Sunday, August 05, 2007

BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS

BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS
based on a study from the Holmann Bible Dictionary

A false prophet is person who spreads false messages and teachings, while claiming to speak God's words.

Old Testament While the term "false prophet" does not occur in the Old Testament, references to false prophets are clear. The pages of the Old Testament are filled with men and women who fit the description of a false prophet given in Jer. 14:14 :

Jer 14:14 (KJV) Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought{H=no value, nothing}, and the deceit of their heart.

Another examples is in Jeremiah 23:21-33.

Jer 23:21-28(KJV) I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran{ie.went forth on their own with their own message}: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. {22} But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

{23} Am I a God at hand{a local idol}, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off{inhabiting eternity}? {24} Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

{25} I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. {26} How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; {27} Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. {28} The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully

Jer 23:31-32(KJV) {31} Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. {32} Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness{Heb=frivolity, meaningless utterances}; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

Punishment for prophesying falsely was severe. False prophets were cast away from God's presence and permanently humiliated. They suffered the destruction of their cities (Jer. 7:14-16; 23:39).

Jer 7:12-16 (KJV) But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. {13} And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; {14} Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. {15} And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim[a favored tribe of Israel]. {16} Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.

A false prophet was also one who prophesied on behalf of another God. A familiar example is the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-39). In a test against Elijah and the true God, the prophets of Baal suffered humiliating defeat.

(1 Ki 18:21-29 KJV) And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. {22} Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. {23} Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: {24} And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. {25} And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.

{26} And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. {27} And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. {28} And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. {29} And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

(1 Ki 18:32-39 KJV) {32} And with the stones he (Elijah) built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. {33} And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. {34} And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. {35} And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. {36} And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. {37} Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. {38} Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. {39} And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.

Israel could not always distinguish between the true and the false prophet as seen in 1 Kings 22; Jeremiah 28. The prophet could only say, wait and see whose prophecy proves true in history (Deut. 18:22; 1 Kings 22:28; Jer. 29:9). Compare 1 Kings 13.

Deu 18:18-22 (KJV) ...and the Lord said: I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. {19} And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

{20} But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

{21} And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? {22} When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously{H=from his own pride}: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

New Testament Jesus and the apostles spoke many times about false prophets. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught about the marks of a false prophet and the consequences of being one:

Mat 7:15-23 (KJV) Jesus said, Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. {16} Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? {17} Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. {18} A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. {19} Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. {20} Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

{21} Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. {22} Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? {23} And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

He also cautioned His followers to beware of false prophets who would arise during times of tribulation and in the end times (Matt. 24:11,24; Mark 13:22). He said to be careful when the world loves a prophet's words, because a prophet who is false is apt to be popular among the worldly masses:

(Mat 24:4-5 KJV) And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. {5} For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

(Mat 7:13-20 KJV) Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: {14} Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. {15} Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. {16} Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? {17} Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. {18} A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. {19} Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. {20} Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

(Acts 20:28-31 KJV) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. {29} For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. {30} Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. {31} Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

The apostles instructed believers to be diligent in faith and understanding of Christian teachings, in order to discern false prophets when they arise (2 Pet. 1:10; 1:19-2:1; 1 John 4:1).

2 Pet 1:20-21 (KJV) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. {21} For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

2 Pet 2:1-4 (KJV) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. {2} And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. {3} And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you{Grk=buy and sell you like a pedlar}: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. {4} For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

(1 John 4:1-6 KJV) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. {2} Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: {3} And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. {4} Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. {5} They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. {6} We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

The tests of a prophet are: 1) Do their predictions come true)? 2) Does the prophet have a divine commission?

Jer 29:8-9 (KJV) For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. {9} For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.

3) Are the prophecies consistent with Scripture:

(2 Pet 1:20-21; to 2 Pet 2:1-3 KJV) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. {21} For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Pet 2:1-3 KJV (1) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. {2} And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. {3} And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

4) Do the people benefit spiritually from the prophet's ministry

1 Pet 4:11 (KJV) If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Punishments for false prophets were just as severe in the New Testament as they were in the Old. Paul caused a false prophet to be stricken with blindness (Acts 13:6-12), but most other punishments were more permanent in nature. Jesus said the false prophets would be cut down and burned like a bad tree (Matt. 7:19). Second Peter 2:4 describes being cast into pits of darkness. The ultimate punishment appears in Revelation 19:20; 20:10--the false prophet, the beast, and the devil will be thrown into a lake of fire and brimstone and be tormented forever. And the Glorified Jesus gives this warning about those who would corrupt the Book of the Revelation and by implication any part of Scripture:

Rev 22:18-19 (KJV) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: {19} And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Agape
Zelma

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