Getting Started in the Prophetic
Be Prophetic like Haggai?
Haggai is for the unsure and first timers. What do I mean? I mean Haggai has something to say to someone first beginning to walk in their prophetic gift. So let’s look at what encouragement he has to give us.
Not Our Model
The Old Testament prophets are not our New Testament model for prophetic ministry. Jesus is our model. Yet Paul reminds us that the Old Testament is given as an example for us (1 Cor 10:11). Paul also taught that the Old Testament can give us wisdom to be fully equipped for every good word (2 Tim 3:16-17). In this light, the ministry of the prophets can offer great wisdom into many aspects of a Christian’s life, especially in the area of prophetic ministry.
An often-neglected prophet has something to teach us about prophecy today. Haggai was one of the post-exilic prophets. He ministered during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. We know very little about his personal history, with only vague information in the book of Ezra (Ezra 5:1, Ezra 6:14). He began his ministry about eighteen years after the return to Judah (ca. 520 BCE) and had a short ministry. The Lord spoke five messages to Haggai over a six-month period. The work of rebuilding the temple had stopped. The people were demoralized by poverty and the repeated activity of raiders and thieves. After having been suspended for eighteen years, the work was resumed through the efforts of Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 6:14). Their prophetic words stirred the people to take advantage of a change in the policy under Darius I and get the temple completed. We pick up in the text just before God moves people to act with the second of his five prophecies:
13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD. 14 So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month (Hag 1:13-15).
Two encouraging observations for any beginners in prophetic gift.
Haggai’s word was simple and to the point. His word is the little statement recorded in 1:13:
“I am with you,” declares the LORD.
The context and style of v13-15 seem to point to another recorded word and it may be a shorter summary statement of the word. Yet, if I take it as it is written, Haggai’s prophecy is simply: “I am with you,” declares the LORD.
Prophecy does not have to be long-winded. The point we need to remember is that God can speak short messages and long messages. Neither are to be despised. Therefore, when God speaks, what we need to do is speak what He is revealing and leave it there. If He gives more, speak it. If He gives an explanation to help expound on and explain what He has given, speak it. But speak what He has given, even if it is a simple 4 words like with Haggai, and leave the rest to God. I am aware that some can easily dismiss words claimed as prophecy simply because the statement is very short and to the point, i.e., ‘The Lord is with you.’ Don’t worry.
Again, God can speak forth one simple word or a scroll full of words. Length does not matter to God. But what is important is that God desires to speak into our situation. Therefore, be encouraged.
In my experience, God’s revelation can be short and to the point. The medium differed. Sometimes it would come through a vision, other times through His still small voice. Even then, I was not 100% sure it was God. So we need not dismiss those times when one word runs through our minds no matter how small. Brevity does not imply insignificance. The effectiveness of a word is not measured by its length.
This second point connects with the first. One area where continuationism gets hammered regarding prophecy is the accusation of vagueness in modern prophetic ministry. “I am with you,” is theologically simple and obvious. It is the New Testament equivalent of “God is Love”. Some will say, “prophecy today seems so vague and nebulous that anyone could assert such a statement.” It is true that sometimes a general word is not Jesus. I know, such does happen. Anyone could speak forth the word, ‘I am with you,’ and claim it as prophecy. Yet being short and vague are not evidence that a word is not from God. The accusation of vagueness and brevity only has merit if we fail to recognize that Haggai spoke forth such a short and ‘vague’ word.
In Haggai’s day, the people were not 100% certain of his prophetic words. He may have had some prophetic credibility built up but scripture is silent on this point. In any case, a step of faith had to be taken by the community to receive his prophetic words. Confirmation would have been needed. And they did take such a step in their particular situation. And the blessing remains to this day as God providentially saw fit to get this short and ‘vague’ message into Scripture.
Maybe some sneered, throwing their hands up in the air. He likely encountered a cynical Jew or two, who could have said something like, “I know God is with me – Thanks but no thanks.” But shortness and ‘vagueness’ means nothing in the larger scheme of God’s work, lest we find ourselves discarding the words of Haggai.
Speaking a prophetic word into a particular situation is something of a different nature. It can be rejected by the stubborn and unbelieving, and other times God confirms the word in the hearts of its hearers. Like today, some, being overly scrupulous, demand a rational confirmation at every point. They often confuse discernment and unbelief. They operate from a critical indifference and call it being “theologically informed”. They demand some confirming bit of knowledge, something no one knew but God. Yet, even in His mercy God often gives them what they want. Such people can’t attach faith to it for they were never open to believing in the first place. Even if the word hits home and is staring them in their face, they can’t see how it connects to their life. They don’t have the faith necessary to want to see it. Because, their God would never do that kind of thing. Only God changes the stiff neck that can only see things their way.
Now I think we should pray for such piercing words of knowledge. When we prophesy we should want to go big! We should pray for a word that cuts to the heart and immediately ushers someone into the manifest awareness of God’s greatness and care for them. Yet we always do this to the measure of our faith, making it a slow process of growth. We all start somewhere and for most it’s short and vague.
For Haggai, the confirmation was in the hearts of the hearers, not their heads (v14-15). My suspicion is that the word was accompanied with great power but not in signs and wonders. It still had oil on it. But the oil that loosens stiff necks, stirs cold hearts, and moves people to action. God worked among the hearers of the word giving them the faith to believe in His encouragement and they were filled with the courage to do what they knew needed to be done. Any objective, outward confirmation was found in the people’s willingness to get back to building the temple. The effectiveness of a word is not measured by its immediate profundity but its lasting legacy.
What’s my point?
When your just starting out trust the Father who oversees all. Don’t worry if your uncertain. There is grace for that. Don’t worry if think you heard from God but It seems too short and too vague, at least for the taste of others. We need not fall into the pressures of sensationalism. Trust the voice of the One who calls you His own. He can take a little word and make it cut to the heart.
If you just get a sense or impression to tell someone God loves them, DO IT! If the prophecy is 5 words in length, then speak it, and speak it with both courage and humility. It might seem to be missing some ‘meat’. Don’t worry about it. He is growing you. God will bless the obedience. We can trust Him. As we dare to speak. We need to continue to do two things. 1.) keep ourselves in the fear of God, and respect our Father, for it is an honor not a right to have him speak. 2.) Repenting well when we miss it.
So Keep praying and keep your ears open like Haggai.
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