POWER OF PROPHETIC LANGUAGE
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:11-16)
Communication breakdown: Man goes into see his shrink with a fried egg and bacon on his head. Quick doc, my wife really needs help!
The Hebrew language provides several words along with the Greek that designate prophetic function. Understanding these words helps us to see God’s intent with prophetic ministry. There are five primary Hebrew and Aramaic words that describe the two functions of prophecy: 1) the passive element of receiving from God; and 2) the active function of releasing what was received. Concerning the receptive element:
1) Ro’eh and 2) Chozeh: A Seer. Occurs 12 times and 16 times they mean to look or to behold. It relates primarily to the visions and dreams component of prophets. Chozeh and Ro’eh can be interchangeably, although Chozeh can include cognitive (rational) functions apart from the visionary element.
1 Samuel 9:9 shows us that the Seer and Prophet are identical in office. (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: “Come, let us go to the seer”; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.) If there is a minor nuance, it would be that the Seer may be more visionary and the prophet more communicative.
3) Massa: a burden. It occurs 70 times and speaks of the personal response of the one receiving a word from God. It can mean a burden or a heavy weight or load that has to be removed or lifted up and off, and is often connected to words of judgment. However, it has another use in worship. It can also mean the lifting up of the soul before the LORD in the prophetic flow of the Temple musicians.
Also, even when judgment is the tone, the element of lifting up carries an element of restoration, as the Word given is intended to lift people higher into the ways of the LORD.
The two remaining Hebrew words add the human part of the office.
4) Naba (Nabi): Prophet. Occurs 114 times as a verb and 324 times as a noun. The amount of times its used tells us the Bibles emphasis on the importance of the office and its function. The Prophet was the spokesperson for God, regardless of how he received his message (study or revelation, or both). The root (Akkadian) means to call or proclaim, with the Hebrew adding the bubbly aspect. When God places His word in us, it tends to bubble up and gush forth like a river. The Prophet is the floodgate (the spirit is subject to the prophet). The word of prophecy is supposed flow from us like water from a fountain.
Some people relate this function as ecstatic release, but I think it’s better to see it as the human response of the prophet to the anointing hand of God as His hand dances over us.
5) Nataf: To drop/fall like drops of rain. Occurs 21 times, but it only refers to prophecy four times. This speaks of the divine activity of God, as prophecy isn’t just the work of the prophet (speaking/releasing). The word must fall from heaven, where God dwells. If it doesn’t its: If a man should walk in a false spirit And speak a lie, saying, ‘I will prophesy to you of wine and drink,’ Even he would be the prattler of this people… “Do not prattle,” you say to those who prophesy. So they shall not prophesy to you; They shall not return insult for insult (Micah 2:11, 6).
The one New Testament word propheteuo carries elements of all the Hebrew words, but it is closest to the idea of the Nabi. In the Septuagint, prophetes is universally used in translating Nabi. Propheteo has both a fore-telling (revelation) and a forth-telling (preaching) aspect to it. Some commentators argue that the fore-telling doesn’t belong in our era, but they are wrong!
Focusing exclusively on this aspect removes the supernatural component. When you accept the predictive ability of true prophecy, it automatically expands its meaning into the biblical understanding. When we move into the next office of pastor/teacher we will see the use of two other Greek words for preaching: evangelizo (to preach the gospel); and kerusso (to preach or proclaim). These are the main words we have for preaching/teaching.
Let me show you a couple of ways the fore-telling function is used in Scripture that you may have missed when you read the passages taken from Mark: But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11)… She has done what she could. She has come beforehand (prophetic action gr.) to anoint My body for burial (Mark 14:8). One passage tells us God will fill us with a word that gushes forth in the time of need, while the other tells us that God can and will direct us to act prophetically.
Elementary (First) Principles: Laying on of hands
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits (Hebrews 6:1-3).
This passage is a major one that addresses what is important in Scripture. It looks a lot different than what most of the church sees as foundational. These six points are the foundational truths of Christianity. I want to point out that the first principles of the Old Testament in Hebrews 5:12 is the same as in 6:1-3, For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. The author was exhorted the readers to leave childish things behind and to enter into maturity, as their immaturity kept them from absorbing the solid food of truth. The term elementary principles comes from the Greek stoicheia, which originally meant walking in line or being in rows like a military parade. In Scripture it means to walk in line with the Word of God.
Leaving the elementary principles doesn’t mean we are supposed to abandon them. The idea is advancing beyond. He is calling us to build on them. We leave them the same way builders leave their work on the foundation of a building they are building when the foundation is set. You don’t build a foundation forever. Sooner or later the foundation is supposed to have something built on top of it. If you keep laying the foundation you will never have a finished building. When we don’t pay attention to first principles, we become people who act like: Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
The purpose of this superb foundation is to go onto perfection, which is what Paul said the offices were for in Ephesians 4:13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Maturity is becoming a perfect man (believer), as we are able to eat correctly, But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Full age is the same word used for perfection.
One of these elementary doctrines is the laying on of hands. In Scripture, laying on of hands has five distinct functions: impartation, identification, confirmation, release of blessing and the commissioning of ministry. Of these functions, I want us to focus on the impartation aspect. In the Old Testament, laying on of hands began as a function of atonement. The priest would lay his hands on the sacrifice to transfer (impart) sin to the offering. It began with Aaron and sons and extended to the Levitical Priests/elders and the High Priest on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man (Leviticus 16:21).
Impartation through the laying on of hands extended beyond sin, however. It also applied to wisdom and honor, as when Moses ordained Joshua in Numbers 27:18-23. Deuternomy 34:9 tells the result of Moses being told to do: And the Lord said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; 19 set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. 20 And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. 22 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. 23 And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses… Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.
You see friends, the Jewish people believed in impartation through hands and also oil as symbols of God’s blessing. But they also believed the act went beyond the symbolic. They believed that an impartation of the life or energy of God was given. The Hebrew word for anointing means to smear with the hand, as in smearing oil/life/blessing on someone, like when David was smeared with oil by Samuel and when Elijah smeared Elisha (1 Samuel 16:13; 1 Kings 19:16).
Impartation in the New Testament
Impartation through the laying on of hands is seen in four different ways in the New Testament, healing, signs and wonders, and the Baptism in Holy Spirit, and to impart gifts. Listen to what Scripture says about healing and signs and wonders, they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover… And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch… And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him… And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.. Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul (Mark 16:18; Acts 5:12; Acts 28:8; Luke 13:13; Acts 19:11).
Acts records three instances where Holy Spirit was imparted by the laying on of hands in Chapters 8, 9 and 19, And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money… And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit… And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
There is a profound connection between having hands placed on us fro impartation, receiving gifts like tongues and the prophetic. Let me explain.
Spiritual language enables us to speak prophetically to God He who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him… (v. 2).
Speaking to God in spiritual language is not the only way to speak to Him, but it is a privileged benefit through which we gain intimacy with God, and by which the Holy Spirit empowers us to serve others.
God loves you uniquely and individually. Utilizing prayer language is an important element in speaking to God personally, as it allows us to address Him uniquely and individually, as we express our hearts in a way only He understands.
While we may not necessarily know what we are saying, we do know the One we are speaking with, as well as the quality of what our heart is feeling toward Him, as Holy Spirit lets us communicate beyond the language limitations we have.
Spiritual language equips us with prophetic insight…however, in the Spirit he speaks mysteries. (v. 2). The word “mysteries” is not talking about peculiar things but about God’s truth being brought into the light. It may be fresh to our minds, but it’s not going to be different from what’s in the Bible. To us, a mystery is something we can’t figure out, but in the Greek (mysterion), it is an insight or revelation that now we understand.
Often when I am studying and come across something that I just don’t get, I ask the Lord to help me tap into His Holy Spirit to see where it fits. It’s important to remember that the Bible was given by the Holy Spirit. While I am praying, another verse will come to mind, and then it will all click: this connects to that. Or the Lord will whisper something in my heart, and it all becomes clear.
Spiritual language is self-edifying He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself… (v. 4)
We speak in tongues, because there is an edifying—or building up—of ourselves. It’s good for us. This doesn’t mean that we are not interested in loving the lost and serving others. Scripture says: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 20-21). Jude continues by saying that we are to be compassion ward the lost, and reach out to those who need to be drawn from the threat of eternal loss into life in Jesus.
The use of our spiritual language also serves as an occasion where we welcome the Encourager, the Comforter, aka Holy Spirit, as He comes alongside us to help us (Paraclete). When we pray in the Spirit, Holy Spirit flows refreshing goodness into us. This is indeed something you have to experience personally, as there is no human explanation for the supernatural infusion of His encouragement and strength into our lives when we pray in the Spirit.
Spiritual language enlarges the boundary of our praise and intercession… For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us… (Rom. 8:26)
Worship and praise are powerful tools of warfare that drive back darkness. Praise drives darkness away, as true praise and worship is despised by the enemy. There is power in our praise when it becomes an instrument in the hands of the Spirit to drive back the works of darkness. Praise is an instrument of warfare and intercession, and it is loathed by the Adversary. It’s why we are supposed to sing in the Spirit.
The Bible tells us in Romans 8:26-28 that we don’t know how or what to pray often. This is offset with Holy Spirit knowing the mind of the Father, and Holy Spirit then enabling us to pray exactly the way we need to, regardless of our human limitations. Holy Spirit also helps in our weaknesses, For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
All of these benefits of spiritual language help us see in the Word why on the day the Church was born, the Lord gave everybody the gift of spiritual language. It wasn’t to prove to them that Holy Spirit had come; as the love of God overflowing in their hearts accomplished that task. Nor was it to demonstrate that the power of God had come. Over each of their heads could be seen fire from Heaven that had come to energize. I believe spiritual language was given not as a proof but as a resource they would need in order for the Church to be the Church.
I will never argue against the idea that tongues are an evidence of the baptism of the Spirit, because I think there is sufficient evidence for that. It’s just not the only evidence. But the Lord did not give us spiritual language as a point of argument for the Church. He gave it as a resource to capacitate the Church. The Holy Spirit, who has come to dwell in us, wants to overflow every one of us and, in that overflow, to release His spiritual language.