Question: How do you know a prophet is a true prophet when sometimes it takes a millennium for the prophecy to come to pass?
Wanted to share a question (above) sent from Paul , a friend and reader of “The Prophets of God”. Thought it was worthy of sharing.
My answer: In Deuteronomy 18:20-22 we have one way of exposing the false prophet. If they say “by the Word of the Lord such and such will happen” but it does not happen, then we know that prophet did not speak for God. God’s command to Israel was the prophet who spoke deceitfully must be put to death! It is one thing to predict and be wrong–which I have on several occasions. It is quite another to claim to be speaking for God, and then be wrong.
The point of your question is perceptive: Can we afford to wait, say 1000 years, to see if what was prophesied in the Lord’s name comes true? We have to know as soon as possible. Which brings us to a second test: “Test the spirits to see if they are from God” (1 John 4:1). This is really the big test since things are going to get “dicey”, shall we say. Few Christians are ready for what is coming. We’re warned of it in Deuteronomy 13:1-5: What do we do when a prophet or dreamer says such and such is going to take place and then it happens? And what if that prophet goes on to lead unsuspecting followers to a false god or to the worship of the antichrist? Even though the prophet has demonstrated supernatural abilities through signs, wonders and miracles, are they then automatically God’s spokespersons? No is the answer.
Test the spirits. Do the prophet or dreamer’s words match those of Jesus (sp. Revelation 2-3)? Is the prophet a humble, loving servant with a heart of compassion? Do they display spiritual fruit and are they hated by the world? Do their actions resemble Elijah’s, Elisha’s or John the Baptist?
Do not just look superficially at a teaching supposedly coming from God or the Bible. Do not do as the Thessalonians, but be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11)! Remember that in the last days there will be many false prophets who perform miracles in order to deceive. The deception will be so powerful that, if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived–but that’s not possible (Matthew 24:24). Why isn’t it possible? Because the elect test the spirits.
Prophecy in Scripture is supported by two, three or more witnesses found elsewhere in God’s Word. Learn and follow “The 5 major rules of Biblical interpretation”. That way the likelihood we will be led astray is minimal. Ask someone trustworthy, if you are in doubt.
When someone, like myself, purports to teach prophecy, listen carefully or take notes, but do not swallow until you know you have truth. Even if an angel of light appears and proclaims some other gospel than that of the apostles, do not believe it!
Mohammed believed a spirit named Gabriel. Joseph Smith believed the angel Moroni. They were deceived by angels of light. As a result, we have the cults of Islam and Mormonism with their separate Holy Books, the Koran and The Book of Mormon.
I cover all this in The Prophets of God. I could have referred you to a chapter and page, but you gave me a good opportunity to share.
Since you are studying Chapter 8, “Bad News”, in The Prophets of God, I will remind you of one more test of the prophet. False prophets have gone out into the world to flood us with counterfeit messengers. The content is important: Are they prophesying “success” for the unrepentant (1 Kings 22:11-12, 20-21)? Are they giving good news (ex. peace and security) for a nation or people that has turned away from God and turned to idols? Are they warning all who will listen of impending judgment (Jeremiah 28, sp. vs. 8-9)? Are they predicting a blessing of wealth and prosperity or are they pleading “Come out of Babylon. Flee before it’s too late!”
Your question strikes at a major theme of The Prophet of God. Now that you know this, please share it with others.