The Three Part False Prophet Test

fingerHave you ever considered the “why” behind the rise of false prophets?

What may be a shock to us is the fact that according to scripture, false prophets arise for the testing of God’s people. These tests are not for God’s sake in order that He may learn things about us, as if God is somehow unaware of the choices we will make. He knows all things exhaustively, past, present or future. The Psalmist declared, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.” (Psalm 139:4). He already knows what we as humans will do.

God never learns anything because He knows all things and what is more, He has always known them. We refer to this exhaustive knowledge of God as His omniscience, stemming from the words “omni” meaning “all”, and “science”, referring to “knowledge’.

EVEN THE DEVIL IS GOD’S DEVIL
Martin Luther, in speaking of God’s Sovereignty over all things once famously said, “Even the devil is God’s devil.” What he meant by that is that even though the devil’s intention is to hurt, injure, deceive – to kill, steal and destroy – God also has a purpose when allowing him room to do so.

Behind every false prophet is a false spirit, and behind that, is the devil himself, who with evil intentions is seeking to lure his prey into deception. God’s people are warned about this in very clear terms and in His grace, He has given us three definite tests we are to use in order that we can determine the legitimacy (or otherwise) of any so called prophet:

TEST NUMBER 1: DOES THE ‘PROPHET’ TELL US TO FOLLOW A FALSE GOD?

Deut. 18: 15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’

TEST NUMBER 2: DOES WHAT THE ‘PROPHET’ SAID COME TO PASS?

Deut. 18: 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

TEST NUMBER 3: EVEN IF THE THING SAID DOES COME TO PASS, WHICH ‘GOD’ IS THE ‘PROPHET’ WISHING US TO FOLLOW?

Deut 13: 1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

This passage is especially revealing. We are told that even when seemingly real (legitimate) signs and wonders (things that hold up to scrutiny and empirical observations) – yes, even when signs and wonders occur under the “ministry” of a false prophet, if he is proclaiming a false God, the signs and wonders performed are God’s means of testing His people. Do not be fooled. If the prophet is proclaiming a false ‘god’ reject the messenger without hesitation, along with his message. Do not, I repeat, do not listen to him!

DO WE GET THIS?

We are far too often impressed by the supernatural. Though God can and does intervene in the course of nature, sometimes even dramatically, we must be cognizant of the fact that the supernatural is not always a sign of truth. Jesus did real miracles as did His Apostles. And yet, while a sign and a wonder can be a legitimate authenticating proof of a message being from God, Scripture also states that it can indeed be a testing ground for His people. We are told in this passage that when a false prophet performs a sign or a wonder, God is testing His people to see what is in their hearts. False prophets, though in the employ of the devil himself, are therefore Divinely sent tests to see if we truly love God with all our hearts.

DON’T FOLLOW EVERY SIGN

NEWYORK9If you start your journey in Florida (on the east coast of the United States) and wish to get to California (on the west coast), my advice is that you do not follow signs to New York (in the north east of the country). Should you do so, it could well be the case that every mile you travel will take you further and further away from your intended destination.

In the same way, if you see a sign, ask yourself this question: where is this sign pointing me to? And know this: A true (God appointed) sign will point you away from the person performing the sign, and to the one true God revealed in Scripture as the Trinity – one in essence and three in Person, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is the Sovereign, holy, majestic One who rules heaven and earth, declaring the end from the beginning and accomplishing everything He sets out to do (Isaiah 46:8-11). Any other “god” is a complete fraud; a “god” who cannot save, for in reality, he does not actually exist.

Fulfilled Prophecy

Dr. Steven J. Lawson gives examples of fulfilled prophecy as evidence of the divine inspiration of Scripture. (Full message here)

Transcript

The fulfilled prophecies of the Bible. We could just believe that the Bible is the Word of God on this one point alone. This is staggering. Say, do you realize that at the time the Bible was written 27% of the Bible was prophetic?

There are some 1,817 prophecies of some nature in the Bible at the time the author wrote the Scripture. A prophecy is pre-written history. Only God knows the future and the reason that God knows the future is because God has foreordained the future. God’s not looking down the tunnel of time to see anything because God already knows everything. And God has already foreordained everything. And He records some of it for us in the Scripture.

And we read all kinds of prophecies regarding individuals—that Abraham would have a son. Did he? In his latter years. That there would be rulers like Cyrus of Persia. 100 years before Cyrus assumed the throne, his name in Isaiah 45 verse 1 is recorded. Would you like to predict who the President of the United States will be 100 years from today? It’s impossible. But here is the Bible giving name and country of these rulers long before they’re even birthed and come onto the scene. Or nations, such as the fall the Northern Kingdom or the length of Judah’s captivity or empires regarding the fall of Babylon or cities such as the destruction Tyre et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

There is a mounting case of evidence that substantiates the perfect truthfulness of the Word of God. There are no other books in the world that are doing this. How about the prophecies concerning the Lord Jesus Christ? The greatest fulfillments of prophecy are found at the first coming of Christ, not even the second coming but at the first coming. It was prophesied in the Old Testament that Jesus would be born of the seed of Abraham, Jesse, and David.

He would be born of a virgin, called Emmanuel, born in Bethlehem. Great persons would come to adore Him, there would be the killing of children in Bethlehem. He would be called out of Egypt. He would be preceded by a forerunner. He would be anointed with the Holy Spirit. He’d be a prophet like Moses, a priest after the order is now Melchizedek. He would be entering into His public ministry in Galilee. He would be entering publicly into Jerusalem and come into the temple. He would live in poverty and meekness, tenderness, and compassion. He would be without the deceit, He’d be full of zeal, preaching with parables, working miracles, bearing reproach. He would be rejected by His own Jewish brethren. The Jews and Gentiles would combined together against Him. He would be betrayed by a friend. His disciples would forsake Him. He would be sold for thirty pieces of silver. At that price would be given for a potter’s field.

He would die with intense suffering yet be silent under that suffering. He would be struck on the cheek, His visage would be marred. He would be spit upon and scarred. His hands and His feet would be nailed to the cross. He would be forsaken by God, He would cry out, “My God My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He would be mocked. Gal and vinegar would be offered to Him. His garments would be parted. Lots would be cast for His clothing. He would be numbered among the transgressors. He would intercede for His murderers. He would die but not a bone of His body would be broken. He would be pierced long before crucifixion would even ever be invented. He would be buried with the rich. His flesh would not see corruption. He would be raised from the dead. He would ascend back to the right hand of God the Father.

All of this recorded hundreds of years before Jesus ever entered this world. And many of these prophecies are fulfilled not by His friends but by His enemies who stand to lose the most with their fulfillment. And many of these prophecies being fulfilled before He was born, while He’s in His mother’s womb, and while He is in the grave.

Believe the Prophets!

In our third look at Paul’s defense before King Agrippa we see him appeal to the Old Testament prophets to prove that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, and that His suffering was planned by God as well as the glory of His triumph over all of God’s enemies.

Text: Acts 26:12-32

The New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament

in an artile entilted “CAN THAT BE RIGHT? THE USE OF OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT” writes:

It’s Christmas season and that means renewed attention on Messianic prophecy. Ah, the familiar sounds of “a virgin shall give birth,” “the government shall be upon his shoulders,” and good ole “Bethlehem Ephrathah.” It makes a churchgoer feel all warm and cuddly inside.

And frankly, a bit confused.

If we’re honest, the way the New Testament uses the Old Testament seems a little far-fetched. I mean, we can see, just like the scribes did, that Micah 5:2 is a foretelling of the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:1-6), but was Hosea really making a prediction about the Christ just because he happened to mention “Egypt” (Hos. 11:1) and Jesus’ family fled to Egypt (Matt. 2:15)? If we interpreted Scripture like Matthew does, we’d be chased out of our pulpits and small groups, right?

The New Testament’s use of the Old Testament is a complicated subject. Even evangelical scholars don’t agree on all the particulars of the best approach (see for example this book and D.A. Carson’s review). Still, there are several principles, clarifications, and reminders that can help us make sense of the Apostles’ seemingly willy-nilly use of the Old Testament. Continue reading

Prophecy Fulfillment

HorseandbuggyJustin Taylor writing in The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (Apollos/IVP, 2004), argues that “We should want to follow an interpretive method that aims to unravel the original intention of biblical authors, realizing that that intention may be multi-layered, without any layers contradicting the others. Such original intentions may have meaning more correspondent to physical reality (hence so-called ‘literal interpretation’) while others may refer to ‘literal’ spiritual realities…” This means that “the progress of revelation certainly reveals expanded meanings of earlier biblical texts. Later biblical writers further interpret earlier biblical writings in ways that amplify earlier texts. These subsequent interpretations may formulate meanings that earlier authors may not have had in mind but which do not contravene their original, essential, organic meaning. This is to say that original meanings have ‘thick’ content and that original authors likely were not exhaustively aware of the full extent of that content. In this regard, fulfilment often ‘fleshes out’ prophecy with details of which even the prophet may not have been fully cognizant” (p. 289).

To illustrate this, Beale asks us to imagine a father in the year 1900 promising his young son a horse and buggy when he grows up and marries:

During the early years of expectation, the son reflects on the particular size of the buggy, its contours and style, its beautiful leather seat and the size and breed of horse that would draw the buggy.

Perhaps the father had knowledge from early experimentation elsewhere that the invention of the automobile was on the horizon, but coined the promise to his son in terms that his son would understand.

Years later, when the son marries, the father gives the couple an automobile, which has since been invented and mass-produced.

Is the son disappointed in receiving a car instead of a horse and buggy?

Is this not a ‘literal’ fulfillment of the promise?

In fact, the essence of the father’s word has remained the same: a convenient mode of transportation.

What has changed is the precise form of transportation promised. The progress of technology has escalated the fulfillment of the pledge in a way that could not have been conceived of when the son was young. Nevertheless, in the light of the later development of technology, the promise is viewed as ‘literally’ and faithfully carried out in a greater way than earlier apprehended.” (352-53)

The Abomination of Desolation

‘ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

The reasons for uncertainty are easy to list. What is an abomination? What abomination does Jesus have in mind? One that belongs to his generation, or one from the last days? What is the connection between the prophecies of Daniel and Jesus? Who is “the reader,” and what should he or she understand? In what sense should readers “flee to the mountains”? Should they obey literally or metaphorically?

As always, the first step is to read the text in literary, cultural, historical, and canonical contexts. Then we analyze the structure of the passage and do the necessary lexical and grammatical work. We begin with the key phrase, “abomination of desolation.”

The term “abomination” (Hebrew toevah and siqqus) appears more than 100 times in the Old Testament and just a few times in the New Testament. An abomination is normally a great sin, commonly worthy of death. Readers immersed in current debates about sexual ethics may first think an abomination is a sexual sin. Indeed, Scripture calls sexual sins like adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality abominations (e.g., Leviticus 18:22, 29-30). But more often throughout the Bible “abomination” refers to major covenant violations, especially idolatry (in Deuteronomy alone, see 7:25, 13:6-16, 17:2-5, 18:9-12, 27:15, 32:16). In the historical books, “abomination” always describes idolatry, often with child sacrifice (1 Kings 11:7, 2 Kings 23:13). Abomination also refers to idolatry in the prophets, including Daniel 9 and 11. (Daniel uses siqqus, a term that always appears in connection with idolatry.)

The interpretation of Daniel 9-11 is difficult and disputed, but it does have some fixed points, and the nature of the abomination that causes desolation is one of them. Daniel 9:26-27 refers to a prince who will destroy the city (Jerusalem) along with its temple and sacrifices, “and on the wings of abominations shall come one who makes desolate.” Two chapters later there is another reference to an “abomination” in connection to the temple: “forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate” (11:31).

Scholars generally agree that the first reference of these prophecies is the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who ruled Palestine from 175-64 B.C. Antiochus treated Israel with such violence and contempt that they rebelled against him. When he came to suppress the rebellion, his forces entered the temple, stopped the regular sacrifices, set up an idol of or altar for Zeus, and apparently offered swine there as a sacrifice. This is an abomination because it is idolatry, and it brings desolation because it defiles the holy place at the heart of Israel. This act was the abomination “of” desolation, the abomination “causing” desolation. Continue reading