The Test of a Prophet

In recent years, there has been much interest in nearly anything mystical. Witchcraft, Satan worship, along with the eastern religions of Hinduism, Taoism, Islam and nearly anything that can be imagined have been attempting to replace biblical Christianity. Some who claim to be Christian have even surfaced who say they can predict with certainty things of the future. The Bible gives the test of a prophet. Deuteronomy 18:22 reads, "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." In this particular passage, the topic under consideration is also speaking of Jesus. The apostle Peter quotes verses 18, 19 in Acts 3:22-23 in the New Testament and says that this prophecy applies to Jesus.

 It is important to consider the overall meaning and usage of the term "prophet" as used in the Bible. Both in the Old Testament and New Testament the words used, mean one who speaks for another. Thus, it often is used in the sense of one teaching others, or as is commonly used, as one who is speaking for someone else. In recent times, we have tended to focus only on the foretelling part. In Jesus' example, the vast majority of His communications had to do with simply imparting information rather than predicting things that were to come. Later in life, the apostle Peter illustrates this when he wrote, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1: 20-21). When one reads the Old Testament books from the "Prophets," much of their teaching was directly to the people of the day, not necessarily predicting future events. However, they were speaking the message that God desired for them to speak.

 Moreover, when speaking or writing predictive prophecy, the test of Moses should be applied to their sayings. If the things they predict came to pass, then they were a prophet, but if they failed then they were simply speaking from their own presumption. A marvelous example of a genuine prophet is found in the fifty third chapter of Isaiah. Isaiah wrote of the sufferings of Jesus, although He is not named in it. When one reads carefully this short chapter, in light of Jesus' crucifixion, it is amazing that this text written about 750 years before Jesus died is such an accurate and vivid depiction of the things that happened to Him. When we compare Isaiah with modern "prophets," the contrast is laughable. We remember Jeanne Dixon, a self-acclaimed prophet who died in 1997. She used to flood newspapers with her prophecies. This writer remembers one year she wrote over 300 separate prophecies that were supposed to happen the next year. Of all those, two were fulfilled, and she was heralded as a great prophetess! That is two out of over three hundred, and less than a year in advance! With all our communications and political news, that is not something of which she should be proud. Isaiah predicted the death of Jesus over seven hundred years in advance. In the Old Testament there are over three hundred specific prophecies concerning Jesus and His coming kingdom, the church. Some are as long as 1,500 years before their fulfillment. In fact, predictive prophecy is one of the great evidences that show that the Bible is inspired of God. Moses' test of a prophet is still relevant and modern day "prophets" pale in significance to the Bible!

 Ed Rodgers, Forney, TX