Established to be a Prophet
"And all Israel . . . knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord" (1 Samuel 3:20-21 , KJV).
All around the world today there is the need for the raising up – and recognizing – of the five-fold ministry gifts: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher (Ephesians 4:11-13 ). These gifts are a necessity if we are ever going to see the Christian Church come to maturity and fulfil her divine purpose in God. In many churches today there is little or no understanding of especially the apostle and prophet ministries. These two gifts carry "the key of knowledge" (Luke 11:49-52 ).The true knowledge of God is revelation knowledge, that which is revealed and made known by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul lived by that knowledge and taught according to that knowledge (see Acts 22:14-15 ; Galatians 1:11-12 , 16; Galatians 2:2 ; Ephesians 3:1-21 ).
When we consider the life of the Prophet Samuel, we see that he came into existence because of a mother’s prayer. Hannah had been barren and longed for a son. She promised God that if He gave her a son she would give him back to God for His service (1 Samuel 1 ). God answered Hannah’s cry and Samuel was born.
We, too, have been born-again by a miracle. It took God touching us to enable us to see and enter into His Kingdom (John 1:12-14 ; John 3:3-8 ). God is our Father, and He is for us, and wants us for His service!
True to her promise, Hannah gave Samuel to God and His service. So, from a very young age, Samuel was brought up in the temple of the Lord! Even as a very young child he learned to"worship the Lord" (1 Samuel 1:28).
HE MINISTERED TO GOD:
We see in 1 Samuel 3:1 that as a child Samuel "ministered unto the Lord before Eli." He learned at an early age to worship and minister. Unfortunately his tutor (Eli) was a priest who had lost his way. He was no longer on the "cutting edge" of his ministry, but functioned in what we call "maintenance mode." It is a dangerous place for church leaders to be in. When we function in maintenance mode we are not receiving the revelation of God into our spirit. We minister out of habit. We get bound into an ongoing programme that eventually kills us spiritually. When leaders live like that, it is easy for sin to increase in the personal life, the family life, as well as in the church.
Leaders hold the key!
They either release or restrict the people of God in their ministries!
Because of Eli’s lack of spiritual alertness, awareness and perception, he could not quickly recognize the voice of God. In fact "open vision" had dried up (1 Samuel 3:1 ). That word "vision" is "a means of divine revelation. It refers to a prophetic vision by which divine messages are communicated." Church leaders are called to lead their people prophetically. They are called to wait before God to receive the wisdom and knowledge of God by revelation of the Holy Spirit. When that is happening the people come alive and are able to live "in the Spirit." When the people are only getting "Bible knowledge" and "topical subjects" through naturally learned processes, it actually works "death" – spiritual death – into the people (2 Corinthians 3 ).
A DIRECT LINK?
I believe there was a direct link between Eli’s spiritual condition and the fact the word of the Lord was not freely coming forth, the fact there was no "open vision." We see that it happened also in the days of King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26). For many years he was a successful, God-fearing king and leader. But the day came when pride entered his heart; he refused to listen and stepped outside his realm of anointing. God struck him with leprosy and he remained unhealed to the day of his death. During that latter part of his life, things spiritually went into decline. Instead of being a leader with the blessing of God, he was a leader being a hindrance to the purposes of God. Somehow Uzziah caused the "open vision" to be closed. And nothing happened until he died! God did not intervene until Uzziah departed this earth. Once that happened, God brought a new revelation – a prophetic call – to Isaiah. It is interesting how the Scripture puts it:
"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple" (Isaiah 6:1 ).
A new call, a new vision of God, a new commitment, a new emphasis, a new raising up, a new sending forth, a new day! Both Samuel and Isaiah were prophets! The prophet gift brings the new emphasis, the new challenge, the new direction, the open vision from heaven back to the Church! The prophet restores the life of God back into the church – life that has been drained out of it by leaders who have lost their way.
GOD WANTS DIVINE REVELATION IN THE CHURCH!
God’s heart has always been to communicate His "present truth" revelation to us. Israel would never experience that under the leadership that Eli became. Revelation dried up under his leadership! It did likewise with King Saul.
God is always looking for people who will see past the religious structures and traditions. He is looking to raise up apostles and prophets to bring the Church back into the knowledge of God. If He cannot find a mature man or woman, He will raise up a child as in the case of Samuel.
Samuel lived in the temple. One night while asleep, God spoke to him. Samuel (at that time) did not know the Lord, nor had he learned to recognize His voice. However, he responded to the voice he heard. Not once, not twice, but three times. Each time he got out of bed, he went and woke up Eli the priest, sincerely believing Eli was calling him. Eli’s spiritual condition was such that it took three visits from Samuel waking him up before he recognized God was speaking to him! (How many times does it take us?)
Samuel was instructed how to answer if God spoke again. He did, and Samuel replied as Eli had said: "Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:1-10 ).
Even though Samuel had not recognized it was God calling him, he still responded! He was a man whose servant heart caused him to respond quickly. There is a learning process in knowing the voice of the Lord. Samuel thought it was Eli calling, when in truth it was God. God did not scorn him for that. Samuel learned quickly the difference between the voice of man and the voice of God. And so must we!
I believe this is a key area today for Christians. If we do not know the difference between the voice of man and God, we are never going to fulfil the purposes of God! Once Samuel knew God’s voice, his life was never to be the same again. As long as we doubt God’s voice, we will never rise out of mediocrity. We will always be limited by natural inabilities, opinions of others, personal doubt and fears, and will never exercise true Biblical faith that obeys God. Why? Because obedience is a direct result of our responding to God’s voice.
Once Samuel recognized God’s voice, God began to pour out His heart to him. Samuel was given revelation:
1. Of what was going to happen in Israel (his nation), something so significant that it would cause the ears of the people to tingle! (1 Samuel 3:11 ).
2. That Eli and his house would be judged (because of Eli the leader turning a "blind eye" to the sins of his sons) (1 Samuel 3:12-14 ).
From that night Samuel discovered the power of the prophetic realm. Something was etched into his spirit that made him a listener to God from that point on. The word of the Lord had come to him – and would continue to come! He treated that revelation knowledge with utmost respect and guarded it carefully. (Do we?)
Even though Samuel was still a young man, God had used him to bring into being a new day of"open vision." He heard from God! Amazingly, even at that early stage of his call to be a prophet, all Israel knew it! They knew he was called of God to be a prophet! Not a pastor, not a teacher, not a youth leader, but a prophet! The people recognized the prophet mantle upon him. God had found a man who would listen, recognize, respond to, and obey Him! Therefore God continued to "appear" or "reveal" Himself to Samuel.
Samuel matured to be an exceptionally accurate prophet. The public testimony of him was:"All that he says surely comes to pass" (1 Samuel 9:6 ). That’s quite a statement! If you read all of 1 Samuel Nine and Ten, you will discover how accurate Samuel was when he spoke approximately 40 different "prophetic words/words of knowledge" over Saul’s life – and all came to pass the same day! (1 Samuel 10:9 ).
Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord. He knew it and the people knew it.
The whole New Testament Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner Stone:
"You are built upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, and Christ Jesus Himself is the foundation-stone. In Him the whole building is bonded together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you too are being built with all the rest into a spiritual dwelling for God" (Ephesians 2:20-22 , NEB).
The Church is built upon the apostles and prophets, with Jesus being the Chief Corner Stone. If they were necessary in the beginning, then their ministry, impact and effects are needed now!The foundation should be permeating every part of the Body of Christ in such a way that the revelation knowledge of God is allowed to flow freely through every part of it.
Today, parts of the Christian Church are trying to grapple with the apostolic and prophetic anointings. Sadly, numbers do not understand these giftings and therefore either ignore or reject them. Our Christian leaders need to be honestly searching out the "young Samuel’s" so they can encourage, instruct, recognize, release and listen to what the revelation of God is for us in this 21st century. If we do this we will save the Church from "dying" and see "open vision" restored more fully. That, in turn, releases people to function in their God-given, supernatural giftings and the Kingdom grows as a result. If we don’t, then we will see lethargy and apathy cripple the Church to the point of uselessness. Then God will have to raise up a new generation of Samuel’s and Isaiah’s to bring things back into divine order.
"Where there is no prophetic vision ("the ability to perceive future developments") the people perish . . . " (Proverbs 29:18 ).