Change Region:Northern Ireland

Understanding the Prophetic Word

Letting God's word shine in dark places

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Posted on: 
2 Feb 2011
Understanding the Prophetic Word

The Apostle Peter urges us in 2 Peter 1:19-21 to give attention to the “prophetic word” because it constitutes a light shining in a dark place. In other words, it is our only reliable “GPS system”. Sadly, too often this prophetic word has been mishandled and abused by those who are only interested in speculation and sensational entertainment. In reality, the prophetic word is testimony to the unfolding purpose and plan of God in Israel, the Church and the nations. It tells what we should be doing!

The words of Jesus

In Matthew 24 and the other synoptic Gospels, Jesus pinpoints our times by giving us “signs” that have no relevance until the Jews have returned, by the hand of God, to the Land of Israel. This will include a return to Jerusalem (Luke 21:24) and it will arouse global hostility. The nations will be in uproar and will mobilise their resources against Zion. However, this means that we should see this return of the Jews as evidence of the plan and will of God and we should therefore rise up to bless what God Himself is doing. As Jesus put it, “the fig tree” is once again putting forth leaves and by this we know that the summer is near. That is, the day of His coming is at hand (Matthew 24:32-33).

Jesus also spoke about the gospel going to the ends of the earth and then the “end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Here again, this is a call to action and not to speculation. The Church must be involved in the Great Commission. A church that is outward looking will enjoy spiritual vitality and growth. Sadly, Jesus also warns that the last days’ church will be inward looking and “grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). The prophetic word should therefore warn us against procrastination.

The words of Paul

Paul mainly saw the end of days in terms of spiritual disease and failure. For instance, in 1Timothy 4:1 he says that in the last days elements of the church will give heed to “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”. This is incredible because he is speaking about the true church, not some false entity that we all know is wrong. No, true believers will be seduced and turned away from the faith. This implies a spiritual assault of great proportions against the people of God. We must be warned and armed!

Again in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 he warns that in the latter days “fierce times” will come because Christians will be obsessed with themselves. Their love of God will be a hobby and it will always play “second fiddle” to their own interests! These days are upon us. We need to wake up and ensure that we are seeking first the Kingdom of God!

The words of John

The Apostle John had much to say about the prophetic word as he was given the awesome vision that we have recorded in our Bibles as “The Revelation”. His message to the seven Churches of Asia is a warning against lawlessness, immorality, disobedience and lukewarmness. His visions of the world in upheaval remind us that God is in control of all things and that, through a process of judgment on the earth seen as natural catastrophes, he will bring about His triumph and thus “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15).

John sees that this time of upheaval and uncertainty will require the patience of the saints (Revelation 14:12). Moreover, they will have to reject deception and keep their eyes on a heavenly city that will be their inheritance and eternal home. The struggles of their earthly sojourn will fade away as they hold dear the heavenly vision (Revelation 21:1-8). The prophetic word will not entertain or amuse them, but it will fortify and prepare them to face and walk through the “end of day’s struggles”. It will be their “road-map”, constantly guiding them and renewing their faith in Jesus. The prophetic word enlightens our way. But it should and must encourage us to ever make Jesus our Lord! (Revelation 19:10)


Rev. Hedding is Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.