Near the end of the Bible an angel, of all things, says something very peculiar. Overcome by everything he had just experienced, the Apostle John falls at the feet of this angel to worship him. The angel quickly rebukes him and tells him to worship only God. Then he adds that peculiar phrase.
“…The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
What an odd little phrase. I have often wondered why he said that. What it means. Why it was even a part of the angel’s rebuke.
But then I began to think about all the times God has spoken prophetically to me over the years. I remember the many times I shed tears when God spoke, tears of mixed emotions: joy, fear and injustice. I have shed tears of joy at the thought that God knows me, loves me and cares enough for me to speak to me how He has. I have shed tears of fear and injustice at the notion that God would speak to someone as broken and unworthy as me.
But the emotions and tears have always led me back to one place. It is unjust for God to speak to me. It is unjust for Him to love me. I don’t deserve it, but through Jesus’ blood, I have been redeemed to God. When I consider the wonderful things the Lord has done for me, I am overcome and I collapse under the weight of His great love and redemption. In short, every prophetic encounter I have had brings me to the foot of the cross. It forces me to recount that I am unworthy except for the blood that was shed for me.
The testimony of Jesus is the foundation of all prophecy. His love has bought me. I am worthy to receive it by His will alone. All revelation, biblical and contemporary, is rooted in that testimony. Every biblical prophet and every modern prophetic voice hears God’s voice only because of Jesus intervention for our sake.
Several times in Hebrews 11 we are told that the patriarchs looked forward to an eternal home. John was being shown the drama that would reveal that eternal home. All of human history will have its culmination on the day that God reveals His eternal city to man, and He will do it under the auspices of Jesus’ redemption of us.
Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel all prophesied by the power of the testimony of Jesus, the very one who is preparing this eternal home for us. They all looked forward to the eternal redemption that the Messiah’s blood would give them. We look back at Jesus’ act of redemption. All prophecy points us toward it, forward or backward.
I spent over three years studying Revelation intensely. I read it once a week for those three years and I experienced something deeply profound in doing so. I expected to discover more about heaven, eternity and the end times. While I did gain understanding and knowledge of that, the overriding experience I had was that I saw the cross in everything I read.
Every time I read about the eternal city God has prepared for me, I saw the cross. Every time I read about God punishing those who killed His people and rejected Him, I saw the cross. Every time I read about the angels and other beings, I saw the cross.
Every prophetic experience, biblical or otherwise, points me to the cross. They stir me up to remember that I am unworthy but that Jesus is. They cause me to see that Jesus sacrifice for me, and His sacrifice alone, has given me access to Him, His voice and His eternal destiny for me. I have become so convinced of this angel’s statement that now, if a prophetic word doesn’t cause me to fall at the foot of the cross, I evaluate it carefully as to whether it is prophetic at all.
Let me say that again: if a prophetic word does not thrust you to the foot of the cross, to consider who is truly worthy and the price that was paid for you, it probably isn’t prophetic at all. But if you are one day caught off guard by something simple, like the beauty of a field of flowers, and they cause you to remember the price that was paid for you on Jesus’ cross, then you have had a prophetic experience just as profound as God speaking to you through a prophet.
If a prophetic experience does not bring you to the testimony of Jesus, throw it away, because it isn’t worthy holding on to.