I read the One Year Bible and today I found it very interesting that on April Fool’s Day, the Bible talks about those who would like to trick believers into believing lies, prophesies of their own imaginations.
There are some Christians that find a very easy solution–deny all prophetic words. Many people believe that God no longer speaks through prophets, because now the Bible is complete. I personally, find no scripture that suggests that. Oh, I know they like to point to Revelation 22:18 which says, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” But this verse is clearly talking about changing the book of Revelation, I suggest it would even apply to the entire Bible (Galatians 1:6-9).
But is that what the gift of prophesy was for? Just writing Scripture? I think the whole issue is that we are confused about what prophesy is, and why God has chosen (all throughout the Bible) to use people to profess HIS Word. Paul tells us that we should desire and pray for the gift of prophesy, “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.” 1 Corinthians 14:1. So if we are supposed to desire the gift of prophesy, it is a good idea for us to look at what it means. In the verse above the word prophesy is the Greek word prophēteuō which Strong’s defines as:
1) to prophesy, to be a prophet, speak forth by divine inspirations, to predict
a) to prophesy
b) with the idea of foretelling future events pertaining esp. to the kingdom of God
c) to utter forth, declare, a thing which can only be known by divine revelation
d) to break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or praise of the divine counsels
1) under like prompting, to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort others
e) to act as a prophet, discharge the prophetic office
So you can see from the definition above that giving a prophesy is not considered adding to Scripture or adding the the book of Revelation. In fact the word literally means to “speak forth” the Word of God. Usually a prophetic word includes a very directed and precise Scripture that specifically applies to the person the message is given to–to teach, correct, comfort, encourage, an direct them.
However, because this gift CAN be predictive, there needs to be parameters. God takes it very seriously when someone lies in His Name. I wouldn’t stand too close to such a person, for fear of lightening coming down from heaven. I don’t want my hair to get singed.
So we test prophesies. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 says, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” Why would Paul encourage the believers to seek after the gift of prophesy, and to not fear (despise) prophesy–if the gift was just a temporary apostolic manifestation? And why would Acts 2 include an quote from Amos that says that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit, and the sun would turn to darkness, the moon to blood before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord–if they gifts have already stopped? I don’t remember any cosmic/solar signs during the time of the early church. It is obvious that these gifts will continue until the day the Lord comes for us.
No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:17-21)
The other place I see these cosmic signs are when Jesus details the events that will occur at the end of the age in Matthew 24:
“Immediately after the distress of those days
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31).
We see these same cosmic signs alluded to in Revelation:
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” (Revelation 6:12-14)
So since these cosmic signs have yet to occur, it would be safe to say that the Lord is still pouring out His Spirit, still pouring forth prophesy, dreams and visions.
And because He still wants to move among us in revelatory ways, He wants us to be wise.
So, after that introduction, I will share what I read in my One Year Bible this morning.
True and False Prophets
Moses continued, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you yourselves requested of the Lord your God when you were assembled at Mount Sinai. You said, ‘Don’t let us hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore or see this blazing fire, for we will die.’
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘What they have said is right. I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf. But any prophet who falsely claims to speak in my name or who speaks in the name of another god must die.’
“But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’ If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.
Sometimes the Lord will bring us someone to speak truth into our lives. We are accountable to that truth, as it will be in agreement with Scripture and faith and holiness. If we just reject it outright, it is wrong. But if we embrace every message, we could also embrace error. We are also accountable to test the prophesy against scripture and see if it comes true.
Are there false prophets today?
There are always false prophets.
There always have been.
Jeremiah was a prophet of God and he had to deal with the false prophet Hananiah, among others.
If you have never read the story of this mind blowing showdown you can read it here.
Hananiah had to die.
Poor Jeremiah, was so burdened by the word of the Lord against the false teachers,
This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the Lord.
They keep saying to those who despise me,
‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’
And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts
they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’
But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord
to see or to hear his word?
Who has listened and heard his word?”(Jeremiah 23:16-18).
Elijah had 400 prophets of Baal to deal with.
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there. (1 Kings 18:38-40)
Ezekiel had to deal with false prophets:
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lordsays: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins. You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though theLord has not sent them, they say, “The Lord declares,” and expect him to fulfill their words. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken? (Ezekiel 13:1-7)
Micaiah had his Zedekiah:
Micaiah said, “Ahab, the Lord has made your prophets lie to you, and the Lord has decided that disaster should come to you.”
Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up to Micaiah and slapped him in the face. Zedekiah said, “Has the Lord’s spirit left me to speak through you?”
Micaiah answered, “You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inside room.”
Then Ahab king of Israel ordered, “Take Micaiah and send him to Amon, the governor of the city, and to Joash, the king’s son. 27 Tell them I said to put this man in prison and give him only bread and water until I return safely from the battle.”
Micaiah said, “Ahab, if you come back safely from battle, the Lord has not spoken through me. Remember my words, all you people!”
Micaiah was a true prophet, and he said, remember my words–if Ahab comes back safely the Lord has not spoken through me. Ahab could have killed him for this, but Ahab died in that battle; he never returned.
These are just a few examples of the destructive work of the false prophets in the Bible. But that doesn’t mean that there are no true prophets. Of course not. In fact, a lot of times God raises up His prophets to combat the lies that came from the false prophets!
We need to be so careful.
We need to fully care.
In the same Chapter of Matthew that I quoted from above, where Jesus talks about the cosmic signs, He also warns us, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time” (24-25). We are living very close to these days. Not only will we see more and more false prophets–these false prophets will have demonic powers to perform great signs and wonders. And it is possible that some of the people that we love and go to church with, who are maybe not fully committed to Christ, will even turn away from truth and towards falsehood.
In the meantime, as a church, we need to be filled with the Spirit. Discerning. Humbly using our gifts. Searching the Scriptures for truth. Not given to sensationalism and experience. Focusing on preaching the gospel and teaching the Word of God. Giving glory to Jesus, not to the man used by God. May everything we do, and every word we speak be all for the pleasure and glory of Jesus Christ our Lord, whom we will stand before and give an account for every idle word (Matthew 12:36).
As for me, I choose to cling to this verse and make it the hope of my heart,
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 59:21).
If you are interested in the gift of prophesy, you might like my other blog entry on this gift– The Gift of Prophesy