Again the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, what is this proverb you people have about the land of Israel, which goes: The days keep passing by, and every vision fails?
"Therefore say to them: This is what the LORD God says: I will put a stop to this proverb, and they will not use it again in Israel. But say to them:
"The days draw near,
as well as the fulfillment of every vision. …
"But I, the LORD, will speak whatever message I will speak, and it will be done. …” – Ezekiel 12:22-25
It used to be a big thing among certain flavors of Spirit-filled Christians to prophesy over people. I’ve had it happen to me. I was sitting in the back of a church in Keller, Texas one Sunday night when the preacher came all the way from the front to me, slapped me in the chest with his big, red Bible and began to prophesy over me. I don’t remember what was said. I was in another church in – well, let’s just say somewhere close to Dallas – where the speaker for the evening was a cute little blonde woman. It was a decent crowd of probably four or five hundred people. My wife and I were off to the side, several rows back from the stage. After the service, the blonde rushed off the platform and up to my wife to ask her for permission to give me a hug, which my slightly bemused wife graciously granted. She apparently did not make the all too common error of mistaking me for George Clooney. Instead, she thought I was sad and discouraged, which I was, and she wanted to encourage me – spiritually, of course. Another time, I was in church in Oklahoma where prophesying was going on. I learned afterward that the lady playing the keyboard (not a blonde) had a word for me, but I looked so mean, she, lacking the courage of the woman in Dallas, was afraid to approach me. Once up in Columbia, Missouri, a minister called for me to come up so he could prophesy over me. When I shook my head, he just nodded and said, “That’s wisdom” – whether he meant on my part or his, I’m not sure. I don’t think he was blonde, either.
There were some other occasions, but I never paid too much attention. Even a charismatic dancing on the back of the pew will admit that a “word” is never something wholly new but rather a confirmation of what we have already heard or sensed at some level. I’m not denying or questioning the validity or value of words of knowledge, words of wisdom, or personal prophecy. I’m just a little uncomfortable being singled out and prefer to pick up my insights wholesale from the pulpit or the Bible, as has happened many times, including an instance or two where I thought the entire church service was orchestrated solely for my benefit.
It may be that the closest I have ever gotten to an honest-to-goodness personal prophetic utterance came from my sixth-grade teacher who said, “You should be an engineer.” Wherever you are Mrs. Mickelson, I owe these eighty-hour weeks and 3:00AM hotline calls all to you. Of course, she was probably thinking of a reasonably sane kind of engineering, like civil or mechanical. No one had heard of software, let alone software engineers, back in those days. The only thing I knew about engineering was that you got to wear cool boots. Nevertheless, despite my best efforts to go in a completely different direction, this is where I wound up. It could be worse; she could have said, “You should be a mime,” which is what the music teacher said, but it came too late to alter destiny.
Most of the time, God speaks to most of us through our circumstances. I’m not sure if that’s His preferred method or simply the most expedient means of getting our attention. Nothing says you’re walking on thin ice like falling into the creek. And, like ice water in your jock, a prophetic word is not only a wake-up call but an often disturbing revelation. It only seems that it is about the future and predictive because everything needs time to happen. By revealing Jesus, prophecy shows us who we are. As He is revealed in us and through us – that’s really the only way He can be revealed to us, we begin to understand who and what we are, why we’re here and where we are going.
I like the way God put it to the people of Ezekiel’s day – whatever I say, that’s what’s going to happen. We can believe and live it out, or we can reject it and find life getting out of our control. What we can’t do is claim the word of the Lord has failed or will fail. The enemy was at the gates of Jerusalem. The prophets had foretold the destruction of the city and the temple and the death or captivity of the inhabitants. Ezekiel’s listeners did not want to believe that the day of reckoning was upon them. They were like the man who fell off the skyscraper saying as he passed each floor, “So far, so good.” It hasn’t happened yet; therefore, it is never going to happen, though reality looms, ever larger. That’s the negative side.
Through the Cross, there is a positive side. The Lord says that He has chosen us to be holy and blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:4). There are plenty of people around to tell us He didn’t really mean us or that it will never happen, and they might even have some evidence to back it up. Whose report will you believe? You and I are holy and blameless -- not in the far-off future, in heaven or the sweet bye-and-bye. Now. It is the fulfillment of every vision, with nothing missing, nothing lacking. Every prophecy about Christ and about His Body – about all of us holy and blameless believers is accomplished. What God says it is, it is.