This is what the Lord 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 the Lord (Jeremiah 23:16 NIV)
Previously we shared a message on “Beware of False Prophets, False Prophecies, and False Visions”. This week are impressed to share some more on the subject.
A few years ago, and especially around 2011 and 2012, there was a dramatic increase in self-declared prophets and dreamers who shared “supernatural” visions and dreams predicting “woes” that would befall the world towards the end of 2012. These cataclysmic events, they claimed, would lead to “the rapture” and usher in the Great Tribulation. The voices declaring that something would happen in 2012 were quite diverse, both Christians believers and non-believers alike. Seasoned “prophets”, young men and women were sharing surreal dreams and visions they had been given supposedly by angelic beings warning that there would be a war in the Middle East between Iran and Israel, that the then US president and the Pope would be the last ones to occupy their respective offices, that a certain president was the Antichrist, etc. Some went as far as encouraging believers to stock extra food, and married couples were warned to cease and desist from intimacy with each other so as to be found “pure” in preparation the “imminent” return of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was fascinating that a number of Christians agreed with New Age adherents and Mayan pagan traditions that the world would end in 2012.
For a short while, we were fooled and puzzled by some of the predictions, especially those from devoted and sincere Christians who, in our eyes, were truly seeking the Lord. These were brothers and sisters who read their Bibles, prayed, and had a zeal for sharing the Gospel. Some of the “supernatural experiences” were shared by teens and young children as young as eight years old whose parents were doing their best to raise them in the Church. We recall reading warnings from false prophets that a big earthquake was going hit the west of the US in September 2011 or September 2012 right before the supposed “rapture”. Thinking that it was more than a coincidence that so many “children of God” would be receiving similar visions, we took heed and were expecting something to happen, only to realize we had been fooled when these predictions didn’t come to pass. In fact, all those “prophesies” and predictions did not come to pass (Deuteronomy 18:22; Jeremiah 28:9). The year 2012 came and went, and while several of the dreamers went silent, a few decided to move the goal post and started giving new predictions for subsequent years.
For whatever reason, September has been the favored month that many apocalyptic dreamers and vision peddlers claim “something big” will happen in the celestial and terrestrial, and this year (2017) is no different. According to some false teachers, September 23, 2017, is supposed to mark the beginning of a major end-time event with signs to be revealed in the skies to only a select few — not even NASA scientists and powerful telescopes can see them! In addition to pointing at this made-up dreams, some of these false prophets are trying to link it to the recent devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods, claiming it is the official start of the Great Tribulation. Their attitude to these natural tragedies is one of celebration because they are emotionally removed from the disasters and have not been directly impacted. In the Bible, we learn that the Lord lovingly sent prophets like Jonah to warn people to repent in order to avert destruction (Jonah 3:3-10). Many a time, some believers are quick to conclude that people who suffer are being judged for their sins. However, when some people came to the Lord Jesus Christ and told Him about the Galileans who had been murdered by Pilate, He responded: “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-5 NKJV). The manner in which a person dies is not a measure of how righteous or wicked they are, because “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). We should always be “sober and vigilant” in the Lord and repent of our sins, lest we die outside of God’s grace and care and lose eternal life.
When the disciples asked Jesus to tell them the signs of His coming and the end of the age, one of the things He told them was “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:6-8 NIV). You see here that Jesus warned us of distress in the last days but He also encouraged us in advance to have peace and remain steady in trusting in Him who delivers us from ALL our troubles (John 16:33; Psalm 34:17; 50:15). While we believe that end-time events as written in the Bible will surely happen and are happening, these occur at the God’s discretion and in His appointed timing (Daniel 11:35), not a timeline set out by man as result of fuzzy calculations, wild speculation, or dreams and visions of the night. As such, like we have seen so many times before, September 23, 2017, will come and go, and false prophets will just set another date (like September 2018, 2019 or 2020) for gullible and naive believers to follow. Remember that regarding the Lord’s coming, the Bible tells us this; “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32 NKJV).
As we shared in our message on “A Discerning Heart and Testing of Spirits”, false prophets and false teachers are not a 21st-century phenomenon. In the Bible, they range from Balaam son of Peor mentioned who lies to God’s people during the exodus from Egypt (Numbers 31:16) to the false prophet of Revelation (Revelation 16:13), from Ahab the son of Kolaiah to Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah who prophesied lies to the people in God’s name (Jeremiah 29:21). There have been many false predictions and dates set by men for Jesus’ return, but all have come and gone, leaving many anxious, embarrassed, and disappointed, and others losing their faith in the process. We believe one of the reasons for this is because of the invented teachings on “rapture”, which contradict what the Lord Himself taught about His return (Matthew 24; Luke 21).
False Prophets in the End Times
The Lord Jesus forewarned us in the Bible that there would be many false prophets in the end times. In sharing some of the signs of the end times, Jesus warns us to “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5). He reiterates this warning two more times: that “many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matthew 24:11) and “false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). In fact, this warning about false prophets is so serious that several of the Apostles later sounded out the same warning – for example, Paul (Acts 20:28-31; 2 Timothy 4:3-4), Peter (2 Peter 2:1), and John (1 John 4:1). We’ve noticed that many of the current false prophets seem to be clueless or ignorant about how the enemy is using them. They might be doing their best to seek the Lord and they might be doing their best to warn the flock however, many of them lack the faith and humility to simply pray and speak by the leading of the Holy Spirit according to the Bible (Acts 1:8; Mark 13:11). Instead, they want to come with extra authority, wielding “visions” and dreams as evidence that they “hear” from the Lord! They want to hear a voice or see something or someone in a vision say “I am He! Tell my people message A, B, C!”. Therefore, when the Lord warned us in the Bible saying “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5), He was not only talking about physical men who come and elevate themselves to an idolatrous status claiming to have special favor with God. Jesus was also talking about Satan and his deceiving spirits that masquerade as “angel of light” and visit false prophets and well-meaning Christians in a dream or a vision of the night (2 Corinthians 11:14; Jeremiah 23:13)! This is the cunning scheme the enemy is running: quite often some people will have a vision or dream with a nebulous being in it, or they hear a voice, and they immediately attribute that vision or dream to the Lord Jesus Christ! Whatever their motive, be it out of ignorance or malice, the Bible warns false prophets and false teachers what will befall them unless they repent: “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” (2 Peter 2:1).
The Dangers of False Prophets, False Visions, False Words, and False Hopes
False Prophets share false visions and give false words that lead to false hope. False teachings, false visions, and false words are forms of deception, lies, and trickery that Satan uses to starve the eternal hope that we have in our Lord God (Psalm 39:7) “while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13 NIV). Satan’s goal is to have control of people’s lives and lead souls to hell. For this reason, he will use all sorts of tactics and devices, from gentle seduction to gruesome violence.
Some of the experiences that result from following false prophets and believing false visions and false messages are very similar to the examples and signs of Spiritual Abuse in the Church and Christian Ministries. We also shared several consequences of spiritual abuse and how to break free. Below is a summary of some of the dangers of believing false prophets and false teachers:
- Fear and anxiety – due to uncertainty and dread created by false teachings and false visions.
- Anger and resentment – especially once you realize that the false teachers were speaking lies.
- Emotional distress – discouragement, and restlessness within.
- Confusion – false prophets tend to justify their failed predictions and shift goal posts.
- Backsliding, apostasy and falling away – as a result of being disappointed and feeling let down by spiritual teachers you trusted.
- Harboring unforgiveness – once you realize you’ve wasted much time and resources on false hope.
- Loss of self-worth or self-esteem – False teachers will usually try to elevate themselves while looking down upon their followers.
- Loss of hope – feeling helpless after trusting false prophets.
- Financial distress – loss of finances and missed investment opportunities as a result of believing false predictions about the economy, etc.
Fellow believers in Christ, we encourage you to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We are not under any Biblical obligation to believe every word from every prophet, teacher, pastor, or minister of the gospel, more so when their words contradict or manipulate what the Bible actually says. We should not blindly obey and put trust in false teachers and dreamers of dreams; doing so will leave us utterly disappointed and weakened or devastated in our faith. Some authority figures in the church or Christian ministry exert strict control over their flock, exude a strong spirit of fear, and anyone who dares question their teachings, dreams, or visions will suffer abuse, insult, rejection. The Bible says that “you were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Corinthians 7:23). Therefore, “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), and we should not be afraid of them! If you are in a Church or Ministry where you feel controlled and manipulated, please read our two-part message on Spiritual Abuse in the Church and Christian Ministries.
We encourage you to be like the Bereans, who were “more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11 NKJV). Since tomorrow is not promised (Proverbs 27:1), we should daily “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Matthew 26:41 NIV) and “be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36 NIV).
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).
If you would like to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we invite you to start with this Prayer of Salvation. For any questions or comments about this article or our ministry, please feel free to contact us.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance, in Christ
Brother Abes and Sister Janet.