DO WE NEED TO BEWARE STILL,
OF FALSE PROPHETS?
Balaam, the son of Beor, (chapter 61:8) was gifted with the gift of prophecy, but he allowed the contamination of witchcraft and enchantments to defile his ministry. He is much like many false prophets of today. We need to beware of false prophets, and yet many today are convinced by some deceived false prophets. This study of false prophets is vital today. Jesus spoke of "false prophets" and described them as being "wolves in sheep's clothing. At the beginning of Jeremiah's ministry, he referred to false prophets as:
"the prophets prophesied by Baal.’
"the prophet...dealt falsely... saying 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace."
These false prophets, including Balaam, were actually prophets. They had felt called by God to a ministry of prophetic teaching and work. This was not an enviable job, and was not a well paid job. It required much work, and usually little reward. However, these religious leaders of that day, had somehow strayed from hearing from God Himself. Their message was designed to "please the people", and had come from the human spirit of the "prophet", or from the evil spirits of deception.
God does want prophets. He desires to share his messages with those who will listen and bravely speak them out to the people. God has always wanted people who would listen to God's precious revelations. Sometimes God has searched for someone to stand in the "gap" to intercede and to encourage His people to repent.
"Surely the Lord Jehovah will do nothing, except He reveal His secret unto His servants the prophets."
Moses prayed that God would make all the servants of God to be prophets with the Holy Spirit of God upon them. Jesus similarly prayed and told the disciples to pray for God to "send laborers for the harvest."
The word "prophet" comes from the Hebrew word "navi" which means "to speak." Anyone who speaks for God can be called a prophet. Abraham (Gen. 20:7), Moses (Deut. 34:10), Miriam (Ex. 15:20), Deborah (Judg. 4:4), were all called prophets. The prophet was originally called a "seer". (I Samuel 9:9) This word is from the Hebrew, "roeh", which means "a seer of visions." Another word for seer was "chozeh" which refers to the spiritual discerning of what is transpiring.
These words are all used in I Chronicles 29:29:
"Now the acts of David, the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer (chozeh), and in the book of Nathan the prophet (navi), and in the book of Gad, the seer (roeh)."
This seems to describe several different types of prophets of God. Some will receive visions, and perhaps not fully understand what the full meaning of the vision. Others will receive the vision, and understand the spiritual significance of it. They will also be able to discern what God is doing by watching the events that are transpiring. The third group will receive the benefits of the other two groups and then speak forth an inspired message from God. These ministries of God, that are given freely in our age to all who choose to accept the consequences that go along with the honor, are great in importance to God's plan. He is constantly seeking to send forth people into these ministries.
"Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day, I have sent unto you all My servants, the prophets."
Since this is a very high calling, the sins of those who attain to this ministry are very serious, and are so judged.
"I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies, they strengthen also the hands of evildoers: that none doth return from his wickedness, they are all of them unto Me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah."
Before God judges a nation, He judges His own. The prophets always come into judgment before the sinners. In the New Testament period, when we all have the calling of "prophet" we will see that "judgment (krima = damnation) must begin at the house of God." (I Peter 4:17-18)
"Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say "Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?"
Sin-corrupted prophets must be judged. Should we rejoice as we see sinful prophets, and false prophets judged in these last days? Look at Jeremiah's reaction.
"Mine heart within me is broken because of all the prophets, all my bones shake."
Though Jeremiah had been confronted, slapped, put in stocks, imprisoned, hated, and mocked by these false, sinful prophets, he still was grieved greatly by their doom and punishment. A true prophet is not marked by his personal anger, no, it is God's anger that a prophet speaks. The prophet, himself, longs to see repentance and forgiveness.
God will give chances to repent.
"If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto My name, saith the Lord of Hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces... and one shall take you away."
God is very angry at false prophets, because they stumble many. Their messages are contrary to God's messages, and God's messages lead people back to Him, and to repentance and forgiveness. The false prophet leads people away from the opportunity to repent.
"But ye are departed out of the way, ye have caused many to stumble."
False prophets show partiality. They have respect of persons in applying the law. They harshly judge some for the same sins they excuse in others.
"Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept My ways, but have been partial in the law."
In the "Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs", each of the twelve sons of Jacob tells his life story upon the event of their death. They impart wisdom and understanding that they have learned in their lives to their children, grandchildren, etc. Sins, failures, life's lessons, rewards of righteousness, blessings from God, and trials of life are vividly, frankly, and honestly related.