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"Living" Our Prophetic Words
It has been my experience that when the Lord gives me a corporate word, a word relevant to the Body of Christ at large, that He will usually make me "live" that word, or experience it myself. Sometimes God makes me "live it" before I give the word, sometimes afterwards. But I find that I am not exempt from the corporate words that God gives to the body of Christ through me.
Let me share a recent example from my own life. I had been asked to write a prophetic article for a magazine. The article will be published in their July Issue. As I sought the Lord, He began to speak to me about how He was bringing His Church through His refiner's fire to purify them so that He could begin to pour out His power and His glory on them, just as many have been praying for. He began to speak to me about how our reaction to His refiner's fire effect how long we stay in the flames. His desire is for us to get through the refiner's fire quickly, that we can be pure vessels before Him for His purposes. One of the things the Lord showed me was how the "gunk" (our weaknesses, faults and inadequacies) rise to the top when we are in the fire. We become aware of aspects our ourselves that we wish we did not have, and some of us begin to condemn ourselves for this "dark side" of our character that we suddenly become aware of. When this happens, some of us begin to pull away from God, felling He must dislike us or be displeased with what has risen up in us. We must resist this temptation because God wants us to run to Him for healing and cleansing, not to run away from Him.
The article was due on Feb 1. Precisely one week later, the Lord opened the furnace doors and invited me into His refiner's fire. It came in the form of a telephone conversation with someone who I had considered a friend and who I had admired and respected greatly. That friend had done something that hurt me deeply about four monthes earlier. I had never discussed it with the friend. I had assumed he did not mean to hurt me and had forgiven him for it. But in this telephone conversation, it because clear that this person did not consider me a friend at all. He had simply been been maintaining our relationship for potential ministry opportunities and contacts that I could provide. It also came out in the phone conversation that this "friend" knew he had hurt me earlier, and felt he was justified in doing so because he was angry with me about something.
It took me about 24 hours to process this. I could not conceive of someone intentionally hurting a person like that. I began to struggle with unforgiveness. Over and over again I would choose to forgive him because I knew that my Heavenly Father wanted me to. But my emotions kept flaring up again. I was very mindful of Matthew 18:23-35. It was the story of the unforgiving debtor, and how the master forgave his debt but the debtor did not forgive someone else a much smaller debt. When the master heard about it, he threw the man into prison. Jesus ends the story by saying (verse 34 and 35) "And his master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
Somehow I got it in my mind that God would not forgive me because I was struggling to forgive this man. I kept choosing to forgive, but the hurt kept rising up again. I struggled with this for over a week, and during that time, my intimacy with God was practically non-existent. I was so sure that He would be mad at me that I was the one who cut off the intimacy with Him. It took a full ten days to work through this.
That 10th day was a Sunday, and I did not feel like going to church. I reasoned that I was not in condition to minister to anyone, and God was not going to meet me because He was mad at me for struggling with unforgiveness. So why go to Church? I almost stayed home, but I went anyhow, arriving about 15 minutes late. They have a ministry time after service, so I went up to receive prayer.
I did not really expect God to meet me, but I "ran to Him" anyhow. To my surprise, He did meet me. I felt very ministered to during that prayer and the Lord began to pour His healing into my hurt. Suddenly it did not matter any more that this person who I had cared about did not feel the same about me. It did not matter that he had hurt me. I was surrounded by the Lord's healing and goodness. I felt the Lord's acceptance on me and I knew that the blood of Jesus covered me. And I knew that I was accepted before God because of it. I went back to my seat. The worship team continued to play for a really long time. I worshipped along with them and God met me very deeply during that time. The unforgiveness became a non-issue; it simply went away. The intimacy with God was restored. In fact, the Lord continued to "brood over me" and meet me all day.
By the end of that day I felt wonderfully whole and healed and restored to the Lord. Then the Lord began to remind me of that prophetic article I had written on refiner's fire and about how condemnation will cause some of us to pull away from God when our weaknesses and flaws rise to the surface so that God can remove them from our lives. I had just lived that prophetic article.
God does that with many of His servants and spokespersons. With some, such as Hosea, they live out prophetic actions. God instructed Hosea to marry an "adulterous wife" so that his marriage would be a prophetic "acting out" of Israel's relationship with their God (Hos 1:2). As would be expected, Hosea's wife soon became unfaithful. In Hosea 3:1-2, God instructed Hosea to buy back his prostitute wife, a symbolic living out of how Jesus buys us back from sin. The prophetic message that Hosea gives is found in Hosea 3:5, where God says "Afterwards the Israelites will return and see the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to His blessings in the last days."
Hosea then goes on to proclaim the Lord's judgements against Israel for their spiritual adultery. But even in this judgement there is a message of hope, relating back to the key them of Hos 3:5. For instance, in Hosea 5:15 the Lord says "Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me." God desired restoration with Israel and He had a prophetic message of hope for Hosea .. repent and be restored.
Hosea understood this message very well because he lived it out in his own personal life.. Hosea knew the heartbreak and betrayal of an unfaithful wife. He knew the yearning for her to desire him again. He experienced the great expense and personal cost of redeeming her back to himself again because he had to buy her back from the prostitution brothel. (She had fled to it and then became a prisoner of it). It is no wonder that God gave Him this powerful word in Hosea 6:1-3:
Come, Let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us, He has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us and on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear, H will come to us like the winger rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.
Others of God's servants identify with God's words to the point that they find themselves deep into intercession and identificational repentance. This happened with Daniel. In Daniel chapter 9, the Lord quickened the words of prophet Jeremiah to Daniel. He was given prophetic revelation of God's heart for Israel, of their rebellion against God and of His heart to restore them. Daniel identified with this so deeply that He was thrust deep into repentance on behalf of his people. Daniel found himself sincerely repenting for sins that he personally did not commit, but that were committed by his people. Did God hear his prayer? You bet He did! In Daniel 9:20-27 God sent an angel to Daniel even while he was still praying and repenting and crying out to God. God did not even wait for Daniel to finish his prayer -- He send him a deep and detailed prophetic revelation of God's redemption plan for Israel and of how these events would unfold. Daniel lived out the word through his intercession, and then he was given the prophetic revelation and an understanding of God's strategies.
Still others of God's servants go through (in advance) the very experiences that they proclaim. Jeremiah is an example of this. His life was a prophetic acting-out of the captivity of Jerusalem. His message was that God was about to send Jerusalem into captivity because of their sins and rebellion and hardness of heart. Now, Jeremiah never had a rebellious heart or sinful lifestyle. He was God's yielded and faithful servant from his early youth. God appeared to Jeremiah when he was a "youth" or a "child" (e.g., still considered way too young to be in ministry) and told him that "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5-7).
Jeremiah operated as a prophet and "was free to come and go among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison" (Jer 37:4). Then the Egyptians attacked Jerusalem and king Zedekiah asked Jeremiah to seek God for their deliverance. (Isn't it interesting how those in active rebellion against God and pursuit of their own agendas suddenly turn to God for help when severe problems arise!) Jeremiah's answer was not what they wanted to hear. It is recorded in Jer 37:5-10. The gist if it as, the Egyptions will get called back home and stop besieging Jerusalem, but the Babylonians will come along shortly afterwards and will defeat and destroy the city. Needless to say, the authorities were not pleased with Jeremiah's message, so they had Jeremiah arrested on trumped up charges and thrown into a dungeon. (Jer 37:11-16). He was left there a long time before he had his trial. In that trial, Jeremiah declared that God would cause Israel to go into captivity under Babylon (Jer 37:17). Even though Jeremiah had done no wrong and committed no crime, he was sent to "prison" (verse 21). In short, Jeremiah was prophetically living out the captivity that God had sent him to proclaim.
Even from this prison and harsh set of circumstances, Jeremiah continued to declare the word that the Lord had given him (Jer 38:2-3). This offended some of the officials (Jer 38:4), so they took him out of the "nice comfortable prison" and lowered him into a pit (Jer 38:6). It was a mud pit, and Jeremiah "sank down into the mud" (NIV). What a prophetic picture of the despair that was to come upon the Israelites as they were defeated and carried away into captivity. Don't make any mistake, this was a miserable experience for Jeremiah; it was physically difficult, emotionally tormenting and it was life threatening. Yet Jeremiah's life was a prophetic acting out of the word of the Lord, so he had to go through this experience. (Hopefully Jeremiah's experience will serve as a sobering for those today who are eager to proclaim the judgements and condemnation of the Lord! If you proclaim it, you may also have to live it out!)
But God had told Jeremiah at his commissioning (Jer 1:8), "Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you." And God was faithful to his promise to His servant. God moved Ebed-Melech, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace to send 30 men to rescue Jeremiah from the pit before he died in it. Ebed-Melech arranged for Jeremiah to have a secret audience with the king, where he again proclaimed that Babylon would carry Jerusalem away captive. (You can read all of this in Jeremiah 38). The king's reaction was to leave Jeremiah (who had never committed any crime) in prison. Jer 38:38 says, "And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard until the day Jerusalem was captured." Jeremiah propheticly lived out the captivity of Israel before Israel experienced it.
Then God's word was fulfilled (Jeremiah 39). Israel fell to Babylon and the king was blinded and carried away captive. Jerusalem went into captivity, but at the same time, Jeremiah was set free from his personal captivity. Jer 39:11-12 says, "Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had given these orders about Jeremiah through Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard: 'Take him and look after him; don't harm him but do for him whatever he asks.'" Once God's word had been fulfilled, Jeremiah did not have to prophetically act it out any longer. Jeremiah lived out the rest of his life in freedom while the Israelites lived out the rest of their lives in captivity. Still, it was a long and difficult season for Jeremiah when he had to "live out" the word of captivity that the Lord gave him to proclaim.
I could give you many other examples, such as Ezekiel who had to propheticly act out the siege of Jerusalem for 430 days (Ezekiel 4), or of Apostle John who had to live in exile to be able to bring a word of correction to some churches in the book of Revelation. It is not uncommon for God to ask His prophets to live out the words He gives them to declare.