Tests Of A True Prophet
The accepted proofs of prophetic anointing in those days were four:
- (l) According to Deuteronomy 18:18-22 and Jeremiah 28:9, the true prophet would be known when his words came to pass.
- (2) According to Jeremiah 23:22, the true prophet would turn the people from their evil ways and, conversely,
- (3) Deuteronomy 13 shows that the true prophet will not turn the people to other gods.
These proofs of a prophet served the nation well and distinguished true prophets from false for many years. Old Testament prophets submitted to these tests. (See Ezekiel. 2:5; Jeremiah. 26:8-24, and others.) However, the time came when false prophecies were said to be for an indefinite distant time and therefore was not to be judged by the present generation.*
This brought about the sad state of degenerate prophecy witnessed in the Book of Amos. Amos was ashamed to be called a prophet and said he was only a herdsman and gatherer of sycamore fruit, but even so, when the Lord said: “Go, prophesy,” he went, for “The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8).
- (4) In Ezekiel’s day, false prophecy was such a problem that the Lord made another rule: The prophet should be proven in his own generation:
“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, ‘the Days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?’ Tell them therefore, ‘Thus saith the Lord God; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel: but say unto them, “The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision. For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I am the Lord: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord God.” Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, “The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.” Therefore say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord God; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord God,'” (Ezekiel 12:21-28).
Christ Submitted To These Tests
Christ was willing to submit to these tests of a true prophet for He declared that all these prophecies should be fulfilled “in this generation,” (Matt. 24:34; Mark 13:30). “These things” of which He spoke were the destruction and judgments of the wrath of God upon Jerusalem and Judea. If “these things” had not happened in that generation, Christ would have been proven a false prophet. But they did happen. Therefore Christ was revealed as a true prophet, and therefore the Son of God, and the promised Messiah.
Must Shortly Come To Pass
We find in Revelation 1:1 that the prophecy is given “to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass.” Are we to believe that after almost two thousand years this “shortly” has never yet happened? If these things had not transpired “shortly,” the writing would never have been preserved and passed on as a true prophecy because of the rule that a prophet must be proven in his generation.
Is Fulfilled Prophecy Still Relevant?
Does this mean that, if the prophecy was fulfilled in that generation that it has no further relevance? Not at all; rather, the fact that it was fulfilled as predicted upon the Jewish nation of the flesh gives more proof that it shall be fulfilled also upon the whole world as predicted. The pattern was set by Jesus and carried through by Paul that the gospel was “to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile,” (Matthew 10:6; 15:24; 28:18-20; Romans 1:16), and that God’s righteous judgments were also “to the Jew first, and also the Gentile.” (Matthew 23; John 9:39-41; Acts 28: 23-28; Romans 2:6-11.)
God is not partial in judgment but made the sovereign choice to reveal Himself to the fleshly seed of Abraham first in order to set the pattern and example of His dealing with mankind. When the gospel has gone forth to the whole world as a witness, then the predicted end will also come upon the whole world according to the pattern and example set in the judgment and destruction of the Jewish nation; the righteous were saved in Christ and the wicked and unbelieving were destroyed and dispersed.**
We should realize therefore that true prophecy is eternally relevant for it witnesses to the faithfulness of God to fulfill His promises both for blessing and for judgment. It is the faithfulness of God that lies behind the true prophets’ confidence that the things he foretells are certain to come to pass. This removes prophecy from the realm of soothsaying as far as east is from west.
Principles Of Prophecy Apply To Every Age
Predictive prophecy foretold a then-future historical fulfillment of an event based upon an eternally relevant principle. Therefore, although a prophecy has been literally fulfilled, it remains relevant to every age, for the same principle still applies and the same essential judgment will transpire again and again – blessing and deliverance for the righteous, cursing and destruction for the wicked – to the Jew first, because they had the full revelation of God first, then to the Gentile when they, too, will have had the full Gospel. But, the principle may apply again and again, both to nations and to individuals, or even the whole world when the conditions apply.
Prophecy is the immutable truth of eternity applied to the fleeting moment of history. It is the common denominator between time and eternity. It is the voice of God that spoke in times past by the prophets now mediated through Christ.
Prophecy Is A Kind Of Seeing
Prophecy is a kind of seeing, capable of greater distance and depth than natural vision. The Biblical prophets were called “seers.” It is seeing another dimension, the spiritual. The faculty necessary for this kind of seeing is faith. Prophecy sees the unseen by faith. It might be compared to the fact that one can see his natural surroundings in the daylight, but can see the much more distant stars only at night. We do not doubt that the stars are still there even though the light of day hides them from our vision. Likewise, we do not doubt that the sun is there even in the nighttime, although we cannot then see it. Even so, by faith we know that the realities of the Spirit are there.
*Daniel’s prophecy was sealed up and reserved for a time in the future, (8: 17, 26; 12:4, 9, 13) but it was not an indefinite time. Daniel gave an exact time that could be calculated precisely, (9:24-27; 12:11-12.) Also, Daniel had already been proven a true prophet by his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Belshazzar’s ‘handwriting on the wall,’ (4:19-33).
** The Gospel was fully preached to every ‘nation’ of the Jews before AD 70, (Rom. 10:18-21; Colossians 1:6, 23; 1 Thess. 1:8). The pattern was followed upon the Jews: the Gospel must first be preached, and then the end will come. This is proof that the same pattern will come upon the entire world: the Gospel will first be preached, and then the end will come.
This lesson is an edited excerpt from my book Revelation in Context. My book is available locally at the Living Word Bookstore in Shawnee, Oklahoma. It is also available online at www.Amazon.com and www.xulonpress.com . Free downloads are available at www.revelationincontext.sermon.net