(This is long, so don’t bother reading it, unless you are interested in seeking the gift of Prophecy, which actually we are encouraged to do in the bible. All that follows on below, is really just an encouragement do just that!)
Daniel Chapter 11! In that one chapter, Daniel saw 135 events covering 366 years of world history. Everything is known by God. Because some people cannot handle that idea, they explain Daniel away: he never existed but was just a literary invention; the predictions must have been written in after they happened, etc.
I am a bit prophetic, but only a wee bit. God occasionally shows me people I have never met in dreams and then I meet them. Occasionally, a scene unfolds before my eyes, showing me something that I could not naturally know about someone. When I share what I was shown with the person, it usually helps them to receive a touch from God. But the detail and the extent of revelation from God to Daniel is astounding. Even his contemporary, his fellow prophet Ezekiel, realised there was something pretty special about him. God mentions him a lot to Ezekiel and puts him up there as a living legend along with two huge figures of Israel’s past, Noah and Job.
I am just a baby in prophetic terms, in fact compared with Daniel I have barely emerged from the womb and given my first cry. I know others who are children or maybe teenagers, and one or two, and maybe two or three more who seem to have reached maturity in this gift and ministry. There will be many more of course. I am just speaking about the circles I have mixed in. The bible says we should earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For those of you who have embarked on a journey of obedience to this scriptural exhortation, keep going!
Of course it needs to be stressed that prophecy is often speaking what only God could know into the present. It is not all future looking. Ezekiel was given knowledge of things that were happening many miles away as they were actually happening. He was told to write them down and date them. However the future looking element of prophecy that we see so strongly evident in the latter part of the book of Daniel should not be downplayed. In prophecy, the God who knows the end from the beginning, the God who knows the history of every single cell in the universe and its destiny, speaks of what He alone could know about a person or situation. He can reach into the future and into the past. He can see more deeply into our present than we can, no matter how insightful we may be.
If you want to grow in the spiritual gift of prophecy, ask God more often than you currently do, “Lord, is there anything you want me to hear today so that I know what to say to someone who needs to hear it.” Ask a similar question when you are with someone in the course of your day or when you gather with your fellow believers in Church. It says of Jesus in the Old Testament that he had an instructed tongue. Morning by morning, His Father wakened Him to know the word that would sustain the weary. It is more than a geographic note of interest when we read in John Chapter 4 that Jesus had to go through Samaria. It is a good thing to pray as followers of Jesus that God would give us an instructed ear and an instructed tongue. It can lead us to people and places we never knew or even thought of visiting.
By the way, part of learning to have an instructed ear and an instructed tongue is hearing from God when to be silent and say nothing, even when He shows you something that you might be itching to say. Prophecy is to bring honour to God, not to make you or I look impressive. Can you be trusted with something you are told by God to deal with it as He tells you to? Learning not to speak is a vital training experience if we would learn to speak in the Name of the Lord, to the honour of that Name.
All of you have made a start in this. You have all had hunches from the Lord to speak to someone, phone someone etc. We would never usually think of calling such a happenings anything to do with being prophetic, but it often is. Well, let such moments you have known help you to believe there is maybe something more for you to seek and pursue.
Prophecy, when it is the real thing and not just holy sounding platitudes that every believer knows and agrees with anyway, changes lives. In fact, it can often mean saving someone from death. I have known that in personal experience. On at least two occasions I can remember, and there may have been others I cannot now remember, if I had not given a person the word I believed God gave me for them, they could have died. God simply revealed undiagnosed medical conditions that would have killed them if they remained undiagnosed and if they had not gone to the doctor after receiving the prophecy. The doctor confirmed medically what had been said prophetically. I remember one condition was Pancreatic cancer.
Anyway, however far you get along the road, remember that Scripture encourages every believer to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that we may learn to prophesy. As Jim Graham used to say, Bible in hand, “ I am not making this stuff up! I am just telling you what it says.”