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False Prophecy, 8/13/16

The issue of what is false prophecy and who is a false prophet and who is a True Prophet of God is an important one in our times.  God tells us to listen to the true prophets:

2 Chronicles 20:20 New King James Version (NKJV)
20 … Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

So since God tells us to listen to the true prophets then we need to know who they are and distinguish them from false prophets. In the time we are in now there are many false prophets:

Matthew 24:11
Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.

So we need to be careful about who we consider to be a prophet.  In the old covenant Moses gave this command about presumptuous prophets:

Deuteronomy 18:22 New King James Version (NKJV)
22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

To some this would seem definitive by itself that anytime a prophecy does not come to pass that he who spoke it is a false prophet but unfortunately that is not consistent with the totality of scripture.  The book of Jonah tells us of how God commanded Jonah to prophesy a judgment but then God did not bring the judgment to pass because the people repented:

Jonah 3:4-10 New King James Version (NKJV)
4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,

Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

So was Jonah a false prophet then because what prophesied did not come to pass? No, obviously not if he is honored in scripture as a true prophet. So obviously there is something we do not understand at work here.  We need to be careful about trying to pigeonhole God with a hard line of how to judge things just because we think we found one scripture that seems to speak to the matter. We need to consider the whole of scripture not just one verse.

What God did with Jonah and often does is he used the word of a prophet to inspire the repentance that he wanted.  He always wants repentance where there is sin because he is love and is merciful and would prefer not to have to judge it.  God tells the prophet to say what is going to happen if they do not repent. This has the potential of inspiring the Fear of the Lord and bringing the desired repentance.  Whenever this happens and there is repentance the prophet always looks like he was wrong, but that is not what matters.   What matters is that there was repentance and the people were spared. What the prophet said would have come true if there had not been repentance. Thus rather than being false prophecy this is prophecy at its finest that accomplished the fear of the Lord and repentance.  The fear of the Lord is an essential ingredient to true prophecy:

Amos 3:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV)
Surely the Lord God does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
A lion has roared!
Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken!
Who can but prophesy?

My view on false prophecy based on my experience and study of the totality of scripture is that the single greatest mark of someone who should be called a false prophet is that his message is that things are going to well at at time when God is leading the true prophets to say they will not.  The false prophet prophesies peace when there will not be peace and he prophesies that there will be no judgment when there will be judgment. The voice of false prophecy brings a false safety and comfort, a soothing of the flesh, while the voice of true prophecy brings the fear of the Lord. Again:

Amos 3:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV)
Surely the Lord God does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
A lion has roared!
Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken!
Who can but prophesy?

We see a clear picture of the difference between true and false prophecy in 1Kings 22 which is a classic face-off between true and a false prophets:

1 Kings 22:6-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?”

So they said, “Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king.”

7 And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?”[a]

8 So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.”

And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say such things!”

9 Then the king of Israel called an officer and said, “Bring Micaiah the son of Imlah quickly!”

10 The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, having put on their robes, sat each on his throne, at a threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them. 11 Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made horns of iron for himself; and he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘With these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed.’” 12 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, “Go up to Ramoth Gilead and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the king’s hand.”

13 Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Please, let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement.”

14 And Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak.”

15 Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall we refrain?”

And he answered him, “Go and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king!”

16 So the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”

17 Then he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.’”

So we see that the true prophet Micaiah had a word of disaster not of success while the false prophets prophesied success.

Jeremiah also said it, twice: first in Chapter 6:

Jeremiah 6:13-14 New King James Version (NKJV)
“Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely.
They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.

And again Chapter 8:

Jeremiah 8:10-11 New King James Version (NKJV)
Therefore I will give their wives to others,
And their fields to those who will inherit them;
Because from the least even to the greatest
Everyone is given to covetousness;
From the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.

So we see that the false prophet preaches good when bad is coming and peace when there is war.  Ezekiel speaks of the same dynamic going on with the (false) prophets:

Ezekiel 13:9-10 New King James Version (NKJV)
9 “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord God.
10 “Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with

Ezekiel 13:16-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
16 that is, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,’” says the Lord God. 17 “Likewise, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own heart; prophesy against them,

People, even God's people, who are in rebellion want their ears tickled with a version of 'truth' that makes their flesh feel good. So they gather to themselves voices that tell them what they want to hear.  That is how false prophets arise and gain a following, even amongst God's people. That is something very different from a prophet-in-training missing on a prophecy because he is not totally mature as a prophet yet.

Learning to walk as a prophet in full obedience to the Lord is an art of relationship with God that is not learned overnight, thus young immature prophets make mistakes. So if one misses on a word that does not necessarily make him a false prophet but perhaps just an immature one.  However, if the message is this kind of denial based false positivity, then he might be false prophet, not just an immature one.

Steve Pursell, 8/13/16