Deuteronomy 18:20 – The Prophet Who Presumes

Recent years have seen the rise of a whole class of so-called prophets and apostles.  Their lineage comes from what has previously been known as Dominionism or Kingdom Now theology.  These New Apostoloic Reformation (NAR) adherents are generally considered to be part of the hyper-charismatic movement.  They believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but to an extreme extent.  One of their main doctrines is the belief that they are a new generation of those called by God to shepherd the church.  They consider themselves anointed and effectively on a par with the apostles of Jesus’ day to declare the words they speak are from God Himself.  As a result, they will proclaim, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Truth be told, their prophetic declarations have been a mixed bag.  It appears they get some pronouncements correct, whereas they also make many prophecies that do not come to pass.  When in error, they say they simply didn’t hear correctly from the Lord and experience no rebuke.  Their community appears to be quite accepting of incorrect prophecies.  Those who follow this group of NAR apostles and prophets – which is quite large on a worldwide scale and infiltrated to many churches in America and elsewhere – don’t seem to have an issue with receiving false words in the Name of God.  They’ll highlight the predictions that have apparently come to pass and ignore those which didn’t.

As with all things we encounter in this world, it’s important to hold them up to the standard from the Word of God.  Do they pass the test of God’s approval as shown in Scripture, or do they fail?

Deuteronomy 18:20-22 gives us this standard by which to judge prophets:

“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.”

Several injunctions in this passage jump out as we consider this issue:

  1. The prophet who presumes to speak in God’s Name
  2. The prophet who speaks in the name of other gods
  3. The prophet who speaks in the Name of the Lord whose word does not come to pass
  4. God declares this prophet presumptuous
  5. God says don’t fear such a prophet
  6. God declares the false prophet shall die

That’s a high standard for prophets.  According to the Bible, any prophet who speaks as though his words come from God, and his foretelling doesn’t materialize, God declares that he is presumptuous – a false prophet – and deserves the death penalty!

How is it that these men and women running around with the self-proclaimed titles of apostles or prophets suffer no consequences?  Why do they continue to be lauded as successors of the apostles who walked with Jesus?  How is it they have no fear of giving wrong prophecies in God’s Name?

The so-called pandemic of the Wuhan virus has brought many prophetic words from these NAR seers.  They’ve made declarations that were supposed to stop the infestation in its tracks, pronounced insights into various behind-the-scenes machinations, and prophesied extraordinary healings.  Most of these things never happened.

In contrast, an interesting phenomenon also arose in this time of chaos and confusion; those who had dream visions, but never proclaimed they were prophets.  The most prominent of these was Pastor Dana Coverstone of a small church in Kentucky.  He posted the dreams he began having for his congregation, and they went viral with hundreds of thousands of people watching and hearing.

At the time of this writing, Pastor Dana has probably had twenty or so dreams.  In his conveying of what he’s seen in these visions, he has fervently believed they are from God.  The one thing Pastor Dana has continually declared is that he is not a prophet.  He indicates he is being obedient to God in relaying the dreams, but he has stressed that people can make up their own minds as to the veracity of them.  In this author’s opinion, the dreams have been highly symbolic, yet extremely accurate in their portrayal of that which is occurring in the political realm and in the church.

What does God’s Word have to say about dreamers?  We get the best description of this in Joel 2:28-29, which is then echoed by Peter in Acts 2:17-18.  From Joel:

“And it shall come to pass afterward,

    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

    your old men shall dream dreams,

    and your young men shall see visions.

Even on the male and female servants

    in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”

“Afterward” in Joel becomes “in the last days” in Peter’s rendition.  A couple questions arise:

  1. In what time period is this prophesied to occur?
  2. Who are the sons and daughters?

As to question #1, it seems as though it could pertain both to the time leading up to the Tribulation, as well as during that most horrible of seven years.  If it applies to these latter days before the Rapture and the subsequent Tribulation, what we’re seeing from Pastor Dana (and actually many others who are reporting dreams from God) is a fulfillment of this prophecy.

Regarding question #2, the sons and daughters are ordinary people; certainly not those who claim an imprimatur from God and having any special type of anointing.

The important thing to also notice is that this is something God said would happen and has His approval.  There is no negative connotation with people having prophetic dreams, and no penalty associated with their foretelling.

So, what are we to think about these two very different situations of prophecy?  As noted earlier, we must hold everything up to the light of God’s Word.  We should be Bereans as noted in Acts 17:11:

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Just as critical, we should be as the men of Issachar from 1 Chronicles 12:32:

Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times…

Knowing where we are on God’s prophetic time clock is critical.  Prophetic words and dream visions can help us to understand this – as long as they are truly from the Lord.

As Pastor Dana stresses, we should pray about what we hear and make sure Jesus is at the forefront of everything prophetic.

Why?  Because that’s what God’s Word instructs us in Revelation 19:10:

“Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

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