In the book of Joel, the Lord speaks about a day in the nation of Israel—which of course affects the entire world—when He promises to restore the things that had been taken away by darkness. He said, “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you” (Joel 2:25). You see, God had removed His restraining hand due to the casualness of His own people toward Him. Things that had previously been held back by His presence were allowed to come in and wreak havoc and destruction in their society. However, the Lord promised to restore those years to them. “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the Lord your God and there is no other” (2:26–27). In other words, “I will not make promises that I will not fulfill. Your confidence in Me will not be in vain.”
The Lord continued: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (2:28–29). Now, “those days” began 2,000 years ago on the Day of Pentecost, marking the beginning of the end times. The apostle Peter stood up that day and said, “This is that which God promised through the prophet Joel he was going to do” (see Acts 2:16). One hundred twenty formerly fearful people burst out of an upper room, empowered by the Spirit of God, speaking the “megaleios” of God—the anticipated outworking of the new inward presence of Christ in their lives. The sons and daughters began to prophesy!
Sadly, a lot of people have taken the concept of prophesying and turned it into something it was never really meant to be. They predict weather patterns and other such things, but this is not the context of the verse. When God speaks about prophesying in Joel 2:28, He means to come into agreement with what He is speaking. When the disciples stepped out of that upper room, they were speaking supernaturally about things that were to come in the future. In the same way, God is going to speak to you about something He wants to do through your life. It is very likely something you are not capable of doing in your own strength. However, the Lord is simply calling you to walk and speak in agreement with Him.
SPEAK WHAT HE SPEAKS
The Bible gives us another picture of what this looks like in the book of Ezekiel. The prophet Ezekiel said, “The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:1–2). The Lord brought Ezekiel out to look at the nation of Israel. The people of that time had literally died around the religion they had formed—a religion that had left them distant from God. The decay was so deep that only dry bones remained around their altars. This is a type of the person who would say, “My family history died years ago. My great-grandfather became an alcoholic, and the hope of his becoming anything in the future died. He passed it on to my father, and my father has said that is what I am going to be. Now we are all just dry bones around whatever religion we had.”
“And He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ So I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, You know’” (Ezekiel 37:3). In other words, Ezekiel answers, “Well, God, You know what You can do and what You desire to do. I do not know if these bones can live or not, but if You will speak it to me, I will agree with you.”
The Lord then said to him, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord”’” (Ezekiel 37:4–6). God was saying to Ezekiel, “Here is what I want you to do. I am giving you My Word, and now I want you to prophesy. Speak what I am speaking to you in a public declaration!”
This is what God looks for in us. He speaks to us about things He wants to do in our lives, at which point we have two choices. We can merely say with Ezekiel, “Well, God, You know,” and retreat into religiousness which stems from unbelief. Or we can begin to speak what God is speaking. “I do not know how it is going to happen, but I know that God has spoken to me about something He is going to do!”
In verse seven, we see that Ezekiel came into agreement with God: “So I prophesied as I was commanded.” Remember, he is standing before a valley of dry, scattered bones. In the natural it is insanity. You cannot even tell which bone belongs to which body. There is no human possibility of putting this back together, but God says, “It is not about you. It is not by your power or by your might. It is by My Spirit! All I am looking for is your agreement with Me and your starting to speak what I speak!”
“So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them” (Ezekiel 37:7–8). This is a type of the person who starts reading the Word and finds hope rising in his heart. I remember in the early years of my walk with God, when I began to read His promises and hear the preaching of the Word, I would wonder, “Could this be true? Is this really possible?” I began to speak the way God was speaking about me—not the way I felt about myself nor what others said I was. And as I began to prophesy, I was filled with a sudden infusion of hope that was not there before!
A MIRACLE IN JAMAICA
Then the Lord said again, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live”’” (Ezekiel 37:9). I remember standing on a killing field in Jamaica years ago. We were sent by God to break the spirit of poverty and violence over this community of 100,000. Rows and rows of people lined this thirty-acre rectangular field, too afraid to even step on the land where there had been around 800 murders in the past thirty years. On the second night of our meeting, I just stepped back from the pulpit and began to cry out to God, realizing the hopelessness of the situation. I knew things would never change by my preaching but only by speaking to the people about what God wanted to do in their lives and then stepping back and calling out to God. I literally prayed the way Ezekiel did, crying out, “O, Spirit of God, come and have mercy on these people. Breathe on these slain!”
As I called out to God, all of a sudden His presence descended on us and I started weeping for the people. Then the weeping began to sweep over the few who were gathered in front of me. Suddenly weeping spread to the field, going through the ranks, all the way to the back of the thirty acres. One of the ladies who was there later told me that even a guy at the back with a gun in his belt began weeping. We saw the Holy Spirit come and touch an entire community! Today, in that place that was once a killing field stands a church and a playground!
A PROMISE FOR OUR GENERATION
“So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army” (Ezekiel 37:10). As Ezekiel chose to believe God, the impossibility around him became possible, and suddenly he saw a nation arising before his eyes. I love the fact that God simply found a man who walked in agreement with Him.
This is the promise that we, too, have for our generation. Remember, the Lord told us that our sons and daughters shall prophesy. We are living in a moment in America where people are dying around their religion; hope is lost and bones are scattered everywhere. Families are being destroyed, minds are being devoured by the locust and the cankerworm.
However, I believe that sons and daughters are going to rise up and prophesy one more time, and it begins with you! Start agreeing with what God speaks to you, and then call out to the breath of God. “Holy Spirit, make this word that You are speaking to me a reality. I see something that you are revealing to me about my life—something You want to do that will bring glory to Your name. So come, Holy Spirit, and do this work. I cannot do it, but You can! I see it for my future, for my family, for my community. I see Your people coming out of captivity and darkness and bondage. I see a spiritual awakening!”
Oh, this is truly a great hour to be part of the Church of Jesus Christ. As we begin to speak what God speaks, we will see Him do something supernatural in our generation!