through this word from Jehoshaphat, that we are to believe the Lord God to be established and to believe His prophets and prosper.
To obey this instruction, we must have a clear understanding of whom a prophet is and how to believe the Lord and then believe His prophets.
Who is a prophet?
A prophet is one that prophesies, preaches and teaches the understanding of the purposes of God for His people: individually, locally and universally, as the times and seasons for those purposes approach.
The purpose of prophets is to cause God’s people to prosper spiritually in God’s purposes.
To prosper spiritually in God’s purposes is to have revelation knowledge and understanding of the purposes of God and so be inspired and motivated to fulfill those purposes.
The purposes of God could be for an individual, a local Church or the universal Church.
The highest level of prophetic operation is when God brings a Word through the prophet that affects the universal Church, the next level is when it affects a local Church and the lowest level is when it only affects the individual.
In fact, the purpose of God for the individual will be part of His purpose for the local Church where God has planted him, and the purpose of God for the local Church will be part of His purpose for the universal Church.
So prophetic messages: be they utterances, preaching or teaching for the universal Church will contain some message for the local Church and for the individual.
This is why it is so important to listen to prophets not only for individual purposes, but also for local and universal purposes.
Now, a prophetic utterance is an utterance given by the gift of prophecy: spoken by the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, when an unction which you sense spiritually like a cloak is present, usually prefaced by the statement ‘Thus saith the Lord’.
Prophetic preaching is inspired preaching based on revelation received by the prophet through the written Word.
Prophetic teaching is inspired teaching based on revelation received by a prophet through the written Word.
How then do we believe the Lord our God to be established and then His prophets to prosper?
To believe the Lord our God is to believe the witness of His Holy Spirit in our hearts confirmed by His written Word.
This establishes you in being led by the Spirit of God through His Word.
Why then do we need prophets if the Spirit of God through the written Word leads us?
We need prophets to confirm, clarify and amplify what the Spirit is already witnessing to us in our hearts through the Word.
The confirmation, edifies, exhorts and comforts, you (1 Cor. 14.3).
The clarification and amplification cause you to prosper spiritually by bringing understanding and so inspiration to act on God’s Word.
Without the prophet’s confirmation, clarification and amplification you will not have enough understanding and inspiration to act on the revelation of the Word you may have a witness to and so you will not fulfill God’s purpose: we need the prophetic ministry though we are not led by prophets but rather by the Spirit of God through the Word.
One reason why the prophetic ministry has not developed to the degree of the fullness of Christ is that the saints have not been properly taught by the Pastors and Teachers to pray, read, study and meditate the Word so they can have a witness that the prophets can confirm.
Where there is a low level of prayer and the knowledge of the Word, there will be a correspondingly low level of genuine prophetic operation.
Mark 4.33 NIV: With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.
In fact, corrupted prophetic operation occurs when prophets try to perform to bring a Word whether by utterance, preaching or teaching, to pander to the covetous or ambitious desires of the people, when there is no genuine inspiration to bring a prophetic message. Furthermore there is no genuine witness in the hearts of the people, through prayer and the Word, to be confirmed by the prophetic message.
Jeremiah 5:31 NKJV: The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?
Jeremiah 23:25-27 NKJV: “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 “How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, 27 who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal.
Many times Satan will use this to corrupt the prophets and the people by allowing false prophetic messages to be confirmed by physical, material blessings: like spectacular healings and deliverances and financial blessings that feed the lusts of the flesh (gratification of appetites), the lust of the eyes (gratification of material desires) and the pride of life (gratification of ambitions: positions, titles etc), that are not in line with the will of God.
Psalms 106:15 NKJV: And He gave them their request, But sent leanness into their soul.
This is why Jesus gave this warning about the end-time:
Matthew 7:22-23 NKJV: Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Now the true prophetic will bring all these blessings: physical, material and positional but with the condition of the walking in the fruit of the spirit or the character of God.
The true prophetic will rebuke, correct and instruct us when necessary to come up to higher level of spirituality where these blessings will be our portion in God’s timing.
So you can recognize or identify a true prophetic message by:
Its accuracy as measured by its agreement with firstly, and most importantly, the written Word interpreted in the light of the character of God: loving-kindness, righteousness and justice. Secondly, and less importantly, its confirmation of the witness in your heart because the witness in your heart may be inaccurate because of your spiritual laziness in prayer and the Word (Pr. 28.26, Jam. 3.14-17).
The fruit the message brings.
Isaiah 8:20 NKJV: To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Matthew 7:20 NKJV: Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
True prophetic ministry will bring, not only physical, material and positional blessings but also cause us to bring forth the fruit of the spirit and a higher level of spirituality.
This is why it is necessary to judge prophetic messages, so prove all things and only hold fast to that which is good.
In our message next week, we will see how to judge prophetic messages and so hold fast to only that which is good.