Sunday, August 11, 2013

The False Prophet of Revelation

There are many false prophets.  They either represent false gods, fallen angels or Satan himself.

False prophets can be difficult to pinpoint.  But, a person who is well acquainted with the basic truths of the Christian Faith will be able to better understand whether a prophet is true or false.

The False Prophet of the Bible, more specifically that of Revelation, is the greatest of the False Prophets of all time.  He reigns with the Antichrist during the Tribulation Period which last for 7 Hebrew years (7 x 360 days).  At the end of this period, the end of the world is concluded by the Return of the King Jesus ushering in His Eternal Empire and Government of the True Christ and the commencement of the Millennial Kingdom.

The Book of Revelation foretells that at the time of the end of the world, during the span of the few years of Satan's dominion over the earth, a religious personality will manifest and deceive the whole world by means of miraculous signs. This individual is referred to as "another beast" (Revelation 13:11), as well as "the false prophet" (Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10).

The Power of the Beast, "The False Prophet"

The False Prophet will be given supernatural powers such as calling fire down from heaven (Revelation 13:13).  Combined with the demonic words he speaks (Revelation 16:13-14), will cause people to give their allegiance to—and even worship—the Beast (Revelation 13:14) also commonly known as the Antichrist. This false and deceiving prophet will wield tremendous religious influence (which will be near tyrannical, and inspired by Satan and the dark angels, he will successfully convince most of the world to commit idolatry (Revelation 13:12) and cause them to worship the Antichrist as God during the Tribulation Period.

Recognizing the False Prophet

The Bible does not reveal the False Prophet's name nor even the number of his name, as it does for the Antichrist. Instead, Christians will have to recognize him by his sayings and by his deeds (Matthew 7:15-20). This is a difficult (although not impossible) proposition. As stated previously, the False Prophet will be able to call down fire from heaven, and yet Elijah, a true prophet of God, did the same (I Kings 18:36-38).  Additionally, the False Prophet may even go so far as to state that Elijah did the same and that God also does it in the future when he destroys the last army to stand against God's Holy City (Revelation 20:9).  If Christians were to see a man calling fire down from heaven, how do would they know whether he is true or false?  Christians would need more information than just this one event to determine whether such a person was "true" or not.  There would need to be an investigation of who and what the man is about prior to making such an important decision either way.

The end time prophecy includes many deceptions which will be practiced by the False Prophet (Matthew 24:11), and even the elect will not be totally immune to having the wool pulled over their eyes (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). It will take careful investigation and evaluation of the facts to see through the fraud and be able to recognize Satan's servants for who and what they are, rather than what they appear to be (II Corinthians 11:14-15).

There are few details about the False Prophet.  However, if Christians can come to understanding the patterns and motivations that the Bible reveals about this class of people called "false prophets," then the True Adherents to the Faith will be able to realize the corruption and falsehood that the end of the world False Prophet will fulfill.  Both Testaments describe false prophets, and Peter, John, and Jesus Christ specifically warn of false prophets that affect church members.

Defining Prophet

The word "prophet" is commonly misused and has caused a general misconception that its basic definition is "someone who predicts the future," but this definition is too narrow.  Prophet is better defined as "one who speaks for another." A "true" prophet, then, is a person who speaks for God and who is charged with delivering a message that God has ordained to be given. So, for more clear understanding, a Prophet of God is really His Spokesperson, much like the Press Secretary for the President of the United States.  In Exodus 7:1, God tells Moses that Aaron, his brother, would be his (Moses') Prophet, even as Moses was God's Prophet. Because of Moses' unbelief in God's ability to speak through him, God would speak to Moses, who would tell Aaron what to say to others—Pharaoh in particular (verse 2).

It is the function of speaking for another, rather than the implementation of  miracles performed which defined Moses and Aaron as Prophets as was the case with many other prophets of the Old Testament. Frequently, the words a prophet spoke on God's behalf were, in fact, foretelling what would happen later. However, the prophet's essential role was to speak for God, regardless of whether any predicting of the future took place. A prophet expresses the Divine Will of God in words, and sometimes he uses signs to back up what he says and to demonstrate God's power behind it. The use of making predictions is only a secondary duty in conveyance of God's message to certain people at any given point in time.

It should be understood that a false prophet also may not necessarily be in the business of foretelling the future. However, it should be noted that demonic forces have been known to convey a prediction to a person who is under demonic influence, oppression or possession that would come true.  A false prophet is simply someone who speaks for another but in a false and deceiving manner. What does this mean?  False prophets either speak for a false god, false religion or a false pretender.  False prophets may also have claimed to have heard from the true God but do not accurately represent Him or His words.  At the very least,  speak out of their own human hearts, but more likely, the "god" they are speaking for is really a demon.

It is true that, if a prophet foretells something that fails to come to pass, he is a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18:20-22), but foretelling the future correctly is not the determining factor when attempting to make a determination as to whether a person is a false prophet or not. In the case of Jonah, he prophecied that the City of Nineveh would be overthrown (Jonah 3:4) and the City was not overthrown and was actually spared.  The real issue is whether one who claims to be representing God and speaking for Him, is doing so accurately or falsely. A prophet may accurately predict any event or demonstrate supernatural powers, but if that action leads the people into apostasy, then that person can be considered a false prophet.

Here is an excerpt from the Holy Scriptures which speaks very clearly about the issue of false prophets leading others into apostasy:
If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, "Let us go after other gods"—which you have not known—"and let us serve them," you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)
This passage begins with the assumption that the prophet does foretell the future accurately or perform some other, humanly impossible work. Nevertheless, if that prophet's central message is to follow after a different god or to take a spiritual path that the true God has not said to take, that person is a false prophet. God states unequivocally that misrepresenting Him incurs the death penalty, and Revelation 19:20 says that this is exactly what happens to the False Prophet: He is thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Avoidance of Moral Teaching

The message of the false prophet is contrasted in Deuteronomy 13:3-4.  We are charged with following the God of Jesus Christ with loving the true God and keeping His commandments.  Jesus reaffirms this in John 14:15: If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

God's "True" Prophets always have God's law within the messages they send.  Additionally, these TRUE Prophets would call attention to those who have transgressed God's laws.

False prophets, on the other hand, will not uphold the morality that God requires of people. Lamentations 2:14 says that the false prophets "have not uncovered your iniquity, to bring back your captives, but have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions." Instead, the focus is on something other than God's standard of righteousness.

If the prophet's message contradicts God's Word, this is evidence that the prophet lacks spiritual understanding. If his words do not line up with God's law and testimony, he is not speaking the truth.

A true prophet will uphold the laws of God (which, unfortunately is very unpopular at times).  In contrast,  false prophets dodge moral teachings and instead preach a message that appeals to the masses and is much more "popular" than a message of a true and virtuous prophet. It is quite common for God's prophets to be dismissed, even killed, while the false prophets enjoy popular support.

Fruits of False Prophets
The apostle Peter warned:
"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction" (II Peter 2:1).
"By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber" (II Peter 2:3).
". . . and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord" (II Peter 2:10-11).
False prophets are known to "walk according to the flesh" as well as in accordance to their own human natures.  The minds of these false teachers are primarily on physical things rather than the true and virtuous things of God.  The God of Jesus Christ is not in all their thoughts (Psalm 10:4).  They rebel against real authority—other than their own—and apparently think themselves superior even to God's angels. They are self-willed, presumptuous and act in accordance with the desires of their own hearts (or under the  influence of a demon) rather than following God with humility and trusting Him to bring His Will to pass.
» ". . . having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness . . ." (II Peter 2:14-15).
The Apostle says false prophets have "eyes full of adultery."  This can also be understood to describe unfaithfulness—which is the failure to act in accordance with loyalty to God and do not concern themselves much about resisting temptation and sin. The heart of a false prophet is willing to do just about anything for personal gain.
» "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage" (II Peter 2:19). They promise liberty—freedom and happiness to their followers but they these teachings are actually the paths to bondage in tyranny sin, death and destruction.
It is important to understand that most false prophets will have most (if not all) of these characteristics, but far as generalities go, these people are typically more concerned about their own well-being, situation, autonomy, reputation, and position in society and with regard to their organization than they are about accurately representing God or conveying God's Will through accurate and complete teachings of the Holy Scriptures in the way that they are meant to be conveyed by God.  False prophets are known to be false by the overall fruits they produce, even as they speak eloquent and clever words that may even contain some simblance of truth. This is seen in Jesus' warning in Matthew 7:15-20:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Jesus does not expound on what "fruits" these may be, although in the Olivet Discourse (which includes some degree of prophecy) He does link deceptions of false prophets with the lawlessness and lack of love-of-neighbor that abounds at the end time (Matthew 24:11-13).

The Language and Words Used By False Prophets

A false prophet is anyone who claims to be speaking for God.  Yet the message of the false teacher is contrary to the very teachings of God.  False prophets would not bring up the idea of sin in their massages as they would also feel guilty (unless they are a bold hypocrite). While the messages conveyed by true prophets concern God's laws and teaching, false prophets will not speak of such things and will otherwise speak soft, easy things to make their message far more popular. They will tell people what they want to hear:
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 (2 Timothy 4:3)
True prophets will very clearly (as best as they can) express the Will of God with meaningful verbiage (both in spoken and written form).  While it is true that signs, wonders, and foretelling are sometimes included in the role of being a prophet, these actions are for ADDITIONAL weight, but the most important part concerning the role of prophecy is the message itself.  A real prophet points people to the God of Jesus Christ and talks about sins as a part of the Christian message. False prophets do everything else other than these things. If a false teacher does attempt to direct their audience to a certain god, it will be a different god from the God of the God of Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible.  Whatever god the false prophet leads his listeners to, such an action is done for his/her own sole benefit.

Many false prophets will appoint themselves as the specific "messiah" in order to gain a following and this is done simply because their own covetousness manifests itself in a desire for power and wealth accumulation.  This attitude (or posturing) is the exact opposite of being poor in spirit, truthful or pure in heart. A true prophet does not draw attention unto his own personage - but rather has a focus which is solely on God.

Tags: prophecy, revelation, the end of the world, false prophet, apocalypse, god, jesus christ, the antichrist, the end