The Law of False Prophets--Final
Mar 03, 2008
In Matthew 24:23 and 24 Jesus warned us,
" (23) Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him. (24) For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."
On Feb. 22, 2008 I wrote about a prime example earlier of a worldwide announcement on April 25, 1982 with full-page headlines screaming, "The Christ is Now Here." That, I believe, is the best modern example that we could bring forth. But there have been many christs (or messiahs) in the past. I have a book by Jerry Rabow entitled appropriately, 50 Jewish Messiahs. He traces 50 so-called messiahs in Jewish circles over the past 2,000 years.
All of them lived and died. The men who call themselves "Lord Maitreya," today have their own false prophet to announce them. It is Benjamin Creme, their equivalent of John the Baptist. But their idea of a "Christ" has nothing to do with immortality or the resurrection of the dead. They just want people to accept their "christ" as the world-teacher/leader until he dies and his successor is elected to that position. It's just another Christ-dynasty of mortals competing with the Merovingians.
I can guarantee that these wannabe christs would not die for you. They do not love you that much. They expect you to love them enough to die for them. And for this reason, they hate the Cross, because it proved the love of Jesus to be far superior to their own love. To them, the Cross was a case of simple murder, or perhaps someone being willing "to die for the truth."
Jesus did not die merely for the truth. He died for people. False Christs often die for what they believe is the truth. Some might even die for their friends. But none of them would die for their enemies. Paul says in Rom. 5:6-8,
" (6) For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. (8) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
But Jesus also warned about "false prophets." This should not be taken as a warning against ALL prophets. I have been amused in the past how many people believe in false prophets, but they do not think that true prophets existed beyond the apostles. Yet we find Agabus in the book of Acts, who is called a prophet (Acts 21:10). There is no indication that he was a false prophet. He prophesied to Paul that he would be bound at Jerusalem. We also read that Philip had four daughters who were prophetesses (Acts 21:9).
In Ephesians 4:11 we find that God gave us five distinct ministries to build up the Church, among which were prophets. True and false prophets have always existed side by side. I have met both kinds. But there is a third class of people that cannot be ignored: wannabe prophets. Perhaps they have glamorized the prophetic office and simply want to be one. There are hundreds and perhaps thousands of "two witnesses" stalking the streets of Jerusalem today, hoping to be stoned in order to prove their calling. The Israeli authorities call it "Jerusalem fever." People catch this fever when they get off the plane in the Israeli state.
I have been asked by more than one person to team up with him and become one of the two witnesses. (Don't laugh! It's true!) I have also had my share of charges as a "false prophet." One preacher about ten years ago read my book, Hearing God's Voice, and proceeded to preach four sermons about false prophets with me as the unnamed star of his series. He apparently thought that anyone who hears God's voice is a prophet. And since the last to hear His voice was John, who died about 100 A.D., all others must be "false prophets."
The man believes in many false prophets, but does not think there are any true prophets in the earth today. And he makes the classic mistake of equating the ability to hear God's voice with the prophetic office. They are not the same. Everyone has the potential ability to hear God's voice, and they may even hear clearly if they deal with the problem of heart-idolatry. Of course, since I am a teacher, he first had to christen me a "prophet" so that he could call me a "false prophet."
Deut. 18:20 seems to indicate that the people are to stone "false prophets." The problem is this: Who is to determine if the prophet is true or false? How is this determination made? The only factor we are given is whether or not the prophecy comes to pass. But prophecy is usually a long-term matter, which is why Paul counseled the people to withhold judgment "until the Lord comes" (1 Cor. 4:5). Biblical history is littered with the bodies of stoned prophets who were honored later when it was discovered that their prophecies were true.
Another matter is that the prophecies of false prophets often come true. We may start with Balaam, whose prophecies form part of Scripture (Num. 23, 24). If failed prophecy is the only criteria we have to determine true and false prophets, then we may be hard pressed to distinguish between the two. In the New Testament we find the high priest, Caiaphas, prophesying as well. John 11:49-51 says,
" (49) But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, 'You know nothing at all, (50) nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.' (51) Now this he did not say on his own initiative; but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation."
Caiphas was not a Christian, yet he prophesied, not of his own initiative, but by the Holy Spirit. Both Balaam and his donkey prophesied, though the donkey prophesied in the unknown tongue (unknown to the donkey). It is doubtful if either were Christians.
Deuteronomy 18 does not use the term "false" prophets. It speaks of presumptuous prophets. The Hebrew word is zuwd, which means "pride" or "seething with pride." It also carries the idea of being willful. In Ex. 21:14, it is applied to first-degree murder, "If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor so as to kill him craftily. . ." In other words, he presumes in his pride that he has a right to murder his neighbor.
If we apply this word, then, to the prophet in question, the implication is that the prophet has a wrong attitude that is based upon pride, or thinking more highly of himself than he ought to think (Rom. 12:3). Perhaps he is taking upon himself a calling that is not his. Or perhaps he is abusing his calling by using the prophetic gift as a fund raiser (like Balaam did).
The bottom line is that biblical law-enforcement is only as good as the ability of the judges to hear God's voice clearly. A carnally-minded judge may have the law memorized, but when it comes to applying it by the mind of Christ, he is sure to fail much of the time.
So which is worse: a presumptuous prophet, or a presumptuous judge? The practical issue is not so much whether the prophet's words came true or not. It is whether he induces people to worship a false god (or a false christ), as we see in Deut. 13. It is really a matter of the prophet teaching rebellion against God, or lawlessness. No society lives without laws. One either lives by the laws of the biblical God, or one lives by the laws of another god (or man). That is the real underlying issue.
This is the final part of a series titled "The Law of False Prophets." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones