True Prophets and False Prophets
What’s the big deal? One of our grandsons came home from school with his new band shirt. He was excited about his upcoming fall band concert. The band students had voted on the name and theme of the band. There were a couple of favorite choices. The band director had picked one of the two final emblems to represent the band and had it embossed on their shirts. The parents of the students had personally purchased their child’s shirt before knowing what the emblem would be.
When his dad arrived home from work, my grandson showed him his new band shirt. The emblem chosen was a Zodiac symbol with all the signs of the Zodiac around it. His dad was appalled. Our grandson had been excited about his new band shirt but our son had to explain what that symbol meant and how it represented the complete opposite of our faith in God. What looked to be “innocent” actually had serious implications if accepted and used to represent the school, band and our family.
Many would think that it is only a symbol and therefore it is impotent to cause any harm. The Bible, however, carefully warns of being associated with anything connected to the kingdom of darkness, the occult, and the demonic realm. That symbol was a representation of the occult realm as well as the curses attached to it.
Many years ago before I became a student of the Bible, I would read my horoscope in our daily newspaper. I thought it was interesting and wondered if it had any ability to “predict” my immediate future. I was fascinated with things that might give me an edge in navigating my life. I also remember when I was a young teenager going to my cousin’s home and playing with the “8” ball and asking it questions. At slumber parties we would experiment with levitation games. My mother had even mentioned she had played with an Ouija board when she was young but stopped when something happened that scared her. I had no idea these things were associated with the occult! Although we went to church every Sunday, there were no mentions of such dangers and my family was not knowledgeable about the Word of God. We simply believed God existed but had no personal relationship with Him. Little did I know that such “innocent” experiences were entry doors to the occult.
My son and daughter-in-law set up a conference with their son’s principal and met with her a few days later. She seemed totally surprised that the symbol could be objectionable. My son calmly explained that the Zodiac and astrology were connected to a religion. He also shared that what it represented could not be scientifically proven to be true and therefore was based on superstition and not science. Since religion is not permitted in the schools, this symbol violated those guidelines. He then told her that we are Christians and that symbol represented the direct opposite of our beliefs. If they chose to keep the symbol, he would either have to remove his son from the band or continue to object to its use through other appropriate means. The principal promised to research the matter and speak with her band director giving them an answer within two days. We were all praying for God’s grace to intervene on our behalf and there would be understanding when it was researched. Her email came two days later and the principal and band teacher decided to choose the other emblem the class had liked and the school would replace the shirts at their own expense.
This story is a perfect example of how many people become involved with the kingdom of darkness without even knowing it. Ignorance is not bliss, as the phrase insinuates. Ignorance is also not an excuse because the enemy will take advantage of any opening he is given to kill, steal and destroy. The Bible challenges us to beware of anything that is not of God and it is our responsibility to KNOW the Word of God.
Babylon existed in Old Testament times. (Genesis 10:10) Its origin is not exactly known but it began to grow in prominence around 2,000 B.C. It was located in southern Mesopotamia near the Euphrates River in the area of modern day Iraq. Babylon is not only a key part of world history, it is also prophesied in the book of Revelation as a city which will be destroyed by God because of the evil it brought to the world. (Revelation 14:8, 16:19, 17:1-18:24). By researching Babylon, we are not simply examining a culture but a religious belief that originates with worshipping false gods. The term babel associated to the tower of Babel (and Babylon) means confusion. The origin of the word describes its meaning: to blend or mix. Its religion existed at the time of the Hebrew patriarchs and led many Israelites astray. In 597 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar defeated Israel and took many of the people into exile, including the prophet Daniel. The Chaldeans are an indigenous people who settled in Mesopotamia and the Babylonians were one of their tribes. The Chaldeans had established an elaborate way of reading the stars to get direction by predicting future events. However, it was not the Chaldean magicians, astrologers or sorcerers that could interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, it was God’s prophet Daniel that did so. (See Daniel 2). Their power came from the realms of darkness but Daniel, a prophet of God, received wisdom directly from the Lord Himself (Kingdom of Light).
Daniel 2:46-47 “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and paid homage to Daniel [as a great prophet of the highest God] and ordered that an offering and incense should be offered up to him [in honor of his God]. The King answered Daniel, “Of a truth your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a Revealer of secret mysteries, seeing that you could reveal this secret mystery!” God wanted to show this idol worshipping king that his magicians and sorcerers were false prophets by having him experience the power of God working through a true prophet.
Today, many have been led to destruction through the deceptions of false prophets such as mediums, psychics and modern day astrologers. Other terms such as soothsayers, diviners, necromancers, fortune tellers, charmers and those who interpret omens are connected to astrology (occult). It is important that I mention astronomy is the scientific study of our stars and solar system. That is not the same as astrology. Astrology is a false religion and those who “foretell the future” use the stars, sun and moon as their source of information. They also interpret omens to predict the future. They are not of God, they are from the kingdom of darkness and they are false prophets.
God warned the Israelites in Deuteronomy 18:9-14 “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations, the LORD your God drives them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.”
Those who practice magic or black magic as mediums do so by connecting with demon spirits. They charge a fee for giving their forecasts to their customers but they cannot speak truth because they have not received their information from the Spirit of Truth. The true prophet does not give prophecies by charging a fee. They are specifically called by God, ordained by God and are not to give the Word of the Lord for personal profit. In a church setting, the word is given out freely.
The prophet Balaam paid a dear price for trying to sell the Word of the Lord. God established the office of the prophet to encourage, edify and sometimes warn His people when they had disobeyed the Lord. Balak, king of Moab tried to enlist Balaam, prophet of Israel to curse God’s people. Balaam asked God if he could curse the Israelites for Balak and the Lord said no. (See Numbers chapters 22, 23, 24). The king promised to promote him to very great honor and do whatever Balaam asked him. The generous offer tempted Balaam and he eventually went against the Lord and began his journey to reach Balak in Moab to curse the Israelites. The Angel of the Lord (pre-incarnate Jesus) stopped Balaam and his donkey, and God finally told him to go but He would put the words in Balaam’s mouth. Balaam eventually spoke blessings upon the Israelites instead of curses and Balak became furious. God judged Balaam for desiring to curse God’s people for personal gain. He was willing to curse what God had blessed and use his God given gift against God’s people. The Lord used Balaam as an example to the true prophets.
Jude 11 states, “Woe to them! For they have run riotously in the way of Cain, and have abandoned themselves for the sake of gain [it offers them, following] the error of Balaam, and have perished in rebellion [like that] of Korah!” 2 Peter 2:15-22 warns the church, “Forsaking the straight road they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam [the son] of Beor, who loved wickedness… For uttering loud boasts of folly, they beguile and lure with lustful desires of the flesh those who are barely escaping from them who are wrongdoers. They promise them liberty, when they themselves are the slaves of depravity and defilement—for by whatever anyone is made inferior or worse or is overcome, to that [person or thing] he is enslaved…”
False prophets lead the people into spiritual slavery and destruction. The true prophets encourage, admonish and direct God’s people to righteousness, holiness and peace. All too often, by ignorance or rebellion, God’s people seek answers from the wrong source and become not only cursed, but led astray from God. King Saul sought answers from a medium instead of God, knowing it was forbidden, and lost his kingdom and his life.
There is nothing wrong with desiring to know what lies ahead. God promises to give us wisdom when we ask of Him. (See James 3:16-17, James 1:5-6). God speaks to His people. He answers our questions and prayers in His timing. For those who are willing to “wait” upon the Lord, walking in obedience to His word, they will receive great blessing and peace. For those who do not, destruction will be their end. The Apostle Paul warned the church that there would be false prophets in the church who were there to lead the people astray. He charged us all to be constantly alert keeping watch and judging the prophet’s words by the Word of God.
We cannot fail if we will build a place of habitation for the Lord to dwell in our hearts and homes daily. By seeking Him first, being willing to wait on His timing for our answers and trusting in His faithfulness to guide and direct us, we will be victorious. By guarding what we see, hear and do, we will walk in righteousness and peace will prevail in our lives. By giving our hearts, lives and future to the Lord, we will be assured of His constant intervention in our lives and live eternally with Him. By seeking the truth in God’s Word, we will recognize truth when we hear it.