When a prophecy comes forth it is decreed in the heavens immediately. We will not however, see it fulfilled “immediately” in the natural.
Joseph received many dreams from the Lord. And as always, they were not fulfilled immediately:
Psalm 105:17-19 “He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.”
The word “tried” means “to fuse, refine, purge away, to smelt”.
The one thing that did happen very quickly to Joseph after his prophetic dream, was that he quickly moved from the soft bed of the dream, to the hardness of iron fetters.
Psalm 12:6 “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”
Psalm 18:30 “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.”
Psalm 66:10 “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.”
Any soldier would think it foolish to take a sword into battle that had not been tried. The “proving” will typically take a certain length of time.
When Joseph’s brothers heard the news about this dream they said:
Genesis 37:8 “And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.”
There certainly was no evidence in his present surroundings that Joseph would be what the prophetic dream indicated. Cf 2 Corinthians 5:16 “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh…”
The same is true also when the prophet Samuel came and anointed the young Shepherd boy David. He was anointed to be king at this time, but it wasn’t until several years later that this was manifested in the natural.
We should know that prophecies are “conditional, even when conditions are not stated.”
Prophecies are conditional. When a prophecy that has been spoken to us does not come to pass, there are usually reasons why it hasn’t:
Mark 14:13-16 “And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.”
In the example listed above from scripture, we see specifically what they were to do. There were details given in this message, and without listing them, it wouldn’t have happened as it did, nor would the disciples have known what to do.
But we aren’t always given details like this message listed above. In this case, prophecies that are very general in scope are much more difficult to know when they have been fulfilled.
We have the example of the conversion of Saul in the book of Acts. He was given very specific instructions about what and where to go. Another person in Damascus was also being given specific instructions about this man who was to come to him.
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened” Acts 9:4b-19a.
In this instance, two people were given very specific words of instruction from the Lord. Here we see an example where a word of prophecy was also coupled with words of knowledge. If you are given a prophecy that you are called to be a pastor, then there are things that you can do to help in cooperating with the word. But we don’t to “make things” happen; the overall plan is in God’s hands and not in ours.
But if the prophecy was meant to be and is spoken in truth from God’s Spirit, then others will also know and see the reality of the life of the person.
“A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men” (Proverbs 18:16).
“We know in part and prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9).
And with the limitations that are sometimes said in a prophecy, perhaps our time spent in prayer and in studying the word, more clarity is given as to the fulfillment of that prophecy.
I believe that our maturity also plays a role in the fulfillment of our prophecy. What I mean by this is that as we grow in our walk with the Lord and our character is also be formed, we live out those words in a way that a younger immature man or woman wouldn’t be able to.
When one is immature, they haven’t developed a secure foundation in the word of God, like one who has lived their life out, developing an through an intimate relationship with the Lord over the years.
Another thing to consider here is that prophecy is partial and it is progressive. God doesn’t reveal everything about our lives. And one certainly doesn’t need a prophetic word for every aspect of your life.
God has given us a mind to make decisions with our human reason to apply those things. We are always given choices. When we say that prophecy is progressive we mean that it occurs over a period of time.
If we think of prophecy as progressive, then we look at our lives as we would the chapters of a book. Each chapter has a certain life of its own and duties to perform in it.
What occurs in Chapter I is not like what happens in the following chapter. During the last four to five years, I no longer have had a regular full-time job to go to. I used to teach high school art for several years and then the time came when this employment came to an end. That was a certain chapter in my life. And yet I knew from what the Lord had been telling me before that time, that the time would come when I wouldn’t be working there any longer.
And I didn’t know at the time when this came to an end, exactly what I would be doing next. I had to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit in this, and not lean unto my own understanding. I had some ideas what I would be doing, but I had to walk out my life and trust that the Holy Spirit would show me the way.
You see, we as people think we know how things should develop and play out in our lives. We sometimes think that we know better than God what should be happening and unfolding in our lives. Nothing could be further from the truth though.
We need to look at this portion of Hebrews again:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Hebrews 55:8-9.
As we see the progressive nature of prophecy there is hope and a promise to be seen in it. For there are chapters in the unfolding of the prophecy for you. Each day brings you that much closer to a new fulfillment of it.
It’s very much like running around a track for a race. With each lap that one finishes, the circuit that they are running is keeping them in tandem with the overall plan that God has for them. But one must pace themselves as they continue running. We know this is true especially for a marathon runner. If a race is 30 to 40 miles long, then one certainly wouldn’t be sprinting towards the finish line.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:1-2.
We have many that have gone before us who have run this race before us. Many of them were given messages from the Lord about the path and gifts that they were to be given in this lives. And yet we know that those who lived and died before the new covenant, were looking towards that city whose walls have no name. They didn’t have the benefit of having the Holy Spirit “within them.” They perhaps didn’t have the benefit of hearing, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”
And yet these men and women that came before us, lived out a life of faith that many of us can’t even imagine. They persevered and struggled, and yet believed in spite of the circumstances that they faced.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE” Hebrews 11:8-12.
We hear about many others in this chapter, called the great hall of faith:
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones” Hebrews 11:17-22.
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned” Hebrews 11:23-29.
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive]what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect” Hebrews 11:30-40.
~ Stephen Hanson
Stephen Hanson of In His Truth Ministries came to the Lord is a special way in 1975 and has been prophesying regularly since. In these end-time birthing pangs we are to be reminded that judgment must first begin with the household of God. Will we be prepared and ready?