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Friday, July 15, 2016

Naaman's Unexpected Prophetic Act and How It Relates to You

I used to almost unconsciously think that the people in my world who were into all things prophetic could get a little loony or exaggerated in their behavior. Especially when it came to what they called prophetic acts. In 1999, I took a class while I was a student at Fuller Seminary on engaging in spiritual warfare. Peter Wagner showed us a video depicting a team of intercessors climbing one of the highest mountains in the world to stake out spiritual territory there. They performed a number of prophetic acts that bordered on quite eccentric. I watched with fascination, not sure what to think. I have always been open to the Lord teaching me new things, but I was being stretched.

Over the years, my understanding and appreciation of prophetic acts has increased dramatically. In this post and the next, I would like to share with you some of the insights I have absorbed on the topic. I am hoping to remove for you some of the mystery perhaps shrouding the subject and help you see how straightforward and practical such matters actually are.

My Teacher has intensified my awareness of how intimately interwoven the spiritual and physical realms are. The Western mindset tends to want to separate and compartmentalize them. However, this tendency is actually a departure from reality. The two flow naturally in and out of one another. This is why Jesus explained to us, “What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This truth is so important that the Holy Spirit inserted it twice in the book of Matthew (16:19 and 18:18).

A prophetic act works on this principle. The prophetic act is a way of engaging with the spiritual realm through a physical action, as the Holy Spirit initiates, leads, and empowers. As the child of God receives His instruction and begins to step into obedience in the material realm, he or she is partnering with His Spirit to set into motion a corresponding movement in the heavenly realm. Let’s jump into a biblical example to illustrate.

2 Kings 5 narrates for us the story of Naaman’s healing from leprosy. Naaman arrives in Israel from Syria with all his pomp and glory, expecting a grandiose reception appropriate to his level of honor and status. Instead, Elisha won’t even come out to personally acknowledge him. He sends his servant out instead with a simple message: “Go dip in the Jordan seven times.” Naaman is furious and almost misses his opportunity to be liberated from misery and early death. These orders seem absurd and insulting. Thankfully, his servants are able to gently reason some sense into him. He humbles himself and decides to obey the word of the Lord. He carries through with the physical action of getting his sick body into the waters of the Jordan and submerging himself in the water seven times.

The seventh time, he comes up out of the water completely restored. His skin is now enviably as beautiful as a child’s. (I want to go dip in the Jordan!) His heart is indelibly altered through this experience and he requests permission to take earth from Israel home to Syria to set up permanent worship to the one and only true God.

We could get into the meaning of the number seven and the symbolic implications of being submerged in water, all intriguing angles to this story. But my main point is that, Naaman’s bath that day was a prophetic act, even though he didn’t initially understand its significance. A physical action was required of him to activate the spiritual power of healing on his behalf. As he moved his body (flesh and bones) through the steps of the instructions God laid out, he tapped into the heavenly realm. Power began to flow into him. And since Daddy God is never halfhearted about anything He does, he got better skin out of the deal than any of his peers. (I bet he was excited to go to his next high school reunion after that.) This story makes me eager to follow through when God doles out strange instructions!

Actually, I’m convinced God is fond of handing out perplexing directives. Each time He does, He is giving us the opportunity to go deeper into the realm of leaning not on our own understanding. How about these fine specimens entrusted to some of His better known public servants?

Turn your staff into a venomous snake and then grab it as it slithers around
Make a regular diet out of insects
Marry a sexually promiscuous woman who will not be faithful to you
Cook your food over feces
Lie on your side for months. Don’t move!
Spit in the dirt, make some slimy mud, and slather it on the poor unsuspecting blind man’s eyes
Eat what is unclean from a sheet hanging down out of heaven in front of your face
Lie on top of a dead body
Walk around stark naked for three years

As you might notice, these are taken from both Old Testament and New. Yes, they are extreme examples. Thankfully, I bet He will never request that you to replicate any of the items on that list. But what if He does ask you to do something that makes no sense at all? And what if that something is tailor made by His design to activate the power of heaven on your behalf? What if it’s a prophetic act in disguise?

For Naaman, the prophetic mandate received carried an unction for the supernatural manifestation that God wanted to bring forth in his life. Hidden away, enclosed in disconcerting instructions, was raw power that could only be unlocked by following them. The path to heaven’s Answer was humility. Naaman wisely chose to sacrifice his own notions of how things should be done on the altar of obedience. Complete restoration was his reward.

Have you been sensing any nudges from God recently that don’t seem to reconcile with logic? Maybe, just maybe, He is offering you a key that will unlock and pull down to the earth untold treasures currently stored in heavenly places for you…

Daddy God, I hold out my hand to You. Please take it and lead me onwards in Your paths of righteousness laid out for me. Teach me to partner with You in activating heaven’s movement on earth’s behalf. Train me to tune into Your nudges, and to obey them quickly as they come, even when they often don’t seem to make sense. I want to lean completely and wholly on Your understanding and not my own. I acknowledge that You reserve the right to be sovereign, immensely immeasurable in Your wisdom and glory, and mysterious! I surrender my desire to have everything figured out and neatly ordered, under my control. I lay myself in Your hands. I am Yours.

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