Those who attended the recent Gathering of the Eagles in Washington, DC prayed and interceded a great deal for America. Much weeping for our country occurred, along with heartfelt pleas for God to forgive our corporate sins and bring revival. Among the great waves of intercession were physical actions that people took, along with corresponding pronouncements and prophecies. Intercessors chopped the air with their arms, cutting off the power of the enemy over areas, peoples, and specific sites while speaking out appropriate words. Wrists were turned counterclockwise, then clockwise, closing the enemy’s areas of authority and opening them to God’s authority and rule. Models of buildings and geographical areas were mapped out on the floor, with people standing at the corners, while others verbally entered into spiritual warfare over the model, prophesied over it, pronounced blessing upon it, and rededicated it to the Lord. Mock stone altars were set up, powers were verbally broken, and salt and oil were poured out with prophetic words following. Crosses were planted and prophetic pronouncements were made over strategic points in some models. These prophetic actions were so frequently and fervently done that few gave them much thought other than the benefits they could bring to our country.
Now that the DC GOE has come and gone, we might step back for a moment and ask several questions in respect to these prophetic actions. First and foremost, is this practice biblical? Next, is there an order or formula for carrying out divinely inspired prophetic actions? Equally important, what are the objectives behind these actions? Finally, are prophetic actions only reserved for great saints, or might God call any believer to perform a prophetic action?
As far as I know, no one has provided the Christian Church a carefully laid out study of the biblical examples of prophetic actions and the corporate messages they provide us. I hope this short article will fill this gap in understanding and answer the above questions. To this end, it is written more as a resource tool than to inspire, although the latter may also occur. Hopefully, the information will benefit both non-charismatic and charismatic Christians. The former, although not open to contemporary expressions of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, will come to understand that prophetic actions are biblical. The latter will gain strong, biblical backing for what they may have already accepted and done in earnest, while not fully understanding why they could do so. For still others, this survey may prompt you to open your hearts to a biblical practice that God is calling you into but to which, until now, you have shown resistance or lived in ignorance. One thing is clear: although the practice of prophetic actions is biblical, it is difficult to define precisely because it has many forms and diverse objectives. For instance, whereas most prophetic actions were accompanied with words, in several instances the prophetic actions stood alone. In other instances, audible noises such as wailing or groaning accompanied the action. Moreover, the purpose of this practice varied from grabbing peoples’ attention, to doing spiritual warfare, to proclaiming warnings or giving encouragement.
Finally, I must set certain parameters simply because of the number of biblical examples. First, not every occurrence of a prophetic action is discussed below, although a list of nearly all biblical prophetic actions is provided at the end of this article. Second, the entire sacrificial system outlined in Leviticus and demonstrated throughout the Old Testament is grounded in prophetic actions. Indeed, the writer of Hebrews touched on this very point (Heb.9:1-10). Nevertheless, out of space considerations, these multitudinous examples are not listed or discussed. Third, the prophetic acts or sacraments of baptism and Communion are only given cursory examination, not because of their lack of significance, but because of the numerous New Testament examples. Fourth, although a biblical example may apply to more than one category, and many examples may apply to one category, only a limited number of examples are mentioned in each grouping – this short study is not exhaustive.
Some of God’s people perform more prophetic actions than others.
The prophet Isaiah performed noticeably fewer prophetic actions than Ezekiel (the former, two; the latter, ten), and Ezekiel performed fewer than Jeremiah (twelve). These differences were not necessarily due to lack of devotion to the Lord, but to different callings and anointing, a principle that the apostle Paul brought to the Corinthian church’s attention (I Cor.12:4-7). This understanding leads to a second point. Most all prophetic actions – in particular, extreme actions – were reserved for accomplished, mature prophets. For all practical purposes, they alone were called to these severe activities, and not the average child of God. Still, prophetic expressions were carried out by people who were not officially recognized as prophets to the nation, or who did not have the prophetic stature of an Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. The godly statesman Nehemiah is a good example (see Nehemiah 5:13).
Although prophetic actions are at times spontaneous and unintentional, they remain highly potent.
After king Saul’s sin was exposed by the prophet Samuel, the latter turned and began to walk away from Saul. Fearing the great prophet’s rejection, Saul grabbed and tore the edge of Samuel’s robe. Samuel interpreted Saul’s grasping as a prophetic action, for he immediately proclaimed that God had torn the kingdom of Israel from Saul and given it to a more worthy person (I Sam.15:24-29)!
More than one person can carry out a single prophetic action.
As we see immediately above, such was the case with this monumentally significant prophetic act done by Samuel and Saul (I Sam.15:24-29).
A prophetic action may consist of an act without spoken words.
The LORD told Isaiah to write on a tablet "Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey (Maher-shalel-hash-baz), and then to have a son with his wife whom they would call by this long name (Is.8:1-4). While the LORD revealed to the prophet the significance of these acts, he was not required to give an accompanying prophetic word to anyone (see also Ez.4:1-17; Hos.1:2-9; 3:1-5 [Hosea spoke to his wife in 3:3, but not as part of the prophetic action]).
The LORD instructed Ezekiel that he was to wail forcefully and authoritatively over the hordes of Egypt (Ez.32:17-21). His outburst was to facilitate the destruction of Egypt by the sword and her consignment to Sheol. This action was by no means identificational repentance, for Ezekiel was prophetically intervening for their ruin rather than their restoration. Stated differently, he was in no way repenting for their sins, but rather prophetically affecting the physical and spiritual judgment of a people by his keening. There was no intelligible message to the Egyptians or Jews following his action. The prophetic wailing, in and of itself, was the full, prophetic will of God.
A prophetic action is often quick and easy to perform.
While in exile, Ezekiel wrote down the very day that the king of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem (Ez.24:2) He performed this act immediately prior to delivering a parable to his fellow exiles in order to emphasize that although they were far away from the destruction coming upon the holy city at that moment, it was nonetheless happening (vv.3-14). Nehemiah shook out the front of his garment and then explained to God’s remnant in Jerusalem that God would shake out from their houses and possessions the men who did not honor their corporate promise to stop lending to fellow countrymen with interest (Neh.5:13).
A prophetic action is often extremely difficult, costly, or complicated to carry out.
In a God-ordained prophetic action, Ezekiel lost his wife – the desire of his eyes. Amazingly, he was ordered not to mourn or cry for her, but to groan silently! His actions were to depict prophetically the profaned Jerusalem sanctuary – the delight of Israel’s eyes – that Israel was not to grieve over upon its desecration and destruction (Ez.24:15-24).
In Ezekiel 4:1-17, Ezekiel was directed by God to build a detailed model of the impending siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army and then to act out the horrifying scenario. God’s prophet was subsequently to lie on his left side next to the model, bearing the sins of Israel for 390 days – a day for each year of their sinful rebellion. This torturous, prophetic action was then repeated for 40 days on his right side for the sins of Judah. To insure that Ezekiel would not get up or lie flat on his back or stomach in search of relief, the LORD Himself tied him up with ropes to assure his immobility. While divinely bound and facing his mock siege, he was to prophesy against Jerusalem (note that he did not prophesy to the people, but to the model). To make matters worse for the prophet, his prophetic action included eating the same bread and drinking water, both in limited, measured amounts. Moreover, he was to bake the bread in the sight of his countrymen over human dung, which would speak of his people eating unclean bread while in exile. This last requirement was so repugnant to Ezekiel – it so violated his sense of religious propriety (see Dt.23:12-14) – that God allowed him to cook over cow’s dung. Although he surely explained to the curious people around him the meanings behind his bizarre but prophetic actions, he was not instructed by the LORD to deliver fitting prophetic words to them.
The LORD told Jeremiah to buy and wear a linen waistband. Later, the LORD commanded him to travel the 400 or so miles to the Euphrates River, hide his waistband in the crevice of a rock, and then return to Jerusalem. After many days, the LORD ordered the prophet to return to the rock at the Euphrates and dig up his waistband, which was now ruined and worthless. God then informed him that as his waistband was now destroyed, so He would soon destroy Judah and Jerusalem, and their pride, for they had not clung to God as a waistband clings to the waist of a man. The prophet then returned to Judah, having traversed over 1600 miles to carry out this prophetic action (Jer.13:1-11)!
It is sometimes embarrassing or humbling to perform a prophetic action.
Isaiah went naked and barefoot as a sign against Egypt and Cush for three years (Is.20:2-6; the prophet Micah also prophetically "laid bare" his soul and body [Mic.1:8])! It took this long to get across to his fellow countrymen that these two countries ("guardian" nations in which Israel had put their hope) would be led away into exile, naked and barefoot, by the Assyrians. This prophetic action vividly, indeed shockingly, demonstrated that Israel’s hope in foreign nations was woefully misplaced. It was in the LORD God that they should have exercised their faith when the enemy came against them.
Prophetic actions can break accepted cultural, ethical, and religious norms.
Jeremiah was told not to marry or have children in order to live out a prophetic action before God’s people (Jer.16:1-13). God’s prophetic words to His people were all the more potent as they came through this bachelor-prophet: as Jeremiah had no offspring, so the children born to Jewish parents would die from disease and by the hand of their enemies. His prophetic action would elicit in the people the desired response – Why has God declared such destruction against us? What have we done against Him? The prophet would then declare that their sins, and the sins of their fathers, had prompted God’s soon-coming judgment of death and exile.
Ezekiel was ordered to shave his beard and head (a disgrace for a Jewish man; see II Sam.10:4-5), and then to burn one third of it in the center of Jerusalem, strike one third with a sword throughout the city, and scatter the remaining third to the wind (Ez.5:1-17). He was then to explain to the people in Jerusalem how his actions represented the judgments that were coming upon them.
The prophet Hosea was divinely directed twice to marry the prostitute Gomer (Hos.1:2-9; 3:1-5). His marriages to her, and the children he fathered in their first marriage, were prophetic actions to Israel. The prophet Zechariah was commanded to place a kingly crown upon the head of the high priest Joshua (Zech.6:9-15). His act was noteworthy because priests were forbidden from ruling as kings, and vice versa (see II Chr.26:16-21; Num.3:10; 16:39-40). This violation of the written word was followed by a prophetic word that foretold the Priest-King, Jesus Christ, who would rebuild Jerusalem’s temple and rule on the throne of Israel – a true priest on His throne.
The carrying out of a prophetic action can encompass for a time the person’s entire life.
As seen above, Hosea had a harlot for a wife, and even had children with her (Hosea 1,3). Ezekiel endured prolonged immobility, mundane food rations, and widowerhood (Ez.4,24). Jeremiah lived as a bachelor (Jer.16), whereas Isaiah and Micah lived for many days without any clothing (Is.20; Mic.1).
Divine instruction to perform a prophetic action often comes as extremely sure words.
A biblical prophet surely would not have followed through with a costly or humiliating divine directive unless the word to him was vivid and sure. Thus, Isaiah obeyed God’s word to him to go naked and barefoot for three years because the directive was extremely clear.
A prophetic action may function as an act of faith based on the promises of God.
Jeremiah was divinely directed to buy his cousin’s field in Anathoth even though Judah and Jerusalem were facing imminent defeat and exile at the hand of the invading Babylonian army. Moreover, he was to place the deeds of purchase in an earthenware jar for safekeeping; they were to last for many days (70 years to be exact). He then declared to God’s people that they would once again, but many days hence, buy and sell fields in Judah and Jerusalem (Jer.32:6-15,25,42-44).
A prophetic action may contain a deeper message or level of meaning than the giver discerns.
The New Testament prophet Agabus performed a prophetic act on Paul while in Caesarea (Acts 21:8-14). He took the apostle’s belt, bound his hands and feet with it, and then declared that the Jerusalem Jews would similarly bind Paul and give him over to the Gentiles. Although it was the Romans who ended up binding him (21:31-33), in God’s eyes the Jewish people were held accountable because they provoked the incident. Agabus possibly assumed the Jewish peoples’ direct involvement, but God possessed a deeper and more accurate understanding of the entire affair.
A prophetic action can actually initiate in the heavenlies by an angelic creature.
At the end of this age, immediately prior to the destruction of the rebuilt city of Babylon, a strong angel will carry out a prophetic action by casting a huge stone in the shape of a millstone into one of the earth’s seas. He then will declare that as he threw the stone into the sea, so Babylon will be thrown down and not rise again (Rev.18:21-24).
A prophetic action can initiate from within a vision from the Lord.
While in a vision, Jeremiah took the cup of wine of the wrath of God and offered a drink to the cities, peoples, and nations (Jewish and Gentile) to which God directed him. They would stagger and fall from the wine, for it represented the sword of the Lord set against them (Jer.25:15-26). The prophet was then directed in the vision to deliver two distinct, corresponding prophecies about these peoples to the Jewish populace in Jerusalem (25:27-38). This prophetic action within a vision surely emboldened the prophet to proclaim these messages in real life to God’s people.
Prophetic actions occurred in the Old and New Testaments, and will occur in the future
We have already considered Old Testament prophetic actions and one that will occur in the future. The New Testament offers us several other examples. Agabus’ prophetic act was mentioned above. The sacraments of baptism and communion are clearly and intentionally prophetic actions (e.g., Rom.6:1-7; I Cor.11:23-26). Jesus instructed his twelve disciples to shake the dust off their feet as a prophetic act against the people of a city who rejected their witness (Lk.10:8-12). The apostles’ corresponding words against them contained several layers of prophetic meaning or significance. First, they had fulfilled their responsibilities to the city whether the people therein accepted their ministry or not. Second, they disassociated themselves from the pollution of the city and its ultimate judgment. Finally, this prophetic action was designed to provoke thought on the part of the villagers who rejected them.
A prophetic action is often spiritual warfare, particularly when it comes against false prophetic actions.
In II Chronicles 18:8-27 and Jeremiah 27:1-28:17, we are soberingly confronted with well-intentioned men of deep convictions who performed prophetic acts for the supposed good of God’s people. In the first narrative, a man by the name of Zedekiah made iron horns and proclaimed that with them the kings of Israel and Judah would gore their enemy until he was destroyed. This false prophetic action was particularly insidious for two reasons. One, it incited similar false prophecies from other false prophets. Two, after Micaiah, the LORD’s true prophet, exposed Zedekiah’s words as false, he revealed that behind Zedekiah’s prophetic action was a deceiving spirit, and that the LORD had actually proclaimed disaster against the two kings and their armies. This spirit, working through the false prophet, incited another prophetic action by striking the true prophet and challenging his authority. In light of this attack, Micaiah prophesied Zedekiah’s imminent death and the defeat of the king’s armies. This account is a vivid example of spiritual warfare associated with prophetic actions.
In the second narrative, Jeremiah engaged in spiritual warfare when he carried out a prophetic action that had him clash with evil powers. God had ordered Jeremiah to make and wear a wooden yoke, and to bind it on his neck. He was then ordered to speak to the nations threatened by Babylon and to the king of Judah, telling them that unless they voluntarily put their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, they would be severely punished and, in some cases, utterly destroyed. His action was to counteract the demonically empowered words from false prophets that assured safety from the king of Babylon. In the same year, Jeremiah’s ongoing prophetic action of wearing a yoke incited the spirit behind the false prophet Hananiah to carry out a false prophetic action. Hananiah took off the yoke from Jeremiah’s neck, broke it, and then falsely proclaimed under the supposed authority of the LORD that in two years the yoke of the king of Babylon would similarly be broken off the necks of all nations under his control. To this, Jeremiah engaged authoritatively in the spiritual warfare that had now ensued due to his earlier prophetic action – he prophesied that although Hananiah had broken the yoke of wood, he had actually, by his prophetic action, made yokes of iron instead for the necks of all these nations. We can clearly see from these two biblical examples that prophetic actions are often intimately related to spiritual warfare and, indeed, often determine temporal outcomes by addressing spiritual realities.
A prophetic action hopefully enables the recipients to see what they are unwilling to accept through mere words due to their frightened or hardened hearts. If they reject the physical act, then the state of their hearts is exposed.
Isaiah’s prolonged nudity brought home the naked truth of Israel’s dilemma – the hand of man could not deliver Israel from the overwhelming power of the enemy, for their "allies" would go into exile, naked and barefoot, at the hands of Assyria (Is.20:2-6). Jeremiah’s divinely ordained bachelorhood, lack of children, and strong prophetic words caused the people of Judah to listen to God’s coming judgment against them, although their hearts were hardened against the inevitability of the prophet’s words (Jer.16:1-13). Near the end of Jeremiah’s ministry (Jer.51:59-64), the Lord directed him to write down His words on a scroll. The prophet was then directed to have Seraiah travel to Babylon with the document and read to the exiled Jews the devastating calamity and destruction that would soon come upon their dreaded conqueror. Yet, because the exiles were so intimidated by the Babylonians, the prophet had instructed Seraiah that upon reading the scroll to the people, he was to tie a stone to it, throw it into the middle of the Euphrates River, and then exclaim that Babylon would likewise sink down and not rise again because of the divine judgments soon coming upon it. Apparently, if the scroll’s words were not accepted out of discouragement and hopelessness, possibly the significance of the prophetic action would "sink in." Finally, after Ezekiel delivered to the Jewish exiles in Babylon a prophetic word about the destruction of Jerusalem (a city far away and supposedly not useful or beneficial to their immediate wellbeing), he groaned profoundly with deep grief (Ez.21:1-7). This intense, prophetic display of emotion elicited curiosity among the exiles. In response, Ezekiel reaffirmed the sureness and gruesomeness of the soon-coming holocaust upon the holy city (see also Ez.4:1-3; 12:3-12, 24:15-24).
A prophetic action may cause the recipients to question its meaning, which then prompts the giver to explain God’s heart or intentions.
When Ezekiel packed his bags, dug a hole through the wall of his home, crawled through the space with his bags, and then walked away with his belongings slung over his shoulder, the people of Jerusalem asked what he was doing. He replied that he was a sign to them: as he enacted going into exile, so they would do the same (Ez.12:3-12; see also vv.18-20). Later, when the prophet did not grieve or cry over the sudden death of his beloved wife, his countrymen asked what these things that he was doing meant for them. (Ez.24:15-19). He then explained to them that invading hoards would soon profane and destroy their beloved Jerusalem sanctuary and kill their children, but they would groan within themselves, without tears, because of the overwhelming nature of the judgment (24:20-24; see also Ez.37:15-23).
A prophetic action often acts as a dramatic encouragement, indictment, exhortation, or warning.
The battered and beleaguered Jewish exiles saw little hope for their return to the Promised Land, much less the reunification of Israel and Judah. Because prophetic words went only so far to console, encourage, and inspire, the LORD prompted Ezekiel to join together into one two sticks that represented Judah and Israel (Ez.37:15-23). His action raised questions among the exiles, so the prophet explained Gods glorious, future intentions with His people: their ultimate return to their land and their uniting into one people under the rule of the Davidic king. The disciples’ shaking the dust from their feet was, in part, an indictment against those who had rejected their witness (Lk.10:8-12). The prophet Ahijah tore into twelve pieces his new cloak before king Jeroboam of Israel, and then gave the king ten of those pieces. He explained to Jeroboam that God was giving him the rule over ten tribes, and then exhorted him to walk in God’s ways and to do what was right so that God would bless and guide his ways (I Kings 11:29-38). Jeremiah broke a clay jar at the valley of Ben-hinnom before some of the elders of Jerusalem, and then warned them that God would soon break their people and city in like manner (Jer.19:1-13; see also Is.20:2-6; Ez.12:3-12,18-20).
The prophetic action of Hosea marrying a harlot and having children from her paralleled the flagrant harlotry that Israel had committed against God in turning away from Him to worship other gods (Hos.1:2-9). The message behind Hosea’s prophetic actions culminated in the naming of his children (Jezreel – God will scatter [i.e., Israel would go into exile]; Lo-ruhamah – she has not obtained compassion [i.e., Israel’s judgment was certain]; and Lo-ammi – not my people [i.e., God would disown His people for a time]). In Hosea 3:1-5, the LORD directed the prophet to remarry Gomer and, this time, Hosea commanded her not to play the harlot. This prophetic action foretold Israel’s fate since she would have no rulers, temple sacrifices, or temple priests while in exile.
Isaiah was called to a similar prophetic action. The LORD instructed him to approach his wife – a prophetess – who conceived and gave birth to a son whom the LORD had him name, "Maher-shalal-hash-baz" (i.e., swift is the booty, speedy is the prey). Before the child could form the words "My mother" or "My father," the Assyrians would carry away the wealth of Damascus and Samaria (Is.8:1-4).
A prophetic action can change the outcome of a future scenario.
In Jeremiah 43:8-13, God directed Jeremiah to perform a prophetic act in front of a group of his countrymen: Jews who had fled to Egypt in hopes of escaping capture by the king of Babylon. The prophet was to hide several large stones at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes. Upon carrying out this risky act, he prophesied to his people that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, would set his throne directly over the stones he had hidden – a royal act that would convince the greatest skeptic that Babylon had overcome Judah’s supposed protector, Egypt. Incredibly, the free choice embedded within Jeremiah’s prophetic action determined the precise place where the Babylonian king would ceremoniously claim his rule over Egypt!
A second example illustrates even more vividly the spiritual dimension or warfare involved in prophetic acts. The Babylonian army stood at the crossroads. Its king was engaged in demonic divination and necromancy to determine whether he should push north to Ammon or go to Judah. Ezekiel preempted his evil soothsaying by preparing a map and setting up a signpost that pointed to Jerusalem. His prophetic action determined in the spirit dimension the prognostications of the Babylonian king. It was the LORD God, and not some false deity that was conjured up, who was directing the invading army to Jerusalem for the city’s divinely determined destruction (Ez.21:18-22).
A prophetic action can spiritually initiate or determine human battles.
Elisha helped king Joash of Israel shoot an arrow eastward – the arrow of victory – which symbolized the victory Israel would have over the Arameans at Aphek. The prophet then ordered the king to strike the ground with the arrows in his hand, which he did three times. Elisha was upset with the king’s reserved effort, proclaiming that if he had struck the ground six or seven times, then Israel would have completely destroyed its enemy instead of merely striking them three times (II Kings 13:14-19).
There are numerous applications and conclusions that can arise from our biblical study of the characteristics and objectives of prophetic actions. These are offered below in no particular order of significance and with the understanding that not every point will have immediate or eventual relevance for each of us.
- If prophetic actions were carried out prior to Christ’s earthly ministry, at the time of His earthly ministry, during the period of the early Church, and at the end of this age in the heavenlies, does it not stand to reason that prophetic actions are viable, Spirit-led expressions today? We always need to take care not to relegate true charismatic acts to the distant past or far-off future. Yet, even though legitimate, Spirit-led prophetic actions are valuable tools in our spiritual arsenals, some saints are called to exercise this gift more than others, particularly called, proven, and accomplished prophets. On another level, we need, in humility, to gain keen discernment as to when the Spirit of God is leading us to carry out prophetic actions and when we are being compelled to do so by our own inspiration. The issues that God wants to address through prophetic actions are simply too important for us to do anything but strictly follow His leading. This point is all the more true due to our frequent inability to discern the depths of meaning or significance in the prophetic action.
- Because the spiritual inspiration for a prophetic act can come in the "twinkling of an eye" (I Cor.15:52), we need to walk in an attitude of vigilant openness to the Lord. He may have us carry out a prophetic action at a moment’s notice or even spontaneously. Such spur-of-the-moment acts often possess tremendous power, for they prophetically address an immediate issue or development.
- Numerous people can participate in one prophetic act. A corporate, prophetic expression often intensifies or empowers an action, as those who attended the DC GOE experienced.
- We need to be careful that our willingness to carry out a prophetic action is not related to the ease of carrying it out. Surely, little inner debating is necessary when called at a GOE to prophetically cut through the air with our arms. It is another matter, however, when the Spirit of God calls us to get rid of our television set, adopt an orphan, or sincerely forgive our "black sheep" brother – face to face – as a prophetic act for our family, church, home group, or colleagues. On another level, whereas I very strongly doubt that God will lead any of us to show up to church completely naked in order to carry out a prophetic action, He may ask us to do a prophetic act that is embarrassing. For instance, He may prompt us to wear simple, inexpensive clothing, go without makeup for a time, or not attend to our personal hygiene for several days (hopefully not too long) – each accompanied with prophetic words – in order to convey poignantly God’s heart and will to others. God may call true, established prophets to carry out even more extreme prophetic actions that convey His deeper and more far-reaching burdens.
Regardless of what we may or may not end up doing, the full expression of prophetic actions in our lives requires a great deal of humility, a spiritual quality that none of us possess in and of ourselves. Indeed, humility is all the more necessary since it is possible for us to carry out prophetic actions that are not 100% accurate. Well-intentioned, passionate prophetic actions are not synonymous with Spirit-led, inspired prophetic actions. For the latter to occur, much prayer and waiting on the Lord are generally required.
- Sincere respect and conformity to secular and sacred norms is almost always wise, yet the Lord may lead each of us into prophetic acts that infringe upon or breach a particular custom. God may have us fast on a religious holiday and give a word to others as to why we are performing such a conventional discipline in such an unconventional way. God may even prompt us to embrace, in whole or in part, an ethnic group’s customs, clothing, food, and/or priorities, all so that those who need to hear from God about this people group might listen more seriously to us. Our Father may have us prophetically live out counter-cultural practices. For example, God may lead a few of his people – perhaps some of His trustworthy prophets – to embrace a celibate lifestyle dedicated to Him, coupled with appropriate words to the dull of hearing, because the time of Christ’s return is at hand and He wants to get this fact vividly across to those who are refusing to pay attention.
- Costly prophetic actions like those just mentioned strongly suggest that God still speaks powerfully to His disciples. This is encouraging news. God can get through to us quite clearly in respect to performing prophetic actions. Our responsibility is to cultivate a deep passion for Him and His will, to remain open to His voice at all times and in all places, and to love Him more than anyone or anything else. Our ongoing, personal surrender and hearing His penetratingly powerful, divine voice are intimately linked.
- Our prophetic actions may also function as acts of faith that are grounded in the power and integrity of God. Often, these expressions are implicit acts of spiritual warfare. At the DC Gathering, many of the intercessors engaged in numerous prophetic actions that were directed against demonic powers associated with buildings, areas, organizations, and people groups. These were acts of faith that were grounded in spiritual discernment, passion, and persistence.
- Because prophetic actions can occur in visions (see above, Jer.25:15-38) and through the agency of angels (see above, Rev.18:21-24), we need always to focus our attention on the spirit dimension. In doing so, we may gain instruction as to what we need to do, come to understand what the Lord is doing in or though us, and gain insight as to what the Lord and His angelic hosts are doing. Visions and dreams that make known to us prophetic actions that we are to carry out can guide and inspire us to act on a prophetic level more boldly in this life. By discerning angelic prophetic actions, we may even gain a better understanding of the spiritual realities that encompass temporal affairs.
- We need to be ever mindful that people often need to experience what they are having difficulty hearing. Thus, we must remain open to the Spirit of God using us to carry out prophetic actions that encourage and challenge others. When the prophetic action focuses on judgment, warning, or indictment, we need to immerse ourselves in prayer, seek His presence, and act under His authority unless the inspiration for the prophetic action comes instantly. The latter possibility does not remove personal responsibility in any way, however, for it is incumbent upon us to walk in the Spirit so that spontaneous prophetic acts of grave consequence are not tainted by our human inclinations. Yet, as addressed throughout this article, more serious prophetic messages are generally carried out by more mature prophets. Prophetic actions with accompanying words that warn of God’s judgment on a nation are not for young or nominal Christians, nor are they necessarily the domain of intercessors. God has called His tried and proven prophets for such authoritative tasks.
- Finally, our study on prophetic actions graphically illustrates our need to use boldness and passion while doing spiritual warfare. The demonic world does not act passively toward us and the world, and we should not act passively toward them and their evil attacks against us, our families, our churches, and our nation. This does not presuppose that every prayer we make or every word we deliver in spiritual warfare requires accompanying actions. Even so, we need to remain open to God’s Spirit guiding us into prophetic actions as we minister to others and set our hearts on the "destruction of fortresses" (II Cor.10:4) that the enemy has set up against us and our nation. The apostle Paul insightfully described our "struggle" against the devil and his hosts as soldiers going to war (Eph.6:10-17). So we must use, literally use, the "sword of the Spirit" (6:17) against the demons when the Spirit leads. Be receptive to using His armor expressively in order to fight against his wicked trickery. Battles are won and future scenarios are often determined by the prophetic expressions that we carry out under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Since the wind of the Spirit "blows where it wishes" (Jn.3:8), remain open to His unlimited ways of having you prophetically act out not only His burdens and blessings, but also different aspects of spiritual warfare.
I Samuel 15:24-29
I Kings 11:29-38
II Kings 13:14-17; 13:18-19
Isaiah 8:1-4; 20:2-6
Jeremiah 7:29; 13:1-11; 16:1-13; 18:1-6; 19:1-13; 25:15-38; 27:1-28:17; 32:6-15,25,42-44; 35:1-19; 43:8-13; 51:59-64
Ezekiel 4:1-17; 5:1-17; 12:3-12; 12:18-20; 21:1-7; 21:18-22; 24:2-14; 24:15-24; 32:17-21; 37:15-23
Hosea 1:2-9; 3:1-5
Zechariah 6:9-15; 11:4-17
I Corinthians 11:23-26
False prophetic actions
II Chronicles 18:8-27