Before you start reading this next chapter, I must give this small caveat.
I believe that the demonstration of God’s love and compassion is a vital function of the Body of Christ. God is overjoyed when we comfort and show affection to the broken, give encouragement to the downcast and give sustenance to the needy. As His ambassadors, we must be faithful in all of these areas! But this is not the ministry or function of the prophet!The goal of this book is to show you how to use Scripture to recognize a false prophet. And the overemphasis on being “positive and encouraging” is part of the masquerade. So, while I seem to be less-than-enthusiastic about a false prophet’s need to “gush” over sinners, please do not take this as a sign that I believe we are to be harsh with our words all the time.
There is a time and a place for everything, but I believe the aforementioned overemphasis on the “positive” is ill-timed and misplaced.
False Prophets and Willful Blindness
There is an enchanting mindset that has taken root in the church that is causing everyone to turn a blind eye to sin. According to the current trend, you are not allowed to discuss sin, expose sin or (God forbid) correct sin, otherwise you are perceived as “not walking in love” and branded as immature, hateful, legalistic, or somehow ignorant of God’s grace.
However, if you ignore (or marginalize) sin and its penalty, speak only positive and encouraging words, and preach a licentious, unscriptural approach to grace, then you are esteemed as someone worthy of acceptance and adoration. This ecclesiastical form of political correctness plays right into the ethos of a false prophet.
The following quote from a well-known prophetic ministry is a great summation of a false prophet’s view towards delivering a prophecy.
The very essence of the prophetic gift is more about encouragement than rebuke and causing others to see into their future. This promotes THANKSGIVING for what it’s shown. Some exhortation or rebuke or warning is sometimes part of the prophetic but mostly, it’s encouragement! “
The False Prophet-Sinful People Dynamic
The relationship between a false prophet and a sinful nation hasn’t changed in over 2,000 years. Sinful people instruct the prophet to speak what they want to hear.
That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the LORD; Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”
As a result of this pressure, the false prophets lie, saying “You shall have peace” when there is no peace.
They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, “Peace, peace;” when there is no peace.
As stated in a previous chapter, “the hurt” being addressed here is the broken covenant between God and His people, Israel. It is the same today. Iniquity continues to be ignored by the false prophets who will speak only the “smooth things” and “deceits” demanded by their worshipers. The false prophets (and their devotees) try to put a positive spin on it by saying they are “being positive and encouraging,” or “promoting unity in the Body,” or “showing the Love of God,” but God calls it healing the hurt “slightly” [qalal – H7043] which, according to the Strong’s concordance entry, means to treat the sin as something that is of no consequence.
Even though the false prophet and the sinful nation both know in their hearts that sin is a factor that needs to be addressed, they ignore God’s warning that “the wages of sin is death” and continue on their pathway in ignorant, deceptive bliss. Thus the deceivers and the deceived share the mutually deserved repercussion.
False Prophets Ignore Their Duty to Declare Sin to the Body
Do you remember the foundational pillars of our faith that we discussed in Scriptural Witness #4? If not, you may want to review them before continuing with this chapter.
Our unchangeable God did not change between the Old and New Testaments. If God did not change, then the message of His prophets did not change either. The goal has always been the same – to call His people back to obedience to His commandments, so that they could be blessed.
This is even backed up by Scripture in the New Testament. 1 Corinthians 14 (the “go to” chapter for the modern day prophetic movement) says:
So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers.
But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you.”
Contrary to what the false prophets say, prophecy is all about correction and purging sin out of the life of the believer. Encouragement only comes into the picture when sin is repented of and true righteousness is lived out. This is a pattern that can be seen in both the Old and New Testaments.
Regardless of the “dispensation,” prophets judged sin on a regular basis. From Elijah pronouncing judgment upon Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 21:20-24) to Peter pronouncing judgment upon the wickedness of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), the proclamation of judgment upon sin has always been a central duty of God’s prophets.
BEFORE YOU CONTINUE: If you’re still convinced that guidelines for Old Testament prophecy and New Testament prophecy are different, please refer to Appendix C, where I have included my article “New Testament Prophecy – Understanding 1 Corinthians 14.” In this article, I go into greater detail on 1 Corinthians 14, one of the most misunderstood chapters in the Bible.
False Prophets Support and Encourage Those Who Live Sinful Lives
In the same way that true disciples find comfort in the words of the true prophets, people who pursue fleshly desires will find comfort and affirmation in a false prophet’s words. This is the way it has always been. It was true in the Old Testament (1 Kings 22:8), it was true in the New Testament (Luke 6:26, Acts 8:9-11, 13: 4-12, 1 John 4:1) and it is true today (2 Peter 2:3, 18). The deceived find themselves drawn to the positive and encouraging words, doled out freely by the false prophets, who will tell them exactly what they want to hear, regardless of where they are in their walks with God.
This reckless approach to prophetic ministry does not heal; instead, it causes the hearers to become complacent. The perception is that if God has nothing but complimentary and supportive things to say to the hearers while they are wallowing in the mire of their sin, then there is no need to repent.
Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; They also strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah.
To “strengthen the hands” of a person means to reinforce and augment (either by verbal support or physical assistance) whatever behavior or actions that person is already doing.
Don’t Be an Ahab
Ahab is noted for being the Kingdom of Israel’s most wicked king. Let’s just face it, you can’t get any worse than having “married Jezebel” on your permanent record!
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.
Still, even in the midst of Ahab’s extreme wickedness and disregard for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the false prophets insisted on speaking positive and encouraging words to him. While considering this, remember, the false prophets were convinced that they were doing the right thing! As far as we know, NOT ONE of them had a malicious intent to deceive the king and bring about his demise.
Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?” So they said, “Go up, for the Lord will deliver [it] into the hand of the king.”
Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made horns of iron for himself; and he said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘With these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed.'” And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, “Go up to Ramoth Gilead and prosper, for the LORD will deliver [it] into the king’s hand.”
Even after a true prophet, Micaiah, spoke a real word from God to King Ahab, Ahab chose to heed the false prophet’s words instead of the true. Apparently, the positive and encouraging report was preferable to the rebuke.
But he paid for that error with his life.
When the Heart is Led Astray
There is not one person in the prophetic church who will profess to despise God. They are convinced that their verbal adoration, altruistic deeds and “extravagant worship” demonstrate that their hearts are in the right place. But according the Word of God, their disobedience to His commandments and their adoration of man-made doctrines reveals that their hearts have actually been led astray.
The Father spoke of them long ago.
Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.”
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed.”
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Make no mistake about it – people who do not follow the commandments of the Most High do not truly love Him, and will follow the dictates of their own hearts (their own relative doctrines) every time. This is why false prophets are drawn to the prophetic movement like flies to road kill – because they virtually ignore the preaching of repentance and relegate His commandments to Old Covenant triviality.
Why Rebuke a Man When You Can Give Him a Good Scratch Instead?
False prophets will never address sin directly, unless it is sin against them or their ministries. Any other statements regarding sin are ambiguous, at best. Some even go so far as to embrace sin, renaming it “freedom.”
The false prophets know that taking a stand for righteousness, which would draw people back to the commandments of God, would inevitably cost them disciples and hit them hard in their pocketbooks. The most grievous offenses get overlooked because of this weak-kneed approach to what God hates.
The path of least resistance is always the preferred approach. So instead of getting right with the Most High, the crowds get entertained with anecdotes of dreams, visions and miracles that may (or may not) have occurred. If that doesn’t work, the speaker will share a perverted message of God’s love and grace, applying a soothing scratch to the itching ear.
When Speaking Truth Becomes a Sin
As I mentioned above, false prophets will believe correction is in order when they or their ministries, are being questioned.
This dynamic is extremely frustrating. I’ve seen sins like adultery, homosexuality and murder get glossed over, but the supposed sin of comparing a false prophet’s words or decisions to the Word of God seems to cross the proverbial line in the sand. Prepare to be demonized if you dare to step over that line.
False prophets see those who weigh their words against Scripture, and dare to speak out about it as divisive, legalistic and judgmental. In the minds of these counterfeits, those who behave as true Bereans are people trapped by a “religious” or “legalistic” spirit (both phrases you will never find in the Bible), who really need to get a better revelation of God’s grace.
For further research:
Life would be much easier for them if you would be silent, supportive and willfully-ignorant like the rest of their followers, who trust them implicitly to give the undiluted prophetic word. They may clothe their defense in pleasant words, but if you read between the lines, you can hear them say, “Just shut up and agree with what I’m saying and doing.”
The Word of God, however, says something different:
Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the LORD. They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, “You shall have peace”‘; And [to] everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.'”
False Prophets Refuse to Declare Sin to a Sinful Nation
A false prophet’s philosophy in addressing the sin of an individual also carries over in his/her prophetic words to a nation. Since the prophet is God’s spokesman, and God must judge sin in order to be a Righteous Judge, declaring the sin of a nation (or a people group) should be a natural function of the prophetic ministry, but such is not the case with our current mainstream prophetic celebrities.
Like the false prophets of old, our current charlatans refuse to believe that God will judge their sin or the sin of the nation they are sent to. Regardless of the state of their nations in relation to righteousness, they will always find something flattering to say, because they know that itching ears are a given in every congregation. People are interested more in feeling better about themselves than in repenting of their sins. False prophets in the United States and Canada are particularly guilty of this misrepresentation of God. According to Scripture, they have “become wind” and God refuses to put His Word in their mouths.
For further research:
As these impostors prophesy great and wonderful things for our continent, they willfully ignore the truth that God must judge our nation according to His Word, and that doesn’t necessarily mean we will have to wait until Judgment Day for it to happen. Just ask Sodom, Gomorrah, Tyre, Pompeii and other countries that have felt a measure of God’s judgment…
Oh, wait a minute, they’re no longer here to ask.
These days, if a prophet prophesies anything but peace for the United States (or North America in general), he/she is branded a “doom and gloom prophet” and ignored by the majority.
“For the house of Israel and the house of Judah Have dealt very treacherously with Me,” says the LORD. They have lied about the LORD, And said, “[It is] not He. Neither will evil come upon us, Nor shall we see sword or famine. And the prophets become wind, For the word [is] not in them.” Thus shall it be done to them.
Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ And the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination (remember, this means ‘witchcraft’), a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.” Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, “Sword and famine shall not be in this land” – “By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed!”
But the United States Supports Israel!
False prophets and the church in America look at our relationship with Israel as a safety net. Somehow, because we have given political, military and financial support to Israel, we believe that this will excuse our many sins in the eyes of God. At the very least, we are deluded into thinking that it will increase His tolerance for our abominations.
Let me give you some news (and this is going to be a bitter pill to swallow).
The United States has only supported (and will only support) Israel as long as it benefits us financially, politically and militarily. At the same time, Israel will only support the United States as long as we support them militarily, diplomatically, etc.
I’m sure that there are other relational factors that I haven’t considered, but the point is that both countries are in this relationship for no other reason than mutual gain. Israel doesn’t love the United States unconditionally, nor does the U.S. love Israel because of some “spiritual mandate.”
I’m not saying that there isn’t anyone in our government who loves Israel with a God-influenced love. What I’m saying is that the prevailing motive behind the relationship between our countries is greed, not covenant.
Was that tough to acknowledge? Well, I’m going to take this just a little further.
For the most part, the Western church will only love Israel as long as it benefits them. We love to take the promises meant for Israel and apply them to us when it benefits us, heartily claiming “there is no Jew or Gentile in Christ Jesus!” But whenever something is required of us, like obedience to God’s commands, we vehemently shout, “That’s only for the Jews!!!”
Building upon this deception, false prophets will zealously declare our love for Israel and the perceived benefits of that relationship, comforting the masses with a false peace. Subconsciously, the people in the pew think, “Well, if prophet so-and-so says it’s true, then it must be true!” But if we open our eyes, we can see that reality is saying something entirely different.
There is no love – or loyalty – in our relationship with Israel.
This dynamic is evident in our government today. Because Israel is no longer perceived as an asset, and because our current president’s allegiance is to another agenda entirely, those in the administration and most of the country are turning their backs on Israel, leaving them as food for the wolves. Because our government will not keep their promise to assist Israel, Israel no longer trusts us as friends.
The false prophets simply cannot fathom this, because it contradicts their deception.
False Prophets Declare “God is on Our Side!” While They Divine for Money
What we’ve discussed in this chapter is actually a repetition of history. In the book of Micah, the false prophets would give false assurance to their audiences, telling them things that they wanted to hear, but demonizing those who wouldn’t buy into their shenanigans.
Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who make my people stray; who chant “Peace” while they chew with their teeth, but who prepare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths:
The false prophets would also “divine for money,” all the while declaring that no harm would come to the nation of Israel because God was on their side.
Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the LORD, and say, “Is not the LORD among us? No harm can come upon us.” Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.
God, speaking through Micah, conveyed that Zion would be brought to ruin and the blame would be placed squarely on the prophets’ (as well as the leaders’ and priests’) shoulders.
Why Would the Prophets Be to Blame?
The Word of God says in many places that the cause of Israel’s destruction was their idolatry. But in the book of Micah, it says that it is because of the prophets that “Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.”
Why is God saying now that it is the prophets’ fault?
Because the prophets weren’t speaking what they were told to speak. These impostors had the gift of prophecy and they should have been faithfully speaking God’s message to His people, not flattering them in their decadence.
Remember the message of the prophets that we read about in Chapter 4?
The prophets in Micah’s time were not speaking that message. They were too preoccupied with speaking positive and encouraging words that scratched the itching ears of the ignorant masses. Just like the prophetic church today, the listeners would be assured that God was on their side and no harm would come to them. Since the message of repentance was not preached, the need for repentance was never understood. Thus the people would perish in their sin because the prophets had “become wind.”
History does indeed repeat itself.
The Mark of a Faithful Prophet
After denouncing the false prophets of Israel, Micah declared his own faithfulness to the task that God had set before him.
But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD, and of justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.
In the midst of the political correctness of his day, Micah refused to bow to the pressure of his fellow prophets. He spoke the undiluted Word of the Lord and remained true to the true prophets’ message.
Where can we find this today in the prophetic movement?
The Punishment of a Deceived Prophet
As I’ve studied the Word of God, my view towards the false prophet issue has changed. I used to view this matter as “good prophet vs. bad prophet.” Now I realize that this is inaccurate; it is more like “true prophet vs. deceived prophet.”
With the exception of Balaam, I cannot find anywhere in the Word of God where it says that false prophets were scheming to bring about the destruction of Israel. The Word never says that they wanted to see their country fall into the hands of the Babylonians, Assyrians or any foreign army.
No, these false prophets had good (yet very misguided) intentions toward their nation. They were a deceived group of people who had the gift of prophecy, but they led the masses astray by that gift. They thought that they could use that gift to speak positive and encouraging words to their listeners, and maybe make a little cash on the side, but instead their words were used by the enemy to lull the nation to sleep.
The prophet Micah speaks of their punishment.
Therefore you shall have night without vision, and you shall have darkness without divination; the sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be dark for them. So the seers shall be ashamed, and the diviners abashed; indeed they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer from God.
God spoke of a time when there would be “night without vision” for these prophets… “darkness without divination.” In the day of God’s judgment upon the nation of Israel, the “sun would go down” and the “day would be dark” for them. As the realization that they had led the people astray sank in, they would be so ashamed that they would “cover their lips,” which is closely associated with leprosy (Leviticus 13:45) as well as being a mark of shame.
They will wonder “What happened? Where is the Word of the Lord?”
History is going to repeat itself, and God will judge the sins of America, Canada and the rest of the world. Our current false prophets will be perplexed and dismayed at what they see happening around them. They will be confused and troubled because they were convinced that God was telling them to stay positive and encouraging in their ministry – even to people wallowing in their sin.
They sought for healing and kindness, but instead, they destroyed nations.
They will question, “Is the Lord not faithful to His Word?”
And the Conquering King will answer… “I AM.”