First, I want to define what "treasure hunting" before I state my comments on what I think it is.
Treasure hunting is a prophetic setting where worshipers are gathered in one place, they seek God for "clues" such as simple words or phrases like, "red" or "bay" or "main street" etc. Each person may or may not get a clue. At the end of the seeking session, the group gathers all the clues and they try to figure out where it is leading them to go. If the clues were, "red, bay, Main Street" the group would go to main street, find something that is red or has bay on it. Since I live in the Tampa Bay area, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the team here, whose colors are red and black...so the assumed person whom I am being led to talk to would probably be wearing something of Tampa Bay Bucs sportswear. This is the basic concept of "treasure hunting."
Next, I want to describe this in 2 ways, 1) the concept behind this exercise and 2) the actual exercise itself.
1) This is an exercise of prayer and a prophetic calling. It is a prayerful exercise because the first setting is seeking God for "clues" and listening to Him awaiting an answer. The prophetic is when God speaks back the "clues" needed. The concept of this exercise is to actually engage in prayer, prophetic gifting, evangelism, and obedience unto the Lord. I think this is wonderful!! I definitely believe that prayer is powerful, evangelism is how we spread the Kingdom, it is how the Kingdom is coming to earth, and obedience is the mark of maturity and holy sanctification among believers. As for a prophetic gifting, I am not charismatic not Pentecostal so I am leery of the concept (though, I used to be very charismatic/Pentecostal, but the more I pray about it, the more I am driven from it) but, I am still open to it, just not the charismatic view of it anymore. Please do not think I am committing the genetic fallacy, meaning that I think it is guilty by association, because I have done a lot of study on both points of views and I just cannot come up with anything sufficient leaning me either way, either the continuation of the gifts or the ceasing of the gifts. Nevertheless, do not think that my view of this is altering my thoughts on the "treasure hunting" exercise, because other things are happening such as evangelism, prayer, and active obedience, so all in all, I think the concept is wonderful and exercises that have these concepts should be practiced and exercised!
2) The concepts that I pointed out that this exercise has: evangelism, prayer, obedience, and prophecy, though all good because all are talked about in Scripture, they must come from a Biblical foundation and guideline. I will explain each. Evangelism, this is the relaying of good news or "good news"...and Evangelist is someone who brings good news. Now, the rule is, to define what the good news is. The good news is, Jesus Christ. Simply. Jesus came, lived perfectly, died, rose again, through Him our sins were canceled and declared justified by God on the basis of Jesus' righteousness and that we get to live and dwell with Him for eternity if we trust in Him. We cannot redefine what the news is based upon our preference. Someone can easily be an evangelist of Satan, an evangelist for Buddhism, Islam, atheism, agnosticism...etc. because it is one who relays a message. So, the concept of Evangelism must be defined by a set rule, and as Christians, our set rules come from Scripture. Though, Christianity is not a set of rules as in legalism which says "do this, don't do that" but rather, established boundaries and foundations that we should enjoy and use. Therefore, our rule of Evangelism comes from Scripture. Same thing goes with the rest, prophecy, prayer, and obedience. Our obedience must come from the heart and not merely outward expression, because if it starts in our heart our outward expression will show it. Our prayer must be God honoring, according to the will of God, self-denying but seeking God in our daily needs, and remembering the hope and promises that God has given us (I am using the example that Jesus gave in the Lord's Prayer). Finally, prophecy. This must go according to the Scriptural guidelines just as the rest do. Now, nearly 1/3 of the Bible is devoted to prophecy so it would be hard to go through all of the verses that talk about prophecy, so, if I may, narrow it down to the Scriptural guidelines of prophesy. Also, I would like to point to the Scriptural guidelines of prophesy as well since there is no Biblical precedent for the "treasure hunt" activity as well. Scripture does not affirm the positive of "treasure hunting" meaning that it does not talk specifically about treasure hunting, though this will work against the "treasure hunting" activity, it will not debunk it. What we must do is look for the positive affirmations and the negative against it. So, let us take a look at the guidelines of prophecy from Scripture to see if it works for or against "treasure hunting." Some of the Scriptural guidelines that we have are found in Deuteronomy 18:22, "when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him." This verse is saying that if someone has spoken in the name of the Lord and it didn't happen...that person is not a prophet, so don't worry about them. Next, the Bible says, "As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet." (Jeremiah 28:9) basically, if what the prophet says comes true...than this person did come from the Lord. Though, we ought to be careful because sometimes even false prophets are right, Deuteronomy 13:1-3 states, "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." So, sometimes a false prophet can be right, but we must discern everything they say...not just what they say in prophesies. Sometimes, I think the church today hears a prophet speak, watches what they say come to pass and then follow everything else of that person blindly, be cautious of whatever these self-proclaimed prophets say...even if their prophesies come to pass because it may actually just be God testing us. These prophets may lead us to follow another God, claiming it is the God of Scripture, but it is the god of their interpretation of Scripture..."the God of imagination and not of revelation" as one of my college professors Dr. Joe Davis states. How then do we know if these prophets are deceiving us, we look into Scripture itself, study Scripture, and study what it says about God, study sound theology because theology is, "the study of God" simply. Now, we have established that all prophesy must be 100% accurate, or it is not prophesy because as Isaiah the prophet stated by the Holy Spirit, ""I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish, who confirms the word of his servant and fulfills the counsel of his messengers," Isaiah 44:24b-26a. So, we see that God "fulfills the counsel of his messengers" or as some translations render it, "the predictions of his messengers." Or as Ezekiel 12:25 clearly states it, "For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed." meaning that if God truly spoke it to us, God will ensure that it will happen. So, again, all prophecy is 100% accurate because God will ensure it, or else it is not prophecy and the person is not a prophet. Now, some people may make a fuss of this, saying that we are all prophets, but I beg to differ and I believe Paul would as well by saying, "to some, prophecy" 1 Corinthians 12:10. This does not mean that some people are greater than others; it simply means that God sovereignly acted to arrange and give different gifts to different people as stated by Paul when he said in the following verse, "All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills." So, the established facts are: all true prophecy is 100% accurate, God will ensure its fulfillment, and not everyone is a prophet. If the prophesy is not 100% accurate, God did not give it, because God apparently did not ensure it happening. If the prophecy is 100% accurate, it still does not mean we should follow the person who prophesied it because they could lead us astray (Deut 13:1-3), and we should rejoice in the gifts that God did give us, and not downcast our hearts if we did not receive the gift of prophecy...though, this does not mean that we do not ask God for it continually, but rather as we ask Him, we continually rejoice in what He has given us even though we deserve no gift at all. My final point on this, looking in light of the established facts, prophesy is not the best guess, but rather the precise and exact prediction of the future and/or set specific situation. It is not a guessing game, we do not "grow in prophesy" we either are 100% correct, or we are not a prophet.
It is on the basis of the conclusion of the established facts that I do not affirm the validity of the "treasure hunt" exercise, I do not endorse this as a legitimate exercise, nor do I commend this as truly inspired by God. I understand that many people will be upset about this and be very offended, but hear me out. I understand that many are correct and that you may actually find these "clues" to be accurate, but notice, a true prophet is not only accounted to by the truthfulness of his prophecy, but also the nature of the prophecy and the character of the person. The conclusion of what we have found in Scripture is that prophecy is not a guessing game, which is precisely what the "treasure hunt" is. Though, I think it is great in exercising the spiritual disciplines and gifts, I think it needs to be done in another way that affirms all of Biblical truth and not most of it. Though, I do not have nearly as much of an issue with it if people are doing it because other things are going on, but, because it is a prophetic setting and does not meet the fullest requirements from the Bible, I personally do not regard it as from the Lord as genuine, but possibly from the Lord as a test, that we may, "rightly handling the word of truth." (2 Tim 2:15) because "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."(2 Tim 3:16-17, italics for emphasis). Though, I do not affirm "treasure hunting" I do believe that if something was established that followed the Biblical requirements, I would not have a problem with this.
To all my friends who do this, I am sincerely sorry if I offended you or have disheartened you because of this. Please do not let this cause you to stumble in faith but rather grow in correction, reproof, and in maturity that you may honor God as described as the way He wants us to, which is described in Scripture, the Word of God.
The concept of "treasure hunting" comes from this book that comes from Bill Johnson's (a pastor that adheres to the new way a prophet should be judged, meaning, that a prophet could be wrong when prophesying but could still be a prophet, which is wrong as Scripture has established) ministry in Redding, California.