The Old Testament Scriptures includes many prophets of God leading to John the Baptist. The prophets of old spoke much of the Messiah and His coming, with amazing specificity. All prophecy was given by God, and it is to be tested to make certain. There were and remain false prophecies and false prophets. A message from the Holy Spirit will not contradict the scripture. Prophecy is for the encouragement and strengthening of the Church.
Agabus was a New Testament prophet. (Acts 11:28; 21:10). The New Testament contains much about the administration of the gift of prophecy and states that it is to be desired. It is not only foretelling a future event, but Holy Spirit inspired insight that touches one’s heart with God’s grace in its various forms. Moreover, it is not just for the gatherings, but for specific people at specific times, as determined by the Holy Spirit. (1 Pet. 4:10-11; 1 Cor. 14:25).
I was once in a gathering of Elders; where a worship leader had been invited to lead a time of worship. During prayer that followed a prophetic message was given that, “Courage was needed and available now.” As a consequence, the worship leader shared something that was very important, but would not have spoken up, but for the prophetic word. This is a very small example of the Holy Spirit at work, to bring truth to light and release encouragement in a specific situation.
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy….But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” (1 Cor. 14: 1,3).
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1: 20-21).
“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” (1 Thess. 5: 19-22).
“At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” (Rev. 19:10).
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18).
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16:13).
“For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” (1 Cor. 14:31).
From my reading of scripture and personal observation there are some things that characterise the life of some with a prophetic gifting.
– Solitude; many of the prophets were loners, or certainly out of the public stage.
– Courage to speak the message given by God irrespective of its acceptance or consequences.
– Boldness that accompanies a message of encouragement to action, repentance, and change.
– Acceptance of the humility and unpopularity that prophecy dictates, because it is a serious thing to deliver a message from God Almighty. People are prone to jealousy and the enemy is a mocker.
– Strong faith in God’s purposes and fulfilment thereof. Willingness to lay aside ones own perspectives, hear God’s message and deliver it as received without embellishments.
– Little honor will be given to a prophet in his hometown. A prophetic message will be tested and scrutinized in great detail, as the scripture requires, while teachers and preachers will offer their opinions with immunity.