“God hides things FOR you, not FROM you”
“Jesus is the Word of God. Its hard for Him to not have something to say. Occasionally we go through times when we feel God is not speaking to us. While that may be so, most of the time He has simply changed His language, and He expects us to adjust with Him.”
“His first language is not English. In fact it would be safe to say its not Hebrew either. While He uses the languages of men to communicate with us, He is more inclined to speak through a myriad of other methods.”
Bill Johnson, Dreaming with God.
How do we hear God speak? As I have said before in 10.10.10 and various other posts in my ‘prophetic language’ category – in lots of different ways! Bill Johnson writes about sanctified imaginations that can have the mysteries of God painted on them, like an artist’s canvas. He discusses the languages of the Scriptures, the audible voice (external), the still, small voice (internal), visions and dreams (night and day) and a whole category he calls ‘dark sayings’ (Proverbs 1v6 KJV). These are things that require wisdom and faith in interpretation, including parables, riddles, coincidences, unusual circumstances, prophecy, testimony and our 5 senses: He gives examples of all of these ‘languages’ being used by God to speak. That encourages me: my numbers and dates undoubtedly fall into the unusual circumstances/co-incidences and riddles category! If our food is to do His will (John 4v34) and our nourishment comes from hearing and obeying the voice of God (Matthew 4v4), then ‘His voice IS our life’. So Bill counsels against unbelief and cynicism and encourages us to open up and yield fully to the love that ‘believes all things’.
Just in the last few weeks I have had strange but encouraging things said to me by three other people which have been of great help in my current struggles and are good examples of different prophetic languages. One friend said that she woke up thinking of me and had ‘a picture’ – an image that came into her mind – of me sitting cross-legged in the middle of a field in the dark earth, praying – with lots of mushrooms springing up around me! Another friend sent an email about a dream he’d had of me preaching at a conference – in what he called a ‘taking no prisoners’ style 🙂 The third occasion was in a church service when the visiting speaker unexpectedly pointed at me at the end of his talk and said he saw ‘a sword that the Lord is sharpening with a stone’.
All these are different expressions of the prophetic and all are a bit of a mystery, definitely requiring testing and interpretation! But they all meant quite a lot to me, confirming my path and things the Lord has said to me in the past. They are conveyed in a language that, by faith, I can understand. So I am encouraged that even in the mud and mire of my life there is fruit being produced from the soil, that the Word is being sharpened in me to good effect – and that it will be heard. They are a glimpse into who I am and what my life is accomplishing, where I have been and where I am headed…
Another example of the languages of the Spirit happened about 3-4 years ago, when God broke into Martin’s meditations totally unexpectedly in three different ways at once! It was an Open Heaven Sunday morning and we had all been sent off on our own to ‘go and listen to God for 30 minutes’. That is quite a long time when you are not used to it – and just before lunch as well! Suddenly in his mind’s eye, Martin saw a child’s black face, he knew it was Haiti and he heard, “Will you come and help us?” Wow! How shocking is that? And I am supposed to be the prophetic one! I was quite put-out until I realised the Lord had to speak directly to Martin because if it had been me, perhaps he wouldn’t have been convinced! 😉 It was quite a while before the devastating earthquake happened in Haiti and the poorest country in the western hemisphere hit world headlines, with the cholera epidemic and elections and all that has ensued… Although we are not in a position to leave Sam and ‘go and help’ at the moment, something has been planted in our hearts – especially Martin’s heart – and we are pursuing all the connections the Lord brings along, wondering where they will lead. Certainly that child’s voice is now being heard all across the world, “Will you come and help us?”
Beyond the personal aspect of hearing God is the corporate and community use of the prophetic gift. A few years ago in a ‘prophetic school’ setting I heard it said that ‘the time of Elijah is over and the Elisha time of the ‘company of prophets’ is here.’ That in itself needs some interpretation! Elijah was a ‘one man ministry’: he appeared in Israel and took on Ahab, Jezebel and the prophets of Baal: he is a type of the public ministry, up-on-the-platform, often well-known speaker who calls people out of meetings and tells them accurate details about (eg) what house they live in and what God’s plans are for them. Those men and women are wonderful: I have seen them in action and it is an awesome anointing of knowledge straight from heaven, life-changing to the person on the receiving end. We all want to be picked out like that! But Elisha, Elijah’s servant for some time until he was taken up to heaven (1 Kings 19v19-21), had a double portion of his master’s anointing and did twice as many wonderful things – and he worked with a ‘company of prophets’. They remain nameless and he was the leader and the famous one, their mentor, but nevertheless, they were part of his lifestyle – his community: he was with them, among them, like Jesus with His disciples (see 2 Kings 6v1-3)
So the shift ‘from Elijah to Elisha’ means a change from predominately one-man prophetic ministry to a group dynamic, where we flow together and learn from each other, where we complement each others different gifting: this sounds like the New Testament to me, each one playing their part! All the more reason why the ‘seers’ and the ‘knowers’, the ‘hearers’ and the ‘dreamers’, the ‘times and seasons’ sons of Issachar (see Embracing the Season) and the ‘nabbi’ prophets – who just open their mouths and speak out of their spirits without knowing what they are going to say – need to understand one another’s languages: with so many different ways of receiving divine revelation we are surely going to need some interpreters! We have so much to learn from each other because we all ‘prophesy in part’ (1 Corinthians 13v9). I talked about the need to respect one another’s differences, back in September (The bee in my bonnet)
Just as there are different groups with different emphases in the wider church, there are different flows in the prophetic, like streams in a river. The prophetic intercessory gift touches the pain in the land, identifies with the groan of creation, picks up God’s heart. Others have strategic heavenly sight, catching a glimpse of God’s blueprint in the throne-room of heaven. I tend to see things around me in the natural world, like dates and clocks and (actual) signs, or parallels that come from Scriptural narratives, while others see in the spirit and behold angels and heavenly things – or heaven itself in imagination or in open vision. Some focus on individuals while others have a heart for territory – cities, regions and nations. Surely we benefit from both extremes and all the shades in between, because every type of seeing gift has a possibility of growing in accuracy of insight and strength of anointing – like that sword being sharpened! “As iron sharpens iron so a friend sharpens a friend” Proverbs 27v17.
I for one am grateful to be walking the path between heaven and earth as part of a company of friends who are listening out for the voice of God – in whatever language He wants to use.