Remembering what God has done in the past is essential to living passionately for his glory in the present. Prophets were often particularly good at recounting the stories of what God had done in the past in order to help the people catch a glimpse of what he desired to do among them in the present.
Reading about the prophets especially in Old Testament times we can see that one of their roles was to bring this sort of historical perspective. They would tell of the mighty works of God in history in order to reveal what He was doing then and there. They would often come on the scene at times when there was great difficulty and say, “Remember what the Lord has done among you in days gone by”, and then proceed to tell a story. Prophecy does not just involve foretelling things, but it also gives prophetic significance to past things. Prophetic ministry involves declaring God’s Big Salvation Story from Scripture and how it is brought to bear on our particular situation at this present time.
The Prophet Samuel is a great example of this. While Samuel was a leader of Israel, the time came when the people asked for a human king like all the surrounding nations had. They felt this would bring them more security and good standing as a nation. Samuel recounted to them stories of how the Lord God had delivered their fathers from Egypt through Moses and Aaron when they cried out to Him. Then he reminded them that when they forgot the Lord they were again delivered into the hands of their enemies. But, when they cried out to the Lord once again, He gave them leaders who delivered them out of the hands of their enemies (1 Sam. 12:6-11). Samuel applied these stories from their history to their present situation. He told them they would be given the king they asked for, but nothing had changed. This new king would not save them. Only God could do that. If they forgot God, what happened before would happen again: their enemies would subdue them. If they would call on the Lord and look only to him, they would enjoy His full blessing upon them as a people.
As members of the church we are called to be a prophetic people. We are called to proclaim the biblical stories that reveal who Jesus truly is and that he is the same today as he was in past history. The works he did then he can do now. We must tell these stories and enter into what that signifies for us today. Revelation 19:10 states, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. The same Jesus that was working though the church in the early days has not changed. Prophetic ministry in the church gives witness to Jesus’ Presence among us here and now!