What is Christian Prophetic Art?
To provide a Biblical response to this question, we first need to take a brief look at creativity and prophecy in the Bible.
Our Father is a creative God and declares that from the very beginning, see Genesis 1.
The first verb in the Bible is bara: to create.
And after God had created man, man’s first assignment was to participate in creation. In Genesis 2:19-20, we read that Adam named the animals. Now, God didn’t need Adam to name the animals. After all, He had created them; He was fully capable of naming them. But God invited Adam to partner with Him.
The Rainbow in Genesis 9:17 is a visual sign from God to all people that He wouldn’t flood the world again.
The first person to be filled with the Holy Spirit was not a priest, prophet, king, leader, or even a worship leader, but an artist / craftsman by the name of Bezalel.
In Exodus 31:1-5 God told Moses that He had filled Bezalel with the Holy Spirit to enable him to design and work with all types of materials including gold, stones, wood, etc in order to build the tabernacle.
God by His nature is creative and has made us in hIs image (Genesis 1:26), so we too are creative as God wants to create with us, because creativity is in our genes.
Gift of Prophecy
Prophecy is a message from God, which is given by a person who is filled by the Holy Spirit, that expresses the heart, mind and will of Father. The Holy Spirit, through prophecy reveals or unveils an insight from God that could not be known by natural means.
As we will see prophecy is not restricted to words but can include the visual.
In 1 Corinthians 14:1-3 Paul tells us that we are all to eagerly seek the gift of prophecy: “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” (ESV).
1 Corinthians 14:31 confirms that we can all prophesy, and again v 39 reminds us to desire to prophesy. So all Christians can have and use the gift of prophecy.
The Bible distinguishes between the gift of prophecy and the office of a prophet. The gift of prophecy is for the purpose of edification, exhortation, and consolation.
Therefore, the gift of prophecy is to bring out the best in people. So a good check on the gift of prophecy is found in 1 Corinthians 13:2, it always needs to demonstrate the love of God.
Kris Valloton makes the point that “the main purpose of the gift of prophecy is for edification, exhortation, and consolation. Edification means ‘to build up,’ exhortation means ‘to call near,’ and consolation means ‘to cheer up.’ The gifts of the Holy Spirit are some of the love languages of God. So when prophesying over someone, that person should feel that they are loved by God or kissed by Father God”. That sums up our aim in the prophetic art workshops that people meet with God as their loving Father.
Using the gift of prophecy should fulfil what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)
How does God speak?
The best way to answer this is to look at the main ways God spoke to people in the Bible.
Dreams, Visions, Trances and picture impressions
Genesis 15:1-5 – God came to Abram in a vision.
Numbers 12:6 – God reveals that He speaks to prophets in visions and dreams.
Isaiah 6:1-8 – Isaiah saw a vision of God in His temple.
Jeremiah 1:11-14 – twice God asks the prophet what does he see. Clearly the prophets was seeing pictures given by God.
May be you are familiar with the prophecy given by Joel. Joel 2:28 “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, and your young men shall see visions”. (ESV)
Peter confirms the fulfilment of this prophecy on the day of Pentecost, (Acts 2).
Further on in Acts, Stephen looks into heaven and sees the glory of God, Acts 7:55-56. Later, Peter himself has a vision described for us in Acts 10:10-12 where he sees the heavens opened and a great sheet descending with all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds on it.
In Acts 16:9-10 Paul has a vision of a man asking him to come to Macedonia.
There are more examples but clearly God speaks to us through dreams, visions, trances and pictures.
Genesis 3:9 – After the Fall God seeks out Adam and Eve by calling out for them.
Genesis 6:13 – God speaks to Noah.
Genesis 22:1-2 – God speaks to Abraham.
1 Samuel 3:4 – God speaks to Samuel, who replies to God.
Isaiah 6:8 – Isaiah hears the voice of God asking who can He send.
Acts 9:4 – Saul, later to be Paul, hears God speaking to him on the road to Damascus.
So hearing the voice of God is not restricted to the Old Testament.
Daniel 9:21 – Gabriel comes to Daniel.
Luke 1:11 – Zechariah meets an angel who announces the birth of John the Baptist. Later in Luke 1 we read about when Mary was visited by Gabriel telling her that she will give birth to Jesus.
Although there some other ways these appear to be the most common. As God is still the same He continues to speak in these and other ways to us today. The advantage we have as christians is that the Holy Spirit is always with us wanting to speak into our lives and situations every minute of the day.
Prophecy expressed through Art
Let’s put “creativity” and “prophecy” together – Art is a creative activity so prophetic art is a joining together of the creative and the prophetic.
Bringing creative / visual expressions and prophecy together is nothing new, as the Bible is full of examples of God doing just that. For example:
A rainbow in Genesis 9:17 – the promise that God would never flood the world again.
The siege of Jerusalem symbolised in Ezekiel 4:1-2. Ezekiel is told to use a brick as a symbol.
The valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14. This is like a YouTube clip!
The ruined loincloth in Jeremiah 13:1-11.
The four horns in Zechariah 1:18-21.
The prophet Jeremiah saw pictures in Jeremiah 1:11-14.
There are many more examples throughout the Bible. Therefore we should not be surprised that God links the prophetic with creativity today.
If you are used to operating in the gift of prophecy then you will be familiar with receiving prophetic revelation in the form of pictures or visions, but usually these will only be spoken out. Prophetic art reproduces these pictures, visions or concepts in an art form, rather than just describing them in words. Sometimes these pictures will include words but primarily they are pictures.
Prophetic art can be created in a large variety of ways, for example : Paintings, drawings, creative crafts, photography, etc. Primarily we are involved in using prophetic art through drawing, painting or photography.
We have now lead many prophetic art workshops and have found that artistic ability is not that important, as prophetic art is not just for those who consider themselves artists. While it is useful to have artistic ability, with prophetic art its about being in the presence of Father and reflecting what He shows you for someone else or a group of people e.g. a Church. Naturally it is good to practice and strive to improve your artistic ability but not essential for using art in prophecy.
We have seen how simple pictures when given by the Holy Spirit will have a dramatic life changing impact, as God impacts that persons life for their good.
Testing Prophetic art
Just like any prophecy, prophetic art must always be tested and weighed to ensure it edifies, exhorts, or consoles and is in line with the word of God (the Bible).
We are reminded in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” (ESV)
Therefore, prophetic art should always be in line with:
The word of God (Bible)
The character of God
The inner witness from the Holy Spirit
What is the difference between Christian Art and Prophetic Art?
Christian art is art that reflects Christian principles and values. Therefore a card which has a Bible verse or a phrase encouraging people like “God is Love” is christian art. Whereas, prophetic art speaks to one person’s situation in a completely unique way that only God and that person understand. Therefore, God is able, through art, to break uniquely into a person’s circumstances and bring about a change for that person. This can be for salvation, healing, release of a situation or encouragement for the present or what God has planned for their future. There are so many ways in which God uses prophetic art to demonstrate His great love for people.
There is nothing wrong with Christian art but it is important to recognise the difference between that and prophetic art.
To illustrate this we include some of our experience with prophetic art:
We received this testimony from Rachel who was at one of our prophetic art workshops.
Saturday – While at Devoted, which was a weekend conference for ChristCentral churches at Newark Showground, in the UK I met one of the prophetic art team (Lesley) who suggested that I should be at the prophetic art workshop that afternoon. The picture given to me was by somebody I had never met before and had the words “Be still and know that I am God”. It also had many words including busy as a bee, effort, stress, tension, loud, din, noise, hard and troubled (such an accurate prophecy I knew at that point God was doing amazing things). What a blessing the prophetic art afternoon turned out to be!
Monday morning – I was released from oppression / depression and disability. I had fibromyalgia me / chronic fatigue syndrome, vertigo, multiple autoimmune disorders meaning I was constantly exhausted, in pain and depressed. I arrived at the morning meeting in a wheelchair (I could walk only a short distance) and wore my ear plugs and ear defenders (I was having non epileptic seizures triggered by loud noises. The worship band, in particular the drums, were so loud I hadn’t been able to go to or stay for the whole of the previous meetings. However, I knew God was healing me physically, spiritually and emotionally. I went up and stood near the band next to the speakers without my ear protection, I put my crutch down feeling God was saying to stop relying on my crutch and to rely on him. Further, I was also healed of a gluten intolerance and Irritable Bowl Syndrome, which the hospital had suggested was probably coeliac disease. I was able to walk out of the meeting healed!
The Doctor didn’t know what to say, so recorded it as a “miraculous healing”. My physiotherapist was equally amazed. I have phoned the department for works and pensions to say that I no longer need the personal independent payment benefits I was receiving….they don’t hear my kind of testimony very often! The tea rooms where I have so often had to request gluten free are equally astounded that I can now eat any cake / sandwich/ pie without any ill effect!
Since then I have run a race with my youngest son, done push ups with my oldest son!
A month later I am walking 2.5 miles and continue to build up my strength and stamina.
Our family is growing closer to one another and to God through our healing. Our marriage is stronger and we have Joy in our lives where there was despair. (“Joy” was a word I had been given prophetically several times over the years and from one of prophetic art workshops from the previous year at Devoted. I had been hanging on to God’s promise that I would feel joy again. It is not only my healing but very much ours!
I truly believe the prophetic art workshop Saturday afternoon was a significant part in my miraculous healing!
We have an awesome God!!!!
Although the following story is not so dramatic, it still illustrates the difference between Christian and prophetic art.
The picture below was for a church we were visiting with our Pastor, which John drew during the meeting. This we believed was that they had a heart for God and for worship and prayer, which God was going to use to bring hope to people particularly the poor. But to achieve this as a church community they had to be linked together and rooted in the Love of God.
We found out that they had been seeking God for the way ahead and had another prayer meeting the following evening. So the church leader was greatly encouraged and taking the picture to share with the church at that prayer meeting. They could then test this prophetic art word.
As can be seen this was a unique word for the church with a visual aspect rather than just words. You would not have found a piece of “Christian art” that would have spoken into their situation in the same way. Although words alone could have been spoken the visual adds another dimension. In reality the picture is likely to be remembered longer than any words spoken.
So hopefully the point we have made is that Christian art is generic whereas, prophetic art is specific to a situation. Although there is a fundamental difference between Christian art and prophetic art, Christian art can sometimes still be used in a prophetic way but of itself it is not normally prophetic art.
“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”