Five Purposes of a Prophet
In this interpretation I will outline five different aspects of a prophets overall purpose. There are more than just five but this information this will offer us a good starting point. Just like a pastor or a teacher have specific jobs and responsibilities… so does a prophet. It is my hope that after reading this interpretation the reader will accurately understand some of the purposes of the ministry of the office of a prophet (Acts 1:20, Romans 11:13, 12:4).
This means exactly what it says, a prophet is second to his brethren. A prophet’s first and primary job is to be attentive to the Spirit of God (Acts 4:19), but it is no doubt the Spirit of God who will prompt a prophet to care and minister for his brethren (Matthew 20:26):
And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
A prophet is not “let go” or released until there is peace among the brethren. Notice the prophets “tarried there a space.” This is because after the prophets exhorted the brethren, their words still needed to sink in. This would automatically incite more questions. This whole process would take time. It is obvious from the scriptures that even after the words had sunk in, the prophets were still subject to “hang around” or tarry in order to insure that their understanding brought true edification. It is a prophet’s primary duty to make sure that all the brethren have been edified to the point of peace. Once this peace or dissolving of doubts has occurred (Daniel 5:12), then the prophet is released or is “let go” by his brethren in this peace.
It is in the minds of many people that a prophet is to be attended to or is to be made to feel comfortable. A prophets calling is a duty, and this duty is to bring peace to others (at what point did you ever see Jesus Christ exacting emotion out of his listeners or putting them in a place of fear or worry?) Jesus’ ministering brought division of course (Luke 12:51), but His duty was to tarry and to compel people toward the truth through much longsuffering (Matthew 5:41, Luke 24:13-29). Until peace comes in the form of edification, exhortation and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3), a prophet’s duty is not finished. A prophet must also exercise longsuffering, especially toward the pastors and teachers who are responsible for their congregations (Hebrews 13:17, Acts 20:28). Nowadays, the pastors and the teachers (and congregations) are greatly attending to the prophets and this is a shame. It should be the other way around. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ came to serve (Luke 22:25-27) the prophets have been anointed to serve the body dutifully. A prophet’s duty is to become Spiritual ammunition for the pastors/teachers who, in turn, will minister to the congregation. A prophet does not always need to minister, but he can become powerful ammunition for the pastors… whose discretion should revolve around the fear of the Lord and the will of God for the edification of the Body of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20). When this process is done correctly then it will be like Jesus ministering to his disciples. When Jesus ministered to his disciples, it was actually Jesus who was subject to his disciple’s ignorance (Mark 8:33, Mark 9:16-19, Luke 9:54-55). Whenever Jesus noticed ignorance in his disciples, His duty was to serve that ignorance via wisdom. This is a big aspect of the prophet’s call. He is subject (becomes a servant) to the churches ignorance and doubts. The way the prophet serves that ignorance is via longsuffering and wisdom. Wisdom which comes by revelation through the Spirit of God (Ephesians 3:3-4, Galatians 1:11-12, Ephesians 1:17).
Notice I have mentioned that a prophet is subject to tarry or wait until the brethren receive edification and that a prophet is subject to serve the brethren’s ignorance through wisdom. There is a scripture I would like to mention which ties both of these principles together nicely. In the book of 2 Kings, the prophet Elijah is taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. The prophet Elisha is left alone with fifty of the sons of the prophets.
And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at
This is a small example of how Elisha the prophet had to
minister unto the son’s of the prophets ignorance. It was ignorant for them not to listen to
Elisha; they themselves said that the Spirit of Elijah was resting upon him… so
why on earth would they not listen to him?
But they didn’t, and Elisha was subject to serve that zeal and
ignorance. Elisha waited there at
It is common knowledge when a prophet does prophesy according to the Spirit of the Lord, that the prophet’s message might be a foretelling of future events. But what is a prophet’s purpose in this? Or how does a prophet conduct himself or qualify himself in order for the Lord to minister prophetic future events through him. As a consequence, where does a prophet exist when he is being prepared or when he is being used to speak to the people regarding future events?
In the book of Ezekiel the prophet is told that his wife is going to die:
Also the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of
man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet
neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the
dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy
feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men. So I spake unto the people in the morning:
and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded. And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not
tell us what these things are to us, that thou doest so? Then I answered them, The word of the LORD
came unto me, saying, Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the
desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your
daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword. And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not
cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.
And your tires shall be upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet:
ye shall not mourn nor weep; but ye shall pine away for your iniquities, and
mourn one toward another. Thus
Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do:
and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel’s wife died so that Ezekiel could be a sign unto the
people (Ezekiel’s life became a similitude of the future of
1 In the Spirit he was able to enter into the throne room of Heaven (Revelation 4:2)
2 He was able to show emotion through tears (Revelation 5:4)
3 He was asked questions and had a free will to answer as he wished (Revelation 7:13-14)
4 He ate and received prophecy (Revelation 10:8-11)
5 He expressed his own emotions, even marveling over the Scarlet Woman and the Scarlet Beast, for which he was rebuked (Revelation 17:6-7)
6 He worshiped ignorantly according to his own understanding (Revelation 19:10, 22:8-9)
Now someone who was able to be a partaker in the Spirit within the revelation of future events absolutely existed there. John saw the signs, he witnessed the actual events of this end times revelation unfold. John, roughly 57 years after Christ died, was witnessing and crying over the events that would not take place for well over 1900 years. The revelation was of the future, and he existed there through his will and emotions.
When God wants to reveal something to a prophet, there is always burden involved (Isaiah 13:1, 15:1, 17:1, 19:1, 21, 22:1, Zechariah 9:1, 12:1, Malachi 1:1, 2 Corinthians 12). Part of that burden, regarding the foretelling of future events, is the prophet existing or wrestling (Spiritually) regarding those future events (Matthew 11:12-13). The burden itself is not solely the revelation of God. The burden in essence becomes the vehicle which dutifully opens up the prophet to receive the revelation of God. Once God has a prophet or apostle in a place of obedient submission (surrender via suffering) (Matthew 26:37-42), the prophet or apostle are now able to receive (and hold) the revelation God has for the people. It is almost like God’s burden holds them in a certain place long enough and qualifies them to become the kind of vessel that will be able to hold God’s fire (prophecy). If you want to hold fire, you first need to become a vessel durable enough to handle fire (2 Timothy 2:20-21, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). Fire in the wrong vessel will destroy the vessel. Fire in the correct vessel will yield a dutiful result. This process I am outlining in this interpretation partially explains how a prophet becomes such a vessel.
The image of Ezekiel’s wife dying and Isaiah walking
barefoot and naked is partially symbolic, but wholly prophetic (Hosea
12:10). Do not assume that these
symbolic acts were merely for show.
These same symbolic acts brought about a burdensome wrestling which
would allow the Lord to prophetically speak unto the people through the
prophet. God used these prophets to get
His point across, and it was a burdensome experience for them both. These prophets indeed wrestled in the future
Remember when Moses and God meet face to face and talked
(Exodus 33:11). Afterward, Moses’ face
would shine bright as a sign unto the people (Exodus 34:30). Let me ask you a question. Was Moses’ shining face a sign unto himself
that he had spoken to God? No, Moses did
not even know that his face was shining until the people told him (Exodus 34:29,
35), the fact that Moses talked to God was Moses’ sign that he had spoken to
God… his face shining was a sign unto the people that he had talked to
God. When Ezekiel and Isaiah became
NOTE: I want to emphasize the wrestling and not the burden of a prophet’s duty (2 Corinthians 12). It is true a prophet will become burdened, but it is the wrestling which is essential for the all-important Revelation of God. This is what needs to be focused on (Daniel 7:28, 8:17, 8:27). Even when we physically wrestle… there will be a burden… but there will also be honor (Proverbs 25:2). Also, other examples of similitudes in the Bible are Hosea marrying Gomer (Hosea 1)… whose life then became a picture (or similitude) of God’s longsuffering toward the nation of Israel (whose judgment was then laid on Jesus Christ). Also 1 Kings 20:35-43 God uses a prophet (probably Micah) in a similitude to pronounce judgment on Ahab. This prophet becomes a minor participant in the similitude… unlike Ezekiel, Isaiah and Hosea whose very lives were used as similitudes to foreshadow God’s judgments. We then have the unique demonstration of Nathan the prophet when a simple story is used as a similitude to demonstrate God’s judgment on King David (2 Samuel 12:1-12). So we have three different examples of similitudes. We have similitudes where the prophet’s entire existence becomes a foreshadowing of God’s future judgment (Ezekiel, Isaiah and Hosea). We have an example where a prophet is called to become a minor participant in God’s similitude… foreshadowing His future judgment (1 Kings 20:35-43). We then have an example where a story is told… but the story is a prophetic similitude demonstrating David’s sin which leads to God’s judgment (2 Samuel 12:1-12). Just in case you’re wondering, Jesus Christ’s entire life and death was a similitude towards God’s purposes… for Israel, the church, angels, humanity and existence (Colossians 1:12-23, Revelation 19:10). I hope I was able to clarity similitudes a bit. You will need to understand them in order to understand modern day prophets in the church.
How can we generally know that a prophet is among us? After searching the scriptures, I came up with the obvious, confirmation. What exactly is confirmation? The dictionary says it is to establish a truth, accuracy, validity, or genuineness of; to corroborate or verify. This is good, but how does God choose to “establish?”
And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
Okay. So how did they confirm their words? Possibly via signs and wonders?
And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.
There is a time when God will “bear witness” of the spoken word through signs and wonders… but this is not always the case.
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
Notice the word “also.” This verse demonstrates that the actual words, which the Lord spoke, were confirmed unto the people through the preaching by those who heard Him. Then, in conjunction, it was “also” God’s will to bare witness through signs and wonders. This verse demonstrates that signs and wonders and the witness of the Holy Ghost were actually God “bearing them witness” but the “confirmation” or “verification” came by way of the spoken word. This demonstrates that signs and wonders are sometimes done by the Lord to “bear witness” that the Word of God is being preached.
Whenever signs and wonders are done, it is God who wrought them. It is indeed God who, “bears witness.”
And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.
Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
Now take a look at the passage below. It is clear that when this confirmation came about, God was not singled out as the one who orchestrated. I believe in this instance, we can conclude that the “confirming” was the spoken word… and not any sign or miracle.
And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
You see, the prophets themselves confirmed their own words by verifying them with the scriptures. They had a second witness and this second witness brought confirmation. In the above scripture, I believe if God had confirmed their words through signs and wonders then the scripture would say directly, “and God confirmed their words through signs and wonders,” but it doesn’t say that. I believe confirmation came by way of accuracy verifying (or confirming) what they had preached to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, or the words of those who heard Jesus speak. Because of the faith question (Romans 10:17)… I believe God has ordained that the verification or accuracy of a prophet’s spoken word, to that of Jesus Christ’s words or the scriptures, is confirmation that a prophet has spoken. You might ask, “Okay, so that means anyone who says anything that could rightly be compared to the bible would be considered a prophet?” Yes… but will those words be edifying to the body? A prophets words are not only true, they are accurate and timely (Hebrews 4:12). A prophet comes with just the right message at just the right time (I will expound on this in the Accuracy section below). A prophet can say a thousand true things, but a congregation or person might only need to hear three things. In this case, a prophet will not say fifty-one things; a prophet will be right around that three number (Isaiah 50:4, Proverbs 15:23, 25:11).
You might also be asking the question, “Why wouldn’t God just always ‘bear witness’ through signs and wonders, it would make it much easier?” Because this would not involve faith (Hebrews 11:6). Sometimes, often times… God requires faith, both in His prophets and in those who hear him. This is actually part of the prophet’s call… not to mention the people’s faith and diligence in searching the scriptures.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Faith will come when a prophet edifies or exhorts a congregation through God’s words (Romans 10:17). This also happens through pastors and teachers but to less of a degree. These words will be accurate and fitly spoken. They will also align with the Bible. This verification alone will be “confirmation” that a prophet is among us. There is nothing magical about prophets. Often times, a prophet’s message will resemble a pastors or teachers message. Sometimes, it will not. Nonetheless, when the churches are edified, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost; then we know that the prophets have been given liberty to work among us (Acts 9:31, 1 Corinthians 14:3). These fruits in the Church will prove it. God, if He so desires, might “bear witness” that a prophet is speaking through the showing of signs or wonders (Mark 20:16, Acts 15:12, 19:11) but this is not the norm, nor is it the goal of a God who desires faith and resilience (Acts 17:11) from His people.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and Spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The above bible verse is referencing a sword but the focus of the scripture is piercing accuracy. The Word of God above is simply being “compared” to a sword. I will use the above verse to demonstrate that one aspect of a prophet’s purpose is this piercing accuracy. If a prophet is discerned and truly speaking the Word of God then his words will be like a piercing sword, and such words will be accurate (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
The Bible says God is swift and is also a man of war (Psalm 147:15, Exodus 15:3). A prophet who is speaking will reflect this swift and powerful nature. His words will not tarry nor will they wait on the instruction of man, but they will spiritually reform man through the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23).
Again, a sword is referenced in the above passage. A sword is used as a powerful cutting instrument. The words of a discerned prophet are cutting and they go right to the source (Isaiah 49:2, Ephesians 6:17, Acts 7:54). If a prophet is speaking the Word of God then he is not going to say an abundance of things. He will be accurate in what he says limitedly. It might even be a gesture… (like a father knowingly eying their children). How did our Lord teach, with many words, or with few? He spoke with very few words, but every single word cut like a knife (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). A prophet’s words and ability to discern should be no different.
The last part of the above verse reflects a different aspect of the Word of God. How it searches out the intents of the heart.
For the word of God is…a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The verse below demonstrates how prophecy will do just that.
1 Corinthians 14:24-25
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
When a prophet gets up to speak he is going to attend to the hearts of the people. Regarding the gift of prophecy… the Word of God that he speaks is a discerner; the Word of God is manifest in the Spirit where the prophet dwells (via the Spirit) so the mind of the Spirit of the people can be ministered to. In the same way the Holy Spirit prays for us by searching out the mind of our Spirit (Romans 8:27), the Holy Spirit can also minister accurately unto us through a prophet because (via the Spirit) the prophet knows what the mind of that Spirit is. A prophet does not exist for any show or glory. The prophet exists (and the gift of prophecy is given) so the mind of our Spirit, which only the Holy Spirit can discern (1 Chronicles 28:9), may be edified through the prophecy which the prophet speaks. We as human sinners don’t even know what the mind of our own Spirit is (Romans 8:26). This is precisely why we need the ministry of the prophet and the gift of prophecy functioning in our churches. Without prophecy, we are overwhelmingly ministered to by the minds of man. The minds of man can never discern the mind of the Spirit or even the mind of God for that matter (1 Corinthians 2:11). The mind of man doesn’t know what the people need. A prophet who abides in the Spirit and is gifted in prophecy will have the Holy Spirit speaking through him and he will discerningly minister to the people. This is the type of Word that not only brings faith (Romans 10:17) but also edification, exhortation and comfort (Acts 9:31, 1 Corinthians 14:3). This is the piercing accuracy of a prophet’s office and gifts. These are, and have always been, essential for the church.
It Takes Time and Tears
This last section is going to be hard… both for you to read and me to write.
A prophet must learn (1 Corinthians 14:29-32) how to become an effective prophet. You might ask, “Well, the Word of God is perfect so if the Word of God is perfect then a prophet must always discern correctly.” A prophet has an office (Acts 1:20, Romans 11:13, 12:4), just like a teacher, pastor or deacon have an office (Romans 12:8, 1 Timothy 3:10-13). A pastor does not automatically have perfect people skills when he starts his pastorate. He has to learn just like everyone else. God is with him, but he will still get emotional and make plenty of mistakes. Anyone who is human will extend a pastor, evangelist, teacher or deacon this courtesy. I believe a prophet deserves that same courtesy. A prophet needs to learn (amongst other things)… how to hear and respond to the voice of the lord (1 Samuel 3:7, 1 Corinthians 14:31). This is one of the reasons prophets and apostles have intense and long wilderness training periods (Even David had thus because his role was of a prophet/king). Prophets need this time with God to mature their faith and so they can learn many of their prophetic fundamentals (not to mention they need to learn obedience and submission to the Spirit – Hebrews 5:8-9). I have been abiding in the revelation of the mystery of Christ for over fourteen years and have never once been invited to any church. I have been training all this time because I know this is God’s will and that one day (I sometimes fear this), I will become qualified enough for God to release me and back me (and the people will also be ready to listen). What needs to be understood is God backing a prophet and accountability work hand in hand. Sometimes God won’t release a prophet because the prophet is not accountable enough (he’s not ready). Sometimes though, God’s backing creates such an accountability within the prophet that he burns up (He has the accountability but the backing of God proves too powerful – Moses comes to mind (Numbers 20). I am telling you for certain the accountably a prophet must bear regarding God’s backing is absolutely unbelievable. Like I said, I’ve been doing this for over fourteen years and there are some things I don’t even want revealed to me or through me simply because I don’t want the accountability (bear it’s burden (Ecclesiastes 1:18). Ignorance is bliss… and having God powerfully back you and powerfully minister through you is like having a vat of 2000 pounds of oil constantly poured over you. God’s hand is heavy (Ezekiel 1:3, 13:4 – remember how interesting David’s life got right after Samuel anointed him with oil?) and I assure you the prophet and apostle have the displeasure of bearing that burden (through dreams, visions and everyday discipline). God’s Spirit works like a whirlwind in the life of a prophet (the discipline is enormous). Sometimes I’m happy when I error, I get to be human. These understandings are not far from us. If you are really hungry to understand the role of prophets and apostles in these last days I suggest you simply pray and humble yourself. I believe the interpretations I write are by and away powerful but people really need a revelation from God to help them understand the role of the prophet and apostle. I assure you, once you truly understand the accountability of a prophet, you will never want to judge a prophet ever again. It is like some articles I have read from pastors. They say how tremendously difficult it is for them to counsel and deal with people. These pastors say they get so impatient and emotional at times. These pastors then go on to say if congregations could experience half of their dealings with people, then the congregants would never judge their pastors ever again. I actually agree with this statement. Pastors have it rough dealing with people… I have experienced this first hand in my own life and by watching. Nevertheless, prophets have it just as bad in the area of accountability. Ministers who are too critical of prophets are like congregations who are too critical of their pastors.
Do you remember in the
book of Judges, when Gibeah of Benjamin committed folly in
Do you remember when you were little and you wrote your first English paper. The paper you wrote had spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes and all the “I’s” weren’t dotted and all the “T’s” weren’t crossed. It basically needed work. But even though it had all those problems, I guarantee the teacher understood what you were trying to say. I bet the message hit home. In the same way when you were a little child you drew your first picture. It was of a fire truck. It had almost no detail. It was a red square box with smoke coming out the top… but when you showed it to your dad, he immediately knew it was a fire truck, and he smiled. This example exudes common sense. In the beginning, the prophet is not going to be fully discerning. All the “I’s” won’t be dotted and all the “T’s” won’t be crossed. He will have some spelling or grammar mistakes, but I guarantee his message will get across. As the prophet gets older, he will learn how to use his gift (1 Corinthians 14:29-32, Daniel 9:2). He will eventually get to the place where he becomes so seasoned, where his discernment into the ways of the Lord become so accurate, that his ministry will be effortless. When this happens, he will become like the man who has achieved that perfect thesis paper… or like the artist who has drawn that perfect picture. But we must always remember, work like this takes time and tears.
Ask yourself one last
question…why do you need a prophet perfect (100% accurate), for his sake or for
yours? God is his judge, not you…never
you. I assure you, if God calls a
prophet to minister unto you… and He sends him, and you ignore him, God will
require it from you. It isn’t going to
matter that you didn’t “believe” he was a prophet. If God sends him, he is a prophet. I fear for the church. Although I understand that many a prophet
have fully disqualified themselves, there are many who have not. My question is if the church is even open to
the possibility of God using prophets in these last days? I have heard so many rebukes regarding
prophets. People say that they must be
100% accurate or they are false. So I
guess Paul should have stoned Peter in
But when Peter was come to
Peter’s dissimulation was not only inaccurate and false, it created tension and division. Peter’s actions were by and away worse than a false word… they were a false action (false witness). He was also an apostle, who is held more accountable than a prophet. So…Peter should have absolutely been stoned according to the laws in Deuteronomy. The reason Peter wasn’t stoned according to the New Testament spiritual law is the same reason why God chooses not to use similitudes (Hosea 12:10) for the church. Because no judgment commences. God used similitudes in the Old Testament simply because these same similitudes were a foreshadowing of a future judgment. God has no judgment for His Church (except for the end times – 1 Peter 4:17). By and away Jesus Christ was God’s judgment on His Church. But if you would like a judgment, it can be arranged… and I assure you, God will use prophets in perfect similitudes (100% accurate) as a foreshadowing of such a judgment. The moral of the story is this. If you desire prophets that are 100% accurate, you had better be ready for judgment to commence. Play games with that logic and wisdom and you will lose.