Category Archives: prophets

Prophecy and You (Part 3)

stairs to heavenIn our last two posts, we discovered that God wants us to cherish prophecy. It is a precious gift of the Holy Spirit. He also encourages every believer to desire to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1, 39). (Yes, you can!) Remember, prophecy is simply speaking forth to others what God has said to us or shown us.

We can increase our ability to hear and see into the things of God. He has already said He wants to share His secrets with us. Consider Psalm 25:14: “The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him…” and Proverbs 3:32: “…His secret is with the righteous.” Daniel 2:28, 29, and 47 call the Lord the Revealer of secrets. However, we should not be indifferent or passive about receiving supernatural revelation. God wants us to pursue Him for it.

One of the best ways to seek for greater revelation is to pray back to God Bible passages on this topic. Don’t settle for praying them once. Petition Him with them often. Here are a few to get you started:

Ephesians 1:17-18“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, so that you may know the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”

Personalize this passage by praying something like, “Father of Glory, I ask You to give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing the Lord Jesus. Open my eyes to heavenly visions and enlighten my understanding, that I might know the hope of Christ’s calling upon my life and the riches of Your glory. Give me a clearer understanding of my inheritance in Him.”

Exodus 33:18“And he said, I beseech You, show me Your glory.”

When Moses prayed that prayer, God graciously responded. Moses did indeed experience a portion of the Lord’s glory, Who passed by Him proclaiming His nature, “…The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and Who will by no means clear the guilty…” (Exodus 34:6, 7). We, too, can earnestly ask, “Lord, show me Your glory.”

1 Samuel 3:10 and 19“Then Samuel answered, ‘Speak; for Your servant is listening.’”
“And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.”

Make yourself available to hear God. Pray, “Speak Lord. I am listening for You.” Pray that the Lord would give you the ability to hear Him clearly, so that none of your prophetic words would fail to be accurate.

1 Kings 17:1“And Elijah … said to Ahab, ‘As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall neither be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.’”

I like to focus on Elijah’s position before the Lord — “The LORD God … before whom I stand.” We can pray to stand in His presence, in the councils of heaven, hearing His will, so that we can speak it forth into earth’s realm. For more on this, see my article.

Jeremiah 1:9, 10“Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.’”

Ask the Lord to put His words in your mouth. Ask Him to use you in prophetic intercession and decree to pull down things which are not of Him and to plant and build up His will in your family, city, state, and nation. As you seek Him persistently to understand His heart, He will show you what to pray and decree. Your authority to move mountains will increase. But start by frequently praying these verses.

James 1:5“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all men liberally and does not upbraid them [for asking]; and it shall be given to him.”

Hebrews 5:14“But strong meat belongs to those who are mature  — those who by using their senses exercise them to discern both good and evil.”

Ask God to help you hone your ability to discern. Ask Him to awaken and heighten the sensitivity of all your spiritual senses, so that you are paying attention to the cues He is giving you.  

These are just a few verses to help you get started in receiving prophetically from the Lord. Do you have favorite Scriptures which you use to pray for greater revelation? I’d love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments.

personal prophecy

 

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(audio teaching)

 

 

Prophecy and You (Part 2)

prophecyLast time, I shared with you the apostle Paul’s admonition not to despise prophecy, but to discern it (1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21). Paul also said to desire to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1, 39). Today, we’ll look at some ways we can fulfill our call to prophesy.

1 Corinthians 14:3 mentions three reasons prophecy is important: it builds people up, it encourages or exhorts them (spurs them on), and it brings comfort.

It convicts its hearers of their need to change. 1 Corinthians 14:24 says, “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all” (ESV). This is especially true if the prophecy points to Jesus and His holiness. While  this verse addresses prophecy’s effect on those who don’t yet know the Lord, God uses it to convict believers as well. Consider chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, where Jesus spoke prophetically through John to correct sin areas in local churches.

Some prophecy foretells future events, so that God’s people know how to respond and be ready. Jesus prophesied many futuristic things about His death, resurrection, and the last days before His return to earth. Agabus foretold a coming famine, so the Church could take necessary steps to prepare (Acts 11:28). Amos 3:7 tells us, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, without  [first] revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.”

God also uses the prophetic word to tear down anything opposed to His plans and to plant and build His purposes in individuals’ lives and nations. “See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).

While some of these aspects of the prophetic happen largely through those who hold the ministry function of a prophet, we can all be used at times in each of them, if we allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us. Remember, prophecy is simply uttering aloud what God has spoken to us or shown us. And keep in mind that prophesying is not confined to congregational settings. It can be part of our daily life, as we go about our Father’s business.

Encouragement

This is one of the easiest ways we can prophesy. It can either be on a personal, one-on-one basis or directed toward a group of believers. It’s not prophecy if you are only attempting to help people feel good by sharing your own ideas, but when the Spirit of the Lord is impressing a thought upon you, it will carry weight and bear fruit in others’ lives.

A word from the Lord doesn’t have to feel like fireworks going off inside. It is more likely to manifest as a gentle, persistent sense of what God has for someone. Even if you aren’t entirely sure, take the step of faith to share what you are receiving. You might be surprised at how it blesses someone, once you have the courage to speak it.

Sometimes we don’t realize in a moment of encouraging others that the phraseology we are using is a prophetic word for them — until they tell us they heard the same thing from God or from another person.

Prophetic encouragement isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Some words are meant to stir people up or spur them on into God’s purposes for them. God isn’t into just making His people feel good; He wants us to go deeper with Him, too. Don’t be afraid to share these exhortational words. Just do it in the spirit of love, not criticalness.

Prayer

Maybe you’re praying with someone, and words pop out of your mouth you weren’t anticipating saying. You are in the flow of the Holy Spirit, speaking forth His understanding of the situation in the moment. This is actually a form of prophecy, and it can be powerful.

Or, perhaps God puts a burden on your heart for a region, and you begin to pray things by the Spirit that you couldn’t know on your own. Years ago, I found myself suddenly praying our Pledge of Allegiance, but it was for North and South Korea to be united as “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Later, I found out many Korean Christians were also praying for the reuniting of the two nations. Since then, I’ve heard several prophets say that this is what God will do. But my first revelation of God’s heart on the matter came through prayer proceeding from my own mouth — and it surprised me at the time. Praying the thoughts of God, as He gives them to you, is a key way to prophesy.

Counsel

Maybe as someone shares his or her problems with you, you know exactly what to say to bring help  — but you realize the thought did not proceed from your own intellect. That is the word of wisdom, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8, and it is closely allied with prophecy.

Testifying to God’s goodness

When we proclaim God’s goodness, testifying of what He has done for us, sometimes prophecy gets intermingled with that. How? For one thing, God will use your testimony to personally speak to others, to encourage, build up, exhort, convict, or comfort them.

You may also find that as you testify, your words begin to  shift from just telling your story into applying the truths you have learned to the lives of those in similar circumstances. You feel the Lord’s urging to say, “God has miracles for you, too. Trust Him, and watch Him work out your circumstances beyond what you could have imagined.” It’s a subtle form of prophecy. The more you proclaim the goodness of the Lord, the more you open yourself up to prophesying, because “…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).

Prophetic writing

The Internet is a wide-open window for anyone who wishes to be used by God in this way. When I write books and articles, I seek the Lord for what He wants me to say. I rarely do it any other way. Do you have a blog? Use it to share what God is speaking to you. You don’t have to be a blogger, though. How about using social media to encourage others with what He is saying to you? How much better is that than the opinionated wrangling so many get caught up in!

Does God bring a particular Bible verse to mind for someone? Communicate that. It may be just what the person needs to hear. You are giving them the word of the Lord for their situation.

Wherever you go, be open to the Lord’s promptings to share insights, personal words, ideas, encouragements, and Bible verses God has spoken to you. As you are faithful to do that, God will increase what you have for others. You will end up prophesying blessing to those around you.

personal prophecy

 

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(audio teaching)

 

 

Prophecy and You (Part 1)

prophetic visionRecently, I was talking with a young friend about the gift of prophecy. Although she is Spirit-filled, she was cynical about it, due to having been burned by a number of personal words which were not genuine. Still another thing bothering her was how many times well-known prophets have given word after word which did not come to pass, were hype-filled, or seemed trivial or ambiguous.

Folks, we do have some deep problems in the prophetic wing of the Church — including inaccuracy with no followup repentance, as well as gross sin taking place behind the scenes, some of which is finally being exposed. These things should shock us and cause us to be cautious.

However, it’s important not to reject the gift of prophecy just because some people are making a mess of it. We cannot let a few bad apples — or even a barrel full of them — steal from us this precious gift from the Holy Spirit. Indeed, God knew ahead of time that controversies would arise around prophecy. That’s why He gave us this advice in His Word:

“Do not despise prophesying. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21).

Those few words give us the needed balance: don’t reject, but do discern. Discernment means we measure what is said against the Bible, our plumb line. It means we pay attention to whether the prophetic word “witnesses” to our spirit, too. I believe we must also discern the people who are prophesying. Are there repeated rumors that they are not living holy lives? Why would we want to sit under their ministry, then? Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said,

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits you shall know them.Matthew 7:15-20.

Desire to Prophesy

Not only are we to cherish prophecy when we hear it from others, but we are to desire to prophesy ourselves. The apostle Paul opened and closed 1 Corinthians 14 with this message: “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy” (v. 1), and “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy…” (v. 39).

Each of us can and should prophesy at times — because, according to 1 Corinthians 14:3, “He who prophesies speaks to men for their edification (building up), exhortation (encouragement), and comfort.” It is an avenue through which we bless others.

You might be thinking, “But I’m not a prophet. I can’t prophesy.” Let’s demystify what prophecy is, because it’s not as difficult as we sometimes make it. Each of us can hear God speak to us personally, whether through impressions, words, or visual images (visions) God  plants in our spirit. Prophecy is simply speaking forth to others what God has said to us or shown us. You can do that, because as a child of God, you hear His voice. (If you have doubts about whether you can hear Him, see what Jesus had to say about this in John 8:47 and John 10:3-5, 8, 27.) Although not everyone is a prophet, we can all prophesy, and we should — because we will serve others when we do.

There’s a variety of ways we can prophesy, too. It’s not limited to uttering a message from God in a church service. That might be intimidating for you, but it’s not the only avenue open to you.

In my next post, we’ll look at simple ways you can prophesy. You might be surprised to find you are already doing it, and you didn’t even know it.

personal prophecy

 

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(audio teaching)

 

 

A Decade of Expectation and Preparation

2020 ProphecyAs one year winds down and another is on the doorstep, prophetic people often seek God for a fresh word for the coming year. Many diverse prophecies had already been given, so I really hadn’t sought the Lord to hear one myself this year. I was surprised when He did speak to me a couple of weeks ago about the coming decade. Here’s what I heard:

In 2020, we are entering a decade of expectation — expectation of the coming of the King. It will also be a decade of preparation — preparation for His coming.

I remembered Hosea 6:1-3:

Come, and let us return to the LORD: for He has torn, and He will heal us; He has smitten, and He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth.

He is calling us to prepare for His coming by returning wholeheartedly to Him. In Revelation 2:4, 5, Jesus chastised the Ephesian church for leaving her first love. He exhorted her to remember, repent, and do the first works. Revelation 19:7 says, “…The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.”

In Hosea 6:2,  we see that first He will revive us, and then He will resurrect us.  Jesus arose on the third day. We will experience a “third day” resurrection into our glorified bodies as well. (We are now in the third millennium since Jesus returned to heaven. Since “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8), there is a possible correlation between the third millennium since Christ’s resurrection and our “third day” resurrection.)

Finally the Lord said, “Throw the nets out one more time.” The accompanying thought was that this time we will receive a great catch of fish. I believe this is about a last great harvest of souls before Jesus returns. (See Luke 5:4-6.)

I want to clarify that I am not saying Jesus will delay His coming for His bride for another ten years. Nor does He have to return for us by the end of the decade. Jesus made it clear in Luke 12:35-40 that we should always be watching and waiting for Him. He will appear when we aren’t expecting Him to. It could be tomorrow, if the Father so chooses. I believe He will come very soon, and I yearn for Him to do so. But until He does, we are to be in expectation of Him and preparing for Him as a bride readies herself for her wedding day.

In this next decade, let’s eagerly

  • Expect the coming of the Lord Jesus,
  • Prepare our hearts for His coming, and
  • Throw our nets out one more time, to receive that final harvest for His glory.

 

prophecy, books, audiobooksWould you mind taking a look at
my resources page?

I have books, audiobooks, and audio workshops for you on prayer, prophetic teaching, and more.

 

 

God’s Wisdom and You (Part 1)

spiritual wisdom Daniel answered and said, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever: for wisdom and might are His. He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings, and sets up kings.

He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who know understanding; He reveals the deep and secret things. He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.

I thank You, and praise You, O God of my fathers, Who has given me wisdom and might, and has made known to me now what we desired of You….”

— Daniel 2:20-23

Daniel was giving thanks to the Lord for revealing to him Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its interpretation. Less familiar portions of the Bible can have gold nuggets hidden in them, and so it is here. There’s a lot of treasure for prophetic people in this short passage, so let’s take a look at what God has for us.

God desires to share His wisdom with us.

Daniel starts out by extolling God for His wisdom and might. He mentions that these two qualities belong to the Lord: they are His. He ends with thanking and praising the Lord, “Who has given me wisdom and might.”

Isn’t it amazing that the Lord of the whole universe delights to bestow on us what He possesses? Paul says in Romans 8:32, “He Who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” He also stated, in 1 Corinthians 3:21, 22, “…All things are yours, whether … the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours.” We so easily take the gifts of God for granted, but if we would think about them more deeply, our hearts would be inspired to overwhelming awe.

All true wisdom originates with the Lord. We cannot get it anywhere else. We should not even attempt to glean wisdom from so-called wise men who do not worship the true God, nor should we attempt to use their techniques for achieving peace or revelation. In Christ alone “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). Furthermore, “Beware, so that no one spoils you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ: for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:8, 9).

Now, the Holy Spirit might enlighten us to a portion of His wisdom through another person. He does that through sermons, godly counsel, and the word gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. We should also expect to receive wisdom directly from the Lord. But there is no other source of wisdom besides Him, and we get ourselves into a mess of deception if we go looking for it outside of Him. We can have confidence that, if we ask Him, He will be eager to give it, because He has already promised, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all men liberally and does not upbraid [reproach], and it shall be given to him” (James 1:5).

God changes the times and seasons.

Whether it is what is going on in our personal lives, or in our nation and the world, we need to stay keenly aware that God has specific times and seasons for things. When His season is up, He moves on. We must stay attuned to Him, so that we don’t miss His shifts from one thing into another. When He is breathing life into something, it continues, increases, and thrives. But when He is done with it, it’s dead. You can enthusiastically kick that horse all you want, but without the Lord’s life in it, it’s not going anywhere.

Most of us like staying put in what is familiar. Change is disconcerting. Jesus commented on this tendency, when He likened the old and new covenants to wineskins. He said, “No man also having drunk old wine immediately desires new: for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5:39).

When upheaval is happening in our personal lives or in the nation or world, it is often because God is preparing a new thing. If we understand this, we will not let what we observe in the natural make us afraid. Keep your eyes on Jesus, Who does all things well (Mark 7:37), and be ready to move with Him — even quickly. There is blessing for the person who is open to the new works of God.

Lately I have been praying, “Lord, help me to recognize when You are shifting the seasons, give me Your understanding of how to respond, and help me to keep up with You!”

There are a few more lessons we can learn from Daniel 2:20-23. We’ll continue with them next time.

God’s Wisdom and You (Part 2) 

intercessor manual, intercessor handbook

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
audio set by Lee Ann Rubsam

Prophetic Intercession — Releasing Your Revelation

Hearing God speakIn our last post, we saw that God desires to share with us things yet to come. If you are an intercessor, the amount of time you spend with the Lord will most likely cause you to hear more about the future than believers who are not investing as much time in prayer. You are also more likely to hear about events which go beyond your personal life.

It has been said that, on average, intercessors hear two to three years ahead of schedule. Our advance notice can cause problems for us in the local church if we are not aware of this. Today, I’d like to help minimize those problems.

When we hear something from the Lord or experience a vision, it often feels like a “now” revelation because of its vivid intensity. The truth is, though, often it is not for the present. It is speaking of the future.

Typically, we excitedly contact our pastors with what we’ve heard or seen, especially if it’s to do with our local church. Meanwhile, pastors are often focused on the here and now: the day-to-day caring for their congregations, getting the next sermon together, short-term goals, and dealing with immediate problems. So, when we spring upon them an idea which doesn’t fit their current frame of reference, their response is, “That’s not God.” They may not tell us that, but it might be what they are thinking. The disparity between the “now” realm of our pastors and the “not yet” world of intercessors can create a tension-filled disconnect between the two groups. This is sad, because we have a lot to offer each other, if we could only learn to work together.

What can we intercessors do to help the situation? Here are some tips to make the road smoother:

Timing:

Wait on your word or vision for a few days before sharing it. Sometimes we release revelation too quickly, only to have God clarify and expand upon it, if we wait. Pray about whether this is the right time to share it. Proverbs 15:23 speaks to this: “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”  A word released at the right moment is so much more effective than a word shared either prematurely or tardily.

Right before or after a church service is not usually a good time. Beforehand, your pastor is focused on guiding the service and preaching. Afterwards, he’s tired and just wants to be done.

Your presentation skills matter:

How you preface your word or vision has a lot to do with whether you will be heard. “The Lord told me you need to do this,” and “God said the church’s direction needs to change” rarely go over well, even if you really did hear from God. Such approaches are not only annoying, but they sound arrogant.

A softer approach is more likely to be received: “Pastor, I think I heard something from the Lord. This might not be for right now, but I wanted to mention it, in case it will be useful to you down the road somewhere.”

When possible, share your revelation in writing. Pastors are almost guaranteed to forget what you said if you only tell them orally. They have too many other things on their minds. Keep a copy of what you share, and date it.

Ask for feedback from your pastor, but then let it rest. Give your word or vision time to play out. When it finally does, it probably won’t look exactly like you envisioned it, but that’s OK.

If you see your word being fulfilled at a later date, rather than having a smug “I saw that coming!” attitude, look for an opportunity to encourage and bring confirmation. Sometimes my pastor or someone else in the church had the same prophetic revelation as mine a year or more afterward. I approached that by saying, “Pastor, I was excited to hear what was spoken this morning. You may not remember, but last September, I shared with you that same thing! It was an encouragement to me that we’re both hearing this.”

This is one reason why it is important to write down what you hear and see, with the date, so you can retell it accurately. If you approach this with a heart attitude of wanting to serve, you will not sound like you are bragging, and your reiterated word will truly encourage your pastor that he is on the right track.

Make sure you know what sphere God is speaking about before you share:

Much of what you hear will be for you personally, especially if it is of a corrective nature. Don’t mistakenly project it onto others. While growing in hearing the Lord, we sometimes err by thinking we have a word for the church, because we haven’t yet learned to distinguish between personal words and words for others. Ask God to make clear to you which it is before sharing.

While learning this, several times I shared revelation which I thought was for our congregation, but it wasn’t taken seriously. In my discouragement over not having my words received, I became confused about whether I could even hear God accurately. I nearly gave up. But at the critical moment, the Lord brought some prophetic words my way from two well-known ministers. They matched almost exactly several things I had heard. I then realized that what I had thought I was getting for the local church had been about the American church as a whole. No wonder they hadn’t made sense to my pastors!

If you make mistakes, don’t give up. Keep on listening to the Lord. Ask Him to help you mature in releasing your revelation. If you maintain a heart attitude of humility and desiring to serve, over time, God will honor your efforts, give you favor, and make a way for your words to be heard.

intercessor manual, intercessor handbook

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

questions about intercession

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

In Defense of the Elijahs

Oh, here we go again. Another sermon on Elijah’s failure and how God never used him after that.

I don’t know how many times the story has been spun from our pulpits: “Elijah scored his biggest victory ever at Mount Carmel, and then he blew it. He gave in to discouragement, ran for his life, and that was the end of his ministry. God was so displeased that He immediately chose someone to replace Elijah. And Elijah never did anything important for God again.”

The moral of this concocted version of 1 Kings 19 is, if you allow fear, doubt, or discouragement to get in, you’re done — so don’t ever do that. (Like we haven’t all already done the same thing a time or two!)

In actuality, Elijah continued to have a powerful prophetic ministry after his brief lapse into discouragement. He prophesied to Ahab about the consequences of seizing Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21:17-29). He prophesied to Ahab’s successor, demonstrating his prophetic authority by calling down fire from heaven on the king’s soldiers. And he was still around during the reign of the king who came after (2 Kings 1). Furthermore, he established training camps for young prophets in Bethel and Jericho (2 Kings 2:2-5).

Perhaps most importantly, he spent years pouring himself into Elisha, raising him up to be a mighty prophet like unto himself. Jewish historian Josephus indicates in Book VIII of his work, Antiquities of the Jews, that Elijah continued 13-15 years after he anointed Elisha to take his place (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-8.html). Other Bible scholars estimate anywhere from 10-20 more years passed before Elijah was carried up into heaven.

I’m glad that the story as it has been told from too many pulpits is untrue. You see, through the years, I have identified with Elijah a lot. I have repeatedly prayed that God would help me to hear Him with pinpoint accuracy like Elijah did. I’ve desired to be persistent and effective in prayer, as he was.

But I’ve also felt a kinship with Elijah in his temperament, leaning toward the melancholy side, sometimes taking myself a little too seriously, and having a tendency toward despondency if I don’t rigorously guard against it.

I take comfort in the apostle James’ tribute to Elijah (James 5:16-18). He held him up as our example for effective prayer. Apparently, James did not regard Elijah as a washout, and God didn’t either. Besides giving him a nod in James’ epistle, He chose to have Elijah appear with Moses on the mount of transfiguration to encourage Jesus concerning His impending death for mankind (Luke 9:28-31).

Elijah’s story does not end there. In truth, his greatest ministry is yet to come. We are told in Malachi 4:5, 6, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD, and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers ….”

This prophecy was foreshadowed, but not completely fulfilled, in John the Baptist. Some Bible teachers spiritualize the Malachi passage by saying Elijah will not literally come again. They think it will be carried out by a last days’ generation who will collectively carry “the spirit of Elijah.” That may certainly take place, but seeing how Bible prophecy consistently is fulfilled quite literally, I believe we will see Elijah himself accomplish this on the earth, perhaps as one of the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11.

What can we take away from Elijah’s story? 

Perhaps you’ve failed. Maybe you got your eyes off Jesus, became afraid, and “ran for your life” when you were supposed to stand in your victory. It’s a lie that God is now finished with you just because you didn’t do it right.

In spite of those sermons, God did not throw Elijah on the garbage heap. (Neither was He done with Peter when he failed to keep walking on the water or when he denied Jesus.) God knows our failings and has compassion on us. “Like a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him, for He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13, 14).

If you have grown discouraged and have run from your calling or your circumstances, don’t buy the lie that God has permanently put you on the shelf. Put your hand back in the Lord’s and keep going. Your most fruitful days can still lie ahead of you.

Christian foundations and the nature of God

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam