“You will know, because if the Lord says something will happen, it will happen. And if it doesn’t, you will know that the prophet was falsely claiming to speak for the Lord. Don’t be afraid of any prophet whose message doesn’t come from the Lord.”
Moses is addressing the people of Israel. He tells them that they are entering a land where the people practise magic and witchcraft. But they are not to do these things. Instead the Lord will give them a prophet just like Moses.
God’s prophet will speak the Lord’s message, and anyone who disobeys this message will answer to the Lord.
A prophet who falsely claims to speak for the Lord, or a prophet who speaks on behalf of another god, must be put to death. The Lord will validate His prophets by ensuring that what they predict will come to pass.
The ministry of prophet is misunderstood by the church today as much as it was by Israel in the past.
There are many so-called prophets who are not prophets at all and do not speak for the Lord. We know this because they make predictions that do not come to pass. The Lord says we should not “fear” them. That is, we should not pay attention to their words or recognise their self-appointed role as prophets.
Where people claim to be speaking for the Lord, whether as prophets, preachers or teachers, we must exercise the spiritual gift of discernment of spirits. We should ask, “Is this person speaking by demonic spirits, by human thought or by the Holy Spirit?”
The enemy seeks to devour the people of God, and one of the key ways of doing this is to use false authority to lead people astray.
This is not to say that we should abandon all prophecy. The existence of false prophets implies the existence of true prophets. These are the humble, faithful speakers of God’s word. They hear God and speak it out to the church.
Holy Spirit, let my heart and mind be truly open to you. If I am speaking may I only speak your words. If I am hearing may I discern when it is you speaking through them. In all prophetic experience may your name be glorified. Amen.