When we study Bible prophecy, one should be aware of prophecies’ true and false characteristics and how to tell the difference. How do we know if a prophet is telling the truth or a lie?
As I write this, the Middle East is heating up rather quickly, and many are pointing to the Bible. Many are asking if a biblical prophecy is being played out in front of our eyes.
Today, we will look at a few Scriptures that will help us distinguish between true and false prophecy; how to know if the prophets were telling the truth or a lie.
True prophecy is based on inspiration and foreknowledge.
Micah 3:8, “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”
Isiah 42:9, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
False prophecy is evidenced by nonfulfillment, peaceful messages, and apostasy from God.
Jeremiah 28:10-17, “10 Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke-bars from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet and broke them. 11 And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.” But Jeremiah the prophet went his way.
12 Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke-bars from off the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 “Go, tell Hananiah, ‘Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars, but you have made in their place bars of iron. 14 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put upon the neck of all these nations an iron yoke to serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, for I have given to him even the beasts of the field.’”
15 And Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the Lord.’”17 In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died.”
Jeremiah 23:17, “They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”
Apostasy from God (Apostasy means leaving behind. In this case, leaving God)
Deuteronomy 13:1-3, “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.
Let’s look at the last characteristic of false prophecy – lying.
Jeremiah 23:25-27, “ I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?
Let’s summarize and close out today’s lesson.
True characteristics of prophecy:
- Inspiration – filled with the power of the Holy Spirit
- Foreknowledge – told of them ahead of time
False characteristics of prophecy:
- Nonfulfllment – non what God said
- Peaceful message – peace and safety
- Apostasy from God – dreamer chasing after other gods
- Lying – prophecy lies in the name of the Lord
I hope today’s lesson has been helpful. Tomorrow, we will look at the characteristics of fulfillment. We’re getting one day closer to looking at actual prophecies that were fulfilled. I can’t wait! I hope you’ll join me.
The Teaching Lady