How to Judge a Prophet?
Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist and John the Revelator to name a few, are all bible prophets. Many of their prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. Then there are those today, men and women, who are referred to as prophets.
Their admirers have no trouble with the prophet title. Their detractors are very often vehement in the expression of their detraction of the individual and the title. They seek to expose any cracks in the work of the prophet. Triumphantly announcing a particular prophecy did not happen as prophesied and therefore the prophet is a fraud and subject to the Torah prescribed death penalty.
Forgetting for the moment that not keeping the Sabbath also incurs the death penalty, what might have been the reason for inserting the Torah instruction concerning the “false” prophet? It seems the only time God gets really fired up about this prophet question is just before the Israelites enter the promised land—big pagan territory. Every one of the -ites they will meet has gods, altars, priests, rituals—lots of opportunity to be confronted by “prophets” of a god. Truly a need here to sound the alarm. In the narrative, up until now, the Israelites really don’t have a good track record against foreign gods—remember the golden calf, the Midianite gals?
So, Yahovah gives them two warnings, almost in the same breath, as they are standing at the Jordan’s shore:
“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 (think of Pharaoh’s magicians), 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 (nice way of saying it) the evil from your midst. (Parenthesis are mine)
“And the Lord said to me (Moses): What they (the gathered Israelites) have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who PRESUMES to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it PRESEMPTUOUSLY; you shall not be afraid of him. (Parenthesis and bold added)
I think the operative word here, particularly in the verses in Chapter 18 is presumes. Let’s take a look at the Hebrew word Moses used that gets translated into English as presumes.
PRESUMES: Strong’s h2102. זוּד zûḏ; or (by permutation) זִיד ziyd; a primitive root; to seethe; figuratively, to be insolent: — be proud, deal proudly, presume, (come) presumptuously, sod.
AV (10) – deal proudly 4, presumptuously 3, presume 1, proud 1, sod 1;
to boil, boil up, seethe, act proudly, act presumptuously, act rebelliously, be presumptuous, be arrogant, be rebelliously proud(Qal)to act presumptuouslyto deal arrogantly (with ‘al’)to defy proudly (with ‘el’)
Now, Ill put on my New Testament hat as that’s the expanded Torah standard taught by Yeshua. As Yeshua would say, “It all comes down to the condition of the heart!” Is the prophet speaking from a heart of insolence, pride or anger? We might be on shakier ground than the prophet if we try to compete with God in assessing that heart condition. And, in my opinion, God is looking at the condition of the prophet’s heart more than the words he speaks.
God calls the believers to be a kingdom of priests and prophets. There is also the office of prophet. Unless a person operating in that prophet office speaks arrogantly or is speaking in utter disregard of what God is saying, the lack of perfect hearing is not a sin—for which I’m thankful.
If a person is speaking for God and not against him there seems to be much more scripture calling followers of Yeshua to encourage, uphold and support one another rather than to be so quick in pointing out fault. We followers are really to be in the world, not of it (or like it).
If you are a believer and don’t like the way another believer dresses, their accent, their hair style and really even their message, I would caution circumspection in your criticism. You really should communicate your concerns with them directly and not through social media. Praying for them is not a bad option either, but trying to get a crowd to agree with your vilification is not in my opinion WWJD!
All of the stock market “prophets” make a disclosure at the end of their prophesy as to the investment they have, don’t have or intend to have in the security they’ve just touted.
This is my disclosure:
Over my 44 years as a believer I have invested heavily in harsh judging, criticizing and gossiping about other believers, regardless of their calling. I have never really studied what the word said, until now, especially about prophets. I could always be counted on to pick up a stone. After repenting, I will now be investing heavily in avoiding that critical, judgmental, self-righteous spirit. This will be my long term investment strategy.