For the last few months, I have been considering the nature of prophetic words. Many believers have thought New Testament prophecy was somehow different than the prophetic words of the Old Testament. The same Lord spoke those words. His heart did not change between covenants. Somewhere in our thinking, we thought that distinction had to be right because the Old Testament sounded harsh and to some, loveless.
Paul wrote in I Corinthians 14:3, “But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” When a prophetic word is released something happens. The word “speaks to people for” something to take place. If a word is rightly discerned and received a person becomes strong, encouraged, and comforted. These three elements are the by-products of a prophetic word, not always the substance or sound of the word itself. In fact, in its warning or future-telling a prophetic word might actually scare some people but once it is discerned and accepted the recipients can receive its benefits of strength, courage, and comfort.
Some prophets have been shamed out of circles of fellowship because the word they released didn’t pass the comfort test. People used the by-products of a prophetic word as the only means to validate the substance of a word instead of being willing to hear an uncomfortable, and at times, disturbing word.
Don’t reject a challenging word prematurely or the ones who deliver them. The very strength, courage, and comfort we all seek are made possible by how we choose to interpret what was spoken. There are some prophetic words being offered in this moment of history that are not welcomed by some in the Church because we have misinterpreted I Corinthians 14:3, and put the proverbial cart before the horse.