The Prophesy

The night was dark, and the stars were twinkling in the sky as he wandered back to his flock of sheep.   The sound of baaing lambs settled on him like a warm blanket.  He was home among his wooly friends.  He leaned up against a gnarly tree and pulled out his harp and started to sing.  His mind was so full of the day’s events that he couldn’t think straight.  What he needed most was to settle his spirit.   “Bless the Lord, oh my soul.  Bless his name. Holy holy is his name, oh my soul.  Bless his holy name.”  He often sang when he was confused, and tonight, more than any other night in his life, he was confused.  Sliding down the side of the tree, he sat, pulling one of his lambs close to him.  Pushing his nose into the fluffy wool, he took a deep breath.  He knew all the sheep, but this little one was his favorite.  Just holding him brought comfort.

Playing the day’s events over again in his mind, he sorted it all out.  “Lord God, is this true?  Of course it is true.  The prophet would not have come if it wasn’t true.  The old man always speaks for you, Lord.  And he is never wrong.  But the king?  Me?”

Then his thoughts raced again.  What does it feel like to be a king?  I don’t feel any different.  Should I tell my friends?  What will they say!  And King Saul?  What will he say?  How does one go about becoming a king?  Do I get a crown?  A sword?  The thoughts didn’t stop – they seemed to run in circles in his mind.  When the sun rose in the sky and there was no more danger to his sheep from the creatures of the night, David finally closed his eyes and slept.

One would think that after such a powerful word from God, that life would be all smooth sailing for the lad who would be king.  But no.  The minute the prophet spoke the Word of God, David’s life turned upside down.  He hadn’t gone looking for the prophetic word.  He wasn’t expecting it, but the Prophet Samuel assured him that God had made him king.  King?  “Why me?” He wondered.  He was just a boy.  The questions flooded his mind and, try as he might, he couldn’t make them go away.  How could he become the king?  When would it happen?  Why would God choose him?  And yet he did.

Soon after, David found himself in the employ of the reigning monarch, King Saul.  He fought a giant and killed him.  Then killed many more enemy soldiers – many, many more than even the King had killed.   All the girls in the streets swooned when they saw him, and they sang songs about his victories.  If he thought this would impress Saul, he was wrong.  The king suffered from madness brought on by his broken relationship with the Almighty.  He wanted the victories David brought him, but jealous fits of rage came over him until he vowed to kill the young man he swore he loved like a son.  David must have wondered how it could it be, that after such a wonderful prophetic word, that he was to endure so much trouble?

Wandering about the countryside, David hid.  He loved King Saul, and risked his life for the sake of his king, and would do anything for that man.  Yet what he received in return was jealous hatred, rejection, and loss.   Could it be that this is the way prophetic words come to pass?

Often, prophetic words come with a shovel.  They’re a treasure that doesn’t come to pass without digging for it, and digging is hard work. Many people, after receiving a word of encouragement, a prophetic word, or words they have read in their Bible, think that these words come to pass all by themselves.  While it is possible for God to change a person’s life overnight, because of a prophetic word, it is seldom the way it happens.  Sincere people believing that God is going to do something in their life become frustrated when it doesn’t happen in the timing or the way they believed it would.  They get blown away and some are tragically devastated.   Instead of believing in the prophetic promise, they suffer and decide that the word was wrong.  They walk away from their promise from God, because they misunderstand the purpose of their suffering between the prophesy and its fulfillment.

Fred and I received many prophetic words that assured us we would go into missionary work.  We were excited at the prospect and my mind whirled with the imagination of living the “missionary dream.”  I heard so many missionary stories.   I heard testimonies and read books about God’s faithfulness to those called into that ministry.  The last thing I expected was to fall headfirst into a crisis.

We were returning from a pastor’s conference late at night and heard our telephone answering machine beeping with dozens of calls and messages.  They were all from the same person, my doctor.  “Call me as soon as you get this message.  I need to speak to you right now.  It is urgent.”  Shaking, I picked up the phone.

Cancer.  The very word spoke terror to my entire being.  Inside I was screaming, “Why me?  How could this be happening?  Now what?  How does this fit with our prophetic words!  I don’t understand – this can’t be happening.  Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to me.  I don’t understand.  I don’t understand.   I don’t……”   Like a crushing weight, the words paralyzed me.  In the middle of those first few days when I found out I had cancer, God spoke to me.  It took me awhile to hear him.  I was so caught up with those bad words that the good words, the Good News from Heaven, were drowned out, but soon my spirit calmed and I heard God speak.

“Will you go too?”

I knew right away that those were the same words Jesus spoke to Peter when many of his disciples were offended at his teachings and walked away from him.  Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Will you go too?”  Like Peter, I answered, “No Lord, for you alone have the words of eternal life.  I have no other place to go.  I will not leave.”

In that moment, Jesus gave me a treasure.  He said, “Now you have faith.”

“Now I have faith?  What does that mean?” I wondered.

With a voice that I understood to be God’s voice, He responded, “Faith is not faith until it has been tried, and faith has not been tried until it has been offended and still believes.”   I had been offended that I had gotten sick.  My faith was offended when I didn’t understand why I had cancer.  My faith in Divine healing was offended when I wasn’t miraculously healed and needed surgery.  I was offended, but I didn’t leave.  How could I leave the one I loved?  How could I stop walking with God just because I didn’t understand?  I had no other place to go.  No, I wouldn’t leave.  I took my shovel and scooped up my treasure.  I had faith.

John 6:66-69

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.  So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” ESV

I never came to a full understanding of why I got cancer and had to go through difficult medical treatments, but I received treasure worth so much more than anything I lost to cancer.  I received an understanding of faith that I never knew before.  Husbands and wives, when they recite their vows on their wedding day, declare their faith.  They make declarations of faith, promising they will not leave the other, whether they face sickness or poverty.   They promise their faith, but they don’t prove their faith until after years of life together.  Offending and forgiving each other, they remain together with their powerfully maturing faith.  Faith to another, whether to God, friends, church fellowship, business, or marriage, isn’t faith until it is tried – offended and stays in that relationship.  I have preached this treasured faith concept all over the world, and it has touched many lives.

Acts 16:16-18

“As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.” ESV

Look at the lives of Paul and Silas.  They went to Mesopotamia, because they had a “word from God.”  In a prophetic dream, a man from Mesopotamia came to Paul and said, “come to Mesopotamia and help us.”  They packed their bags and went to Mesopotamia.  While they were there, they preached the Gospel, doing what God called them to do.  Unfortunately, a woman possessed of a devil followed them as they preached, causing a commotion.  Paul, weary of her outbursts, cast the demon out of her.   When the men who profited from her fortune-telling discovered she could no longer call upon her demons, they angrily cast Paul and Silas into prison.  They were accused of causing riots and were beaten and thrown into prison.

Acts 16:25-26

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” ESV

Too often, when bad things happen to us, we errantly assume that we have done something wrong.  In the story of Paul and Silas, nothing could be further than the truth.  They seemed unfazed by their surroundings, and the beatings they received.  At midnight, when the prison was the darkest and the air heavy, they sang.  They praised the Lord with their whole hearts, ignoring the pain of their beaten bodies.  They didn’t allow their situation to dictate their response.   Then something wonderful happened.  As they were worshiping the Lord, the earth trembled violently  where even the foundations of the prison were moved. The chains broke off from all the prisoners, and the doors flew open.  Imagine what it must have been like, when one minute you are chained – unable to escape, and the next minute you are free.

Paul and Silas had done nothing wrong, and at the midnight hour, when most people would have given up and succumbed to depression and defeat, Paul and Silas were set free.  Not only that, but they led their jailer and his complete family to Jesus.  I believe this jailer was the man in Paul’s dreams.  In God’s timing, in his plan, the prophetic dream came to pass.  But it never would have happened had Paul and Silas not been beaten and thrown into jail.

Acts 16:16-18

“As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.” ESV

Not everything that looks bad is bad.  Not everything that hurts you happens because you did something wrong.  Sometimes God has a bigger plan that he has not shared with you.  David suffered because of the prophetic word, and Paul and Silas suffered because of their prophetic dream.  All three men were righteous and blameless, and yet they suffered.  So why do bad things happen to good people?   Things like cancer, heart attacks, broken marriages, the death of a loved one happen to the just and the unjust.  When they happen, we say, “this shouldn’t have happened to me.  I love God with all of my heart.  I have done exactly what God wanted me to do and this shouldn’t have happened.”  While there is truth to that statement, it is not the whole truth.  Bad things happen to good people to propel them into their destiny.

If David hadn’t been anointed by the Prophet Samuel to be the next king over God’s people, he never would have become king, and yet he suffered between the spoken prophecy and its fulfillment.  Every day, he had to remind himself of what God said through the prophet.  Every day, by faith, he had to put one foot in front of the other.  Does this mean he didn’t wonder about that word!  No.  He often spoke in the Psalms of hiding in the Lord.  He knew where to take refuge when it seemed like the entire world was against him.  He saw it as a time of testing, one that he eventually passed.  The Kingdom of God was David’s treasure.  When he was a young man, he probably thought his kingdom was only for the family of Israel, but no, the treasure he gained was for the eternal Kingdom of God.  He cried out to the Lord in his struggles and worshiped the Lord in his pain.  Even when it seemed everyone had failed him, he never gave up his quest for treasure.  Somehow, in God’s incredible way, he turned David’s kingdom from a time constrained kingdom to one that would last forever.

2 Samuel 7:16-17

“And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.” ESV

Psalm 5:11-12

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” ESV

Psalm 11:5

“The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” ESV

Paul and Silas were also being tested.  Would they grumble and complain?  Would they succumb to their beatings and whimper all night?  No, they rejoiced.  They knew that their pain and suffering were not a sign that God had rejected them.  No, the situation was necessary for them and expected.  Paul said in Colossians that it was through the times when he suffered that he found a mystery. He found a treasure in his dark place, hidden inside of the dark, oppressive prison, a treasure that needed to be dug out.  Praise and worship became Paul’s shovel.  He and Silas dug and dug for treasure with their worship until the earth could hide it no longer.

Colossians 1:24-26

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” ESV

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