Recently, I was in a situation where God began to minister to a person from a vision that I had seen decades ago. It was a moment of recognition.
Or, perhaps it would be more rightful to say that God began to minister to me, as this led to my heart being fully broken! It also led to a series of actions that I felt were nearly pre-programmed those decades ago, as I was compelled to obey the presence of God and direction I had received decades earlier.
What I was shocked about was that in the moment of perhaps one of the most important encounters in my life God didn't give me anything new, but He only activated the memory of the prophetic vision I had seen decades earlier. Then He waited to see what I would do with it. Would I obey? Would I disregard it? 
I could have missed it all so easily!

A similar situation led to King Saul's failure. In 1 Samuel 13 King Saul makes a sacrifice rather than waiting for the prophet Samuel to arrive.  But many years earlier God has asked through Samuel for King Saul to wait when this particular moment would arrive. This leads to the kingship to be taken away from Saul. 
Just because God's instruction has arrived years or decades earlier, it doesn't mean it has expired. In fact, God often gives the instruction early, so that we will have the confidence to act, because we know that we had no way to orchestrate or manipulate this situation into happening. We know that we aren't driven by the situation or by our current emotion. Often those emotions were exhausted years earlier. This gives us confidence because we know that we are in the perfect will of God.
In my free time I am doing doctoral research which is very much focused on time and temporality in media, and I have come across a concept called future memory which means in essence that today we live our present in expectation that the moments we live today will be our memories in future. So, for example, we take digital pictures of everything in expectation that in future these pictures will help us remember those special moments. Sometimes we take so many pictures that we actually forget to live that moment.
But God has a completely different concept of future memory. He does all that in the opposite direction! He lets us experience a moment today prophetically that will only happen decades later in reality! And I have come to realise that in many ways I have been directed by God's future memories all my life since I became the follower of Jesus.
In essence, when we receive a prophecy or a vision, we often have a very strong emotional experience at the time of revelation. We might experience deep joy or sorrow.  What happens is that we are living the joy or the sorrow of the future moment well in advance - before it even happens. But when the prophetic moment actually comes to pass, we sort of recognise the moment instinctively because we have already lived the moment prophetically in the past. This strong emotion is often linked to practical guidance that is just enough and adequate for us to make the right decision at the moment of recognition that  this is what God was talking to us about earlier.
We can see these strong prophetic emotions in the life of Jesus:
In Luke 19:41-44 Jesus weeps over Jerusalem: "Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, 'If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.  For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,  and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.'”
Much of the ministry of the Old Testament prophets consisted of weeping over the future destruction of Jerusalem and Israel. 
Psalm 139:17-18 says, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You."
Many of God's thoughts concern us personally, and many of them concern our future. Some of them concern people around us and others concern people that we are yet to meet.
Ephesians 1:4 says, "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love".
You see, God has been thinking about us before the foundation of the world, and He still keeps on thinking about us. In His imagination many things that will happen to you in future have already happened. And His imagination is really strong, unlike our imagination, which can amount to mere fantasies. So, in God's Kingdom the future memories are really God's will in future.
As God keeps on talking to us, He will inevitably talk to us about future. And His thoughts about our future - and the future of others - have an immense power that will affect our emotions. 
In the last few days I have been heartbroken about things that God has shown will happen in future. To me, these things are already etched to my mind as if they had already taken place. It might be a strange thing to cry and weep for what will happen in future. It might be a strange thing to rejoice for what will happen in distant future. 
But that's what the Old Testament prophets did. That's what Jesus did. And that's what the disciples do. After all, we rejoice for an eternal Kingdom that is yet to come. We rejoice because one day we expect to see Jesus face to face. And we can already live that joy now. 
Don't ignore your future memories, as they often reveal God's plan for you. But this demands a great sensitivity and life in the continual presence of God.
Often, a prophecy is a true future memory imagined by God.
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Many Christians struggle with unfulfilled prophecies in their lives. Personally, I have gone through seasons when I have also been confused with what I consider to be a genuine prophetic word. Here are ten reasons for unfulfilled personal prophecy I have come across either in my personal life of ministry.

1. It was a false prophecy 

Many prophecies will never be fulfilled for the simple reason that they were false prophecies. Not all prophecy spoken over your life is from God, and God is not responsible to deliver something He has not promised.

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, "Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good." You need to test the prophetic words in prayer before you put the full weight of your life on them.

I get regular personal, prophetic words sent to me from people from all around the world, but when I look at them, many of them seem to use use flattery to try to manipulate me into having a level of control over my life. So many people use "prophetic" blessings to get into your life.

These “good wishes” use prophetic language to make it look as if these people had prayed for me intensively, when in reality, they haven’t. But many Christians accept flattery as prophecy, as it often promises them a great future.

2. Prophecy was not for you 

Many prophecies are delivered in public meetings, and many Christians claim ownership for a prophetic word that doesn’t really belong to them. This is why I prefer, if possible, to give any prophetic words to individuals personally, so that everyone is clear about the address.

3. Prophecy was teaching in camouflage 

Many people we call prophets repackage biblical teaching and principles as prophecy, and they travel the earth by sharing the same words about revivals, etc. These words have a limited effectiveness simply because if you apply these teachings, they will always deliver something because God’s Word never returns to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). But they might not be the special prophetic word for you at this precise time.

This makes these people look like prophets when they really are teachers in the camouflage of a prophet. But biblical principles and dynamics have a slightly different function than personal prophecy, and it can be misleading to receive teaching as personal prophecy.

4. Prophecy was really a word of knowledge 

Many people confuse the word of knowledge with prophecy, and they project the word of knowledge into future. But what is true about God’s will for you today might not be true about His will for your life tomorrow. Holding on to a word of knowledge from yesterday today as prophecy will limit you tomorrow.

5. Prophecy was really a word of faith 

There are situations where people respond to a specific need with faith. For example, someone is sick, and we feel that we have faith for their healing, and we can easily “prophesy” their healing. But the word of faith is not always that precise, and we can easily promise something specific to someone when all we have is faith that all will be well. In words of Julian of Norwich, we have faith that “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

We need some faith to prophesy and to receive a prophecy, but we prophesy revelation that releases faith rather than try to stretch our faith and make the end result of that stretched into a revelation.

6. You are off season 

Some prophetic words only get activated when you enter the right season. With Joseph and David, there were great promises over their lives, but Joseph would remain a slave and a prisoner until the appointed time, and David would remain a vagabond rebel and "traitor" in the eyes of many in Israel until the appointed time of his kingship.

7. You have tried to make it happen 

Many Christians try to make a prophetic word come to pass through their “faith” action when the right response should be to submit to God’s will and His guidance through extensive times of prayer.

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Personal prophecy belongs to “the things of the Spirit of God”, and it must be received with the help of the Holy Spirit – not through trying to make it happen.

8. You have done nothing about it 

Some people think that God should do it all, and they never do anything at all about it. I know people who complain about the fact that the many prophecies spoken over their lives have never come to pass, but when I ask if they have ever prayed for those prophecies to come to pass, for clarity or for any practical steps, they say that they have never done anything.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:18, This “charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare”.

There comes a time when you will have to fight for and with the prophecies God has given to you, if you really believe in them. Otherwise, you will never be ready for the works God has prepared for you.

9. You are not focused on following Him

Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Often, we are consumed by the external outcomes, but God is focused in making us ready for these external outcomes. God releases the outcomes when you will be ready for them, and you will only become ready by following Him.

10. It has been fulfilled but you don’t know it 

There are times when I haves asked God why He hasn’t fulfilled His promise to me for Him to respond that He already has. This happens usually when you have a rigid understanding regarding how the fulfillment of the prophecy would look like when it would come to pass. But in reality you had no idea how the fulfillment of the prophecy might look like in distant future; only you are still stuck in the frozen interpretative framework you built in the past.

I don't think that Joseph had any idea that his prophetic dreams would be applicable in Egypt but not in Israel.

You can connect with Marko on Twitter @markojoensuu and on Facebook at or by visiting 

Many Christians misunderstand prophecy because they  misunderstand how God sees time. 

Our culture is dominated by narratives 

Perhaps, more than ever, our culture is dominated by narratives with narrative/story being the dominant way of structuring communication in media. And as we consume media more than any generation before us, the dominant narratives are structuring our perception of how the world operates. The Bible is also full of narratives, so this is nothing new. A narrative/story typically has a protagonist, a central person who drives the story forward through his action. The action moves forward along the path of contingent (subject to chance) causation (but obeying the laws of cause and effect). In effect, it has to be surprising but believable (to obey the laws of this physical universe).  

God is also a storyteller. But the first problem we have with prophecy is that God not us is the central character. It is His motivations and actionseven when it is a prophecy about usthat structure the narrative.

Aristotletime is linked to movement 

Aristotle’s idea about physical time being linked to movement has been verified by relativity theory: time is a dimension of the physical world & relative dependent on mass and speed. This concept of time is based on materialism and sees time as linear, leading often to an understanding that the things that happen first are the ones that cause the events that come after. This materialistic understanding of time affects us in a deep way because of our sensory experiences.  

Aristotelian understanding of time the succession of past, present & future. This understanding of time is firmly linked to materialism and brings causal projections in your mind. If you are dominated by the Aristotelian sense of time, your projections of future are often limited by your understanding of materialistic principles.  

For example, in this mindset, going from 1 to 2 to 3 or 4 might seem plausible, but going from 1 to 100 might seem implausible. So, for example when Jesus talks about 100-fold growth, we might expect this growth to go up from 1 to 2 to 4 to 8 and 16 at maximum over a period of time & obeying restrains of physical causality. 

Augustine: we perceive our past and future from the perspective of the present 

St. Augustine, one of the church fathers, had a very different view on time, which was based on eternity. This was a psychological understanding of time in which both the past and the future only exist in the presence of our mind. 

We can see the impact of this dynamic in our lives: when you are hope-filled, your future expectation is different than when you feel depressed. 

Also, your past achievements and failures will affect you differently based on how you feel right now. Ultimately, Augustine’s understanding of time is firmly rooted in eternity: God is the only one to whom the past, the present and the future are fully present all the time. 

That is because He is the originator of the physical universe to which our understanding of physical time is bound to. 

That is why He is able to shape the beginning from the end. That is why to God prophecy is current knowledge whereas to us is a prediction about future. 

But this fundamental difference in perspective also brings a fundamental difference to the way we and God see things and especially to the way we perceive what is effective and what is meaningful. 

For example, we know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, but when it comes to the time He spent on earth, most of His time on earth He spent carrying wood. He was a carpenter’s son, and a Jewish boy was considered an adult when he was 12. So, from 12 to 30 He probably spent most of His time carrying and working with wood. And that was His last physical act, as He carried part of the cross to Calvary.  

One thing narrative does often is to summarise any long gaps of inactionwhich don’t move the central story forwardand the Bible also does that. That’s why the Gospel stories ignore long patches of Jesus’s life before His public ministry, as they don’t advance the salvation story. 

Time and your perception of prophecy 

Most of the time, a genuine personal prophecy often seems to fail before it is fulfilled. 

Prophecy is knowing God’s will. But prophecy does not yet mean that you will know God’s way. 

We make huge mistakes when we apply prophetic words through reasoning and not through prayer. When we do that, our starting premise might be correct, but our conclusions flawed because of our human reasoning. 

Often, to be able to see you must close your natural eyes and open your spiritual eyes.  

Fulfilling a spiritual vision is like being in an escape room where the only way to get out is to close your eyes, ears and other sensory experiences in order to to find the way out only by listening to the Word and the Spirit. 

We are often confused because we measure success by what we are getting when God measures success by what we can give away! 

Matthew 13:31-32 says
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. 
With most fruit trees the leaves and the flowers come first and only then the fruit. But we wait for the fruit even before the leaves have appeared. 

Jesus says in John 12:24: 
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 
Why are we so shocked when Jesus does exactly what He said He will do and exactly the way He said He would do it? We wait for the fulfilment of the prophecy even before the seed has died. 

The narrow gate/the eye of the needle  

Paul writes in Corinthians 4:8-12,  
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 
Here Paul describes the narrow road which seems to compress everything out of his life. The eye of the needle/the narrow road is the place where nothing else but the power of God will work, where the life of Jesus is revealed. 

For a prophecy to be fulfilled, it often needs you to walk along the narrow road and through the eye of the needle, so that God becomes the protagonistthe main actorin us. That’s why the road to the fulfilment of prophecy is always so radically different than we expect, as it involves the replacement of the main actor. 

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