This is the second part of our study onÂ how to identify a false prophet. We have determined before that it is our responsibility to ensure that we are not deceived. YHVH teaches us through His Word how to identify these false prophets or teachers. It is our responsibility to search His Word for the truth. Some of the Scripture quoted in this article is bound to offend some, but if we are offended by Scripture, we need to do some searching. I was doing Bible study one morning, just after I commenced this follow up of the false prophets, and I came across the following verse:
Galatians 1:10 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of Elohim? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Messiah.
This verse convicted me and came to mind often during this study, every time I doubted whether I should include some Scripture or not, I was reminded. I hope the same holds true for you. We should be searching for truth and in our hearts we all are, but sometimes we are persuaded by a charismatic teacher to compromise on YHVH’s Word. We are to guard against that. Carefully consider who you choose to lead you. Measure them against YHVH’s word and if they do not measure up, do not follow them. Do not submit yourself to their authority by standing under their teaching. More importantly, measure yourself against this, for each of us are a teacher of somebody else. (Jer 31:34)
1. A true prophet calls people to repentance
A true prophet of YHVH will call people to repentance; he will never “strengthen the hands of evil ones.” To “strengthen the hands of evil means â€œto encourage the wicked not to turn from his ungodly waysâ€.
Jeremiah 23:14 14 â€œAnd among the prophets of Yerushalayim I have seen a horrible matter: committing adultery and walking in falsehood. And they strengthen the hands of evil ones, so that no one turns back from his evil. All of them are like Seá¸om to Me, and her inhabitants like Amorah. Ezekiel 13:22 22 â€œBecause you disheartened the righteous with falsehood when I did not cause him grief, but have encouraged the wicked not to turn from his wicked way and preserve his life,
What is the tendency of the leaders and teachers in our time? They focus on the people; they want to make them feel good. They want to tickle their ears with new things and things they want to hear. They focus on the comfort of the people, and they do not speak of sin or repentance. They teach and encourage lawlessness; they strengthen the hands of evil ones, so no one turns back from his evil. This is contrary to what a true prophet of YHVH does. This is what they are to do! They are to declare to the people their transgression and call them to repentance.
Isaiah 58:1 1 â€œCry 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.
2. A false prophet changes YHVH’s Word
Jeremiah 23:36 36 â€œFor you will no longer remember the oracle of YHVH, because every manâ€™s own word will become the oracle, and you have perverted the words of the living Elohim, YHVH of hosts, our Elohim.
I have included the translation of The Scriptures for clarity.
Jeremiah 23:36 36 â€œBut the message of ×™×”×•×” you no longer remember! For every manâ€™s message is his own word, for you have changed the Words of the living Elohim, ×™×”×•×” of hosts, our Elohim!
What are to be considered “the Words of Elohim”?
What do you consider to be YHVH’s Word? Which of the Scriptures, can we consider as inspired, thus the Word of Elohim? We can go into a whole new study here, but instead, let us just look at some quotes from the Apostolic writings to see what they considered to be Scripture.
1 Timothy 5:18 18 For the Scripture says, â€œYou shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,â€ and â€œThe laborer is worthy of his wages.â€
The above verse is from the book of Timothy. The first quote is from Deut 25:4 and the second from Luke 10:7. They are quoted alongside each other and are referred to as Scripture by Paul. A scholar like Paul would not quote words from the book of Luke and call it Scripture if it was not.
2 Peter 3:1â€“2 1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of Elohim and Savior spoken by your apostles.
This is confirmed by Jude 17
Jude 17 17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Master Y’shua the Messiah,
In the next passage we see Paul’s writings being referred to as part of Scripture by Peter
2 Peter 3:15â€“17 15 and regard the patience of our Master as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,
2 Timothy 3:16 16 All Scripture is inspired by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
The Greek word “graphe” is used in all the quoted passages where the word “scripture” is used, it is used to both refer to the Tanakh and the Apostolic Scriptures. If the Tanakh had a different status, another word would have been used.
We see from the above quotes that both Paul’s writings, and the Gospels were considered as part of the Scriptures, together with the whole Tanakh. We could therefor not exclude any of the books we currently have in our Bibles as inspired Scripture.
3. A false prophet denies Y’shua
2 Peter 2:1 1 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.
1 John 4:1â€“3 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from Elohim, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of Elohim: every spirit that confesses that Y’shua Messiah has come in the flesh is from Elohim; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Y’shua is not from Elohim; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
We are not trying to say with these quotes that every Jew, who doesn’t believe in Y’shua, is a false prophet, but there are anti-missionaries out there who will ruthlessly do anything possible to sow doubt in your mind regarding Y’shua, His divinity and the Apostolic Scriptures. It is their purpose to convince Torah-observant believers in Y’shua, to convert to Judaism and be under their authority. Once again, choose what you read and who you listen to with great care. Doubt is the first step to change. If they can sow doubt in your mind, you become very vulnerable and that makes it extremely easy to introduce subtle deception.
4. They say YHVH said, when He didn’t say
Ezekiel 13:2â€“3 2 â€œSon of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, â€˜Listen to the word of YHVH! 3 â€˜Thus says YHVH Elohim, â€œWoe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. Ezekiel 13:6â€“9 6 â€œThey see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, YHVH declares,â€™ when YHVH has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word. 7 â€œDid you not see a false vision and speak a lying divination when you said, YHVH declares,â€™ but it is not I who have spoken?â€ â€™ â€ 8 Therefore, thus says YHVH Elohim, â€œBecause you have spoken falsehood and seen a lie, therefore behold, I am against you,â€ declares YHVH Elohim. 9 â€œSo My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am YHVH Elohim.
Be careful of prophets or teachers who tell you YHVH said, when He didn’t say.
- Firstly, YHVH will never say anything contrary to His Word. It is yet again our responsibility to study the Scripture and see if what was said is indeed in line with Scripture.
- Secondly, be aware that people will use the name of YHVH to make what they say more credible, they boastfully declare that YHVH told them, instead of being humble and allowing the Word of YHVH to “speak “.
YHVH spoke against these “prophets” through the prophet Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 14:14 14 Then YHVH said to me, â€œThe 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 23:31 31 â€œBehold, I am against the prophets,â€ declares YHVH, â€œwho use their tongues and declare, YHVH declares.â€™
If a teacher tells you, something that sounds too fantastic to be true, it usually is, and if it is not found in Scripture or contrary to Scripture, it is false! Furthermore, if they have to tell you, YHVH said it to give it credibility, run!
5. They steal YHVH’s Words from each other and say it is their own
Jeremiah 23:30 30 â€œTherefore behold, I am against the prophets,â€ declares YHVH, â€œwho steal My words from each other.
False prophets go about plagiarizing each other; they steal words from another. They parrot after one another. We see that very often. When you study the Scriptures, you begin to discern false teaching, and when you do, you quickly pick up who the “parrots” are.
6. False prophets relate false dreams
When is a dream a false dream? We can ask the same question about a vision, as the two are closely related.
Jeremiah 23:32 32 â€œBehold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,â€ declares YHVH, â€œand 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,â€ declares YHVH.
YHVH gives dreams and visions as a means of communication, but if dreams or visions are sought or induced by drugs or fasting, it becomes divination. We should not do certain things to enable YHVH to communicate with us. He does; we are to listen, not seek after the spectacular. To some people, He does communicate in dreams or visions, but not to all, and it is not for anybody to switch it on and off on demand. That borders on divination, we never read of any prophet who sought a dream or vision from YHVH, He gives it according to His desire.
7. False prophets use divination as a means to obtain prophesy
This seventh sign is related to the previous one, but there are differences. To use divination is to dabble in the occult. The nations around Israel were experts as far as these things were concerned. That is the reason YHVH told them not to intermingle with the nations in order not to learn their ways. Their ways are contrary to YHVH’s ways.
Ezekiel 13:9 9 â€œSo My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am YHVH Elohim.
What were these occult practices?
Deuteronomy 18:9â€“11 9 â€œWhen you enter the land which YHVH your Elohim gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 â€œThere shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
A few things are mentioned in this passage, the question is, is this applicable to our time? Do people, even believers, practice any of these? We have found explanations for some of these in order to show you how this still features in everyday life, even among believers.
I have seen “amulets” sold by a well known messianic teacher, which is worn around the neck, with special essential oil in to ward of illness. Is this any different to what the nations did? Who is our protection against illness? This is a popular practice among new agers and occultists, but people fall for this deception, because it is not called an amulet and people are told that YHVH made everything for our benefit and haSatan stole it. Do not fall for this deception!
Divination and the interpretation of omensThe word for omen is “nahas”
Divination, interpreting of omens and astrology was practiced by the nations around Israel. These have all found their place within the believing community in our day. These teachers deceive by saying it is not astrology, but astronomy. The truth is, the moment you use astronomical data to predict the future; you are practicing astrology. The same can be said with regard to the interpretation of omens. If you use any event to foretell a future event, you are guilty of the practice of divination. YHVH gave us His prophets to know forthcoming events, He never instructed us to look for His plans in the stars, on the contrary; He detests it.
Isaiah 47:13â€“14 13 â€œYou are wearied with your many counsels; Let now the astrologers, Those who prophesy by the stars, Those who predict by the new moons, Stand up and save you from what will come upon you. 14 â€œBehold, they have become like stubble, Fire burns them; They cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame; There will be no coal to warm by Nor a fire to sit before!
We often hear the argument that all this information about the constellations was revealed to Enoch, who passed it on the Noah and his descendants, and therefor it is good. Go and read the book of Enoch for yourself. Astrology, astronomy and witchcraft and other things were revealed to the people by fallen angels. YHVH called, that which the people were taught, sin. Later on, in the book we see Enoch being shown, amongst other things, the constellations, the movement of the sun and the moon and how glorious it was made. He even learned the names of the stars. That is YHVH’s glory, His creation, and how wonderfully everything was made, everything perfect. But Enoch was not taught how to predict the future by it.
How will YHVH punish the false prophets?
I am adding this so we can all read it and consider our ways with fear and trembling. YHVH is not mocked.
Ezekiel 13:9 9 â€œSo My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am YHVH Elohim. Jeremiah 23:15 15 â€œTherefore thus says YHVH of hosts concerning the prophets, â€˜Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood And make them drink poisonous water, For from the prophets of Jerusalem Pollution has gone forth into all the land.â€™ â€ Jeremiah 23:39â€“40 39 â€œTherefore behold, I will surely forget you and cast you away from My presence, along with the city which I gave you and your fathers. 40 â€œI will put an everlasting reproach on you and an everlasting humiliation which will not be forgotten.â€
We are going to end this article with a quote from a commentary on Jeremiah 23.
Isaiah 8:20 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. Psalm 111:10 10 The fear of YHVH is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.
- Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary : A companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed.) (2 Pe 3:2). Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications.
- Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (394). New York: United Bible Societies.
- Negev, A. (1990). The Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land (3rd ed.). New York: Prentice Hall Press.
- Hastings, J., Selbie, J. A., Lambert, J. C., & Mathews, S. (1909). Dictionary of the Bible (568). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (2000). Be reverent (61). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Chariot Victor/Cook Communications.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be decisive. An Old testament study. (107). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
- Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (2000). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (electronic ed.) (506). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.
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