The prophetic call is probably the least understood of all the ministry gifts. And the prophet in his personal life is probably more misunderstood by Christians than any of the other ministers. Most people I know that operate in the prophetic ministry are seen as being very independent. They may even do some things that seem very peculiar to other Christians. Isaiah laid around naked for a couple of years in his ministry and John the Baptist ate grasshoppers. I have heard of a man that claimed to be a prophet recently and he ate grasshoppers to try and prove his point. Of course, this is excessive and very likely not what God had called him to do. Prophets have to be very careful of not falling into the "super spiritual". One of the wisest sayings I ever heard is that the supernatural is not always spectacular. There have been times that I have been given a word for someone by the Lord and it did not seem spectacular but it was very spiritual. If a person just seeks the flashy things, he will certainly miss what God has for him.
There are many misconceptions with the prophet's ministry. People associate prophets with telling the future. Telling the future was a definite part of some of the Old Testament Prophet's lives but not all of them told the future. The gift of prophecy is simply speaking forth the mind, the will and the purpose of God. Sometimes this involves future events and sometimes it does not. The Greek word for prophet, in the New Testament, is prophetes. It means a "foreteller" or an "inspired speaker."
"A prophet was not only a foreteller but a forthteller. He was a speaker for God to rebuke, to instruct, and to correct people in his day, as well as to foretell future events. He had powers of insight and foresight and he was more than a foreteller of future events. He was caused to see conditions about him and the purposes of God in these things. The present was only a moment in the divine plan which was working toward the end of establishing the kingdom of God again on earth and ridding the earth of all rebellion. Hence, the prophet was a teacher, a social reformer, and a statesman, as well as a herald of the future kingdom. Many of his utterances were really sermons preached as the occasion demanded. This is especially true of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekial, and the Minor Prophets, although in their books are many prophecies of the future. Daniel and John were mainly prophets of foretelling future events, although in their books there is the element of forthtelling as seen in Dan 2,4,5,6; etc., and Rev. 2,3." From "Revelation Expounded" by Finis Dake.
Many people believe prophets should be able to prophesy at will and that they will prophesy every day. Mockers are quick to ask the prophet what God is telling him. Prophets prophesy as the Holy Spirit leads them. Even in Elijah's life there were times that God did not speak to him.
1 Kings 18:1
Now it came about after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year saying, "Go show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth."
In Elijah's case it had been many days since the word of the Lord had come to him. Even in the book of Acts, miracles were not performed every day. We have a condensed record and it is easy to think all the things we read happened closely together when in fact, a lot of the events were many years apart.
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
This passage of scripture says Barnabus and Saul were sent forth by the Holy Spirit. How did they know the Holy Spirit had sent them? The Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets and teachers that were ministering to the Lord.
Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying,  Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.  So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.  And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
Jonah was a very bigoted Jew. It is clear that he had no love for the Gentiles and did not want to deliver the message of judgment to them. After running from God's command and paying the price for it, he delivered the message to the Ninevites. The people of Ninevah turned their hearts to God and He spared them.
Isaiah pronounced judgment on King Hezekiah:
2 Kings 20:1
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
Hezekiah listened to the word of the prophet and got serious with God and he was given fifteen more years to live.
2 Kings 20:3-6
I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
In both of these cases, both prophets could have been accused of their prophecies not coming true. Thank God for his mercy. Most times when a prophet delivers judgment, there is hope for the recipient if they will repent quickly. Later we will take a look at what happens when a prophet's words do not come to pass.
And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
Moses delivered God's message to Pharaoh but he did not repent. God hardened Pharaoh's heart because he refused to listen to the words of the prophet. Pharaoh could have repented but he made the choice not to. The same thing happens to men today when they refuse to accept the Gospel of Christ. Because of their choices, God hardens their hearts. To those who accept the Gospel, it is life. To those who reject it, it is death.
2 Cor. 2:15-16
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
I have no doubt that God is going to raise up prophets once again that will deliver judgments to world leaders. Just as history has shown, some will be rejected by these world leaders and be punished, tortured and even murdered. In the United States we don't see many Christian martyrs. Even though our freedoms seem to be eroding, God has blessed us with greater religious freedom than any country has ever experienced. Throughout the world though, martyrdom continues at accelerated rates. In fact, in the twentieth century more Christians were martyred than in all the previous centuries combined.
One of the big things I have noticed about prophets is their tendency to have very noticeable mood swings. A prophet may have a great spiritual victory in his life and immediately following, be found in deep depression. The Bible gives us an example of one of the greatest prophets being just like that.
King Ahab and his Queen Jezebel had just killed many of the prophets of God and declared that Baal was the true God of Israel. The Lord spoke to Elijah and even though he faced certain death, he met face to face with Ahab. Then Elijah offered a challenge to Ahab. Elijah told Ahab to gather the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and have them meet him at a certain spot. When this was done Elijah spoke boldly to the people of Israel.
1 Kings 18:21-22
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.  Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
Elijah was telling the people of Israel that, by himself, he would oppose the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal. We see earlier in this story, Obadiah had saved one hundred prophets from the hands of Ahab yet Elijah was the only one that would take a stand for what was right. The people did not speak when Elijah reproved them for not making a stand for the true God of Israel. These people were in fear for their lives if they were to oppose Ahab.
Elijah's challenge came boldly. Both he and the prophets of Baal would each take a young bull and prepare it as a sacrifice. The prophets of Baal were to place this young bull on an altar of wood then call upon their god to catch the wood on fire and consume the sacrifice. This would have obviously taken more than one day to get everyone to this location, gather the wood, and bring and prepare the young bulls. Once it was done, the next morning the prophets of Baal began calling on their god. They called out to him until noon and Elijah began to make a spectacle of them.
1 Kings 18:26-29
And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.  And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.  And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.  And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
Elijah had put his back up against a wall. At the risk of certain death if he was wrong, Elijah had made a bold claim that whichever God consumed the sacrifice was the real God. When you know God has spoken to you, you can make bold claims like Elijah did. I knew a minister that was notorious for saying that God had told him something was going to happen, after it had happened. When you have heard from God, you can put yourself on the spot and be assured that God will do what He said. You can even tell people beforehand because God will always do what He has said.
It was apparent after some time that Baal wasn't going to consume his sacrifice. Elijah built up an altar and had a trench dug around encircling it. Then he told the people to take four large barrels of water and pour them over the meat and the wood. They not only were commanded to do this once but three times. There was so much water that it soaked the wood and filled the trench to overflowing. Pagan priests were masters at sleight of hand and had done the same thing by hiding small tunnels under altars and fire could be fanned up into the sacrifice. Elijah wanted there to be no mistake that there was no fire concealed beneath the sacrifice.
There is no need for gimmickry or deceit in the ministry. How many large ministries have resorted to this type of tactic to insure they will have a following? One of the jobs of the prophet is to expose this type of ministry.
Once the sacrifice was fully prepared and there was no doubt that there were no hidden fires, Elijah knelt down and prayed a simple prayer.
1 Kings 18:36-40
And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.  Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.  Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.  And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
Notice that Elijah had done all these things at God's word. This is why he could make bold claims and mock the work of these men. In our politically correct country these prophets would never have been slain. Even Christians would have cried out that God loved them and that maybe they could be saved. There is a time for compassion and there is a time for bold, violent action.
"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and violent men take it by force".
If you are a prophet, and God speaks to you to oppose someone or some group, once you know you have heard from God do not allow well meaning, spiritually ignorant Christians to stop what God has told you to do. I have seen, when dealing with demons, that there are many well meaning Christians that will do more to interfere than to help.
1 Kings 18:46
And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Elijah had just faced death in a way that many of us will never know. He had seen the power of God move mightily. Then when Jezebel heard the prophets of Baal had been killed she put a death warrant out for Elijah. You would think that Elijah would face Jezebel just as stoically as he had Ahab and the prophets of Baal. Instead, Elijah ran away to Beer-sheba and had a "pity party" for himself.
1 Kings 19:1-4
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.  Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.  And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
Many of the prophets mentioned in the Bible had similar mood swings. Even John the Baptist questioned if Jesus was really the Messiah.
And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
Mood swings are not uncommon to see in the modern day prophet's life. Perhaps they come because of the incredible challenges and trials that accompany the prophetic calling. Whatever the reason may be, the prophet can learn to overcome the emotions that hinder his call by rising above the flesh which is only possible by walking in the Spirit and growing in the Word of God.
Operate in Spiritual Gifts
As I stated before, not all prophets prophesy future events. This may come as a shock to many people with their preconceived notions of prophets. Not all prophets prophesy on a national level either. As I stated earlier, there are differences of administrations and differences of operations among prophets as well as the other ministry gifts. Not every prophet will operate in the same gifts. The church that Paul had established in Corinth was not lacking in spiritual gifts. On the contrary, the spiritual gifts were so abused that Paul had to write the church to correct their use and understanding of the gifts.
1 Cor. 12:8-10
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;  To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
There are nine separate gifts listed. Below is a list of the gifts and a brief explanation of each one.
1. The Word of Wisdom
A supernatural understanding or knowing of how to deal with a situation. This could involve present situations or future situations.
2. The Word of Knowledge
A supernatural understanding or knowing about a situation.
3. The Gift of Faith
This is a supernatural faith that exceeds the normal faith of a believer. Many times this kind of faith accompanies the working of miracles.
4. The Gifts of Healing
Supernatural healing that goes beyond the scope of natural and medicinal healing.
5. The Working of Miracles
A supernatural act that goes beyond natural laws and physics.
6. The Gift of Prophecy
A supernatural speaking forth of the mind, will and purpose of God.
7. Discerning of Spirits
A supernatural knowing when one is dealing with evil spirits or knowing if a person's intent is what is actually being portrayed by that person.
8. Divers kinds of Tongues
A supernatural language that is not understood by the speaker. This gift is received as evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
9. Interpretation of Tongues
A supernatural interpretation, not translation, of the gift of tongues. When tongues and the interpretation of tongues are used together they are equivalent to the gift of prophecy.
In the Old Testament, the prophets operated in every one of these gifts except tongues and interpretation of tongues, which are gifts that are distinctive to this dispensation only. The modern day prophet is a person that has been born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. He operates in the gift of tongues and interpretation and the gift of prophecy and will operate in any, if not all, of the other gifts as the Spirit of the Lord directs him. Looking back, I have seen every one of these gifts in operation in my life, some very frequently and some infrequently.
Apt to Teach
Besides operating in the spiritual gifts, the prophet is a teacher of the word. Each ministry gift will teach the word of God differently than the other.
2 Tim. 2:24
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
In the late 1980's I attended an "Apostle and Prophet" conference in Texas. By this time in my life I had seen many people who claimed to be prophets while the title was fashionable and then saw them move on to the next fad in titles. I was more confused than ever but I knew it was God's responsibility to bring about the calling in my life. Somewhere during this time God had spoken to me and given me an even more clear direction in the administration and operation of my gift. He said, "Build foundations in the people's lives that they may be strong and stand and not fall". At the conference, I was visiting with one of the men that was responsible for putting it all together and I asked him if he could give me a simple explanation of what the prophet's ministry is. He said, "The prophets are the foundational men". I told him what the Lord had spoken to me and he agreed that that was in line with the call of the prophet.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
The apostles and prophets must build foundations using the word of God so the church will grow and mature as it should. Every teaching and every word uttered under the anointing from the prophet must be built from the cornerstone, Christ Himself. The church has lost sight of the apostles and prophets being the foundation of the church mainly because they have been taught that the ministry of the apostles and prophets no longer exist. I am seeing some churches being raised up now by a joint effort between apostle and prophet. This seems to be scriptural as there were many times Paul would take others with him to minister to the churches.
Prophets Gain Strength and Encouragement from Other Prophets and are subject to other prophets
1 Cor. 14:29-33
Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.  If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.  For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.  And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
I have noticed when I am around other prophets the prophetic anointing seems to be stronger. Anytime prophets speak in an assembly there should be no more than three of them to speak. The other prophets are to judge what the prophets say by the word of God. Because it is easy for prophets to fall into the flesh it is important that they are judged by the other prophets. Some time after the prophecies are given the prophets should get together and examine what God has said and see how it lines up scripturally.
In the Old Testament, we see there were prophets that held a higher prominence than other prophets. Elijah and Elisha seemed to be ranked higher than the "sons of the prophets". Prophets should be respectful and obedient to the older prophets who are more seasoned in the Word of God and the fruits of the Spirit.
Almost all of the prophets in the Old Testament and the apostles and prophets of the New Testament were persecuted. Many of them were killed for their faithfulness to the call of God on their lives. What is amazing about the persecutions is that they often came at the hand of the prophet's own people.
And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
As horrible as this may seem, I am convinced that we will see prophets killed by "Christians" in the name of the Lord. It happened to the prophets of old, we should not think ourselves to be immune from what they suffered.
Prophets may be Men or Women
There are no less than thirteen female prophets mentioned in the Bible.
1. Rachel (Genesis 30:24)
2. Miriam (Exodus 15:20)
3. Deborah (Judges 4:4)
4. Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22)
5. Noadiah (Neh. 6:14)
6. Isaiah's wife (Isaiah 8:3)
7. Elizabeth (Luke 1:41-45)
8. Mary, mother of Jesus (Luke 1:46-55)
9. Anna (Luke 2:36-38)
10-13. Phillip's four daughters (Acts 21:9)
As I grow in my calling as a prophet, it is easier for me to spot those with a like gift. God is raising up an army of apostles and prophets. Many of them are going through incredibally difficult trials and persecutions in their lives. All of this is in God's plan. God must burn out anything that would cause the prophet not to carry out God's plan for his life. Each prophet must be prepared so that, like a member of an elite army, he will do what God has called him to do even if it means losing his life.
Click Here to read Chapter 1
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Click Here to read Chapter 5
Click Here to read Chapter 6