In times of crisis people long to hear from God and consequently there is often an upsurge of prophetic activity at such times. The current corona virus pandemic is no exception. In recent times there have been a number of prophetic words given by well-known ‘Prophets’ or self-proclaimed ‘Apostles’ that simply have not come to pass, perhaps most notably the prophecy brought forth by Kenneth Copeland at exactly 12 noon on March 29, 2020 claiming the Covid-19 pandemic virus “… is finished, it is over, and the United States of America is healed and well again.” Clearly this was a false prophecy. In an effort to explain away or justify such errors a new and dangerous teaching has arisen which claims that “there is a lower standard in the New Testament” and prophecy now does not have to be 100% correct.
Proponents of this teaching support their idea using the passage in I Corinthians 13:8-9,12 which says,
But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part… For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.
Their mistake is that they confuse partial prophecy with incorrect prophecy. Our prophecy today may be partial, but that part must be 100% the word of God, not 30%, 50% or even 95% correct as they claim. Generally speaking, the standards of the New Testament are actually higher than those of the Tanach (for example Matthew 5:17-22), and although we may not stone false prophets any more, God will judge false prophets, and those who follow them, just as severely as before.
False prophecy can come from three sources, Satanic deception, the prophet’s own mind or soul, or even from God himself. When a prophet dares to speak in the Name of YHWH he or she must be sure those words, every one of them, come from God under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. If a prophecy is a mixture of divine inspiration and soulish utterings, how can we trust that word? If a prophet is not able to speak the word of God, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, 100% faithfully then he or she should be silent.
In a recent YouTube video Ron Cantor made much of the fact that in the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet Jeremiah never calls the false prophets of his time ‘false prophets’ but rather the ‘other prophets’. It is true that these ‘other prophets’ prophesied in the Name of YHWH, but they were nevertheless false prophets, and God warned the people not to listen to them.
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.” – Jeremiah 23: 16
Jeremiah was prophesying at a time of great national crisis, immediately prior to the conquest of the Kingdom of Judah and the Babylonian Exile. The people wanted to hear comforting and encouraging words from God, but they did not want to hear the truth that they were sinning against God and needed to repent.
The Apostle Paul warned us saying,
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. – II Timothy 4: 3-4
When people want to hear only pleasant and flattering words, and will not tolerate truth, then sometimes God himself will send a lying spirit to deceive the people, as he did in the times of Ahab;
And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’
“One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’
“‘By what means?’ the Lord asked.
“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.
“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’
“So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.” – I Kings 22: 20-23
When people allow themselves to be deceived by a false prophet, the punishment of the people is like that of the prophet.
“‘When any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing in Israel separate themselves from me and set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet to inquire of me, I the Lord will answer them myself. I will set my face against them and make them an example and a byword. I will remove them from my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
“‘And if the prophet is enticed to utter a prophecy, I the Lord have enticed that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and destroy him from among my people Israel. They will bear their guilt—the prophet will be as guilty as the one who consults him. Then the people of Israel will no longer stray from me, nor will they defile themselves anymore with all their sins. They will be my people, and I will be their God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’” – Ezekiel 14: 7-11
Concerning the times of the end, Yeshua himself warned his followers,
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them… Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ – Matthew 7: 15-23
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.
Matthew 24: 10-11, 24:24-25
In such times as these we all need to guard ourselves from false prophecies and false teachings. To avoid deception we must maintain a pure heart, cultivate a love of truth, and test every word of prophecy and teaching against the truth of the Holy Scriptures.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. – I Thessalonians 5: 19-22
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. – 2 Peter 2:1