When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
I love how straightforward God is in determining the validity of a prophet. If the prophet says, “Thus says the LORD ….” but the prophet’s words turn out to be false, then the prophet was speaking on his own accord; he was just making stuff up. In that case, I don’t need to worry about what that prophet has said in that prophecy.
This got me wondering: Can a prophet be restored to his office? I mean, apostles were restored and even judges can be restored. But can prophets? The only instance of a prophet not saying and doing what God said how God said is Moses. Moses is told to go talk to the rock and get water for Israel and Moses thwacks the rock with his stick. God doesn’t unseat Moses as the leader of Israel, but Moses also is not allowed to enter into the Promised Land because of that disobedience. Was Moses restored? Was he ever taken out of office as a prophet?
The question is not a personal one as I am not and do not claim to be a prophet. But there are those who do. And, while I can get behind restoring a teacher or pastor, I have a little trouble with the idea of restoring a prophet. Every prophecy from that moment onward is suspect. Where I can check The Bible in order to validate what a teacher is saying and a pastor can be held accountable to other pastors and to his congregation, there is a distinct lack of method for determining immediately whether or not a prophet’s words should be heeded. Especially since prophecy is, by its nature, a future tense proclamation. God’s method for determining whether or not to listen to a prophet is to check his prophecy against the facts. Did the prophecy happen? If yes, still a prophet. If no, not a prophet; don’t listen to the quack anymore.
This, to me, means that there are several dozen so-called prophets that I should be ignoring. The dude who claimed that Jesus was coming back in <fill in the blank year>? Ignore. Those who have predicted some sort of calamity and it never happened? Ignore. I don’t know that I’ve ever paid these frauds much attention (Jesus told me to ignore them – said they’d be coming), but there are plenty of my fellow believers who do. So how do I apply this to my walk?
Two things. First, I keep on ignoring the false prophets. Jesus said they’d be coming and they’re here. They keep saying, “Jesus is here!” and “Jesus is coming back this day.” but Jesus says that no man knows the hour or the day — that includes those false prophets. Second, I need to pray for those false prophets. To speak in the name of God and have it not come to pass is heavy stuff, but heavier is the discipline that comes with having done so. Moses spoke in the name of God and did it wrong and it cost him passage into the Promised Land. What might it be costing these false prophets? What blessings might be forfeit them because of their disobedience and presumption? They, like everyone, need prayer.