ACTS 23:11: “The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: Thank God for the “prophetic word”! The New Testament gift of prophecy has a different function than the Old Testament gift. In the Book of Acts we see only a few instances of the prophetic being used to foretell the future or impending judgment. However, we see countless examples throughout Acts and the New Testament of the gift of prophecy as defined in I Corinthians 14.
“On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” (1 Corinthians 14:3 ESV)
Paul knew that he could face certain death in going to proclaim the Gospel in Jerusalem. This is exactly what transpired. Taken by a mob, falsely accused, and held for questioning, a plot was being formed to kill Paul by the dissenting Jewish sects. Paul had been beaten and was being held captive. He was shut off from the church, but not from the prophetic word. In the midst of his trial the Lord stood by him and spoke to him. The words that came were to build him up, encourage him, and give him comfort. The Lord called him to courage and assured him that he would not die, but would fulfill even a higher calling – to bring the Gospel to Rome!
The prophetic word comes to us in many ways. It is not always in someone saying “Thus saith the Lord…” It can come to us in a dream, in a vision, and in the still small voice of the Spirit. It can come to us through a brother or sister in Jesus Christ. It can come to us through the Scriptures as we read and meditate. The common denominator is that it is a gift of the Holy Spirit to bring the Lord’s edification, encouragement,, and comfort to our lives. It is not always a word that gives us instruction or direction. But it is always a word that strengthens our faith and gives us hope. How we need the prophetic word active and moving today in the life of the church.
Paul put it this way,
“Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up… If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” (1 Corinthians 14:5, 23-25 ESV)
Moses cried out to the Lord,
“…Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29 ESV)
Lord, help us to be a “prophetic” people! Allow the spiritual gift of prophecy to move freely among us. Let it be authentic and natural. Deliver us from forms and stylistic abuses of this gift. Let the edification, encouragement, and comfort of Your Church be our focus as we move in the ministry of this gift. Holy Spirit, bring Your edification, encouragement, and comfort – in us, through us, and amongst us. In Jesus Name!