A self-appointed pro-phet garners national attention by prophesying the end of the world, pinpointing a precise date and even a specific hour when the Messiah will gather His elect. The news whips many into a frenzy. The prophet’s followers sell their possessions, believ-ing they won’t need them anyway.
As the anticipated day comes, then goes, the false seer wipes the egg off his face while unapologetically admitting to a miscalculation. Still, he holds to his belief that the Second Coming is imminent. The bogus prognosticator follows up with a new and improved date and his prophetic fables gain new traction with his gullible audiences.
Fraudulent prophets are a dime a dozen. Yahshua’s first response when asked about the final days of man’s rule said, “Don’t be deceived.” When the real treachery appears in the form of the Man of Sin, the charlatans will look like pikers. Millions will swoon in adoration when the False Prophet performs eye-popping miracles on the world stage.
False Prophet Begins a Movement
The religious spectrum has been beset with so-called prophets for millennia. It has been prophesied in Yahweh’s Word and also by Yahshua the Messiah for thousands of years. This fact should be a red flag to the gullible.
One such error-plagued prog-nosticator was William Miller. The nineteenth century Baptist preacher is considered one of the fathers of the Adventist movement. Miller predicted that Yahshua was returning (hence “advent”) sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844, basing his belief principally on the rabbinic Jewish calendar and the prophecy of Daniel 8:14: “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Miller assumed that the cleansing of the sanctuary meant the Earth’s purification by fire at Yahshua’s Second Coming.
Calculating the time by using the “day-for-a-year” formula, Miller started with the year 457 BCE, the year of the decree of Artaxerxes I of Persia to rebuild Jerusalem. Simple arithmetic produced 1844 while the Jewish calendar gave him March 21. But when that date came and went, Samuel S. Snow, one of Miller’s pro-tégés, presented a correction that became known as the “seventh-month” message or the “true midnight cry.” In a discussion based on scriptural typology, Snow presented his con-clusion (still based on the 2300 day prophecy in Daniel 8:14), that Yahshua would return on “the tenth day of the seventh month of the present year, 1844.”
Using the Karaite Jews’ calendar for the Day of Atonement that year, the date was determined to be October 22, 1844. He had studied the feasts of Israel and discovered that the major events in Yahshua’s life occurred on “Jewish” feasts. He observed that Yahshua died on the Passover, he rose on the day of waving of First Fruits, and the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost. So he assumed Yahshua would come on the Day of Atonement. Being mathematically inclined, he calculated this day to be Oct. 22, 1844.
Followers sold their possessions, stood atop haystacks, looked sky-ward…and waited…and waited, What followed became known as the Great Disappointment. On the heels of his own disappointment Miller rejected the seventh-day Sabbath and died five years later.
Another Prophetic Dud
Edgar Whisenant, a self-ap-pointed prophet and former NASA engineer, announced to the world in the late 1980s that the rapture would occur at the Feast of Trumpets, 1988. He even gave 88 reasons why. Almost 5 million copies of his little book were distributed. His famous line was, “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong; and I say that to every preacher in town.”
Here was a man claiming to know more than the inspired Scriptures. Even more than Yahshua Himself! Trinity Broadcast Network was so convinced he was right that regular programming was interrupted to provide special instructions on preparing for the Rapture.
Whisenant, like so many before him, said he simply miscalculated and followed up with still more prophecies predicting the return in 1989, then 1993, followed by 1994 – all the way up through 1997.
False prophets are legion, and we will see them coming out in droves in the years just ahead of us.
Throughout the New Testament we find warnings against both false prophets and false Messiahs, and believers are cautioned to be vigilant and not fall to their devices.
Yahshua told His disciples in Matthew 7: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruit…Not every one that says unto me, Sovereign, Sovereign, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven,”15-16, 21.
He warned that false prophets will come looking like the real thing; even appearing to be true prophets and wanting just to warn people. But they will have a hidden agenda, a desire for personal gain.
Distinguish the Fruits
How can we distinguish the true prophet? First, by his fruits. He does Yahweh’s will. He calls on Yahweh’s Name and keeps biblically commanded days of worship and other laws ordained by our Father in heaven. The false prophet, on the other hand, does not observe Yahweh’s commands, which is defined as sin, 1John 3:4. Why would Yahweh bless with divine revelation an individual who can’t even align his life to the basics of True Worship?
Again, Yahshua gives us instruction on this point. “Many will say to me in that day, Sovereign, Sovereign, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity,” Matthew 7:22-23.
Whom does Yahweh bless with “inside” knowledge and understanding? The prophet Amos in 3:7 answers, “Surely the Sovereign Yahweh will do nothing, but He reveals His secret unto his servants the prophets.”
His prophets are those who serve Him. They follow closely His teachings. “Servants the prophets” means those who serve Him in all things.
Another key passage distinguishing a true prophet from a charlatan is 2Peter 1:21: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of Yahweh spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirit that transmits prophecy.
The problem is, a man who doesn’t obey Yahweh and His laws doesn’t have the Spirit. He’s not inspired. Yahweh is not with him. What he says is only his own imagination. Yahweh’s Spirit is what bestows accurate understanding. And His Spirit is given to the obedient.
Acts 5:32 is clear: “And we are his witnesses of these things [Yahshua’s activities], and so is also the Holy Spirit, whom Elohim has given to them that obey him.”
A man’s (or woman’s) charis-ma, attractiveness, or artful com-munication prove nothing. Fruits are the key. The individual could be the most charming, silver-tongued orator ever, who makes his prophecy highly convincing and flawless. But ask yourself, does he honor Yahweh in his private life? Does he obey the One he claims to speak for and worship?
In sum, prophesying is a work of the Spirit and you don’t get the Spirit by leading a life apart from Yahweh.
A Prophet Leads a Pure Life
Does a supposed prophet meet all the qualifications of a scriptural leader? The prophets of old certainly did, as did the New Testament prophets, 1Timothy 3, Titus 1. Does he live a clean, praise-worthy life? Are his children under his control? Is he spoken well of by outsiders? True prophets of Scripture led impeccable lives. Further, they had no ulterior motives and nothing to gain or desire personally. Most suffered for their prophecies, even losing their lives for them.
Suppose an alleged prophet uses the sacred Name and even casts out unholy spirits. Should we believe his prophecies? Here is what Yahshua said, “Many will say to me in that day, Sovereign, Sovereign, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity,” Matthew 7:22-23.
A litmus test of a prophet has nothing to do with his prophecy. Iniquity is the condition of being without law, without obedience to Yahweh’s commands. It happens either because you are ignorant of them or because you deliberately, openly and wantonly violate them.
Yahshua said many will flock to bogus prophets in our day, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many,”Matthew 24:11. Their pronouncements will be all the buzz on the Web and in the news. Back in 1844 prognosticators drew so much press that they even spawned new church movements! And all they did was claim to reveal the date of Yahshua’s return, which they are commanded not to do.
Of Spiritual Treachery
In one of their early stops after being ordained, Paul and Barnabas encountered a false prophet named Elymas on the island of Cyprus. “And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, [the capital] they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-Yahshua [he probably gave himself that name]: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabah and Saul, and desired to hear the word of Elohim. But Elymas the sorcerer, for so is his name by interpretation, withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to pervert the right ways of Yahweh? And now, behold, the hand of Yahweh is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand,” Acts 13:6-11.
Here is a man publically identified as a false prophet. By dealing in black arts, he obviously was not a true prophet. This account shows that anyone only partly involved in false worship is tainted by that error.
More Ways a Prophet Proves Phony
In Deuteronomy 13 and 18 we find another requirement of a true prophet. “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder. And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto you, saying, Let us go after other elohim, which you have not known, and let us serve them; You shall not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for Yahweh your Elohim proveth you, to know whether ye love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after Yahweh your Elohim, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and you shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he has spoken to turn you away from Yahweh your Elohim, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust you out of the way which Yahweh your Elohim commanded you to walk in. So shall you put the evil away from the midst of thee,” 13:1-5.
In the same way if a “prophet” invokes spurious words in Yahweh’s Name or prophesies in the name of other deities he falls under condemnation just as one who does not obey the Word.
“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 elohim, even that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which Yahweh has not spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of Yahweh, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Yahweh has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him,” Deuteronomy 18:20-22.
Specifically, can anyone know the day and hour of Yahshua’s return?
Here’s what He Himself said: “But of that day and hour knows no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only,”Matthew 24:36.
Some have twisted what He said to mean that the people of Yahweh will know because they are of Him. To which we respond, then why didn’t Yahshua Himself know? Why don’t the angels know? He specifically told His followers, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.” The word for seasons is kairos and means “a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for.”
If an individual comes on the scene teaching truth but with a failed prophecy, don’t believe him. If his prophecy proves true but it leads to false doctrine or he teaches false doctrine, don’t believe him. First and foremost, that individual must be a true follower of Yahweh, using His Name, and obedient to the One he claims to worship. And then his prophecy must prove totally accurate. The Holy Spirit doesn’t make mistakes.