Prophetic Music: A look at how music can take on a prophetic element

Thursday 1st February 2001

Prophet musician Stephen Bennett spotlights prophetic music.

Stephen Bennett
Stephen Bennett

The term "prophetic music" is heard a lot more now than five or 10 years ago, but today for most people it is still a bit of a mystery. This subject is very broad, and the term cannot be summed up as a neat music "category" alongside every other "box," or even adequately expanded here. To prophesy or being prophetic is a gift from God to the Church. It has a divine role to play in the restoration of the Lord's purposes in the earth. The Church should be the greatest and most powerful exponent of that which is prophetic. "Prophetic music" and creative expression can also be found anywhere, even in the world by people you may not consider Christian or saved! God prophesied and testified of himself in the stars of the universe and through his wonderful creation. Michelangelo lay on his back in the Sistine Chapel 500 years ago and through his art is speaking and prophesying of God still today. Thousands of songs have "prophesied" and spoken from the heart of God and been articulated in the earth now more than any time history. There are many of you who are being quickened by the Holy Spirit to understand the prophetic music. Some of you have been travelling that road for some time. Others are frustrated because they feel it stirring inside but can't find a platform for it. Others see it crushed or quenched, or simply just don't have a clue. Many are keeping what should be unleashed prophetically into this world, in a box of tradition or pre-conception. Let's explore!

In Revelation 19:10, an angel said to the apostle John, "Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Our worship of Jesus in our daily life and the spirit of prophecy are intrinsically linked. Prophetic music is not a "new" category or can ever be, because the very nature of the arts, music and general creative expression embodies the prophetic spirit, which is in us. We were created to create, like our "art director," Lord Jesus - The Creator! In Christ, the seed of all that is prophetic is in you, the more you maturely grow in Jesus in your life, the more prophetic you will become in your nature and character. God wants to speak; to prophesy through you! The Lord says to pursue and desire to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1). In the Church the prophetic is expressed or released in greater or lesser degrees in music depending on the understanding and revelation in that "house." However, the Church, being one body, is supposed to be prophetic in nature. A prophetic move in music can often be ahead of its time, and can also be ignored, controlled or even killed by religion. History has shown us that a new thing can sometimes end up in "Egypt" first before its fullness comes to the Church. Just consider music over the last 50 years. If God can use the Pharoah of Egypt thousands of years ago for his purposes or even an ass speaking words instead of braying, his Holy Spirit can use any communicative gift he chooses in the world that he has given to all men to use!

A prophet or prophetic person is one who is moved by the Spirit of God, interpreting and being a "mouthpiece" for the Lord; declaring or proclaiming what he or she has received by inspiration. They are often "foretellers" of truth concerning future events, or things that relate to the cause and Kingdom of God. Prophetic music, like vocal prophesying in church, has the power to instruct, comfort, encourage, envision, rebuke, convict, challenge, stir and stimulate those who hear. Among many other things prophets are also poets, songwriters, singers, musicians, visual and creative artists of all disciplines. There is a "prophetic anointing" in these days that God is releasing on the whole body of Christ. Increasingly prophetic, powerful, inspired music and worship will emerge more from the Church than has ever been before. Many times in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, the power of music, song and the arts played a great role in building and preparing the House of God that did affect whole nations and peoples. In society music and the arts has, and still does have, great "ruling and governing" influence in fashioning our world and predicting and presenting how it will be.

In 1 Chronicles 25:1, 288 musicians were separated to prophesy on instruments. That is, they can bring a "sound from Heaven" that is discernable within their musical sound. It speaks to us. I believe this anointing can render open the heavens over churches, cities and nations, pushing back the powers of darkness, accelerating forward the things of God. Those with an "Ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches," Revelation 2:7. Then they sing or play it. Jehoshaphat's musicians and singers played "one sound" in 2 Chronicles 20:21, singing just two lines of one song. It released something in the Spirit that destroyed enemies and subdued nations. Kevin Prosch so aptly prophesied in one of his songs a few years ago, "God is speaking through the music." Martin Smith of Delirious? sang, "Can you hear the mountains tremble... open up the gates..." Darlene Zschech sings, "Shout to the Lord..." These people, along with many others in the nations, are actually "prophets of sound." They never set out saying, "I'm gonna be prophetic and touch and change the world and release and inspire others' gifts." Their giftedness, among other things, just grew out of them in their daily walk with God and through their passionate music expression at various levels along the way.

Prophetic music pushes the boundaries of what was before. It really is not a specific musical or "church" style. The "sound" is a "voice"; "His voice riding in our musical sounds, by the Holy Spirit!" That's the power of prophetic music - God's in it, whatever the style or mood that is relevant for any particular church, city, or even a nation. Inspired melodies, rhythms, grooves, lyrics and musical ideas that have something that can literally spiritually inspire, unlock and change the atmosphere, bringing Heaven to earth. It renews the way people think or do things. Spiritual songs that are wrought by the Holy Spirit in you that carry in them the purposes of God's heart that brings freshness. Articulated and crafted on the earth through often passionate, creative, yielded, consecrated people. You just know it when you hear it. It is as the psalmist said, "Spirit calling to spirit, deep unto deep!" New wine doesn't fit in old wineskins, or stubborn traditional ones, but will always break out somewhere. This is happening in many nations more and more now.

In Church services we will be familiar with the "song of the Lord" or "prophetic spontaneous song" that is instantly inspired on the day. This is another form of prophetic music, often nurtured in the anointing and atmosphere of local church by those who are faithful and called to it. The song of the Lord can literally be just that; Jesus singing in the first person through a believer, to exhort, encourage or just even reveal more of himself or his plans and purposes. The prophetic song can often be a word in season to the church or individuals, or proclaiming what is coming or about to come. Sometimes this can be just the "sound of the Lord" spoken through instrumental playing. Sadly, a lot of churches are devoid of this.

Prophetic music can be crafted overtime, or within a band, expressed in a powerful contemporary way that anyone would get into. The Christian band Sixpence None The Richer had a catchy, worldwide hit with "Kiss Me". An undeniably prophetic song that had that "something" that caught your attention, apart from being a well crafted and produced song! The spiritual duality of that song is God speaking to the world of his desire for intimacy with it, and the world to worship him, which is what worship means - to kiss. Members of the band U2 from Ireland have a Christian believing background and without doubt helped revitalise the flagging rock music industry in the late 70s with a new sound and incredible passion! Even the world recognized it and U2 used to always finish their concerts with Psalm 40, which proclaims prophetically, "He has put a new song in my mouth, praise to our God, many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord." The truth is that this band have influenced and indirectly mentored the sounds of untold Christian bands around the world today, particularly Delirious?, who are one of the most popular right now. God is still doing something and we could add a long list that includes the Beatles and Elvis. Bono, the lead singer of U2, recently did a "pilgrimage" to the Pope to discuss world debt cancellation - a singer musician, not a banker, although he's probably got more money than some banks! This is something the Old Testament prophet Nehemiah did, to release the people of bondage in a time of powerful musical restoration; this is the prophetic in action, but that is another article 'cos I've run out of space!

The ancient prophets prophesied and it was also echoed in the New Testament about these last days we live in. Acts 15:16, "After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will SET IT UP, v17, 'so that the REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, even all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord WHO DOES ALL THESE THINGS." This speaks loudly of massive global influence! David's tabernacle speaks of divine order and restoration, particularly of music, and if anyone was prophetic it was David. What is the ultimate purpose for prophetic music, our sounds and God's heavenly desire with it? That HUMANITY FINDS HIM! The Devil won't rest up on that one, which I am sure you have found out. There will be intense heavenly warfare, but be encouraged, you are being "set up" by God and HE WILL DO IT!

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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