The Prophetic Arsenal
And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, …."Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!... Woe to you, blind guides… Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?"
Mk. 3:5; Mt. 23;15,16,33
Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, "I have compassion on the multitude, … When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."….Jesus wept.
Mk 8:1; Lk. 7:13; Jn. 11:35
Have you ever been perplexed by the divergent natures revealed through the words of the Lord Jesus in His ministry? These two sets of verses show the stark contrast. Jesus could be exceedingly angry. And He could be exceedingly tender. Many believers have been turned aside, not knowing how to relate to Jesus because of this polarity of heart. "How can a loving God speak with such anger?" or, "How can the true God evidence such emotional softness?"
As Jesus still speaks today, the same confusion and misunderstanding surrounds His word in the prophetic church. Many have stumbled regarding the prophetic through inability to perceive the valid differences in natures between prophetic words.
The Nature of the Prophetic Word: Tools, Instruments and Weapons
We hold a certain wonder and excitement over the reality of prophecy. And rightly so. It really is awesome to consider that God still speaks today to and through His people.
But beyond the awe, it's another thing to realize there is no "one size fits all" style or nature of prophecy. There are in fact many many kinds of prophetic words, each one resonating a purpose of the divine heart. Here, let's briefly look at three general arrays of prophetic words.
- "Tool" Words
Most readers are likely familiar with a construction toolbox. A toolbox holds many kinds of tools. Each tool is used to either construct a building or to break it down.
In the same way, there is a prophetic construction "toolbox" with many types of prophetic "tool words." These are prophetic words used to either construct or demolish organizational structures, whether they be governmental, societal or church ministry structures.
Jeremiah exemplifies a prophet using tool words. The Lord said, "I have this day set you…to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant." Paul also described himself as a "master builder" regarding the church. His ministry demonstrates the building up of the church as well as the tearing down of wrong church practices through exposure and confrontation.
- Medical "Instrument" Words
Doctors and surgeons also have tools, though we refer to their tools as "instruments." Again, there is a wide array of medical instruments. Different instruments are used on various parts of the body. Some are used to examine and make determinations about health. Some are used to cut and slice open to prove hidden states of health and disease, to excise cancers, and to implant aids. Yet other instruments are designed to heal and ameliorate pain.
So also exists a prophetic "medical bag" filled with many different prophetic "medical instrument words." There are words for different parts of the body of Christ—some for obvious limb surgery, others for delicate brain surgery. There are words that measure and determine spiritual health. There are words that cut and slice open to reveal and remove cancers. And there are words that heal, mend, and ameliorate pain as well as maintain the body's health.
The Lord is described as one whose words both tear and bind up (Hos. 6:1). These are words with medical applications. His ministry to His Body is one of measuring, surgically exposing cancer and healing broken hearts.
- "Weaponry" Words
Military personnel also use an array of tools, often on a belt, to conduct their trade. Their trade is called war and their tools are called weapons. There is an array of weapons. These fall mainly into classes of defensive and offensive weapons. Some are used to protect. Others are used to aggressively destroy. And within these are ranges of destruction from slight to devastating.
Likewise, there are prophetic "words of weaponry." These words serve to defend the Lord's people and to destroy His enemies. They are leveled against satan, his hosts and against associated men, leading to their spiritual and—in some cases—physical destruction. Weaponry words protect, deliver and expunge the church of imposters in extreme circumstances. They are the severest and deadliest words known to mankind in the prophetic arsenal.
Seeing as God is most often referred to as the Lord of Armies, it's no surprise that scripture is filled with words of weaponry. These words appear against both satan and men—both defensively and offensively, both spiritually and physically. Elijah called down literal fire on men. Revelation declares this will happen again, and can be understood both spiritually and physically. Peter decreed the death of Ananias and Sapphira. Paul directed the church to call for fleshly destruction of an adulterer and decreed satanic destruction toward Hymenaeus and Alexander.
Choosing the Tool /Knowing the Timing
There are many problems in the church regarding administration of the prophetic message. These problems are largely due to failure to grow in recognizing all the natures of the prophetic word given for the church's perfection, and to minister them in the Lord's time.
It's simply not enough to merely be "prophetic."
We must grow to know the right tool from the right prophetic tool array. Just because we have a real prophetic word doesn't mean it is the right word for a situation at hand. This requires growth through waiting on the Lord. (Listen, listen, and listen some more.) When Jesus rebuked James and John for wanting to call down fire on the Samaritans, what he was really rebuking them for was not choosing from the right prophetic toolbox.
But there is more. We must also know the right timing for giving the word. Proverbs calls this the "word in season." We may have the right word from the right toolbox. But we may not be in the place of right timing for speaking it. This is especially so of the "explosive" word—that word that just "can't wait" to be released. Again, we must wait, wait, wait on the Lord. The prophetic spirit must be subject to the prophet.
Understanding the Prophetic Problems
- The Problem of Initial Vision
The first problem in prophetic ministry occurs among those newly exposed to and accepting of prophecy. As unseasoned embracers of the prophetic, we tend to be so enamored of prophecy itself as a phenomenon that we recognize whatever prophetic array we are first exposed to as the only nature of prophecy.
People new to prophecy tend to recognize only one or a very limited handful of types of prophetic words. They may perceive only toolbox words, or medical instrument words or weaponry words. Within a given type, they may only recognize one or two different prophetic tools, instruments or weapons. From here, they apply those one or two kinds to every situation.
Some people see only prophetic healing words, others only cutting words; some only see edifying words, others only tearing down words; and some see only defensive or offensive weaponry words. The resulting chaos in the body from this is understandable!
- Problem of Limited Vision: the Reality of Prophetic Blindness
Because prophetic vision is limited, it must admit of blindness through incompleteness and must be humble enough to acknowledge its need to expand. The prophetic is all about spiritual vision. In the main, it's about what we do see.
When we first see, we are excited. And we should be!
But seeing must grow. And seeing can only grow by recognizing that seeing does not see everything—ever. In this sense, prophecy is as much a recognition of blindness as it is of vision. If we have vision, but don't recognize that our vision has limits and that we are blind outside our field of vision, it turns what vision we do have to blindness! This is the meaning of Jn 9:41 where Jesus said, "If you were blind [ie, If you would recognize your limits of vision], you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin [blindness] remains."
- Problem of Prejudiced Vision: Rejecting A Particular Tool Array
Over time, if we don't grow in our perception of the Lord's various prophetic natures and tool arrays, we develop heart prejudices toward those outside our initial scope of exposure. That prejudice is unbelief and goes a long way to cancel out the otherwise true seeing ministry of prophetic people. Over time, prophetic prejudice leads to false prophesying.
Today, not just individuals and churches but entire prophetic streams have built-in prejudice against certain types of words. Thus we have competing prophetic streams in the church. There are construction prophetic streams, medical prophetic streams and weaponry prophetic streams (mainly in the desert), all blind or opposed to the others, and opposed within themselves.
One common reason for prejudice is reaction to wrongly applied words from another array. If someone uses a word of weaponry in a situation that calls for a medical word of healing, the resultant emotional damage can lead the recipient to reject all words of weaponry as valid words from then on. The opposite is true as well.
Nonetheless, misuse or poor timing in giving a certain tool word does not invalidate the tool or its source array. Today the most abused and most prejudicially rejected word is the word of weaponry. But again consider. When Jesus rebuked James and John for wanting to use fire on the Samaritans, He was not invalidating that tool. Revelation makes clear that such words still exist today and will yet come. A time is coming in fact when weaponry words will be released in earnest as never seen since the early church or Elijah.
Overcoming the Challenges / Outgrowing Our Limits of Vision
In my early "burning bush" days as a wilderness prophet some 20 years ago, my prophetic arsenal consisted mainly of weapons. I wasn't particularly into "construction" or "medicine." In particular, I became very skilled at measuring and then hacking Pharisees to death. It took me time though to learn that not every person in a church is a Pharisee, or that not every soft and comforting prophetic word is a false word.
Some years later, after wilderness fatigue set in, the Lord planted me (kicking and screaming) in a regular (ie, "carnal") charismatic church moving toward the prophetic. Here, in my own weakness and brokenness, I came to learn about the need for the word of building up and the instrumental word of healing. After a time, I came to a place where I was actually afraid to use a weaponry word any more.
But after still more time I had to learn further. For as life continued, even though there was no right place for weaponry words in the church I was in, there was still a crying need for the piercing word of surgical cutting.
I was afraid to recognize and issue surgical words of cutting because I had trouble discerning between them and the blasting word of weaponry, and was afraid I would end up using a weapon. But the Lord trained me otherwise. I began cautiously issuing words of penetrating cutting truth, with the grace not to "blow anyone out of the water."
Ever since, I have continued needing to learn from the Lord in the right perception and proper application of these and other tool arrays. This dramatically shortened excerpt from my own life journey offers a glimpse into the Lord's growth plan for those whose ultimate hunger is to overcome the contradictions and grow into His complete nature. We want to come to the place where we can handle exposure to and use every kind of prophetic word given us for perfection—without fear, unbelief or resistance of any sort to the Lord's perfect will. I'm still on that journey, still learning….
Prophetic Growth Affects Prophetic Relationships
Growing in the use of new prophetic tools definitely affects our relationships, not only in the church at large, but in the prophetic community itself. Growth brings new people of common vision together for seasons, and then later separates them. We discover there is no one finally "right" prophetic tool, and there will never be a finally cementable prophetic relationship around any tool array.
This is true by design and for our good. The Lord is ultimately drawing us, not to one another around a set of prophetic perceptions, but to Himself. Seasonal divergence preserves this ultimate personal drawing to the Lord.
It's simply a fact of life that even among mature prophets, no two can forever see things alike or interpret applications and timing of prophetic words alike. When one calls for a medical word of cutting, another may interpret the same situation as needing a construction tool for building up. Our inability to perceive exactly alike forces us into ultimate accountability to the Lord for the validity of our vision and the justification of what we do with it.
In the 1980's, two prominent American prophetic ministers joined forces—one, a televangelist new to and embracing the fire of prophetic weaponry; the other, a seasoned internationally recognized firebrand of many years. Their names are unimportant. Over time, they prominently shared appearances and writings in one another's publications.
But after a certain period of time, a perceived need for a "tool shift" developed in one of them. He became persuaded that—in their ministering to the American church—it was now time to move from the word of weaponry and surgical cutting to the word of medical healing. The other however did not see it this way, feeling it was still time to be thrusting the knife further into the church. And so, a parting of the ways occurred—one that I believe was accomplished amicably. And each has continued on in his own ministry development.
Handling Divergence: The Test of Agape
No matter then how mature we become in using all the prophetic tools, we must be prepared to handle divergence. This becomes a further degree of challenge and growing all in itself. It's not enough to be prophetic. And now it's not even enough to grow in using different prophetic tool arrays. We must finally learn how to handle genuine divergence over those uses while preserving the basic bond of unity we have in Christ.
This is the "call of agape." It's a call that supersedes the prophetic itself (I Cor. 13). In the end, we will find that how we make our divergences with others over opposing prophetic revelation and truth will carry more weight than the fact of our faithfulness to adhere to what the Lord gave us.
So, in the course of maturing in the prophetic arsenal, a greater challenge lies before the prophetic community to handle divergences with as much grace as possible for preserving the bond of true unity. Admittedly, this is really hard to do for prophets, seeing how clearly defined the vision is to each man. Not only is one's own vision clear, but it is especially difficult to discern the different from the false outside one's own vision. Meanwhile, evaluating and exposing falsehood in our midst remains part of the prophetic commission. Agape does not shrink from this. How great then is our challenge!
But if we make all our evaluations in humility, and should we part directions due to opposing evaluations, and our parting is as gracious as truth permits, God will be pleased. Furthermore, we can count on it that, at the end, when all is said and done, He will have built His church to His specifications. And at the end we'll also find His reconciling and healing of whatever prophetic relationships in this life remained at cross points due to honest differences of prophetic evaluation.
Onward then to growing up into all the facets of the Lord's prophetic nature! Let's learn how to build and to tear down, how to tear and how to heal, how to protect God's people and how to destroy all who would attack to destroy them. Let's embrace the entirety of God's record through the scripture concerning His word. Let's develop in the complete arsenal of the Lord. Let us also develop in the grace of agape wherever divergences occur due to our faithful embrace of the entire arsenal.
And as we do, let's be blessed knowing we are obtaining not only our own perfection in the Lord, but are helping bring purity, perfection, and true unity to the true body of Christ.
Blessings to all the saints.
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island, USA
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created January 10, 2004