Looking into end times events is something that easily captures the attention of many believers. I understand why this happens, because when you see these events you know we are moving closer to the day when Jesus returns. I for one am looking forward to that day.
But before we get to that day, there is something that concerns me: there is an end times prophecy being fulfilled right now, and I think there are many that are missing it and are even susceptible to it. In fact, when we talk about end times events, this is typically not the sign we focus on, yet this is one that is impacting the church right now. I am talking about the rise of false prophets.
The disciples would often ask Jesus questions. Here is one they asked him about the end times.
The answer that Jesus gave was very extensive, but I want to point your attention to part of what he said within that answer.
Many people read this verse, but I believe they may overlook the truth in it. It seems to me more than ever before that there are many people who say they have prophetic voices that are attempting to speak in these times. The rise of social media has given a platform to everyone who believes they have a “prophetic word.” They can now simply turn on a camera, start speaking and have the ability to share their prophetic words with the world. If you search on all of the major social media platforms you will find many people prophesying and even calling themselves a prophet. If you are looking for someone with a prophetic word these days it is very easy to find.
For clarity’s sake, I am not talking about whether the gift of prophecy or the office of the prophet still exists today. There is debate among Christians over whether this gift or office is still in operation, but that is not the focus of this article. What I simply want you to focus on is the amount of people who are offering up words of prophecy and the many who are declaring themselves to be a prophet. Clearly there is a rise of prophets in this day, and if there is a rise of prophets, then there will also be a rise of false prophets. We are seeing this happening and the words of Jesus being fulfilled right now.
I think you would agree the issue of false prophets is real. Along with that is the challenge that comes in dealing with them. I want to point out three challenges that make the issue of dealing with false prophets difficult and also necessary.
It would be easy to see through the false prophet if they came and spoke in their own name, but I guess that would be too easy. The challenge is they come and speak in the name of Jesus, often declaring what “thus saith the Lord.” Because they use language that many people in the church world are familiar with, they become difficult to spot. The fact that they speak the same language makes them seem legitimate, yet it is the reason they are able to deceive so many. This is why so many people fail to recognize them as false prophets.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Matthias Wagner
The second challenge of the false prophet is that they come from within the church. This should not be surprising, because who are the ones that are often looking for prophetic words? The people who are in the church.
For many years when I looked at this passage in Matthew, I thought the false prophets would be voices that would only exist outside the church, but as I have studied more I have realized that is not true. This is one of the greatest tricks of the enemy and he has been doing it for a long time. If you go back to the church in Corinth here is what Paul told the church.
I have news for you. The false prophet is not going to come with the billboard flashing “I am false.” No, they are going to come looking and sounding like true believers. Within the church in Corinth there were people who looked like there were legitimate, but they were not. I know we don’t like to talk about these things and honestly, they are hard to admit, but there are false prophets that are within the church right now.
I am not pointing my finger at anyone specifically, but Jesus said many false prophets would arise and many of those are coming from right within the church. It happened in the first century church and it is still happening today. The false prophets that Jesus spoke about would be voices that would speak from pulpits and they would carry Bibles. They would have all the outward markings of a follower of Christ, yet they would be anything but true disciples of Christ.
My goal here is not to make you skeptical, my goal is to make you careful. Because there are so many voices out there, be careful who you listen to and make sure you do like the Bereans.
Perhaps the most dangerous challenge of the false prophet is they prey on those who are vulnerable. Here are two descriptions of false prophets I want to share with you.
Notice the two remarkably similar descriptions. Jesus called them ferocious wolves and Paul called them savage wolves. These false prophets will not spare the flock and will show them no mercy because they really don’t care about the flock. Therefore, you must be careful. These people will appear to be harmless, yet inwardly they are ruthless, preying on those who are sincere and most vulnerable. This is not only a challenge, but it is also what makes them dangerous.
If we are going to take the words of Jesus seriously, then you have to be on guard because false prophets will arise and indeed have already arisen. Like it or not they are here, and they will not be going away any time soon.
It’s important to remember who Jesus was talking to when he made this statement. He was talking to the disciples. He wasn’t just telling them what was going to happen, he was telling them so they could be prepared for it. The same is true of you and me. We can’t stop the rise of false prophets because Jesus said they will come. However, we don’t have to fall prey to their message. If we listen to what Jesus said and search the scriptures like the Bereans, we won’t become a victim to the many false prophets that will arise.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Tetra Images
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, teacher, author, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled to try to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.