Imagine you’re trying to communicate with a group of people.  They’re not dumb by any respect, in fact they’re highly intelligent but opportunity has left them illiterate.  But the message you want to send need to be memorable as it is an important message.  The best way to do this is to use symbols.

Symbols and pictures communicate a lot and there’s often an emotive value attached.   Tell a soldier what it is like when a flag raised on a mountaintop after intense fighting.  It is a symbol of hope and victory.  Show an athlete 5 interconnected circles of different colors and ask what it means to them–The Olympics!

It is this same reason that the prophets used symbols.  They communicate more without words than they do with words.  Think of what a bald eagle communicates to an American?
bald eagle

Those outside of American may or may not understand this symbol  In fact some might think of them not as symbols but just a pretty bird.  But for Americans the significance is much beyond this.  In the same way the prophets often used imagery that was meaningful to those who heard.    Horses were symbols of God’s heavenly action.  Horns were a sign of power.  Oil was a sign of anointing and blessing.

So when we approach the prophets and at first we see bazaar images, we must take into account the imagery means.   We’ve got to cross the cultural gap and discover what these symbols meant 100 years ago.  Try my own prophetic word:

I saw a man with a swirled dash on his shoe.  In his arm he carried a box with flying windows of various colors.  In the other hand was an apple but it had a bite taken out of it.  He had to go fast as he might change his mind.  After awhile he saw a large wooden rectangle on a tall post.  On it was painted a triangle with growing lines.  Next to it was large yellow arches.  Suddenly a yellow light pierced the sky and in it was a black bird.  It was just the help he needed!  The light pointed to a building and man went there.  Inside was a box with a triangle of green arrows.  He sighed for a minute.  He saw a blue box with a “t” inside and another darker blue box with an “f” inside.  They both had a circle around them with a diagonal slash.   So he put them in the large box and went home.

A nice little test to see if you can figure out my “prophetic” word.  Symbols.  They matter.

(Answer to “prophetic word” coming soon.)