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Deception and The False Prophet of Revelation

Some biblical prophecy concerned the first coming of Christ and some of it looks ahead to the time His return in great power and glory. We read of kingdoms rising and falling, troubles of persecution, war, disease. All these were present from the time the prophecy was given through the intervening 2,000 years of human history, yet seem to insistent as the final days approach.

Deception and false prophets are another area prophecy addresses... deception has been present since the days of the apostles, it is present today... and deception is predicted to intensify as the time of the end approaches.

Matthew 24:22-25

Have you ever wondered or worried about being deceived in the time of the end? If some prophet is at large doing amazing miracles how could you not be swayed... their instruction and teaching would appear to have the power of the spirit realm backing it up. How will you be able to tell what is "of God" and what is "of the evil one"?

Revelation 13:11-14 the false prophet makes your task of discernment even harder because he/she makes them self look like a teacher of Christ while teaching a message that is actually against Christ (so you have to look past any miracle or sign and pay attention to what they actually say). The false prophet will appear to be on the side of all that is right and good... and they will have power to perform amazing signs and wonders.

Today I would like to explain the biblical guidelines for determining the validity of prophets and prophecies and determine if they are "of God" or "not of God".

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What Was the Ancient Prophet?

The  prophet served as a spokesperson for the gods interpreting events and passing along visions, whereas the priestly role is to perform various rites of appeasement and service to a deity on behalf of humans. The two can be combined in the same person or they might operate separately. The role of prophet is found in both biblical and pagan belief systems.

There are notable similarities between pagan and biblical prophets:

· Both are seeking to provide a closer relationship with the divine and transcendent, to help us know the divine will and be guided by it

· Both look forward to a restoration of universal peace, joy, bliss, etc.

· Both can use signs and wonders to validate their message

These similarities are significant contributors to confusion and deception between what is of God and what is not.

Differences between pagan prophecy and biblical prophecy:

First: the goals of a relationship with the divine and seeking universal bliss sound the same but are quite different. The biblical framework achieves these goals through a close personal relationship with the living God and advocates submitting ourselves to Him. Whereas pagan [and even materialist] systems seek this unity and bliss through aspiring to abstract ideas... universal love... universal peace... unity with creation.

Second: biblical prophecy proceeds from God according to His agenda. There is nothing a true prophet can DO to generate prophecy. Pagan prophecy is generated by the will and actions of human beings. Such as: seeking guidance through omens, astrology, contact with the dead, processes of their own mind, like dreams or visions induced by ecstatic dancing along with drugs or punishment of the flesh, incantation, spells, repetitive prayers, chanting etc.

Third: biblical outcomes involve submission to reality and right behavior as defined by God. Humanly devised outcomes involve freedom from all boundaries. Note: absolute freedom is the goal of the secular and materialist prophets of our own day.

Fourth: the role of the biblical prophet was both moral and spiritual. The prophet's commentary on current events or lessons of the past came with a moral lesson.

Five: Biblical prophecies are not inevitable. Disaster or punishment can be lessened or avoided though repentance and submission. Pagan prophecy and divination is absolute… seeking to reveal the course of fate or destiny which couldn't really be altered.

Biblical Tests for Validation of Prophets and Prophecy

Deuteronomy 18:14-22 - here we see the establishment of the office of prophet among Israel as a spokesperson for God. It points to the great final prophet [which is Jesus Acts 3:22] but also to the prophets God would appoint and work through along the way [from Moses though John the baptist].

At first glance Deuteronomy 18 seems like an effective test... but what about a prophecy that extended way off into the future, 20, 50, or even hundreds of  years? Future generations might be able to use this test, but the people hearing the prophecy when it is first spoken have no way of knowing.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 the prophet was a legitimate means of revelation in Israel and was ripe for abuse of that authority. So we need more ways to evaluate the prophet and his words.

Signs and wonders are morally neutral: they can be used to deceive, or they can be used to validate truth. In fact, the signs and wonders themselves have to be validated against something else! That ultimate validation is through the moral position of prophet himself. Is what he says grounded in scripture, is it in accordance with God's express commands, is pointing us down the path of redemption, repentance, submission and deliverance from sin God began by drawing Israel out of Egypt.

Note: the Jews doubted Jesus legitimacy as a prophet even though He did miracles. They interpreted what He was saying as strange new religion, satanic even... but how did he answer them?

Time and time again He pointed them back to the written word of God showing that what He was teaching was in accord with both the prophets of the past and the law once delivered. If you take the law and commandments out of the mouth of Jesus He loses His most powerful means of validating himself as the true prophet in the eyes of His contemporaries... most of the prophecies about Him were not fulfilled until it was too late and He was already dead in the tomb, at that point it would be too late.

John 7:16-24 and Matthew 5:17-20.

Signs and Miracles Demonstrate Power

Our world reveres power whatever its nature or character might be. Demonstrations of, or perceptions of, POWER are why people follow dictators, politicians, or spiritual gurus.

However, the biblical perspective is that character and nature are more important than displays of power. God's perspective is to respect human beings based on character regardless of that person's power status… rich poor or otherwise. In fact, God Himself is to be revered and worshiped because of His character and nature... not because of His power Psalm 97:1-12 [righteousness and justice are the foundation of His power, instead of the other way around].

The False Prophet Hananiah and Jeremiah [28]

Background: Babylon had militarily overwhelmed Judah, ransacked and pillaged the temple, carted away the best and the brightest as slaves, deposed the king and installed his cousin as a puppet ruler. In chapter 27 God had instructed Jeremiah to say they would serve under the yoke of Babylon for 70 years, but that their tiny remnant would be allowed to remain in Jerusalem along with whatever was left in the temple.

But the prophecy was conditional... it would come to pass only if they would repent and submit themselves to the punishment God had meted out through Babylon. Submit obediently to the yoke of Babylonian rule.

Jeremiah 28:1-17 notice that Hananiah's prophecy did not contain any moral element to it. No call to obedience, or submission, or repentance... just good stuff for no reason.

Jeremiah public critique of Hananiah was this: what you are saying certainly sounds good, however it is in direct contradiction to the prophets of God who went before who foretold 1) the punishment of God and 2) that it would last a long time [Isaiah, Micah, Amos, Hosea]. Therefore, the only validation for your prophecies of peace is to apply the criteria of Deuteronomy 18 and wait to see if they come to pass. But, God is going to take your life in 7 short months because you preach rebellion against His will.

Personal application for dealing with false prophets: is the prophecy I am hearing in accord with the previously expressed will and prophecy of God. Does it reject submission to God's will? Note: to perform this test you have to 1) know what the previously expressed prophecies of God are 2) know what God's will is through both the prophets and through knowing His commandments, statutes and judgments.

Isaiah 8:18-22 the prophet of God tells you to verify voices that claim to speak for the divine by comparing them to the word of God.

Consider this: the bible was put together by servants of God guided by the holy spirit. However, if you think about it with a clear head... we [the church of God] are not the keepers and custodians of the bible. We work with the translations and printed copies provided to us by the very people who oppose us and our message. We agree with them that this is the authorized word of God... we disagree with them on interpretation... but, we work with the SAME TEXT as everyone else.

The church and its ministry are here to help you see for yourself what the bible really says... anything we write or publish is all about pointing you back to same text shared by everyone and point out to you what it says rather than relying on humanly devised traditions or authority.

You will need this clarity and understanding to see you through in days of darkness and deception.

1 John 4:1-3 here's a great example of understanding. If you believe Jesus was the Word/Logos come to earth as a flesh and blood human being then you should also believe what He taught.

1. He said, "I have walked in my Father's commandments" [which He did as an example for you to follow]...

2. He said, "Do not think I have come to abolish the law"... [anyone who teaches against the law and commandments will be nothing in the KOG]

The False Prophet and the Time of the End

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 false teaching is always with us, including false teachings and ideas about the time of the end itself. However, the clear biblical teaching is that there is a distinct time in history when Christ will return and there are distinct prophesied events that will precede it.

There will be a time of intense spiritual rebellion lead by a personality who is characterized by lawlessness [who teaches against God's laws, commandments and even perhaps the laws written in to creation itself such as DNA]. That teacher of lawlessness is the ultimate false prophet.

2 Thessalonians 2:5-12 the false prophet perform many signs and wonders to back up his teaching of lawlessness and many people fall for it.

Notice how Christ Himself will do battle with the false prophet. First by the word of God, and only then by the power and glory He possesses. You also have this primary weapon to fight against false prophets among us today... and to prepare personally for the possibility of the  false prophet of Revelation to appear in your own life time and draw you into deception.

Revelation 19:11-15 His primary weapon is the sword of His mouth, God's word... a weapon of battle you have in your hands right now.

Revelation 19:19-21


 The elect will not be deceived the false prophet, or signs and wonders... because carefully compare and test what they see and hear against the biblical record. Is it in accord with God’s commandments, statutes and judgments, is it in accord with the teachings of the prophets who have gone before?

Miracles and wonders are nothing... truth, character, and the will of God are everything.  

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