Have you ever received personal prophecy that just didn’t make any sense at all to your natural mind? Maybe it didn’t even bear witness to your spirit. Perhaps the prophetic promise was so exceedingly, abundantly above all you could ask or think that you dismissed it without even praying it through.
I believe in judging prophecy before receiving it as Holy Spirit-inspired truth, but as I explain in my book Did the Spirit of God Say That? judging prophecy isn’t always an exact science. Sure, if it violates Scripture, you should immediately toss it out the window. But sometimes you should just put your prophetic word in a drawer, so to speak, because it might begin to ring true years—maybe even decades—later.
That was certainly the case with Sarah, who laughed out loud—and then denied it—when she heard the Lord prophesy to Abraham that she would have a son (Gen. 18:10-12). It was also the case when Jacob heard Joseph’s prophetic dreams. Jacob actually rebuked Joseph for sharing a dream in which his brothers bowed down to the young lad.
When Wild Prophecies Are True
But sometimes even the wildest prophecies can be God’s truth. We know that despite Abraham and Sarah’s old age—and despite the fact that she was barren even in her younger years—the couple had their son of promise: Isaac. And we know that despite Jacob’s rebuke of his favorite son, his brothers bowed down to the young lad—eventually.
Here’s the scene: Joseph was 17 years old. Apparently he was a bit of a tattletale because the Bible says he brought a bad report of his brothers to Jacob (Gen. 37:2). Joseph’s brothers resented him because he was Dad’s favorite and he had his father’s special gift—a coat of many colors—to prove it. But it turns out Joseph was also prophetic. He had two prophetic dreams, both of which indicated that his brothers would bow down to him:
“So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?' And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind” (vv. 10-11).
Dig Out Those Old Prophetic Words
Did you catch that? Even though Jacob rebuked Joseph, the Bible says he kept the matter in mind. In other words, he didn’t dismiss the prophecy as false. Jacob didn’t start warring with the prophetic word or praying it through or praising God for it. But he didn’t toss it in the circular file, either. He didn’t completely dismiss it.
So what does that mean for you? It may be time to dig some of those old prophetic words out of a drawer. And if you aren’t keeping a record of your prophetic words, you should start. When you receive a personal prophecy from a prophet—or when the Lord speaks to your heart or gives you a prophetic dream or vision—you should record it.
Unless you can judge it to be an erroneous prophecy—and many times you can, because if a prophecy breeds fear, seeks to control or manipulate you, or otherwise violates Scripture, you should bind the words spoken over you—then you should save the word because it may bring clarity later.
Do What Jacob Did
Some prophecies are like a heads up from God. It may not make any sense at the time, but later, when certain events begin to unfold in your life, that prophecy can serve as a confirmation that you are smack-dab in the middle of God’s will. When you first hear the prophecy, you may not be in a place to receive it or comprehend it. But it may bring assurance and comfort later in life.
Joseph went through horrible trials before his prophetic dreams came to pass. But when the famine hit Egypt and he was able to save the sons of Israel—which would become the nation of Israel—from perishing, it made perfect sense to Joseph.
Although his brothers eventually came to realize the prophecies were true, condemnation set in and they thought Joseph would repay the evil they did by selling him as a slave to the Ishmaelites and telling Jacob he was dead. But Joseph saw Romans 8:28 manifesting. He told his brothers, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:19-20).
If God can take a tattletale boy who was sold as a slave and imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and raise him up as second to pharaoh in a prosperous land, then God can do anything. Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). So next time you receive a personal prophecy or a word, dream or vision directly from the Lord that’s not clearly false, do what Jacob did: Keep the saying in mind. Amen.
You can download a sample chapter of Jennifer's new book, The Making of a Prophet, by clicking here.