Abraham J. Heschel

There is a book entitled The Prophets, by Abraham J. Heschel, that I learned about when in Ministry School.  I have had it for years and used it on occasion as reference. I am now for the first time attempting to read it through. Heschel was a professor at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Although he was not a believer in Yeshua as the Messiah, his work brings profound insight into the understanding of Jewish thought concerning the prophets. I have not read the whole book to this point, but I have read enough to recommend it along with friends and leaders who have, as well.

Upon reading the introduction to the introduction, I stumbled across this statement written by his daughter, Susannah Heschel:

For my father, the importance of prophecy lies not only in the message, but the role of a prophet as a witness, someone who is able to make God audible and to not only reveal God’s will but INNER LIFE. ((Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets, New York: Harper Collins 2001, p xiii.))

This completely stopped me in my tracks. The prophet is someone who is able to reveal God’s inner life. What does that look like, what does that even mean? I think my spirit definitely comprehended more than my mind. This was even before I plunged headlong into the depths of the book. When people look at those considered either by title or experience, to be in some way prophetic, the emphasis is generally on the prophecy itself. This is not wrong, but as Heschel points out:

“The significance of [Israel’s] prophets lies not only in what they said, but also in what they were.” ((i.e. p xxi))

The prophetic word is like a bottle rocket. We see its explosion in the sky, but in order to reach that height, it had an origin where its fire was lit. This is the place where the prophet or prophetic person lights his or her fire. This is the inner life, the life hidden consisting of things yet to be revealed. This is the place where a prophetic word is born. As stated in Prophetic Essence, being prophetic is not just the ability to prophesy. If you have the gift of prophecy, it does not automatically mean that you are a prophet. A prophet lives a prophetic life. That is his vocation. The Word of God is his being. He lives a constant transforming from the inside out. The word spoken to himbecomes him.

Prophecy and the prophetic are the volcanic outlet of an inner life with God. This is in actuality the Christian life. All of us are not prophets but all of us are prophetic to the degree that Jesus the Messiah lives inside us and shines that life as light through us. Remember the words of the angel in the book of Revelation:

“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (v 19:10)

Everyone is prophetic to the degree that they have seen and captured the inner-workings of God’s heart. You are prophetic if you know Jesus. This article is an encouragement and challenge to cultivate that fire. The inner life is a prophetic life. There is a prophetic spirit and destiny that longs to be fulfilled by those who will find God in the secret place.

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

This is the place He longs to meet us. This is where He is waiting for us. This is where He prepares us to become that outlet of power and fire He longs to cast on the earth (Luke 12:49). This is where we are fashioned into His image in the earth. If we have actually been with Him then the world will see Jesus in us, just as Jesus said to the disciples, “If you have seen Me then you have seen the Father.” His plan for His people involves His people.  And we are to be a people that stand in that Holy Place with Him. What we learn here is what we will shout from the rooftops. If we indeed have a genuie and authentic word from the Lord, then this is where we will get it. It’s about a love between a Father and His family.

Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secretcounsel, to His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7

Our inner life is to be cemented by His. When we get alone with Him, He in a sense, gets alone with us. This is intimacy with God. This is an interaction of lovers. He longs to reveal more of Himself to us. A truly prophetic person spends his time enthralled in the inner life of God. This is exemplified in 1 Corinthians 2. In speaking of the hidden wisdom of God (v 7), Paul declares:

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. (vv 10-16)

The Holy Spirit reveals this hidden wisdom to us, for he knows and searches all things, even the depths, the deepest part of God, the Father and the Son’s heart. He knows what happens on the inside of God, and longs to share those mysteries with us; just as an earthly father longs to share his secrets of life with his kids. In this secret place the Spirit gives spiritual words to our spiritual experiences, empowering us to expound and to know the things that God longs to freely give us. In this place we are transformed, and in this place our minds become His. Just as lasting lovers, or close siblings know the other so well that they can finish thoughts and understand what they are thinking even without communication, because they have been together for so long, so it is with us, the more time we spend with and get to know God.

The tale of prophetic life is one that spends a lifetime in this place. Who they are in public is a reflection of who they are in private with God. Their stature and their words are the embodiment of God’s inner life. Ministry is just the result of a life of prayer.

I believe that the prophetic can be undogmatically categorized in these three areas: 1) Prophesy and Prophesies, 2) The Prophetic Office 3) The Prophetic Life. This post along with Prophetic Essence, is geared toward the latter. The prophetic life is less written of in many texts, but in my estimation, vital to the fulfillment in the operation and the understanding of the other two. I hope to, as this is fresh, expound upon the three areas in the future as my own journey into the realization of the matter unfolds. These are but brief intros into a vast realm of prophetic knowledge.
I do have some recommendations for those interested in further study, a prophetic circulum of sorts. Remeber though, prophesy is simply what you hear from Jesus in the Spirit. Here are some books which I recommend:

1) You May all Prophesy, Steve Thompson
2) Developing Your Prophetic Gifting, Graham Cooke
3) Surprised by the Voice of God, Jack Deere
4) Prophetic Ministry, T. Austin Sparks
5) The Prophetic Call, Art Katz
6) The Prophets, Abraham J. Heschel

((The Prophets is the work of a Jewish scholar. I do recommend it because it brings the Jewish perspective into the understanding of the Old Testament prophets. The sad reality is that states that prophecy has ceased and the only way to access it is through the study of the prophets. I wish that he knew Yeshua and could have seen that even his book was prophetic. I urge you read the books in order unless you are seasoned in the prophetic. This book is a deep and technical read that will take some time, be sure to read the others first for a solid foundation. All the other books are written by men of the Spirit.))

These kinda go through the three categories as you read them. If this seems overwhelming then I recommend just reading 1, 2, and 4.

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