I wanted to say a few things about what constitutes a false prophet.
There seems to be some misinformation and possibly some “false teaching” going around concerning what is and what is not, a false prophet today.
I say this, partly because I hear folks from time to time, say “if it doesn’t come to pass then surely this person is a false prophet.” Interesting statement, but is it necessarily true? I want to share a few sections of scripture here and maybe together we will arrive at what is true concerning these things.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the LORD.
They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, “You will have peace.” ’ And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, They say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’
But who has stood in the council of the LORD, That he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened?
Behold, the storm of the LORD has gone forth in wrath, Even a whirling tempest; It will swirl down on the head of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD will not turn back Until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; In the last days you will clearly understand it,” Jeremiah 23:16-20.
Perhaps some of you are aware of the fact that there are many supposed words from the LORD that continue to speak “only” about peace and plenty to come. There is a continued insistence upon calamity not coming to the land.
Everything will be golden, and all will be well. These are those again, that speak from their own hearts and imaginations. They promise many things, and don’t normally speak of judgment or warning. These are like those that tickle the ears and say things that many “want to hear.”
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape,” 1 Thessalonians 5:3.
Are you telling me brother that God never speaks of peace or comfort? No, of course God wants to speak to us of peace and comfort, but when a “self-proclaimed” prophet never speaks to warn, or council, or of judgment to come, then he or she, has not been in the presence of God.
“I did not send these prophets, But they ran. I did not speak to them, But they prophesied.
But if they had stood in My council, Then they would have announced My words to My people, And would have turned them back from their evil way And from the evil of their deeds.
Those who presume to speak for God were not sent by Him. As the verses above indicate, if they had stood in God’s council then they would have known what to say.
I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’
“How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal?
The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the LORD.
“Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who steal My words from each other,” Jeremiah 23:21-30.
Very interesting that God is saying that some have stolen words from others. Perhaps those who have done this had always stolen even as a child, and they never learned their lesson.
And also, those who have dreams from the LORD must convey them clearly and accurately, and yet God is saying here above that speaking His prophetic word is perhaps more important because it is in spoken in truth, and that straw has nothing in common with grain. The grain is the morsel of truth we must find, not the straw, or what would be discarded.
“Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The LORD declares.’
“Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the LORD, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the LORD,” Jeremiah 23:31-32.
These are those who give false hope. Remember that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
Below are some identifications of some things that might help us arrive at what is false:
Characteristics of False Prophets:
“Test all things; hold fast what is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them,” Matthew 7:15-20.
- Those who speak in the name of “other Gods.”
- Those who speak falsely in Jehovah’s name.
- The word is false.
- The word does not line-up with the word of God.
- Does not receive Godly instruction.
- Does not listen to the advice of others.
- Draws attention totally to himself and not to God.
* It seems clear here that one of the main considerations when judging whether someone is true or false, is their character. When Jesus talked about good and bad fruit above, He didn’t declare or mention, about whether or not a prophecy or a word from this person came to pass or not. However, a person can easily lose their credibility soon, if they keep “missing it.” Remember though, that much of prophecy is not “fore-telling” but “forth-telling.”
We also have an example from 2 Peter:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.
They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign LORD who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping,” 2 Peter 2:1-3.
True words and False Words:
Below are some examples of individuals who gave true and false words.
Examine these and see that some of these “prophets” were evidently “true,” but the word that they gave was not true. Again does that make them a true or a false prophet?
- True prophet that brings a true word — 2 Chronicles 12:5.
- True prophet that brings a false word — 1 Kings 13.
- False prophet that brings a true word — Joshua 13:22.
- False prophet that brings a false word — Numbers 23:5-10, 22:7, 24:1.
Finally, let me be clear, that I am not saying that it is not important for a prophet to not consider the importance of their words from God.
I believe that we must be careful and accountable to others when we declare that something is going to happen at such and such a time, and that this is going to happen. “If” it doesn’t come to pass, then we are held accountable about the message. That is a heavy responsibility and one that carries with it a heavy burden as well.
However, when someone makes a mistake that doesn’t mean that that individual is “false.” The message, or part of it, at least, didn’t come to pass in the manner in which it was spoken. The person hearing the message from God either mixed part of their own understanding, or they just didn’t hear it correctly.
That doesn’t brandish them as “false,” but their message was “not true.” We need to separate the person from the message.
“Thus you will say to that prophet, ‘What has the LORD answered you?’ and, ‘What has the LORD spoken?’
For if you say, ‘The oracle of the LORD!’ surely thus says the LORD, ‘Because you said this word, “The oracle of the LORD!” I have also sent to you, saying, “You shall not say, ‘The oracle of the LORD!’”’
Therefore behold, I will surely forget you and cast you away from My presence, along with the city which I gave you and your fathers.
I will put an everlasting reproach on you and an everlasting humiliation which will not be forgotten.” Jeremiah 23:37-40.
God sends a very stern warning to those who would speak “falsely” in His name. He ends up saying that those who do this will end up being a reproach and will be humiliated forever.
Let this serve as a very serious reminder to those who have begun to stray from the true path.
~ Stephen Hanson
Stephen Hanson of In His Truth Ministries came to the LORD is a special way in 1975 and has prophesied regularly since. In these end-time birthing pangs we are reminded that judgment must first begin with the household of God. Will we be prepared and ready?