God’s warning regarding False Prophets is the same throughout Scripture. He warns us that many individuals who claim to speak for Him - do not.
This warning is more important today than ever before. The Bible tells us that deception will increase as we get closer to the end of the age.
We read in the New Testament accounts that deception will become popular and pervasive in the Time of the End.
The main characteristic of the False Prophets is that they say what people what want to hear, not what God has said. The end result of the deception is that the people deceived will perish.
Characteristics of False Prophets:
1. They prophesy lies in God’s name.
2. God did not send them or speak to them.
3. They speak false visions from their own minds.
4. They say no sword or famine will touch the land.
5. The false prophets are evil and unjust.
6. They prophesy by false gods (Baal).
7. They commit adultery and live a lie.
8. They fill you with false hopes and say 'No harm will come to you.’
9. They do not sit in the council of God, nor have they heard or seen His Word.
10. They say, ‘I had a dream.’
11. They do not benefit these people.
12. They steal from one another words supposedly from God.
13. They expect their words to be fulfilled.
14. They proclaim false words and lying visions.
15. The Lord looked for a man to stand for Him, but I found none.
16. They come to you in sheep's clothing.
17. They will perform great signs and miracles.
18. They will be among you.
19. They make up stories.
Characteristics of false prophets are in bold.
This is what Yahweh says about this people: "They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So Yahweh does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins." Then Yahweh said to me, "Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague." But I said, "Ah, Sovereign Yahweh, the prophets keep telling them, 'You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.'" Then Yahweh said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore, this is what Yahweh says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, 'No sword or famine will touch this land.' Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword (Jeremiah 14:10-16).
The prophets follow an evil course and use their power unjustly. "Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness," declares Yahweh. "Therefore their path will become slippery; they will be banished to darkness and there they will fall. I will bring disaster on them in the year they are punished," declares Yahweh. "Among the prophets of Samaria I saw this repulsive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray. And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah." Therefore, this is what Yahweh Almighty says concerning the prophets: "I will make them eat bitter food and drink poisoned water, because from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land." This is what Yahweh Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of Yahweh. They keep saying to those who despise me, 'Yahweh says: You will have peace.' And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, 'No harm will come to you.' But which of them has stood in the council of Yahweh to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word? See, the storm of Yahweh will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked. The anger of Yahweh will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly. I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds. "Am I only a God nearby," declares Yahweh, "and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares Yahweh. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares Yahweh. "I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, 'I had a dream! I had a dream!' How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name through Baal worship. Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?" declares Yahweh. "Is not my word like fire," declares Yahweh, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? "Therefore," declares Yahweh, "I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. Yes," declares Yahweh, "I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, 'Yahweh declares.' Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," declares Yahweh. "They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least," declares Yahweh (Jeremiah 23:10-32).
"Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: 'Hear the word of Yahweh! This is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your prophets, O Israel, are like jackals among ruins. You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of Yahweh. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, "Yahweh declares," when Yahweh has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, "Yahweh declares," though I have not spoken? "'Therefore this is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign Yahweh. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Yahweh. "'Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. …When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am Yahweh (Ezekiel 13:2-14).
Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, 'This is what the Sovereign Yahweh says'--when Yahweh has not spoken. The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice. "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Yahweh" (Ezekiel 22:28-31).
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. … "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. … But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand (Matthew 7:15-26).
For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time (Matthew 24:24-25).
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping (2 Peter 2:1-3).
With this perplexing situation regarding those who falsely proclaim the Word of God how can we keep from being deceived in the last days? Fortunately, God has provided a very reliable way to assure that we will not be deceived – if we believe Him and follow what He says.
Test everything. Hold on to the good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Be like the Bereans!
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).
Richard H Perry