The Holy Spirit caught my attention this morning as I was reading a very familiar scripture; one that all of us know well but often pass over quickly. But as I read it my attention, as it has been for months, was focused not only on the “prophetic” message but on the people to whom it was delivered at the time. I am learning that if we immediately jump to the fulfillment of prophecy in Christ (which the church is want to do) we may well miss something of the Word of God to that generation that is applicable to us today.
Joel 2:28-29 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
In God’s message through Joel it was very clear at the time that “all flesh” referred to “all Israel.” That’s really key here because up to that time Israel expected that the Spirit of God was only poured out on the Messiah:
Isa 11:2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
“All flesh” meant the whole society, regardless of sex, age, or social status. It was a radical statement as it envisioned something new for Israel; an immediate relationship with God that would be enjoyed by all of God’s people, not just a select few. Here they were told that “they” would prophesy, dream dreams, and see visions with the result of a close relationship with God in which they would receive His Word; a word they would communicate to others.
Today, we are privileged to be living in the era of the Spirit, between the day of Pentecost and the day of the Lord; His second coming. And we, as the bride of Christ, no longer have the Spirit “poured out” upon us, we have Him living within us. But when it comes to “prophecy” we seem to get confused by understanding it to only mean foretelling the future. While it may well mean that, it means a great deal more to each of us if we consider what one writer called it…forth-telling; proclaiming God’s Word. There is a great need in our time for authentic prophets, both in the pulpit and in the pews. That’s why we need to remember that the gift of prophecy is for “all” of God’s people… you and me!
But we need to understand that the gift of prophecy must be accompanied by its “twin.”
Those around us, both in the family of God and those on the outside, will bring out the gift of prophecy in us if we are focused on a couple of key things. First it is our responsibility to follow the command given to us by Paul:
Eph 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit…
Remember that “be filled” is actually translated in the Greek as “be being filled.” We are to keep on being filled with the Spirit, on a constant basis. That is a prerequisite to receiving the wisdom we need to face the challenges God sets before us. It is a fact that one day’s anointing of the Spirit is not sufficient for the next. And that means that we are to be praying for the gift of prophecy in every relationship we find ourselves in during the day; hour by hour and moment by moment. That is the only way we will be able to be effective in the personal ministry the Lord has given us. And that brings us to the second key to walking in the prophetic gift.
We need to be listening, caring, and empathizing in our relationships with others. And we can only accomplish that if we are “walking in love.” If we do, the Holy Spirit will give us the insight we need about what to say, when to say it, and the boldness and honesty to deliver the message. It may be a message of comfort, exhortation, or challenge, but whatever it is, if it is inspired by the Holy Spirit we can be certain that it comes in love and must be delivered the same way.
That’s why we need to pray for the gift of prophecy. Joel delivered that message to Israel and the Holy Spirit delivered it to the bride of Christ on the Day of Pentecost. It is that gift that we “all” have, but we need to pray for it in order to know what God wants us to say and how to say it. We are living in the post-Pentecost era in which God’s promise to pour out His Spirit is now being fulfilled. We are living in the day that Moses dreamed of:
Num 11:29 29 Then Moses said to him, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!“
The key to fully living and walking in Word daily and fulfilling our individual calling to ministry is to remember that there is no way we can identify with the desires of the Spirit without His “twin gifts”… love and prophecy. It’s only then that we can be His prophets that are called to forth-tell His Word.