Genesis 26:15 -“So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.”
Under God’s directions Isaac settles in Gerar in a time of famine. We find that Isaac plants a crop and in the same year reaps one hundredfold. Planting crops in times of famine wasn’t a strange thing in Isaac’s culture, Nomadic travelers were known to do this when settling for a time. Reaping a one hundredfold return was indeed strange.
By following God’s leading Isaac found himself the recipient of many blessings. He kept amassing wealth increasing his flocks as well as the necessary servants and slaves to care of them, he was gradually growing in influence at the same time.
The Philistines of Gerar became envious and showed it by stopping up all the wells Abraham’s servants had dug when Abraham lived in the regions of Gerar, filling them with dirt. They were hoping that cutting off the water source would drive Isaac away.
God’s Kingdom is Prophetic in Nature
The Patriarchs were all prophetic, in that they lived by direct two-way communication with God and following His leading. There really isn’t anything magical or impractical about being prophetic. To be prophetic simply means to be inspired and directed by God.
Genesis 26 serves as a perfect illustration of the difference between two ideologies that have existed within the Church for some time. One group simply follows the biblical narrative as it’s been handed down to us taking it all by faith, believing that God hasn’t changed and still speaks to His people in real time today.
The other group believes that God has changed, they intellectualize their faith questioning everything until it becomes reasonable. It is for this reason that this latter group discounts real time communication from God today.
When it comes to the prophetic aspect of obedience to God’s directions, real time communication is the norm. In many instances things do not always seem reasonable at the time (such has planting and reaping a hundredfold in famine).
Being guided by the Holy Spirit may at times contradict intelligent reasoning and conventional wisdom, but never God’s written word. There are those who would call this adherence to God’s written word foolish. Yet, when speaking of the miraculous power of the gospel, Paul told the Corinthians that “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength (1 Corinthians 1:25).
By discounting the present prophetic influence of the Holy Spirit, the Church loses her impact on society, finding it difficult to stay ahead of the strategic plans of darkness, the wells of salvation are then stopped up, and the gospel is proclaimed without power.
Whenever the Church discounts and neglects “real time” communication with God the gospel is hindered, thus complicating the Churches’ execution of her mission on earth as God has willed it in heaven.
The Prophetic Flow has always been Normative
I’ve often taught that when reading the bible one thing stands out above all others, and that is the voice of God or the “word of the Lord” coming to ordinary people. Hearing from the “spirit realm” was very real to the people in both Old and New Testaments.
Having God communicate with people was not thought to be something strange; it was for them a normal part of their lives. In fact, to receive communications from the “gods” was a very real part of their culture. Nowhere in the Scriptures has it been stated that God has muted Himself leaving His people solely to their own intellectual reasonings.
If you are an intelligent orderly analytically driven individual, who craves principles to map out every step of your journey, you may be disappointed when pursuing the prophetic. This is one journey you’ll take by learning to trust with all your heart. Our Heavenly Father is a person not a principle.
The prophetic nature of the new birth flows out of an intimate love relationship between God and us. As anyone who’s been in love knows, you cannot be intimate with all your head; you must love with all your heart.
Bruce Yocum states “God has an intense desire to speak to his people…. If you do not believe that God is willing to speak to us, then you do not understand God.”
Kim Clement said “How does God accomplish His prophetic word? It begins with just a thought. God thinks about something…. If you could have just a glimpse of what God thinks about you, you would become a new person. His esteem for you is greater than you have for yourself.”
Stopping up the Wells
Commenting on the neglect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry Samuel Chadwick observes; “The blunders and disasters of the Church are largely, if not entirely, accounted for by the neglect of the Spirit’s Ministry and Mission.
The morass of speculation about the Bible takes no account of the Holy Spirit. It regards inspiration as negligible, and insists upon interpreting Revealed Truth by no standards except those of history and literature.
Miracles are condemned without trial. Prophesy is dismissed without inquiry. Revelation is ignored without reason…”
Note: It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, plant churches, make disciples, and appoint leaders in those churches without the Holy Spirit and the prophetic ministry which He inspires.
Consider Jesus instructing his apostles in the Great Commission, to wait in prayer to be clothed with power from on high before they attempt to carry out their Commission.
Consider: Acts 1:8 – They would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them to be Christ’s witnesses and carry out the Great Commission.
1 Peter 1:10-12 – The Prophets foretold the day when the gospel message would be proclaimed in the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.
Unfortunately, the bias and divisions caused by the intellectualization of faith on one side and the extremes of spiritual mysticism on the other have done great damage to the cause of Christ.
Using Genesis 26 as an illustration, one camp is jealous and seeks to stop up prophetic wells with a theology born of human reasoning, while the other simply vacates the wells dug by the fathers of the faith and seeks to dig new ones.
I believe we need to revisit the wells of our father’s before digging new ones, and embrace the prophetic legacy that’s been handed down to us, as well as being intelligently engaged in the strategic applications of it in the mission of the Church.
Restoring Balance to Prophetic Ministries
(Edited from my article dated September 18, 2009)
“There is no shortage of voices with the recent emergence of a new generation of Apostolic and Prophetic ministries. With this comes a need for an understanding of the importance of the biblical as well as historical continuity of the Church.
History has proven time and time again the biblical truth that the local church is the vehicle through which all ministries of the Body of Christ are rightly birth, and the foundation on which they must stand.
When it comes to the prophetic, I have long felt the need for reform in order to restore integrity to the prophetic ministry. I believe that the turbulent climate in the Church of the 1980’s contributed to a move away from that which could be labeled as Pentecostal or Charismatic.
The lack of ministerial ethics and solid biblical education among the masses led to the abuses and the misuse of the gifts by influential ministry leaders, leaving many frightened and disillusioned.
In search of more solid biblically grounded practices, many sought the security of a more reformational theological world and life view. I feel that on one hand this has helped to restore a healthy balance to the Church, unfortunately it has caused many to intellectualize their faith on the other.
By an overemphasis on education and relying on reason, natural gifts and talents have taken the place of Spiritual wisdom and understanding. By neglecting the gifts and operations of the Spirit many have drifted into a cessationist viewpoint.
Genuine prophetic ministry has always been the vehicle through which God has birthed His vision and mission in the earth. The biblical norm is for the Gospel to advance in the power of the Holy Spirit with signs following.
We must have both the intellectual education and Spiritual wisdom and understanding, coupled with the Spirit’s power in this generation. In no other way, can the Church’s prophetic voice be heard, as she stands as salt and light to a lost and hurting world.”