Ezekiel 13.4-9, John 3.27 – True and false prophesy.
Posted: 15 July 2011 in Ezekiel

“O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.”

“A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.”

When God makes known his intentions, man has no sensible alternative but to bow his knee before the divine will; even if he doesn’t like that which has been revealed. It is precisely that which the false prophets, who had received no commission from God, flatly refused to do. It is difficult to overstate their foolishness of imagining that our wishes, rather than God’s will, can be determinative of future events, but if a present day prophet (one genuinely commissioned by God) were to tell us that London, or Washington, was about to fall to foreign invaders, I suppose we would all be guilty of precisely that.

The Westminster Confession can in no way be said to posses the divine authority of the Bible, but it contains the assertion that the time of prophesy is now over. Well I wonder about that. Whilst it is perfectly true that the Bible contains all things necessary for salvation, and anybody who wants to know God and his will for man only has to read it, in the nature of the case it cannot directly address itself to contemporary events. If they arose, to make that connection would be the function of present day prophets. Of course, God alone can raise up true prophets, and anybody claiming for himself the status of a prophet, without receiving a divine commission, would be a false prophet on an ego trip.

I suppose there are at least two tests a present day prophet would have to pass before he could be accepted as genuine. The first is that his utterances would have to be in accord with biblical revelation. The other is mentioned both in Deuteronomy, and by Jesus – if not in quite the same words. Namely: By their fruits ye shall know them.

Having said that, I cannot easily think of any present day prophets. Certainly not the American televangelists, or the “end is nigh” merchants. But if God saw a need for them, they could doubtless arise again.

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