“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.” Deuteronomy 18:20.
There always has been and always will be false prophets who, for one reason or another, promote the most egregious of lies. In the Old Testament we discover God has pronounced a very severe punishment on those who presumptuously prophesy falsely. When God speaks through a prophet, that prophet will prophesy what is to actually occur in the future. There will be no doubt as to who is speaking as these prophesies come to pass, since only God can see the future. Thus this person would be considered a true prophet of God.
On the other hand, what if a man or woman professes to be a prophet of God yet their predictions fail time and time again? Are they speaking for God? Or are they speaking for His nemesis? What should the populous do with such as these? In the days of the recorded prophets of God, there were also false prophets who were determined to do damage to God and His Word. But God had a remedy for this type of chicanery.
In days of old, these false prophets weren’t merely dismissed as crackpots, nor were they given another chance to prophesy correctly. They were stoned to death for their evil deeds. Why? What reason could God have to institute such severe punishments against false prophets?
Today, if a professing prophet of God proclaims publically that God gave him/her a revelation/message for His people, but what God supposedly relayed to them never occurs, what consequences do these folks face? Before we look at the punishment let’s take a look at the effect false prophets have on the Word of God.
When someone professes to speak for God they better be accurate in their predictions since they are placing God and His Word in the midst of those predictions. It’s God who bears the brunt of distain when those predictions don’t come true. These days there seems to be no punishment for those who falsely prophesy in God’s name – therefore these foolish individuals continue their guise as authoritative, while deceiving if possible even the elect.
Can you understand why the false prophets were stoned? God was not to be made fun of, nor was He to be made out to be someone’s fool. God is not to be mocked or blasphemed. God is Sovereign, Holy, Just, and perfect in His ways. When God speaks to a prophet concerning a future event, that event will come to pass, without fail. His Word is true.
“For these nations…hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.” Deuteronomy 18:14. Although God is declaring to His people Israel they are not to hearken unto observers of times and unto diviners, He also speaks to His children today. We are not to hearken unto those who would set dates concerning His imminent return for His Church. Yet almost daily I receive letters from the brethren telling me that the Rapture will occur on such and such a date.
“If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” Micah 2:11. When men turn a deaf ear to the Word and revelation of God, they then turn to downright fables, they love to hear from those who will tell them what they want to hear and there are many today that fit that bill. If doom and gloom are on the horizon they want to hear only that there will be plenty of alcohol for their daily consumption. False prophets have learned to adjust their strategy to adhere to everyone’s wants. So, those consumed with the need to know the exact date of the Rapture, can with little effort locate false prophets who are more than willing to set a specific date to placate these foolish individuals.
“And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Acts 1:7. With every false prediction God is placed in a very precarious position. God tells us not to set dates and He has a real good reason for this restriction: His Word is at stake. Those who set dates invoke God’s Word as the giver of that date. When that particular day comes and goes and the event doesn’t occur as prophesied, God’s Word is seen by many as being false. God actually puts more emphasis on His Word than on His name. Even professing Christians begin to doubt His Word as these dates continually come and go and the Rapture hasn’t occurred.
So, many turn away from God or won’t allow the truth of His Word to cross the threshold of their minds because of false predictions. These false prophets like to publically proclaim their message so they may be seen as having some sort of higher communication link to God. Yet when their prophecies fail, instead of the public seeing them as rip-offs trying to garner a little fame and fortune, there is no substantial condemnation, nor are they scoffed at. Instead they’re simply given another chance to achieve their goal. For instance, in the state of California here in the US there is an individual who continually declares the date on which the Rapture of the Church will occur. Many of his parishioners have lost their livelihoods because they listened to this crackpot. Invariably the dates come and go producing nothing. Yet his congregation stands undeterred by the reality that he does not to speak for God. Last year he once again announced to the world the exact date of the Rapture. When he is deemed a failure again, will he lose his position of prominence in that congregation? Probably not.
How does the public view God when the predictions of these false prophets fail? The lost world loves to see this occur, they only see what they want to see and their attempts to convince themselves of the foolishness of believing in a God is reinforced. Since these presumptuous prophets say they speak for God, the convictions of the lost are magnified with each failed prophecy. Are you beginning to see why God placed such a severe punishment on these false prophets?
God wants us to understand who He is and why He does what He does. God draws a line in the sand as to how much information we are given concerning the future. Yet, these false prophets continually cross that line. They remain steadfast as they stand against God’s Word. They know that their predictions won’t be seen as false, but merely delayed. Thus they can garner a huge following among the gullible and biblically illiterate of the world. Most of the time false prophets are only out for monetary gain and popularity. They give no thought to how much they tarnish God’s Word. By the way, God’s Word is not only seen as tarnished by the lost but also by many Christians who remain biblically illiterate. Over time, God’s Word is dismissed and made to be irrelevant in the eyes of those who are perishing.
In today’s society God receives the brunt of the blame for just about everything, including the predictions by the false prophets. When God’s children are sinful He gets the blame. If His children refuse to be the salt and light on this perishing planet, the lost won’t hear His Word. God is diminished in the minds of those who are perishing each time a believer fails to stand up for Him. When His children set exact dates for events which have been prophesied in the Bible (such as the Rapture) but God has not given the exact date, this only reinforces doubt in the minds of those who are already in the camp of doubting Thomas.
It has always been the nature of man to blame God. God knew before He created us what our nature would be, thus He gave us His word (the Holy Bible), to guide us and to keep us from listening and following the advice of the false prophets. Yet, because of the foolishness attributed to the human heart, His word is ignored and man is continually being deceived.
The New Testament has its share of warnings concerning false prophets. The Apostle Paul was concerned about false prophets so he declared to the Corinthian church “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 14:37. In other words, if you have something to prophesy about you must allow the Word of God to be the ultimate authority.
Jesus warns about becoming deceived by these self-promoting false prophets. “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:11. How many of those who claim the name and blood of Christ today actually heed His warnings? Paul tells us in First Timothy to “…refuse profane and old wives’ fables…” 1 Timothy 4:7a. Yet many are being deceived daily by the very fables Paul speaks about.
Although false prophets can and do deceive many, another factor that many neglect, or simply refuse to consider, is that Satan is behind the scenes pulling the strings of such folks. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” 1 Timothy 4:1-2.
“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers…, Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Titus 1:10-1, 13b-16. Where is that rebuke today?
Now let’s see what kind of punishment God holds for these foolish false prophets. Even though today the false prophet is no longer stoned God does have a plan for those who refuse to turn to the truth. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10. One such false prophet will get what is coming to him; will this be the end for all who claim to be prophets of God but are in fact falsely representing Him?
“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: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:22. It’s up to us individually to follow Jesus Christ and His teachings. Believers are to accept His warnings as truth, always being on the watch for deception. No matter what, we should never fear those who say they speak for God and yet are nothing but liars.
God bless you all,