“In accordance with the prophecies previously made about you…”
(I Timothy 1:18 (ESV))
Until recently, I don’t know that I had ever really paid much attention to the verse listed above. It is something we normally just gloss over as we read the letter to Timothy. Still, it has tremendous value; at least it did for Timothy.
Paul’s first letter to Timothy was written to encourage this young pastor to faithfulness in his calling, to stand against the false teaching that had crept into the community of faith, “to wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.” Timothy had a lot going against him. He was young – even Paul kept referring to him as “my child” – and so might have had a hard time being received with authority and respect. He was from questionable lineage; his mother was a Jew, his father a gentile. In a church that had been plagued with a false teaching preoccupied with myths and genealogies, Timothy’s heritage didn’t help his reception as a pastor.
So Paul writes to encourage Timothy. In one of the most wonderful treatments on the grace of God in Jesus Christ Paul shows how, if he, who once persecuted the church in his ignorance and unfaithfulness, could now be considered worthy and faithful for the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God, then it is no stretch of the imagination that Timothy should also be entrusted with this calling. Timothy’s age, heritage, or brokenness neither supports nor negates his calling. Rather, his sufficiency is from God, “who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant” (2 Cor 3:6).
But there is one other thing that Timothy had going for him: he had a prophecy. There is not account of this, no record of what was said. We see in Acts how prophets were instrumental in calling and sending individuals in the church. When Paul/Saul is blinded on the road to Damascus, Ananias receives a prophetic word from the Lord to share with Paul (Acts 9:10-17). When Paul and Barnabus and others were gathered in Antioch for prayer, the Spirit of God gave them a prophetic word that Paul and Barnabus were to be set apart for the work to which God had called them (Acts 13:1-3). Apparently, there was a prophetic word concerning Timothy (actually, more than one, since the word is plural). It would be pure speculation to try to guess what was said, but it was received as a word of the Lord. For Paul, this prophecy should have been the driving force behind Timothy’s ministry. He had been called to this. In accordance with the prophecies, Timothy would wage the good warfare, hold faith and a good conscience. The road ahead would surely be difficult; there would be opposition and frustration. However, considering the nature of his call, the charge with which he was entrusted, and the prophesies concerning his faithfulness, Timothy had a treasure of encouragement and strength to equip him for anything he could possibly face.
But what about you and me? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a prophecy about you, something to say, here’s how you’ll fare? Harry Potter had one, look how he turned out. Neo, from the Matrix, had a prophecy about him, and sometimes learning to believe the prophecy in spite of all the evidence to the contrary gave him the confidence to become what he was supposed to be. Is there a prophecy, a promise, something out there to give us strength and encouragement for these days? Wouldn’t it be comforting to have a word from the Lord that we could fall back on when we feel like giving up?
We do have such a promise. The word of the Lord might not mention you by name, but it is yours nonetheless. Consider the following verses:
- Jer 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
- Rom 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
- 2 Cor. 4:1 “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”
- 1 John 5:4 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”
I could go on, but there is no end to the promises afforded to us in God’s Word. Whatever you may face today, God’s word for you will bring peace, contentment, joy, satisfaction, hope, and encouragement. Won’t you take it up and read?
May you be strengthened and encouraged by the time you spend before God in His Word.