(January 23, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, highlights ‘prophetic words’ false and genuine…
Well, it happened. Donald Trump failed in his bid to be re-elected as President of the United States.
While many media outlets have almost ecstatically delighted in reporting this fact, many people in America (and in other countries) are profoundly concerned about the policies that a Biden administration will pursue.
I mention this not to give a personal evaluation of recent political events in America but to draw attention to a related issue that needs to be considered by Christians – ‘prophetic words.’
Let me make clear this fact – I believe in prophecy!
I believe that the prophetic gift was expressed by the prophets of the Old Testament at two levels:
(1) Forthtelling –
In which they faithfully and fearlessly declared the message God had given them to challenge the people of their day to submit to God’s way and God’s word.
(2) Foretelling –
In which they, with full integrity, declared God’s future plans (even when the prophets did not fully understand the revelation they were given to share).
I also believe that the prophetic gift still operates today in the Spirit-inspired, bold and uncompromising preaching of God’s word. Also, from time to time, in Spirit-inspired insights and revelations that are sometimes given to people today some of which have a bearing on current situations and others that have a relevance to the future.
- It should be noted that such contemporary prophetic revelations neither contradict nor replace nor add to the prophecies of scripture nor do they carry the same measure of authority as the scriptures.
False prophets have existed since Old Testament days. Despite Moses’ warning in Deuteronomy 18:18-22 regarding false prophets, they continued to appear and tried to gain support for the false ‘prophetic’ messages they declared. The influence of the false prophets was destructive to the faith of God’s people. It is noted that their ‘prophecies’ did not come to pass.
- The prophet Jeremiah gave this warning: ‘Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds”’ (Jeremiah 14:14).
- Ezekiel also recorded God’s condemnation of such ‘prophets’ – ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!’ (Ezekiel 13:3).
In the 1st century false prophets were active in the church masquerading as true prophets and they declared their fake prophecies to the early Christians to impress and to gain a following.
Peter made this comment about false prophets in his day ‘Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute’ (2 Peter 2:2). Therein lies the danger – truth is brought into disrepute.
False prophets continue to operate in the 21st century church! They can be persuasive and articulate, and they often mislead many Christians. False prophets are dangerous because with false authority they wrongly and claim to have divine insight and revelations from God.
Almost seven years ago the impending ‘blood moon’ produced several prophecies from Christian preachers. Some even wrote best-selling books (that were much publicised on some Christian publishing websites) which ‘prophetically’ declared end-time events that would swiftly follow the astronomical phenomenon. However, their hyped up ‘prophecies’ were not fulfilled! They were wrong! They were not from God! They were phony!
Likewise, at the beginning of the recent United States elections, several Christian preachers were confidently prophesying a win by Donald Trump. Their ‘prophecies’ were generally accompanied by such phrases as, ‘The Lord revealed to me in a dream’, or ‘God told me’ or ‘I had a vision.’
But they were all wrong! And they have done considerable damage to the credibility of Christianity, especially to the charismatic wing of evangelicalism. Some left-wing newspapers in America were quick to gleefully expose the foolishness of the false prophecies.
False prophecies, like counterfeit currency, undermine confidence in the integrity of the authentic. It is insufficient for those who have given false prophecies to say, ‘Oops! I made a mistake!’
Prophecy is not guesswork – however spiritually hyped it may be in its sharing.
Peter addressed this issue in 2 Peter 1:20-21, ‘Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’
He also indicated that the Holy Spirit is the source of all true prophecy. When authentic prophets declared prophetic messages, they did so under the inspiration and with the authority of the Holy Spirit. What they proclaimed was not the result of or their rational evaluation, wishful thinking or pure guesswork! The only source of their inspired messages was God himself whose initiative alone was responsible for the prophetic content. As such they were never wrong!
So, what are we to do? Accept only the prophetic messages in the Bible as authentic and dismiss all contemporary prophetic messages as false? That would be an overreaction. Paul’s advice on this matter is pertinent: ‘Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good’ (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).
Undiscriminating acceptance of all declarations that claim to be prophetic, especially those given by high profile preachers, is both exceptionally unwise and a denial of biblical admonition and advice.
Dr Jim McClure, author of several books such as the enlightening Grace Revisited and Bible study series, welcomes questions from Christians seeking enlightenment on biblical perspectives.
Grace Revisited is highly recommended – as are Looking for Answers in a Confusing World, Overview of the Old and New Testaments, Love, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, The Masonic Deception, Word of Life in the Old and New Testaments and Interpreting the Letter of James. All are available in electronic version in EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats with hyperlinks and offered free. Link for orders and questions: firstname.lastname@example.org