There’s the old saying in academia, publish or perish. The phrase revolves around the idea that if one does not publish on a regular basis, they will perish. While the author may not actually die, the fear is, the author, or academic scholar, will perish because people will forget who they are.
When it comes to the prophetic, I believe many have fallen into this mindset trap. They believe the lie of publish or perish when it comes to prophetic words.
Write it Down Vs. Tell Them
For years I’ve been encouraging those who hear from the Lord, to write down what they sense He is saying. Then, after writing it down, ponder and pray about what He is saying before even thinking about delivering the word publicly. These days it seems many have forgotten that when it comes to the prophetic. Instead of praying over a word, people seem to think everything they receive, they need to instantly proclaim.
Recently a Pastor friend commented: “What would people do if God said only one thing a year, and told them to sit on it and not say anything for five years.” I chuckled and said, “That’s exactly how it usually worked in the Bible.
Take Ezekiel for example. Exiled to Babylon in 597BC. At that time he was already a Priest, so we can assume he knew how to pray and seek the Lord. The book bearing his name in the Old Testament tells us in his 30th year, “during the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity,” he has what we can refer to as his first “recorded” vision in Chapter 1 (593BC). Ezekiel 2 describes his call and commission, which of course involves another vision. Many believe Ezekiel suddenly started declaring everything the Lord told him then and there.
But let’s take a closer a look at what really happened.
After his opening vision, calling and commissioning, we discover Ezekiel “overwhelmed and SITTING among the exiles for seven days” (Ezekiel 3:15). In other words, he has this incredible vision and calling by God, and he’s so “overwhelmed” by the whole experience, he can’t say anything. He is speechless! Then, after sitting “speechless for seven days,” God says, “Go to your house and shut yourself in. There, son of man, you will be tied with ropes so you cannot go out among the people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof our your mouth so you will be speechless and unable to rebuke them” (Ezekiel 3:24-26).
God further says in the same passage, “When I give you a message, I will loosen your tongue and LET you speak” (Ezekiel 3:27).
Even after being “shut up in his house” for a period of time, Ezekiel still isn’t released to speak even by Chapter 4. His first prophetic act is one of laying on his side for one year and two months! (Ezekiel 4) He doesn’t say anything, he just lays on his side. After that we see a series of prophetic acts and “messages from the Lord” which he records in what we now call the Book of Ezekiel.
As a matter of fact, Ezekiel isn’t released to say anything until Chapter 11 when the Lord finally says, “Therefore, TELL the exiles” (Ezekiel 11:16). Some scholars date the writing of Ezekiel 8-19 around 592BC. That means he spent more than a year, when looking at the timeline of Ezekiel 4, before saying anything.
Put another way, Ezekiel lands in Babylon in 597BC and it isn’t until FIVE years later, God allows him to say anything to those in Exile.
Let The Words Sink in Deep
It is time the Prophetic Movement, and the Prophets of the day, learn this lesson well. We must break out of the Publish or Perish Mindset. I wonder if those who keep “publishing” everything they think is from the Lord instantly, might just start “perishing”.
True Prophets will do well to heed the warning of Ezekiel. “Let all My words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself” (Ezekiel 3:10).
Years ago when I started my training in the prophetic those in leadership always said, “Before you share anything you think the Lord has given you, first, you must ask the Lord how the word transforms you personally, before you even think about sharing the word publicly.”
Moving in the prophetic is not a “career” as someone recently described their ministry. Moving in the prophetic means an intimate relationship with the Lord, where He just might share some secrets with you (Amos. 3:7). Then, keep in a mind, a secret is a secret for a reason. It means you should keep it to yourself. Then, if you do release something He spoke to you in secret, you better make sure you’ve allowed those words to “sink deep into your own heart first”.
Moving in the prophetic should never be about a platform. Moving in the prophetic means a life of intimacy and prayer with the Lord.