The following is excerpted from Bill Rudge’s book, “Not Our Father’s Faith.”
Is Much of Today’s “Prophesying” in Reality “Christianized Fortune-Telling”?
There are two extreme positions concerning prophecy: 1) To “despise” prophetic utterance and thereby “quench” the Spirit; and 2) To encourage or tolerate a form of prophecy that is unscriptural.
I believe that prophecy is for today. I believe the New Testament indicates that the gift of prophecy should be in operation in the Church (I Corinthians 12; I Corinthians 14; Ephesians 4:11; I Thessalonians 5:20,21; I Timothy 4:14). In I Corinthians 14:39, Paul actually encourages believers to “… desire earnestly to prophesy ….” But I do not believe in endorsing the tremendous misuse and abuse of this gift today. I will not tolerate those who speak from their own inspiration nor the demonic counterfeits which are being enthusiastically received in many Christian circles.
The Expository Dictionary of Bible Words states:
The basic word for ‘prophet’ in the OT is nabi, which means ‘spokesman’ or ‘speaker.’ Essentially a prophet is a person authorized to speak for another, as Moses (Exodus 7:1-2; Numbers 12:1-8) and the OT prophets were authorized to speak for God ….
The Greek word prophetes (prophet) is the only word the NT uses to translate the Hebrew nabi. Related NT words are propheteuo (‘to prophesy’), prophetis (‘prophetess’), and propheteia (‘prophetic saying, gift, or activity’).8
Two Types of False Prophets
There are two main types of false prophets in the Bible. First, there are those who speak and prophesy in the name of other gods such as Baal (Jeremiah 2:8; 23:13; 32:32-35). This type of false prophet is very easy to distinguish, but it gets more difficult and confusing when we deal with the second type of false prophet.
There are false prophets who claim to prophesy in the name of the Lord; yet, they are proclaiming the word which the Lord has not told them to proclaim. A few examples follow:
Jeremiah 14:14 –
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.'”
Jeremiah 23:16,21,22,30-32 –
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord. I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds. Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,’ declares the Lord, ‘who steal My words from each other. Behold, I am against the prophets,’ declares the Lord, ‘who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,’ declares the Lord, ‘and related them, and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,’ declares the Lord.”
Ezekiel 13:2,3,6,8 –
“… say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, ‘The Lord declares,’ when the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word. Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Because you have spoken falsehood and seen a lie, therefore behold, I am against you,’ declares the Lord God.”
Matthew 7:22,23 –
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name ….’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”
I John 4:1 –
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Not All Who Say, “Thus Saith the Lord,” Are Speaking the Word of the Lord
When I was a new Christian, I learned this lesson very well — that not everyone who says, “Thus saith the Lord,” is really speaking the word of the Lord.
God had spoken to my heart and my wife Karen’s heart, to go to Bible college. After a three-week mini-mission to Mexico, we were preparing to move to Mt. Vernon, Ohio, the location of the Bible college. A woman, who was a so-called prophetess and did not know what the Lord had already clearly spoken to Karen and me, prophesied over us during a service, saying we were to go back to Mexico.
I said, “I’m still a relatively new Christian and I am not that mature in the Lord. I don’t know the Word very well yet, but I do know that if God told me to go to Bible college, if God told me to buy a mobile home, if God enabled us to find the very last mobile home lot on which we could put our mobile home in the city where we were to move, then God wants me there. And that’s where I’m going!”
I had to decide: Do I follow the voice of someone telling me God’s will for my life, or do I follow God’s Word and what His Spirit has led me to do? I chose to follow the Lord, and many times since, I have reflected back on how disastrous my life and ministry would have been had I not followed His direction during that crucial decision in my life. But because I obeyed God’s voice, He has produced tremendous fruit through our ministry, done the impossible through our lives, and honored and blessed us greatly! This woman, who people exalted and almost deified, eventually fell away from the Lord.
In a tragic story in I Kings 13, we see that the word of the Lord came to a man of God and told him what he was to do. In obedience he began to follow the word of the Lord, but when a false prophet told him something contrary to what God had already told him to do, he obeyed that prophet. As a result of obeying the deceiving prophet, and thereby disobeying the Lord, he was killed by a lion that very day.
The message is crystal clear: When God speaks to you, obey! If what God says contradicts what a prophet says, then you follow the word of the Lord and do not follow that prophet.
God wants you to obey His voice and His Word. Develop that relationship with Him, and do not give responsibility to any supposed prophet or anyone who prophesies over you. It’s between you and the Lord. (For background information and context read I Kings 11:43 through 12:33, as well as all of I Kings 13.)
False Leaders Use Control and Manipulation
It is both dangerous and diabolical that some use “Thus saith the Lord” to control and manipulate people. One of many illustrations I could cite concerns a young man who called me because he was very confused about the teaching he was receiving in church from his pastor. He wanted to leave this church, but his pastor said: “Thus saith the Lord, if you leave, one of your children will die.” Needless to say, he was terrorized and afraid to leave.
Think about some of the prophecies today in light of what Peter said –
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words … “ (II Peter 2:1-3)
“Tell Me God’s Will for My Life”
When I was a new Christian, people tried to tell me what the Lord wanted me to do. As I matured in the Lord, they wanted me to tell them God’s will for their lives. I won’t have any part of either one. I’ll share the Word and what the Holy Spirit impresses on my heart and agree in prayer, but the final responsibility concerning God’s direction for one’s life lies between God and that individual.
I remember when I was a brand-new Christian, I went to a man of God whom I greatly respected. I said, “You’re so close to the Lord, He speaks to you so much. Would you pray and tell me what God wants me to do?” It was a cop out. I wanted a quick, easy, convenient way to get God’s guidance. He said, “Bill, it’s your responsibility to seek God’s will for your life. You had better learn right now to discipline yourself to get into God’s Word and get on your knees to seek God’s will and know His voice.” And although I was at first disappointed, he taught me a very crucial Biblical principle.
In John 10:27, Jesus said,
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
We need to hear and know Jesus’ voice.
If we are not on speaking terms with the Lord — so that He has to speak to someone else to tell us what to do ― then we’d better repent. We’d better discipline ourselves before the Lord and get into His Word and seek Him through prayer and fasting (as the true prophets in the Bible did) so we, too, can hear His voice.
The Supernatural and Spectacular Are Not the Usual
Many think those who are seemingly having frequent audible voices, visions, personal prophecies, revelations, and words from the Lord are super spiritual. But I wonder where their hearts are before the Lord. Are they hardhearted and insensitive to His Spirit? Are they undisciplined to read His Word and to pray? Is the use of the spectacular the only way He can get them to hear His voice and obey?
I would rather be so sensitive and surrendered to the Lord that He can speak to my heart through His Word and Spirit ― without always having to do something phenomenal to get my attention, or without having to send some prophet to get my life in order or to tell me what to do. Usually in the case of hardheartedness, such as Baalam when God spoke through a donkey, or for special situations like Moses at the burning bush when He called him to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, or when God gave Peter a vision to do something “unthinkable” (taking the Gospel to the Gentiles), did God resort to supernatural, spectacular ways of revealing His will.
Prophets Are Not Our “Guides”
Donald Gee writes in his book, Concerning Spiritual Gifts:
There are no indications in the New Testament that it is the function of prophets in the church to be her guides in the sense that they guided Israel of old — by a system of ‘inquiring of the Lord.’ There are indeed instances such as the prophecy of Agabus concerning the forthcoming famine (Acts 11:28), or the fate of Paul at Jerusalem (Acts 21:11), where the prophet plainly foretells what may happen. But it is significant that he offers no guidance; it is left to the individual members of the church to determine … (Acts 11:29) what they would do, and to Paul to decide his own course of action (Acts 21:13).
Still more significant is the fact that there is no attempt to use the gift of prophecy or the office of prophet in the great dispute that arose about circumcision in Acts 15; or in Paul’s obvious personal dilemma as to the next step for his ministry in Acts 16:6-10, though on both occasions Silas, a recognized ‘prophet’ (15:32), was on the spot.
It can truthfully be affirmed that there is not one single instance of the gift of prophecy being deliberately resorted to for guidance in the New Testament.9
Even though there are prophets and prophecy in the New Testament, these are not the same as they are in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament the prophet was often like Moses or Samuel who was the recognized spokesman, not only for God to the people, but for the people to the Lord. He was the mediator. In the New Testament, when Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple ― separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies ― was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). Through Christ, our Mediator, we now have direct access to the presence of God.
There is also another aspect in the New Testament to consider ― Pentecost. Now all believers can be filled with God’s Spirit and be personally led by the Spirit of God. We have the promise of Romans 8:14, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
Bonds and Afflictions Await Paul
The account of the prophecy by Agabus, that Paul would be bound in Jerusalem, is often inaccurately used to validate guidance through personal prophecy. Looking at this account in Scriptural context reveals a different conclusion.
First, we discover that before Agabus prophesied, Paul already knew from the Holy Spirit that bonds and afflictions awaited him. Acts 20:22,23 says –
“And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.”
Acts 21:4 repeats this –
“And after looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem.”
Then in Acts 21:10-14, Agabus confirms –
“And as we were staying there for some days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, ‘This is what the Holy Spirit says: “In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”‘ And when we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, ‘What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, ‘The will of the Lord be done!'”
The prophet Agabus merely told Paul what was going to happen. It was Paul’s responsibility to determine what he would do. We need to keep that Scriptural balance in mind.
After Paul spoke to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, the Lord once again confirmed that it was His leading for Paul to go to Jerusalem, for He said to Paul in Acts 23:11, “… as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”
Prophets and Personal Prophecy
The owner of a Christian bookstore asked me to review a leading book on the topic of prophets and personal prophecy. I gave it to our research director, and after only twenty minutes of checking, he said it was heresy. Next, I gave it to a Biblical apologist who said it was unscriptural. Then I gave it to an Assembly of God pastor who is very knowledgeable of Scripture, and he said the foundation principles of it were built on sand. Finally, I read it myself and confirmed the book was in error.
My basic conclusion after reading this book is that the author has deviated from the truth in three ways:
1) He has taken the Scriptural promises and blessings that are for those who have faith and obedience in the Lord and His Word and reinterpreted them to be for those who have faith and obedience in prophets and personal prophecy. A very subtle transition occurs much in the same way Satan subtly changed God’s Word as he tempted people in Scripture.
2) He has reinterpreted and taken out of Scriptural context almost every Scripture that refers directly or indirectly to prophets and personal prophecy, trying to justify his emphasis on multitudes of personal prophecies.
3) He is teaching “Christian fortune-telling” rather than the Biblical operation of prophecy.
Many people who profess to love the Lord are caught up in this twisting of Scripture. Christian leaders and those who claim to be prophets use this book (and similar books) as their source for prophetic guidelines. I wonder where their discernment is, and if they really have the Holy Spirit, why does He not speak to their hearts? I wonder, if they know God’s Word, why they do not see how Scripture is being twisted.
Over and over as I read or listened to materials by those endorsing personal prophecy, the Scriptures were taken out of context, the meanings were twisted, and the Scripture references given were often totally unrelated to the unscriptural conclusions they made. It was the same Scripture-twisting tactics used by many cults to lure those with little Bible knowledge and who lack the time or motivation to search Scripture, to blindly follow their beliefs and practices.
Control and Manipulation
Leaders of the discipleship movement supposedly repented of the “wrong and injurious” extremes and the “unhealthy submission resulting in perverse and unbiblical obedience to human leaders.”10 But something very similar and even more sinister is occurring through many supposed prophets and personal prophecies.
A woman from Florida, a charismatic believer who is constantly in the Word, went to a church affiliated with the prophets. She said as soon as she walked in, she knew in her spirit something was wrong. Not only did they give an incorrect prophecy concerning her, but also she said, “The people were controlled by the prophets and prophetesses in the church.”
It was the spirit of shepherding and discipleship manifest through the so-called prophets. It was the same control and manipulation, the same replacing of the Holy Spirit and Christ’s Lordship with human beings whom we look to for decisions and guidance.
How accurate Jeremiah was for today when he said –
“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so …” (Jeremiah 5:30,31)
It is interesting that many of these so-called prophets only seem to prophesy flattery and great things for their associates. However, they often resort to a form of “black witchcraft” by mainly prophesying doom and destruction against those who oppose them.
I wondered why a so-called prophet of God did not detect and rebuke the spirit of deceit and occultism in a church where he frequently spoke. Instead, he prophesied blessing and that everything was right on course before the Lord.
I soon discovered he spoke from his own inspiration, and he always had such positive words of blessing and prosperity because this church was supporting him financially. It reminds me of Micah 3:11 which says,
“… her prophets divine for money ….”
Nehemiah 6:10 -14 records –
“And when I entered the house of Shemaiah … he said, ‘Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night.’ But I said, ‘Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.’ Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me. Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me.”
Demonically Inspired Prophecy
Shortly after confronting the pastor who motivated the writing of my initial Beware booklet, a prophecy for my immediate destruction was given at a pastors’ conference he attended in 1989.
This demonically inspired prophecy sounded so accurate. It deceived many of the pastors in attendance to be persuaded that I was wrong. It seemed so close to the truth ― but in reality was so far away. If only those pastors had genuine discernment and went by the Word, they would not have been deceived. But they trusted in a false prophecy, which proved to be a steppingstone into even more distorted and perverted false teachings and practices.
The prophecy of my imminent destruction proved to be totally wrong ― in fact the Lord protected me in numerous, extremely dangerous situations during overseas missionary outreaches, and empowered and anointed me as my ministry continued to grow internationally. The pastors vehemently opposing me were the ones who soon suffered loss.
We read in Exodus 10:28,29 –
“Then Pharaoh said to him [Moses], ‘Get away from me! Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!’ And Moses said, ‘You are right; I shall never see your face again!'”
But it did not happen the way Pharaoh expected. It didn’t happen the way Haman anticipated either. Esther 9:24,25 states –
“For Haman … the adversary of all the Jews, had schemed against the Jews to destroy them …. But when it came to the king’s attention, he commanded by letter that his wicked scheme which he had devised against the Jews, should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows” (which Haman himself had prepared for the Jews).”
I Kings 22:20-23 says –
“And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’ Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you.”
In the same way as the preceding Scripture, the Lord showed me that He allowed that false prophecy so that those pastors would have a false assurance and security and boldly align themselves with this other pastor, thus exposing their true beliefs and eventually causing their own words to bring God’s judgment on themselves.
Reflecting back on how his brothers sold him as a slave into Egypt and the Lord turned it around for good, Joseph said to his brothers,
“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
Who Would You Believe?
The opposition and prophecies about my destruction came from people who were supposed prophets and apostles who:
had foundational beliefs about prophecy which are built on error and Scripture-twisting;
made unscriptural excuses for not being 100% accurate;
propagated other unbiblical teachings and practices.
Should I have believed them? Or should I believe the Word of God and the Spirit of God? In over thirty-five years of ministry, the Lord has fulfilled 100% of what I have publicly proclaimed that He has led me to do, much of which seemed totally impossible to ever be fulfilled. But God has been faithful ― and the end result has always been ultimate victory!
I think the spirit from which these supposed prophets prophesy is evident. It’s the same spirit I have encountered over the years in dealing with many occultists. It’s the same spirit that motivated someone from one of their churches to actually team up with a leading occultist and attempt to destroy our ministry. It’s the same spirit that during this time spoke as a demon in a woman’s dream telling her to destroy our ministry and telling her husband (in her dream) to kill me.
I may one day die for Christ, but the Lord has assured me that my life will not be taken until His purpose is fulfilled. My prayer is: “Lord, let me have the grace, the power, the boldness, and the forgiving attitude of Your servant Stephen.” (See Acts 6:8-7:60.)
The Final Test
The final test that proves who really heard from God is the end result. In Scripture, there are several instances where a false prophet opposed and attempted to undermine and discredit a true prophet of God. But in the end, God always vindicated and honored His true messenger.
Jeremiah 28:10-17 states –
“Then Hananiah the [false] prophet took the yoke from the neck of Jeremiah the [true] prophet and broke it. And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Even so will I break within two full years, the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations.”‘ Then the prophet Jeremiah went his way. And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘Go and speak to Hananiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, ‘You have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made instead of them yokes of iron.’ For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him. And I have also given him the beasts of the field.'” Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah the prophet, ‘Listen now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This year you are going to die, because you have counseled rebellion against the Lord.'”‘ So Hananiah the prophet died in the same year in the seventh month.”
On another occasion, Jeremiah was beaten and put in stocks at the order of the priest Pashhur, chief officer in the temple (Jeremiah 20:1,2), because Jeremiah had pronounced God’s upcoming judgment on Jerusalem (Jeremiah 19:15). When Jeremiah was released, the Lord again proclaimed through him judgment on Jerusalem and Judah (Jeremiah 20:3-5). And then Jeremiah prophesied to Pashhur –
“And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into captivity; and you will enter Babylon, and there you will die, and there you will be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have falsely prophesied.” (Jeremiah 20:6)
After Jeremiah’s release from a dungeon in which he would have surely died, and later his rescue from a cistern in which he would have starved to death, he prophesied to King Zedekiah –
“If you will not go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then this city will be given over to the hand of the Chaldeans; and they will burn it with fire, and you yourself will not escape from their hand.” (Jeremiah 38:18)
We see the tragic fulfillment of this prophecy in Jeremiah chapter 39.
False Peace vs. Impending Judgment
Even though Jeremiah’s prophecies of the people being taken into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon were being fulfilled, Ahab and Zedekiah, two false prophets, continued to prophesy lies. As a result, they were burned in Nebuchadnezzar’s fire ― not spared like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Jeremiah 29:20-23 gives the following account of these two false prophets –
“You, therefore, hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles, whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah and concerning Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying to you falsely in My name, ‘Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall slay them before your eyes. And because of them a curse shall be used by all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon, saying, “May the Lord make you like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire, because they have acted foolishly in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken words in My name falsely, which I did not command them; and I am He who knows, and am a witness,” declares the Lord.'”
Occasionally the Lord has led me to caution or warn individuals or groups concerning unscriptural teachings and practices they are propagating. And after a time of much prayer and fasting, Scripture study, and examining my heart and motives, I would do so. As I look back over the years, I am amazed and humbled that all those who refused to repent have become even more perverse in their teachings and practices and have eventually suffered the consequences.
I have seen the false teachings and the false prophets come and go. I can somewhat relate to Jeremiah, who after faithfully proclaiming God’s Word for many years, questioned King Zedekiah regarding the false prophets –
“Where then are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land'”? (Jeremiah 37:19)
Similar to the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day who were prophesying peace and prosperity, today’s “prophets” continually prophesy renewal, revival, and restoration. But is much of the “revival” occurring today really a commitment to the Christ of the Bible and Biblical Christianity, or is it merely an attraction to all of the excitement and phenomena going on?
Jeremiah accurately prophesied God’s impending judgment because of the many sins of the people and their leaders. Then ― in contrast to the false peace of the false prophets ― Jeremiah prophesied the Lord’s promised restoration (Jeremiah 33).
When the judgment prophesied by Jeremiah finally comes upon Judah and Jerusalem, he records his deep distress in the book of Lamentations which clearly shows the consequences of sin and apostasy.
Lamentations 2:2-5 states –
“The Lord has swallowed up; He has not spared all the habitations of Jacob. In His wrath He has thrown down the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; He has brought them down to the ground; He has profaned the kingdom and its princes. In fierce anger He has cut off all the strength of Israel; He has drawn back His right hand from before the enemy. And He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire consuming round about. He has bent His bow like an enemy, He has set His right hand like an adversary and slain all that were pleasant to the eye; in the tent of the daughter of Zion He has poured out His wrath like fire. The Lord has become like an enemy. He has swallowed up Israel; He has swallowed up all its palaces; He has destroyed its strongholds and multiplied in the daughter of Judah mourning and moaning.”
Lamentations 2:13,14 –
“How shall I admonish you? To what shall I compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? To what shall I liken you as I comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is as vast as the sea; who can heal you? Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; and they have not exposed your iniquity ….”
Lamentations 2:17 –
“The Lord has done what He purposed; He has accomplished His word which He commanded from days of old. He has thrown down without sparing, and He has caused the enemy to rejoice over you; He has exalted the might of your adversaries.”
Lamentations 4:12,13 –
“The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the inhabitants of the world, that the adversary and the enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem. Because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests ….”
I believe Scripture strongly indicates a similar end-time scenario of God’s judgment on a rebellious world and apostate church (tribulation period), and then Christ’s Second Coming and promised restoration of all things.
Lamentations speaks of that hope of restoration in the following verses:
Lamentations 3:21-26, 40 –
“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord. Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord.”
Just as Jeremiah suffered and was persecuted for his obedient testimony for God and for speaking the true word of the Lord, so too, true believers who remain faithful will greatly suffer during the tribulation period because of their testimony for Jesus (the Jesus of the Bible) and the Word of God. In fact, no less than five times does Revelation (in regards to the Apostle John or the persecution of end-time believers who refuse to compromise) mention the utterly crucial and central nature of the Word of God and their testimony for Jesus (Revelation 1:2; 1:9; 6:9; 12:17; 20:4).
A “Spirit” Comes on These People
A “spirit” seems to come on these people once they submit to these false teachings. I have seen several who, after being confronted with the truth yet choosing to continue involvement in a group or church propagating these errors, had a visible countenance change and their hearts became hardened.
These people are being taught a “Christianized fortune-telling.” This happened to a woman I knew who had a gentle, loving spirit. She attended one of these “prophets’ schools,” and after submitting to that teaching immediately began to manifest a spirit of haughtiness and rebellion.
She refused to sit down with me and go through the Scriptures on prophets and personal prophecy or attend a lecture I was giving on the topic, even though I offered her an opportunity to respond. And this woman, who previously (when I was in her favor) had given an unconditional prophecy of blessing for my life and ministry, as well as future persecution, now started prophesying my destruction, and ended up becoming so deceived and vengeful that she became part of that very persecution. Unlike the prophet Nathan who confronted David and prophesied to his face (II Samuel 12:1-14), this supposed prophet (and many others like her) cowardly prophesied my destruction to other people behind my back.
On another occasion a traveling “prophet” stopped by our ministry center. He said the Lord led him to me. After a few minutes of cordial conversation, I informed him that I believed that he and those to whom he was submitted were not speaking the words of the Lord, but were into “Christianized fortune-telling” and speaking from their own inspiration and a counterfeit spirit.
He became irate and said I was young and inexperienced. As he stood up he informed me he was going to prophesy my destruction ― thinking I would be intimidated. I said, “Go ahead and prophesy my destruction. But I want to let you know that when you are done, I am going to pray the Lord gives you a double portion of what you prophesy. And then we’ll see whose prophecy is fulfilled!” He refused to prophesy in my presence, but hurried out of the ministry center and supposedly prophesied my destruction while in the parking lot. As he pulled away in his motor home, he threw garbage on our property.
Much of what is being accepted as genuine prophecy today is unscriptural nonsense and is being given by those who are speaking from their own inspiration or a demonic counterfeit.
Most of the prophecies I hear today are unimpressive, powerless, and inaccurate. Many are “safe prophecies” — so vague and general that they could be true of almost anyone, like those found in fortune cookies. They are more like psychic readings or fortune-telling than Biblical prophecy.
In contrast, prophecies recorded in Scripture were almost always very specific. Some were fulfilled almost immediately and others were not fulfilled for years or even centuries, but they were precise and exact.
For example –
“Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, ‘Cursed before the Lord is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his first-born he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.'” (Joshua 6:26)
This specific prophecy was fulfilled generations later –
“In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho; he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram his first-born, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.” (I Kings 16:34)
Donald C. Stamps, general editor of The Full Life Study Bible stated:
Many of Jeremiah’s prophecies were fulfilled in his own lifetime (e.g., Jeremiah 16:9; 20:4; 25:1-14; 27:19-22; 28:15-17; 34:1-5); other prophecies involving the far-distant future were fulfilled later or are yet to be fulfilled (e.g., 23:5-6; 30:8-9; 31:31-34; 33:14-16).11
There are prophecies in Scripture where blessings are promised if the word of the Lord is obeyed. Adverse consequences are promised if it is not obeyed.
Isaiah 1:19,20 states –
“‘If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’ Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
The prophet Jeremiah gave King Zedekiah a choice. If he would obey the word of the Lord and surrender to the King of Babylon, his life would be spared, his family would live, and Jerusalem would not be burned. But if Zedekiah did not obey, then Jerusalem would be handed over to the Babylonians and burned with fire and he would not escape (Jeremiah 38:17,18).
There is a similar prophecy in Jeremiah 42:8-18, which was given to the remnant left in Israel after the Babylonian captivity. They were told that if they stayed in the land, they would be blessed, but if they went to Egypt to reside there they would die by the sword, famine, and plague.
A Call to Repentance
Many prophecies were a call to repentance, such as Isaiah 58:1 –
“Cry loudly, do not hold back; raise your voice like a trumpet, and declare to My people their transgression, and to the house of Jacob their sins.”
Joel 2:12-14 states –
“‘Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.’ Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness, and relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him …?”
Jonah 1:1,2 commands –
“The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.'”
Zechariah 7:8-14 admonishes –
“Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah saying, ‘Thus has the Lord of hosts said, “Dispense true justice, and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.”‘ But they refused to pay attention, and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. And they made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. ‘And it came about that just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen,’ says the Lord of hosts; ‘but I scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known. Thus the land is desolated behind them, so that no one went back and forth, for they made the pleasant land desolate.'”
Prophecies Must Be 100% Accurate
Not only are most prophecies today usually very vague and general, they are rarely 100% accurate. Many rise up and proclaim: “God told me to say this. God said to go here or to do this. God showed me this is going to happen.” But it doesn’t come to pass. If a few of their prophecies are fulfilled, these are used to give them credibility, while the prophecies which were proven false are ignored or altered to conform to the circumstances.
Many supposed prophets attempt to whitewash the fact that they are not 100% accurate by stating something like: “A prophet is not a false prophet simply because something he/she says is inaccurate or doesn’t seem to apply to us. The prophet may be honest, righteous, and upright, yet immature in his prophesying. Missing it a few times doesn’t make one a false prophet. If it did, most preachers and teachers would do best to cease ministering as well.”
But that is not Scriptural. Biblical prophecies were amazingly accurate. Prophecies of impending judgment were fulfilled unless the people repented (I Kings 21:27-29; Isaiah 38:1-8; Jeremiah 18:7-10, 26:2-6,12,13; Jonah 3:1-10). Promises were not revoked unless the people were disobedient (I Samuel 2:30).
Although Hananiah, the false prophet was not accurate, Jeremiah the true prophet was. Jeremiah 28:15-17 says –
“Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah the prophet, ‘Listen now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This year you are going to die, because you have counseled rebellion against the Lord.”‘ So Hananiah the prophet died in the same year in the seventh month.”
Countless prophecies in Scripture validate this type of accuracy in prophecy ― not to mention the amazing fulfillment of specific Messianic prophecies. When a prophet saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” is inaccurate, he had better repent. There is a tremendous difference between a counselor saying, “This is my opinion of what you should do,” or “This is the Biblical counsel and advice for your situation,” and someone saying, “Thus saith the Lord, this is God’s direct word to you.”
Deuteronomy 18:21,22 states –
“And you may say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken ….”
Now if we practiced what they did in the Old Testament times to false prophets, we wouldn’t have so many going around saying, “Thus saith the Lord.” For Deuteronomy 18:20 warns –
“But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak … that prophet shall die.”
Those who prophesy from their own inspiration will never be 100% accurate unless they merely give very general and vague prophecies. Satan is not omniscient and therefore not 100% accurate, which is why so many of the predictions from those who prophesy through demonic inspiration do not come to pass either.
Isaiah 44:24,25 reveals –
“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the One who formed you from the womb, ‘I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone, causing the omens of boasters to fail, making fools out of diviners, causing wise men to draw back, and turning their knowledge into foolishness.'”
In contrast, Scripture says regarding Samuel, one of God’s true prophets –
“… the Lord was with him and let none of his words fail. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord.” (I Samuel 3:19,20).
I Samuel 9:6 states –
“Behold now, there is a man of God in this city, and the man is held in honor; all that he says surely comes true ….”
New Age Channelers
I believe Satan is raising people up today and giving them false prophecies, dreams, and visions to undermine and discredit those who are genuinely hearing from the Lord.
While New Agers are channeling spirits that are proclaiming New Age doctrines, many so-called prophets who claim to be speaking by the Spirit of God are, in my estimation, doing exactly the same thing. They are channels for deceiving spirits who are proclaiming revelations that are amazingly similar to New Age teachings being proclaimed by trance channelers.
After I spoke at a church, a man told me God is continually speaking to him — giving him revelations and prophecies.
He told me “this voice” told him the U.S. would be turned back over to believers and a queen would reign. I told him his scenario was unbiblical and fit more into the reign of Antichrist and the prophesied apostasy. The queen he described sounded like the whore of Babylon in Revelation 18:7 –
“To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.'”
Then he said God told him he would see fire come down from heaven. So I opened my Bible to Revelation 13:13 and read –
“And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.”
I told him the only place in the New Testament that talks about fire coming down from heaven is regarding the False Prophet and the Antichrist. It is amazing that what this voice told him was verbatim of what Revelation 13:13 says concerning the Antichrist and the False Prophet.
In reality, this man is a channel for a demon, and doesn’t even realize it. I told him that he needed to renounce this voice that was speaking to him — for it was lying and deceiving him. It was not the Spirit of Christ.
I said, “Show me proof that what you are hearing is really from God. Give me Scriptural validation and give me specific fulfillment. Whenever I have said the Lord has spoken to me, I can substantiate it by God’s Word and it has always been fulfilled 100%.” He had neither validation nor fulfillment, yet he was seeking to sway a church, and if possible, believers in the U.S. by his “revelations from God.”
There are countless people like him who are claiming revelations, dreams, visions, and prophecies from God. Most are not only extra-biblical, but contrary to Scripture and have no validation of fulfillment. They also undermine and discredit what God is truly speaking through His genuine servants.
It’s More Like Fortune-Telling
I have researched many psychics and fortune-tellers, and there seems to be no apparent difference between their method of prediction and degree of accuracy and that of many so-called prophets of God today. The only difference, seemingly, is that the supposed prophet often uses “Thus saith the Lord.”
At a meeting where “holy laughter” was occurring, a woman stood up to give a prophetic utterance. For several minutes she rambled on to the enthusiastic receptivity of the pastor and audience. She called out many ailments that God was supposedly healing (most of which could be true for anyone in the audience) and none of which were documented as being healed. It sounded more like a psychic reading than Biblical prophecy. She also shared for several minutes about the revelation Jesus was supposedly giving her that everyone in the room was being encompassed by light. I thought I was at a New Age gathering ― not a Spirit-filled church. When she was done the audience applauded.
One pastor, also known as an apostle, announced at his church that a woman prophetess was coming the next week, so he invited everyone to be sure to come back to get their personal prophecy. They might as well pay ten dollars and go to the local psychic or fortune-teller.
Biblical prophets did not prophesy at will, but when the word of the Lord came to them. Jeremiah 42:7 states,
“Now it came about at the end of ten days that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah.”
New Testament prophecy also was not determined by the whims of the person operating the gift, but as the Spirit gave utterance.
I saw the following ad in a Christian magazine: “For your personal prophecy send your name, address, and love offering.” This resembles fortune-telling far more than any form of prophecy in the Bible. The cassette ordered from this supposed prophet was not only unscriptural in many areas, but was also very boring and unimpressive.
I frequently saw a “Palm Reader” sign in the front yard of a house, and then one day I noticed that the sign was replaced by a new sign that read, “Christian Advisor — Advice on All Matters.” Will it next be changed to “Christian Prophet”?
This person probably discovered that palm reading wasn’t all that popular, but that there is a gullible market of Christians who don’t want to get on their knees and into God’s Word to seek His will for their lives.
I was later informed that some Christians helped her change the sign. I hope it was a genuine conversion, but I doubt it very strongly. It was merely a change of terminology. Besides, even if she was converted, she had no business setting herself up that fast as a Christian consultant without time to grow and mature in the Lord.
Meetings where prophets have people line up or call them out and give them a word from the Lord, or meetings where everybody is prophesying over each other, resemble many of the occult and New Age meetings I have researched.
With this in mind, it doesn’t surprise me that a supposed prophet of God who was giving personal prophecies to people throughout the country stated that his wife was “at a women’s meeting one day and God got a hold of her and picked her up out of the chair, supernaturally, and threw her on the floor ….”
I have encountered accounts like this in the occult through demonic phenomena, but never of true believers in Scripture.
Putting Personal Prophecies Above God’s Word
Although most deny it, the sad reality is that many put the personal prophecies they receive above God’s Word. They are encouraged to get a cassette copy of their personal prophecies and write them out and meditate on them and read or listen to them many times.
One noted prophet stated he follows his prophet mentor without question. “Whatever he tells me to do, I do it. I’m not into shepherding. I’m under protection; I have a covering.” He may have a covering from that supposed prophet, but he has removed himself from under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5 makes known that even if their prophecies come to pass — if they cause you to follow other gods, they are false prophets. At first I thought, “These prophets aren’t making anyone go after other gods. They appear to glorify Jesus Christ.” But, as I sought the Lord and His Word and researched more, I discovered that their prophecies were getting further and further away from Biblical Christianity. In too many cases they are causing people to go after other gods. They are subtly removing the God of the Bible and Christ’s Lordship from their followers’ lives and making them dependent on the prophet. They are also replacing the Word of God by encouraging the people to obey, memorize, and conform to personal prophecies and “new revelations” more than God’s Word.
So-called prophets of God have prophesied over many separated or divorced people that their spouse would come back to them. Some of these people have waited years. Some even wait for the fulfillment of the prophecy after their former spouse has married someone else — making it unscriptural for them to ever reunite (Deuteronomy 24:4). There is a growing number of casualties — people who have been so hurt, confused, and misled by supposed prophets and prophetic utterances, that they want nothing to do with the true Jesus Christ of the Bible.
Cult Awareness on “New Revelations”
It is sad to discover that what I had written many years ago about the cults concerning “new revelations” is relevant for the Church today. The following excerpts are from my Cult Awareness booklet:
Although they say their “new revelation” merely sheds additional light on what God has already revealed through the Scriptures, in reality, it adds to or subtracts from the Bible. Ultimately, their extra-biblical revelation is given greater authority and importance than the Bible.
It is interesting to note that most cult leaders who have received “new revelations” have acknowledged receiving them during encounters with spirit beings. A look behind the scenes will reveal a definite association with the occult and contact with demonic beings who masquerade as angelic beings, spirits of the dead, or even Christ Himself.
Now realize, a cult leader who is attempting to gain followers for his “new revelation” is usually not so naive as to immediately attempt to persuade “Christians” to accept his/her “extreme” ideas and beliefs. Instead, they will give some general truths that almost everyone agrees with and talk about God, Christ, the Bible, miracles, etc. The immature and unsuspecting listener is impressed. Very subtly the cultist reveals his “new revelation” of false doctrine mixed with just enough truth to keep you off guard. Finally the cultist reveals that his true allegiance is to some book or teaching other than the Bible and someone other than Jesus Christ.
Cultists are usually successful in proclaiming their “new truth” to those who have little of the “old truth.” But in reality their message is not new at all. Ecclesiastes 1:9,10 states,
“… there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, ‘See this, it is new’? Already it has existed for ages which were before us.”
So although they claim to have God’s “new revelation” for the world, it is really just new names and disguises for Satan’s old methods of leading people away from the God of the Bible and from His revealed truth in Jesus Christ.
At a time when thousands of New Age messiahs and prophets are attempting to gain followers for their “new revelations,” Galatians 1:8 warns,
“But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”12
Evaluate All Things in the Light of Scripture
When problems concerning issues and new teachings arose in the early New Testament Church, believers evaluated them in light of Old Testament Scripture. For example, in Acts 15:13-19, James uses Old Testament Scripture to provide the Apostles’ conclusion regarding the Gospel being proclaimed to the Gentiles.
So too, in these last days, we must evaluate all so-called prophecies and “new revelations” in light of Scripture. When they run contrary to Scripture, no matter how good they sound, no matter how anointed they seem, we must reject them. If we don’t, we will soon be following “another Jesus,” not the actual Jesus of the Bible; “a different spirit,” not the true Holy Spirit; and “a different gospel,” not the genuine Biblical Gospel (II Corinthians 11:4).
In a personal letter from David Wilkerson, pastor of Times Square Church, he writes, “Personally, I never stray from the Word and I do not give much credence to much of what is called personal prophecy and new revelation. Ninety-nine percent of it is zeal without wisdom, repetitious, and absolutely nothing new except error. We are safest when we stay rock solid on the Word.”
There is a Need for Biblical Balance
I Corinthians 14:29-33 admonishes –
“And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
I Thessalonians 5:19-21 gives us what I believe to be one of the most balanced Scriptures on prophecy. It states –
“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.”
We have an obligation to allow the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, but you and I have a responsibility to evaluate them in light of Scripture and to reject that which is not in accord with God’s Word — and to hold fast to that which is good. In contradiction of this Scripture, we are seeing raised up in our midst self-proclaimed and man-appointed prophets who refuse to be judged. Through their twisting of God’s Word, they are making it almost impossible for anyone to Biblically critique or evaluate them.
They are not allowing us to be like the Bereans who were commended for receiving the Word eagerly and for searching out everything to make certain the teachings were accurate (Acts 17:11). As a result, there is rampant false teaching on crucial Biblical doctrines being accepted under the guise of inspired prophecies and “new revelations.”
These supposed modern-day prophets and apostles are wrongly attempting to manipulate their followers into believing they are above questioning. While Jesus did rebuke the church of Ephesus for leaving its first love, He commended it in Revelation 2:2 for not enduring evil men, and for putting to the test those who call themselves apostles, but who are false.
I Believe in Prophecy
I believe the gift of prophecy is for today. The Church needs to be encouraged, corrected, and built up with messages from the very heart of God — brought forth by His Spirit, and found in His Word. True Biblical prophecy is accurately proclaiming “Thus saith the Lord.” The genuine word of the Lord today will always be in harmony with His written revelation to man, the Holy Scriptures.
Biblical prophecy is not merely foretelling future events, but often forthtelling the very heart and mind of God. Revelation 19:10 states,
“… For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Biblical prophecy is not going to exalt and magnify and make you dependent on the person operating the gift; it will exalt and glorify and draw you to the Jesus of the Bible!
Concerning true prophecy in the Church, Scripture states –
“… if an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.” (I Corinthians14: 24,25)
But too much of what is going on in Christian circles today is not the genuine gift of prophecy by proclaiming the true word of the Lord under the anointing of His Spirit. It is a poor imitation, false prophecy, and “Christianized fortune-telling.” It is prophesying from one’s own inspiration, and often it is a demonic counterfeit.
I challenge you! Do not accept as genuine a prophecy or revelation from anyone, unless it is in exact accord with God’s Word, is 100% accurate, confirms what His Spirit has already spoken to your heart, truly exalts the Jesus Christ of the Bible, and draws you closer to Him.
Never accept anyone’s prophecies and revelations as a higher authority than the Bible or make anyone the director of your life (except Jesus Christ), or run to other people for quick prophetic advice, when you should be seeking guidance from God’s Word and allowing God’s Spirit to speak to your own heart. Get on your knees and seek His face and obediently follow His Word and Spirit!