One of the incredible things about God’s people under the New Covenant (and there are many) is that we are a prophetic community. Each member, from the youngest to the oldest, is indwelt by God’s Spirit and is fully capable of being a conduit of His living word. Nowhere is this more clearly stated than in 1 Corinthians 14:31, “For you can all prophesy…”
Under the Old Covenant, we mostly see individuals who served as conduits of God’s word to the community. There was Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha and so on just to name a few. There are, however, a couple of “blips” along the prophetic timeline where we see prophetic communities, not just prophetic individuals.
One of the first blips is Samuel’s enigmatic company of prophets introduced in 1 Samuel 10:5. I believe the little information given to us about this primitive, prophetic community is relevant to us today. I see them as a picture, dim as it may be, of the church.
Probably the most intriguing thing to me about Samuel’s company of prophets was the effect their prophesying seemed to have on outsiders. There are two episodes (1 Samuel 10 & 19) where an outsider or outsiders encountered the group while they were prophesying and are ambushed (the Hebrew word carries the connotation of being attacked!) by the Holy Spirit. Even in the case of chapter 19 where the outsiders are actually hostile they are caught up in the prophetic atmosphere and begin prophesying themselves.
Reading this story is almost comical. It even reads like a joke leading to the punchline of a demon-oppressed Saul lying naked on the ground overcome and prophesying with the rest. As these individuals came together and prophesied, they created, what I like to call, an “anointed atmosphere” that was bigger than themselves.
So. What does this have to do with us? Are these stories simply one-off occurrences that have no relevance to us today? Or, do they teach us a way that God moves even to this day? If the latter is the case, then might we see examples of it in the New Testament?
How appropriate that we would see something similar on the day God established His New Covenant prophetic community (i.e. the Church). In Acts 2 we see 120 Spirit-filled individuals assembled together prophesying (tongues + interpretation = prophecy) and proclaiming “the mighty works of God.”
As we continue to read the account we see a multitude of outsiders drawn to the commotion. Of the multitude, some respond with mockery and some, around three thousand, respond with wonder. Out of this anointed atmosphere, Peter rises and delivers a prophetic message to the multitude. The three thousand are “ambushed” by the Holy Spirit as they receive a revelation of their sin and their need to be reconciled to God and are swept up into the prophetic community. Sound familiar?
Samuel’s company of prophets was allowed access to a New Covenant reality. They were allowed a small taste of a feast God had in store for us, the Church!
Whether in “church” buildings, homes, restaurants etc… may we create anointed atmospheres where even the most hostile unbeliever can experience God’s Presence and be reconciled to Him.