Full Gospel churches have held “watch” services on New Year’s Eve for the past few decades. These services usually involve prominent preachers announcing predictions or even prophecies of “what the Spirit is saying” for the upcoming year. One proclaimed, for instance, that 2018 would be the “days of glory, the days of flourishing.” Another announced that 2018 would be the year of “The Holy Ghost and Fire.” He went on, predicting that the body of Christ would experience “spiritual explosions going on throughout 2018.” There is no scriptural precedent for annual banner statements like these.
But there is authority for Spirit-inspired prophecies involving the church. In Acts, Luke records a coterie of prophets coming down from Jerusalem to the church at Antioch and one of them standing up in the midst of a gathering to prophesy that a famine was on the way.
And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be a great famine throughout the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. —Acts 11:27, 28
Agabus’s prophecy allowed the church to ready itself for the tough times to come. We see this kind of thing all throughout the New Testament. After the Spirit had confirmed to Simeon that he had laid eyes on Israel’s Messiah, Simeon turned to Mary and prophesied to her that her baby boy would also bring her sorrow.
Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” —Luke 2:34, 35
Simeon’s words would later bring comfort and affirmation to Mary when she watched her son die on the cross.
It is not when the prophets speak blessing that you need to take heed. As believers, we’ve already been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies (Eph. 1:3). It is when they prophesy that rough times lay ahead that we should stand up and take notice.
The historian Josephus tells us that a severe famine occurred in Judah in A.D. 46. Claudius was emperor of Rome from A.D. 41 to 54.