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False Prophets

Here is a topic I’ve needed to learn about for a long time. In Ezekiel (and before then), false prophets plague Israel. While God tries to warn the Israelites about the dire consequences of their actions, false prophets appear who convince the Israelites that there’s no real problem–God actually just wants all good things for them, and they’re actually not doing anything bad! This becomes a huge problem for the people of Israel, and honestly, it’s easy to see why. When a voice claims to be “from God,” it makes even an unbeliever stop and think. To make it worse, false prophecies aren’t just manmade–they come from false spirits. Recall 1 Kings 22:22.

In Ezekiel, the issue of false prophecy has many layers. But we’re still offered some truths to help us recognize and defend against false prophets.

there are true prophets. Whenever false prophets are decried in the Old Testament, there’s usually a true prophet right next door. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Micaiah were foils to the false prophets, even though no one listened to them. God always offers the truth. Whether or not we like the truth is a different question.

beware of human voices. In the Old Testament, false prophecy (and true prophecy) have this in common: humans. Humans prophecy faithfully or falsely. We must judge the true voices based on the character of those speaking.

God’s word. Are the prophets lawbreakers, or faithful to God’s word? This is a good way to tell if they speak what is trustworthy.

idolatry. At the root of the matter, false prophecy is based on what people want to hear. False prophecy is based on idolatry. Is there some kind of sin–pride, selfishness, greed–that might be at the root of a prophecy? Will the prophecy protect or promote something sinful in you or others? Will it lead you to dependence on an idol, or idolize something?

Some of this might not be obvious all at once. Still, we’re called to test all spirits–and it’s worth examining something you or another claims to be a prophecy with these standards. God does speak, but not all prophecies are from him, and sometimes he sends false prophecies to test our hearts, like he did with Ahab. Because if a prophecy promotes something wrong and yet we believe it, that might mean there is an idol in our hearts where Jesus should be.

Until next time,


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