|The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
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The matter of true and false prophets is not something that our Lord lightly regarded. Did He not say to His church redeemed by His blood, Beware of false prophets that would come in His name? When He made His statement, His hearers obviously understood Him in the context of "Moses' law" concerning false prophets.
Therefore, if we are going discern between two "prophetic" messages, both claiming Godly authority, and thus know them by their fruits, we must begin at Christ's reference point: Moses' law concerning true and false prophet. Moses shows us that their fruit primarily refers to their outward words and actions. 20th century false prophets, though they speak dogmatically in the name of the Lord, are readily recognized in the light of God's word: Wherefore by their fruits we can know them, Mat 7:20.
The seriousness of the matter is revealed in the false prophets effectiveness: only the Divine Word and supernatural Spirit of God can separate their lies from the truth, Heb 4:12, and only the "elect" are spared by God from their destructive doctrine, Mat 24:24. God commands His people to try every spirit in light of His word, I Jo 4:1. (Mt 24:5; 1NIk 13:6; Lk 21:8, all speak, of course, of the false prophets coming before 70 AD with promises of peace and safety, but the warning is certainly as broad as the gospel.)
One of the things that make false prophets so dangerously effective is found in the text, Mat 7:22, 23: the prophets are so committed to their message of error, thinking it is truth, that they stake their eternal welfare upon their message. History records many who willingly died for their false faith. Thus commitment, even to the death, to a doctrine makes neither the believer nor the doctrine correct, but commitment sure attracts followers. Many times, it is very difficult to see past commitment to the truth of the message.
Both true and false prophets were cornmon in OT Israel (1 Kgs 18:4); therefore, the Lord had to give some very detailed and explicit instructions in the area of prophets. We will establish some basic characteristics of the prophet from the OT, examine some things about the true prophet of God and then examine the false prophet and his message. We will then see why God's people do not hear the truth even when it confronts them. The outline is bold faced and easily followed; some points require further development at a latter date.
OF THE TRUE PROPHET
Though priesthood was not a requirement, sometimes prophets were also priests. In fact, priests were not immune to prophets speaking to them, 1 Sam 2. Apparently, priests as prophets (Jer 1:1; Eze 1:3; Lu 1:67, &c.) were exceptions. Sometimes the prophets were "trained for the job," but most were untrained and unqualified in man's eyes, I Kgs 19:16-20; Isa 6:8; Jer 1:5; Amos 1:1, 7:14,15, &c.
Normally, the prophet was just an average man or woman whom God raised up from among His people as needed to speak for Him in times of national apostasy. He/she was someone the Lord spoke to in such a way that he/she had to deliver the message, 2 Sam 12:7-9; 24:11-13; 1 Kgs 13:1, 2; 16:17; 17: 1, Jer 2 0:9, &c. His/her message was the message "required for the hour and situation at hand."
It is interesting that the prophet in the college at Jerusalem was a woman keeper of the wardrobe, not one of the male "students" of the school. But even though the prophet was a woman, the message was the same, "Repent or perish; turn or burn:" either repent of the sin of forsaking the law of the Lord or suffer the wrath of God, which shall not be quenched, 2 Ki 22:14.
The prophets spoke clearly. There was very little, if any, doubt about the prophet's meaning, Hab 2:2; Isa 8: 1, &c. In fact, King Jehoiakim understood all to well what the prophet said, so he cut up the prophet's words and burned them, Jer 36. But though he rejected the message and refused to turn from his wicked ways, he could not void the message. Part of his rejection of Jeremiah's message was to say that the prophet was improperly influenced, Jer 43. (This denial of proper authorship of disagreeable portions of the Word of God is quite common with sinful man; to rid himself of those pesky passages, he releases a "new translation.")
The prophets seemed to be the primary recorders of Israel's history, leaving many of their records for our instruction, 2 Chron 12:29; 12:15, &c.
Finally, the prophets had an unusual (for our day) access to the civil authorities, 1 Kg 18:18; Jer 17:19. Essentially, their access was by meeting them along the road (2 Chron 15:1-8), but prophets did have access to the palace, e.g., Jer 37. (One wonders if a reason the president is surrounded by Secret Service personal is to keep a true prophet of God from him.)
OF THE TRUE PROPHET
With few exceptions (e.g., Deborah, Jud 4), the prophet's message was two fold: they spoke against the people, the rulers' and the false prophets' departure from the revealed word of God, consistently calling for their hearers to amend their doings. The judgment and blessing of God upon His people was based upon their response to His prophets' message, 2 Ki 17:13; 2 Ch 20:20; 24:19, &c.
The Lord promised to do nothing in judgment except He first revealed it through His prophets, Am 3:7. So in His compassion for His people, He sent (sends) prophets to them with His warnings. In other words, God did not have to send His warnings; He could have left them in their pollution. But His people mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets. God's people had no compassion on His prophets, so God brought against them the pagans (king of the Chaldees) who had no compassion upon the people and their children. Thus God avenged the blood of His prophets that His people persecuted, 2 Chron 36:15-17; Mat 23:34.
Jeremiah 7 gives an excellent example of the duty and message of the prophet: stand in the Lord's house, proclaim the word of the Lord against the sins of the people and call on the people to amend their ways. He also shows us the results of the people not heeding the true prophet's message: the people were rejected and forsaken of the Lord, destroyed and their land made desolate (they were spued from the land for their sin according to the word of the Lord through Moses, Deut 28-32). The Lord Himself became the enemy of His people who listened to the false prophets; He raised up Babylon against His lawless, stubborn people, and joins with His merciless Babylonian army against His people to assure their destruction, Jer 21:5; 37:10.
Thus the true prophet was primarily a watchman who proclaimed the law-word of God to God's people, Eze 3:17.
When in the midst of judgment the people finally cried out to the Lord in their distress, the Lord sent prophets to them with the same message: "Repent and return in obedience to the Lord," Jud 6:7-10.
[Note Jer 25:4,5; 35:15 (chs 26-29): God was going to judge His people for their rebellion against Himself. Jeremiah's message, therefore, was, "submit to Babylon." His message created great consternation among "God's people." Jeremiah was treated very harshly because his message did not correspond to what the people desired to hear.]
One of the signs that the Lord has totally forsaken His people to the results of their sin (harsh judgment at the hands of the pagans?) is His removal of the true prophet: He turns His hardened people over to their false prophets whom they love so much, Eze 7:26; Amos 8:11, 12.
There were actually three types of prophets in the OT: First, the prophets of Baal. These prophets, among other things, recognized the state as lord. They were openly pagan prophets, therefore, easily recognized as pagan, anti-Christ prophets. They were to be put to death. Second, the false prophets who prophesied in the name of the Lord; they claimed the same voice and authority as did the true prophets of God, viz., they spoke in the name of the Lord God Jehovah. They also were under God's curse of death for speaking pleasant words in the name of the Lord when they should have been speaking God's words, unpleasant to the ear, Jer 26. Third, the true prophets who prophesied in the name of the Lord. Thus the prophets of Baal are easily recognized and dismissed, but the two prophets who speak in the name of the Lord - that is a different story.
How can one tell the difference between the true and false prophet when they both speak dogmatically in the name of the Lord, when they both are apparently ready to stake their lives on the soundness of their message? Moses gave two extremely clear references to prophets: Deut 13 & Deut 18:20. In both passages, the Word of God gives some very important points about both true and false prophets. We will consider them in their order:
Though the whole chapter deals with false prophets, wives, friends, inhabitants of a city in the land, &c., we will only look at the first 5 verses that establish the premise of the rest of the chapter. Note v. 16: all the spoil the sinners had gathered was to be burned, thus condemning modern "forfeiture" laws.
The false prophets are among God's people where they present marvelous signs and wonders which might come to pass. Matt 7:22, the false prophets plead their wonderful works as proof of their salvation, but the Lord says,... depart from me... The connection between the law and the Lord's words would have been so clear to Christ's listeners that not one could have missed His meaning. The WORLD BIBLE gives Mat 7:21 as a cross ref for Deut 13:2.) The false prophets did not bring about the sign or wonder in their own power nor by the power of the devil; the Lord brought it to pass to prove His people. would they walk in His revealed way of truth or would they be influenced away from His Divine Word to the way of the false prophets? The fulfilled signs and wonders of the false prophets test the hearts of the people of God, viz., will God's Word be their final rule of action or no?
The false prophets were to be put to death, the penalty for attempting to influence God's people to depart from God's law.
Moses opens this section about prophets with a prophecy of the coming Messiah Who would deliver God's Word directly to man and man's words to the Father: He will be the Mediator between God and man desired of Moses, Exo 20:19; Deut 18:15 & Acts 3:22; He will be the true Prophet from God, and the people will be held accountable to God for their response in hearing and doing the words of that Prophet, (Lu 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? &c.).
Vv. 20-22, Moses presents another warning about false prophets slightly different from Det 13: they either speak presumptuously in the name of the Lord (things not commanded by the Lord; thus their false message is from the Bible but not Biblical), or they speak in the name of false gods, e.g., a soothsayer, &c, vv. 10, 11. Moreover, they can be recognized by the results of their "prophecies:" they fail to materialize.
OF FALSE PROPHETS
We have thus two descriptions of false prophets: one whose signs and wonders do come to pass (De 13:2), and one whose signs and wonders do not come to pass (De 18:22). In both cases, the inspired Word of God must be the final judgment upon the prophet's words and actions.
Of course, if the event does not come to pass as the false prophet promised, he can say that the time is not right yet for his prophecy to come to pass. Furthermore, people wanting to heed the false words also say the time is not yet come. (cf. Hag 1:2.)
IS THE MESSAGE
The OT records many experiences with the false prophets of Baal (the state, &c.), but Baal's prophets are not the problem; the problem is the many false prophets speaking in the name of the Lord. The OT drew a distinct contrast between the true and false prophet; one of the clearest contrasts is found in 1 Kgs 22 where we find both true and false prophets speaking in the name of the Lord.
Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, united for a battle against Ahab's enemy, Syria. (2 Chron 18:1, affinity... Apparently, Jehoshaphat's son & Ahab's daughter married, thus joining the kingdoms of Israel & Judah by marriage, BDB, p 368. See 1 Kgs 22:4.) Better than three years previous to this meeting between Ahab and Jehoshaphat, Elijah had killed all the prophets of Baal (800 men) in the kingdom under Ahab, upsetting Ahab's wife greatly, 1 Kgs 18:19, 40. She sought Elijah's life, so he flees in fear from her wrath. The Lord meets Elijah, telling him to anoint a new king over Syria, anoint a new king over Israel and call a prophet to stand in his (Elijah's) room, vv. 15,.
[Observe that the Lord raises up ALL rulers, Godly & ungodly; He told Elijah to anoint a Hazael king over pagan Syria, v. 15. Furthermore, the Lord tells Elijah of the coming death and destruction of His faithless people, and that the new prophet, Elisha, will slay those appointed by God to judgement yet escape the sword of the king of Syria and the sword of the king of Israel.]
I Kg 20, Benhadad, king of Syria, declared war against Ahab. The Lord sent a true prophet to Ahab with the promise of victory which came to pass. Vv. 22, Benhadad tries again for victory, and again the Lord promises victory to Ahab over Syria because of the pride of Syria's king's not because of Ahab's goodness, v. 28. Ahab again has victory over Syria. The king of Syria, whom God had appointed to death, is in Ahab's grasps, yet Ahab fails to do unto him as required by the Lord. The result of Ahab sparing Benhadad is the prophecy that Ahab and the people of Israel will go for those whom the Lord had appointed to death, v. 43. The Lord sees to Benhadad's death anyway, 2 Kgs 8:15.
Chapter 21 records the evil deed of King Ahab's wife against Naboth in the king's name. Vv. 17, Elijah stands in Naboth's vineyard and speaks the word of God's judgment against Ahab for his evil deed. Thus twice God prophecies judgment against Ahab, 20:42 & 21:19 (note that Ahab's wife did the deed against Naboth, but Ahab is held clearly responsible [Jezebel did not avoid judgment]).
Chapter 22 records three years of peace which, evidently, gives Ahab confidence that the Lord has forgotten, and he is "home free." But when they say Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them..., (1 Th 5:3) and Ahab's time of judgment is upon him. So the Lord works circumstances to lead to Ahab's death.
WILL THE TRUE PROPHET
The Lord places a desire in Ahab to recover a city, Ramoth in Gilead, from Syria. Ahab asks the good king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, to join him in his battle with Syria. Jehosaphat agrees, but first he wants to Inquire... at the word of the Lord. So Ahab, before going into battle, asks his prophets for a word from the Lord. These prophets are considered "prophets of the Lord" by both the king of Israel and the king of Judah, vv. 5, 7, 13 (implied).
Obviously, there was not sufficient time to gather 300 new prophets of Baal between ch 18 and ch 22; therefore, these 300 "prophets" had escaped the sword in ch 18. Though they were false prophets, they were NOT prophets of Baal. These prophets were men speaking NOT IN THE NAME OF BAAL, but in the name of the Lord, vv. 6, 11, 12.
Evidently, Ahab, cut off from his false prophets of Baal who would speak pleasant things to him, found men who would speak the same pleasant things to him "in the name of the Lord:" they say to wicked Ahab, Thus saith the LORD... and Go up... prosper.. the LORD shall deliver..., vv. 11, 12.
Observe: when people want pleasant words, there will be "prophets" to provide the pleasantries even in the name of the Lord.
Jehoshaphat was suspicious (that so many "preachers" could agree on one thing?), so he asks for another opinion, v. 7. Ahab identified another man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, whom Ahab did not like because Nhcaiah would not place his blessings upon Ahab's evil desires. He spoke truth from the Lord, and sinners hate truth, v. 8. At Jehoshaphat's insistence, Ahab sent for Xficaiah. The messenger, as he brought Micaiah to the kings, placed a "bug" in Micaiah's ear: "Here's what the king's prophets are saying. If you will go along with them and what the king wants to hear, it will go very well for you." The Prophet promises to say what the Lord tells him to say.
Micaiah appears before the kings, and facetiously says, Go, and prosper... Micaiah was so clearly facetious that the king knew immediately Micaiah was mocking the other prophets who were speaking "in the name of the Lord." Ahab adjured Micaiah to speak the word of God to the kings, which he did. He told Ahab of his coniing death as a result of his rebellion against the Word of God which Ahab did not appreciate.
Micaiah went on to explain what was going on with the 400 prophet's who were prophesying in the name of the Lord: Ahab had sinned and hardened himself against God. (At least 3 years transpire between Ahab's humility and his war with Syria, 21:29- 22:1. Thus wicked Ahab had a three year respite in God's timetable for his destruction for his wickedness.) God had determined to judge Ahab with the king of Syria for his sin, so in order to persuade Ahab to go foolishly into battle against Syria, the Lord sent a lying spirit to be in the mouth of all Ahab's prophets. Accordingly, the prophets prophesy lies in the name of the Lord to assure Ahab that everything is fine. Ahab then goes into battle against Syria with a false assurance that the Lord will supernaturally again deliver him when actually the Lord is delivering him unto judgment for his sin, vv. 19-23.
The false prophets believe their he spoken in unison of Ahab's success to the fullest, and challenge the true prophet openly, v 24. Of course, they had no choice but to make a public challenge because they were all within view of the kings. The false prophets had to play their part "to the hilt."
Unappreciative of Micaiah's true message, Ahab delivered him to prison. On the other hand, the false prophet who spoke peace and safety in the name of the Lord was delivered to death by the Lord in Whose name he spoke his lies. Ahab was properly deceived, and met God's justice on the battle field.
We have thus far:
First, Ahab, the wicked ruler, is deceived by God for a purpose: judgement for his turning from the true God of Israel,
I am personally confronted constantly throughout Scripture with the thought that American "Christianity," as a whole, is deceived by God for a purpose. It (has &) is pursuing, financing, loving, listening to and following after false prophets who are telling the people just what they want to hear "in the name of the Lord:" "Continue on in your sin and prosper anyway." The deceit of the 44 prophet" and the "people" is for a purpose: to bring about judgement against the love of the world and prepare a nation for Himself, 2 Pe 2.
Second, Jehosaphat desired the truth; the truth was given by Micaiah, yet Jehosaphat continued in his evil alliance. It was only God's mercy that delivered Jehosaphat from the results of his sin, 2 Chron 19:2, 3.
Whereas the "fake Christian," e.g. Israel's King Ahab, persecutes and avoids the true prophets of God (Elijah), the "genuine Christian," e.g. Godly King Jehoshaphat, hear the truth, but continues in sin. Hence both brands of "Christians" call for God's judgment.
The false prophets' appealing message in the name of the Lord promises the Lord's deliverance apart from repentance on the part of the ones seeking His presence and deliverance; his message does violence to the law, Zep 3:4; his message is according to his and his hearers evil hearts (Eze 13:2-9) and thus tares down the hedge from around God's people, Ez 22:30; 13:5. The true prophet builds up God's protective hedge by proclaiming God's law. Therefore, the purpose of the false promise of deliverance is so the Lord can bring judgment upon the sins of the people, Jer chs 1-38.
According to our Lord's words, his fruits make the false prophet recognizable, the fruit of his lips, Isa 57:19, 20 & Heb 13:15.
LISTEN! WHAT DOES HE SAY?
Obviously, the false prophet, speaking in the name of the Lord, promises peace and safety to God's people when he should be speaking repent and turn, Jer 14:13-16. The false prophet offers the people ways to avoid the results of their sins other than learning and doing the ways of the Lord, Jer 19. Jeremiah 23 implies that the land is full of adultery, swearing and evil because of false prophets, vv. 9-11. Then God says there is not a jot of difference between the false prophets speaking in Baal's (the false god of the state) name and the false prophets speaking in the Lord's name, vv. 13, 14. Like the prophets in 1 Kgs chs 18-22, both prophets preach the same vain message, viz., both speak a vision of their own heart, not the truth of God's word, vv. 13-16.
It should be noted that the false prophets prevented God's people from serving Babylon, God's servant against their sins and stubborn ness, as commanded by God, Jer 40:2, 3, 9, &c., which is an interesting study in itself.
By their fruit ye can know them... The fruit of the mouth reveals the truth of the heart. The message of both Baal's prophets and "Christian" prophets is the same: they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you, Jer 23:17. Clearly, both prophets speak prosperity, peace and safety when they should be speaking learn and do according to the Word of God, Mat 7:24-27. Both the prophets of Baal and the false prophets, speaking "in the name of the Lord," build false security in the hearts of God's people, Ez 13:10, 11.
When the conditions of the hearts, families, churches and society in general call for messages of repentance and faith, those failing to proclaim such messages are clearly identified by God as FALSE PROPHETS; God did not send them, Jer 2 3:2 1. (Note that it takes consistent truth over a period of time to burn away the chaff and break the hardened rock, vv. 28-30.)
The Lord told Ezekiel how and why false prophets proliferate, Eze 14: 1-11. The false prophet finds his roots in the hearts of God's people because God's people set up their idols in their heart. though their outward appearances may be Godly, they are idolaters at heart.
God does not leave us to speculate about idolatry's definition. Among other things, it is defined as: stubbornness and rebellion, 2 Sam 15:23; works of the flesh proving lack of conversion, Gal 5:19, and covetousness, Col 3:5. Notice the "company" covetousness keeps, viz. children of disobedience, v. 6. Whereas most professed Christians flee fornication, uncleanness, &c., they readily embrace and pursue covetousness; while refusing to heed Paul's words, flee from Idolatry, they claim to be "NT Christians," 1 Cor 10: 14. They compromise the word of God for personal attainments. Paul no doubt would see the same thing today as he saw at Athens, viz., a society, both inside and outside the church, wholly given to idolatry, Acts 17:16. The idolaters (q.v.) came to the man of God, Ezekiel; professing to seek the Lord by attending church to hear the man of God speak, they bring their idols with them, and came with no intention of turning their hearts from their idolatry.
God tells Ezekiel why His people grow even more hardened in their sin, viz. God gives His people the desire of their hearts. He promises to answer the "seekers," but notice His answer, viz., an answer according to the multitude of his idols of the heart, 14:4-7. The idolaters love their gods, so the Lord sends the messages to confirm and strengthen their service to their gods: HE gives His people the message they love and want to hear, Jer 5:31. Though Mic 3:5 (&c.) seemingly indicts the false prophets for causing the people to error, more than once, we are told that false prophets are a result of the people desiring a message of error: prosperity, peace & safety.
GOD INCREASES IDOLATRY
Thus God's people can sit under truths about things like the pagan school system and the Sovereignty of God and never hear what is said. In fact, according to God's Word, he who sets under the truth while still cominitted to his idols in his heart will become more committed to his idols, for God will give him what he desires to hear. The only safe way to set under the preaching of the truth is with the attitude that the heart is deceitful, and with a desire for God to reveal His truth and give the desire and power to act upon His revealed truth, Jer 17:5-12 & Ph 2:13.
Furthermore, as we saw above in Deut 13, the Lord promised to raise up false prophets throughout history to prove His people's commitment to His word. (Jer 23:25 implies that false prophets will prophecy deceits as long as the people want to hear deceits.) God's people many times desire smooth, lying words; they want to be deceived in their sins; they want someone to tell them that they are not really required to live a holy life according to the Word of God, 1 Ki 22:13; Jer 5:31; Isa 30:8-13; Am 2:12; 1 Pet 1:15, &c. His people did not want to hear a clear definition of sin (1 Jn 3:4), nor did they want to hear about the Word of God and His message of judgment against their sin, so the false prophets gave the people what they desired. The people avoided the prophets who refused to compromise the Word of God. Thus the basic message of the false prophet was that there was no actual need to worry, everything was all right. (There was a popular song that described the false message: "Don't worry, be happy...) As mentioned in 1 Kgs 22, great favour with the people and the civil authorities awaited the prophet if he, in the name of the Lord, would condone what the king &/or people had already decided to do contrary to God's Word.
JUST FAR ENOUGH
The "Prophets for profit" promise peace and safety when they should be warning God's people; they will not say enough to hinder their reaping man's "profit & praise," Mic 3:11, 12, All of our communities have churches and pastors who are obviously apostate, but not many people will remain under a "preacher" who openly denies Scripture; therefore, the false prophet takes the Word of God just far enough, but not too far. He will not take an unpopular stand with his hearer or community; he will not take a stand that could cost him his profit &/or praise. (I ask a man about a particular pastor in our county, and he said, "He uses the Bible some of the time.")
There are many, easily recognized false prophets, but consider this: where does the preacher fit who gives Godly truth, but maybe because the people cannot handle it, or maybe because of problems it will cause, or maybe even because of the financial cost involved, he only goes so far with the truth? We all get caught in this trap. What about those who only stand enough for the truth, e.g. Sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ, &c., to keep the flock settled?
The reason the Lord tells the people what they want to hear is to harden them even further into their sin, and thus He can bring judgment upon them, Ez 14:5. But God does not bring judgment without first warning His people: He clearly tells them what is taking place (i.e., lies to confirm their heart's idolatry) so they can deal with the idolatry, v. 6-8. The people want false prophets who will place their blessings upon their idolatry, so the Lord sends them, Ez 14:9, 10; moreover, though the Lord sent the false prophets, both the prophets and the people are accountable according to the truth, Jer 23:30; Rom 2.
Jer 2 7 ~ 15, the Lord says that He did not send the false prophets, yet in vv. 10 & 15, the Lord says that His purpose in the false prophets was to cause the people to believe a he. The difficulty is answered in I Kgs 22: God did not send Ahab's false prophets who spoke in His name (they either gathered to Ahab or Ahab gathered them), yet He, through them, caused Ahab to believe a lie for His, God's, purpose. They prophesied a lie according the deceiving spirit sent from God while the true prophet told what was going on. Ahab CHOSE to follow the deception.
Among other things, the false prophet's message delivered in the "name of the Lord" strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness... He makes people feel comfortable in their sins. Or we could say, he failed to make people uncomfortable in their sins, Jer 23:11-14. This point could easily be a reason that hearers, even under the truth, are so hardened: they get plenty of comfort and false assurance in their sin fiom the abundance of other sources.
Having established the OT basis of the Lord's warning about false prophets, let us examine the NT.
Our starting point was the Lord's words of Mat 7:15, Beware of false prophets... Vv. 15-20 - 6 verses - refer to false prophets, wolves in sheep's clothing. The Lord spent enough time on the subject in His short message (109 verses) to show us the seriousness of the subject. Our Lord's words here, directed to His disciples, are not to be passed over lightly. His words present us with a problem, viz., identification. These prophets look, act, smell and sound exactly like the true prophets, but in-side they are ravening wolves. It is important to note that false prophets throughout Scripture proposes to speak for the Lord God. Thus someone just speaking from observation would not be considered a false prophet. false 5578 prophets 5578 the two words are used together:
Mt 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall de ceive
many. Mt 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false
prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders,- in so much
that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect Mr 13:22
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs
and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect
Though the Lord's warnings refer primarily to the false prophets that would arise before and during the siege and final destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, 67-70 AD, His warning applies for all time. The Lord attributes to the false prophets power to show great signs and do great wonders. Everything about their person said they were genuine, sincere prophets of God. In fact, the Mat 7:22 false prophets themselves were convinced of their genuineness based upon their ability to do great signs and wonders.
Moreover, we should note that false prophets in Scripture seem to arise in their greatest number and influence just prior to a time of God's judgment against His people's sins. (We found from the OT that the propose of the false prophets was to keep God's people happy in their sin so He could judge the sin, and thus prepare a people for His glory.) Furthermore, false prophets spoke primarily to the Lord's people.
Let us examine a few NT points about false prophets. One or all of the points may apply to the NT false prophets:
1) There is a very close connection between sorcery and false prophets (every NT use of the term false prophet is in the context of perverting God's Word in the "name of the Lord" for the advantage of the prophet). Though the context of Acts 13:6 ( ... a certain sorcerer, a false prophet..., vv. 6 -11) defines sorcery in that case as demonic, the sorcerer sought to pervert the right ways of the Lord. Thus as false prophets speaking pleasant words to the people (peace peace when there is no peace, &c.) rise to prominence, so does sorcery. Sorcery and perversion of the right ways of the Lord go hand in hand though the perversion takes place under the guise of preaching the Bible. Consequently, because the right ways of the Lord are perverted in the pulpit, we have the modern rise of open demonic activity. E.g., "We preach the Bible," but how many are practicing sorcery by perverting the right ways of the Lord?
2) The false prophets will not do their dastardly work openly: they are in sheep's clothing. Moreover, they vehemently deny their actual leaning. Many may be good, sincere men, totally convinced they are right, but their goodness does not spear them from destruction, Mat 7:22, 2 Pe 2:1.
3) The motives of the false prophets are to obtain for themselves something under false presences. In a case of which the Lord warned us, they pretend to be from God because of the power, prestige and/or money available, Mt 5:15. But again, they may well be sincere, yet deceived, men doing their best. They are raised up by God for a purpose. ravening refers to a robber; it is translated extortioner elsewhere, 1 Co 5:10, 11; 6:10,
4) Though the "Church Age" will be characterized by the rise and prominence of false prophets, they really are no more prevalent than they were in OT Israel. wolves... is a term used for cruel, greedy, rapacious, destructive men, Mt 10: 16; Lk 10: 3; Jn 10: 12; Acts 2 0:2 9.
5) The Lord identifies the NT false prophets with the OT false prophets: Lu 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. In other words, when the Gospel of Christ, the Prince of Peace, is unoffensive to all, it is a sign that the speaker is a false prophet. (Note the context of Luke 6:24 is almost identical to Matthew's record of the Sermon on the Mount.)
6) Some general warnings in the NT: the false prophets teach a doctrine contrary to Paul's words, Rom 16:17; they present a salvation requiring no repentance and turning from sin, Eph 5:6, and they present worldly philosophy, Col 2:8. Moreover, God's people are to doubt and try every spirit, I Jo 4: 1. What is the basis of their message? Does it line up with the word of God?, &c.
The most dangerous false prophets are found within the church, 2 Pe 2:1; they are wolves in sheep's clothing. Their message is one that destroys the very basic premise of Christianity, viz., that all men are sinners and the only hope is repentance, turning from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus did not wast words: BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS... Can we ignore His words and avoid the consequences?
God avenged the blood of the prophets throughout history. Though His "special vengeance" took place in 70 AD, He will avenges the persecution and the blood of His prophets until time is no more, 2 Kgs 9:7; 1 Chr 16:21, 22; Mat 23:37,38 & Lu 11:50.
Though the false prophet does his best to hide himself, the Lord will hold him accountable for his lies which cause God's people do have a false security, Jer 29:31, 32. His final abode is assured, Mat 7:23; Re 16:13; 19:20; 20:10.
Thus we see that when God's people harden themselves against the Lord, HE will raises up sincere, false prophets to speak in His name, speaking what people want to hear. But even if the prophets are true, Godly speakers, God will allow the people hear what they want to hear. Though the message may be God's truth for the hour, hardened hearers will hear only what protects and strengthens the idolatrous love in their hearts.
It is sad but true: when people are controlled by sin, the Lord will raise up prophets who are also controlled by sin (in this case, idolatry). Ez 14:1-10 is quite depressing, but v. I I gives hope after the storm. God raises up prophets to purify the hearts of His people, 1 Pet 1:7.
A FINAL NOTE
As usual with the Word of God, He does not leave His faithful people in a depressed condition: He gives the reason for the false prophets who strengthen His people in their sins, viz., the end result is a people for God and a God for the people, Ez 14:11. See the new covenant, Jer 31:31.
The Word of God abounds
with hope even in the midst of great distress, e.g., Zpeh
2:3; 3:8, &c.
|INFERTILITY RESEARCH URGED|
Some time ago, we read the following:
... The House Government Operations Committee urged the Bush administration Saturday to clear the way for use of federal funds for research into the infertility problem plaguing millions of American couples... Government unwillingness to fund research has slowed the search for ways to improve in vitro fertilization and other high-tech solutions to infertility, according to the report issued Saturday. [Indpls Star, 12/5/89.1
We hear professed Christians preach that mankind is no longer under the law of God, and some are quite adamant about their antinomianism. Of course, this foolish notion is readily accepted by those who desire to be free of the confines of His law, Ps 2. We must admit, though, that mankind is free to consider himself free from God's Law-Word, but he is not free to avoid the results of his foolish thinking.
The above article is only one of many examples of what we are saying. The Command-Word of God as given by Moses is surnmed up with, all the words of this law that are written in this book, Deut 28:58. The results of not observing to do all the words of this law are listed in Deut 28:59-68. Obviously, the final fultillment of vv. 59-68 came upon the Jews in 70 A.D. But heaven and earth will pass away before the principles contained in God's Word will change.
The plague which we are concerned with herein is found in vv. 62, 63: God promises to decrease the population because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God. Rather than rejoicing over and multiplying an apostate nation, the Lord rejoices over it by bringing it to nothing: He rejoices in its decrease in numbers.
Our nation which once found its hopes in the God of the Scriptures now finds its hope in science and high-technology. Such hope is Himianism to the core: "Using Technology wisely, we can control..." "No deity will save us, we must save ourselves..." "Technology is a vital key to human progress and development..." (Humanist Mamfestos, I & II. As a point in passing: "Travel restrictions must cease. The world must be open to diverse political, ideological, and moral view points..." E.g. NAFTA?)
What is the answer presented by the wicked for "the infertility problem plaguing millions of American couples"? Why, high- technology, science and more money for research. But the answer presented by the Creator of all life is quite simple: return to His total Word for our every instruction in righteousness, Phil. 3:16. Children are a heritage of the Lord, and they will be given in accord with His word, Ps 127:3.
Preachers and teachers can proclaim from the housetops that society no longer must follow God's total Word; they are free to do so. But no society is free of the end result of the path trodden by the false prophets as they lead a nation down the path to death and oblivion.
Pro 8:32-36 Now therefore hearken unto me, 0 ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul.- all they that hate me love death.