Prophets Of The Lord: 100% Accurate?
s I continue to study the written word of God, I am consistently amazed at how many teachings that are commonly taught that actually do not have a firm foundation in the scriptures. What makes these 'traditions of men' even more interesting is that I've frequently found myself in a position of assuming that these doctrines were true - until I found myself compelled to study the issue out for myself.
One such teaching relates to the concept of how a true prophet of the Lord is required to achieve a 100% accuracy ratio. A further aspect of this teaching is the common view that any prophet who speaks in the name of the Lord and subsequently misses a prophecy should be executed in compliance with the law of Moses.
Of course, those that are familiar with my prophetic history already know that I have intensely experienced this teaching on a first hand basis with my failed prophecy of the destruction of New York (and significant portions of America) on or before July 4th 1998. While I have already written several articles relating to this episode, 1 it has taken me over 6 months to "think on these things" 2 and come to a fuller understanding of what the scriptures actually teach concerning the assumption of a requirement of prophetic inerrancy among those that make predictions within the constraints of Biblical Christianity.
For the benefit of those that are unfamiliar with the ministry of prophecy the Lord has given me, I have made numerous predictions of a very specific nature that have been strikingly fulfilled. These include a written prophecy of the assassination of the Prime Minister of Israel 25 months before it occurred, a prediction of a terrorist bombing in New York by an Islamic sect 10 months before the World Trade Center bombing, and a prophecy of political violence involving the Soviet Georgian government 3 days before their state leader was bloodied in a military ambush that killed his driver.
I've predicted the winner of Germany's recent national election and the discovery of a new type of planetary orbit that was found for the first time several months later. I successfully prophesied that Iranian complicity in the trade center bombing would be discovered months before Iran was actually linked to the terrorist act. During the 1996 American presidential election, on national radio I prophesied that Senator Bob Dole would receive an injury to his eye. Less than a week later he fell off a podium and damaged one eye. The Lord has shown me many other things as well.
Over the course of the first half of 1998, I repeatedly stated a prediction of the destruction of the United Nations building and significant portions of New York City by a violent act of mass destruction . While there are several corollary details associated with this prophecy, it is clear the event did not occur within that time frame. As a result of that prophetic "miss," I received an avalanche of hate mail as well as other correspondence ranging from letters of gentle reproof to death threats.
Many so called "brethren" continue to revile me over this issue, and the overwhelming majority of these critics that have written or called have demanded that I be either branded a false prophet, or actually removed from among the ranks of the living. This response is largely related to the perceived Old Testament requirement of stoning any prophet that has been demonstrated to have issued a false prophecy. Others simply scoff and mock me as they insist that I must quit the ministry.
After fasting and removing myself from my radio broadcast for a brief period in order to seek the Lord on my future, I found I still felt called to prophetic ministry. This difficult predicament has greatly motivated a serious study of the Bible on the subject of prophetic accuracy and the repercussions thereof. To my great surprise, this study has culminated in yet another "myth-breaking" experience as I now believe the common teaching that requires 100% accuracy in prophetic utterance is false. Furthermore, I see how this false teaching has greatly hampered Christians by placing an unscriptural impediment in their path.
Conversely, the many "prophets of Baal" like Gordon Michael Scallion, Edgar Cayce, Jeanne Dixon, and others of their ilk have enjoyed no such constraints and so their various prognostications continue to draw people into their sphere of influence - even as spiritually sensitive Christians are afraid to issue a specific utterance for fear of the spiritual repercussions - to say nothing of the commercial consequences. In short, a serious re-evaluation of this subject is long overdue.
Requirements For The Prophet
The primary scriptural instructions concerning false prophecies is usually thought to occur in Deuteronomy 18:
"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." 3
This passage would appear to plainly teach the common assumption that prophets of the Lord are not allowed to miss - yet we have several instances in scripture where prophets of the Lord actually did miss a specific prediction. While I will detail those cases shortly, the cause of the misunderstanding is found in the passage just cited in Deuteronomy. As in other examples of seemingly contradictory verses, textual misinterpretations like these occur because we so frequently tend to lift the relevant text out of its context. The truth about Deuteronomy 18 is in the two verses that precede the above cited text. Those verses are a prophecy of Jesus Christ:
"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him."4
These verses are definitely a prediction, directly from the Lord, that he will raise up a very special figure over the Israelites, who will have the authority of Moses. The text says this prophetic figure will be "like unto the."5 Moses was the mediator of the old covenant - the one who brought the law to Israel. Next to the Lord himself, the Jews regard him as higher than any other historical figure. Speaking about Moses in the context of the promises God delivered through him, King Solomon said "Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant." 6 This shows that Moses enjoyed a 100% accuracy ratio relative to his promises to the Israelites. Moses was more than simply a prophet, as we shall see.
As the instrument of the Lord's covenant with Israel, only the Messiah himself surpasses the mediatorial role of Moses. In Galatians, Paul refers to the role of Moses in the delivery of the old covenant when he writes that the law "...was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." 7 There is even a hint that this prophet that God will raise up will not be an ordinary man at all. As the lawgiver and predecessor of Messiah, "the Lord said unto Moses, see I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet." 8
In the Deuteronomy passage, in addition to describing this prophet as like Moses, the Lord also describes him as "like unto me." 9 This clearly shows the individual spoken of will be far more than just a prophet.
Actually, there is no doubt at all that the Deuteronomy passage in chapter 18 refers to Jesus Christ as the ultimate prophet, for the Apostle Peter specifically quoted this passage and categorically stated that it referred to Jesus:
"And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you...which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people."10
It is in this context that we must understand the requirements regarding "the prophet" mentioned in Deuteronomy 18. The entire passage is designed to identify the Messiah to the people of Israel. Clearly, the genuine prophet/messiah who is spoken of in this chapter will have an accuracy rate of 100% in everything he says - but the passage is only referring to one specific prophet - the one that God has given the authority that "every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed...." 11 According to Peter and the book of Acts, that prophet is Jesus Christ.
Back in the original reading in Deuteronomy 18 in verse 20, immediately following the prediction of the coming of "the prophet" that will be like Moses, the text reads "But the prophet, which shall presume to speak in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die." 12 Here we see that God takes the office of this particular prophet seriously enough to prescribe death for any pretenders.
The next verse states that when a prophet speaks for the Lord, "if the thing follow not, nor come to pass," it will be clear that this is something "which the Lord hath not spoken." 13 Once again, this is a requirement for "the prophet" that is spoken of throughout the entire passage - and that prophet is Jesus Christ, the mediator of the new covenant. It is highly inappropriate for us to lift these last two verses out of the context of the entire chapter - which speaks of the same individual for the last 8 verses of the chapter.
Who Do We Fear?
The last verse of the chapter, states that if this prophet fails in a prediction, "thou shalt not be afraid of him." 14 In a recent written criticism of my failed prophecy, one bible student applied this verse to me and wrote that the phrase instructing believers to "not be afraid" of someone that misses a prophecy means that no-one "should listen to me." 15 It should be obvious that there is a big difference between being "afraid" of someone, and refusing to "listen" to that person - but such is the state of shoddy scholarship that routinely passes for sound doctrine in the contemporary church.
There is however, another hint of the deity of "the prophet" referred to in this verse's instruction that we shouldn't "be afraid of" the prophet that has failed. If we're not to be afraid of the prophet whose word did "not come to pass," that rather firmly implies that we are to fear the prophet whose word has come to pass. Jesus Christ told us to "fear not them which kill the body," but rather to fear God who "is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." 16
Several passages tell us that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," or that "Noah...moved with fear [of the Lord] prepared an ark...." 17 Joseph, David, Solomon, and Paul all tell us to "fear God." 18 In the tribulation period, even the angels tell men to "Fear God and give him glory...."19
In the Deuteronomy passage, the implication of being "afraid" of the prophet if he is truly speaking the words of the Lord seems to connote that this particular prophet is vested with the very authority of God, for once again, he is to be a mediator that is "like unto" Moses. This also serves to connect verse 22 with the prophet that is mentioned in verse 18.
The reason I've gone into such detail on this particular passage is these are the only verses in the Bible that establish the death penalty for a prophecy that doesn't "come to pass." Furthermore, this is the only passage that requires a 100% accuracy for a prophet to speak the word of the Lord. As I believe I have shown the entire section refers to the perfect ministry of the Saviour, we must therefore, look elsewhere for the requirements for all other prophets.
We don't need to go too far to find the answer, for the subject was covered 5 chapters earlier in that same book of Deuteronomy. Chapter 13 reads as follows:
"If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him....
"And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God...." 20
This passage is fascinating because it speaks about the "sign or the wonder [coming] to pass" rather than a prophecy that fails to occur. Here we see the death penalty is prescribed not because of a prophetic failure, but because that prophet violates the first commandment and uses his apparent prophetic power to teach God's people to "go after other gods." 21 This is the pattern that is seen throughout scripture.
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