The Lord gave the prophet Jeremiah an unusual Word during the time that King Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon were overrunning Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Not only was he to prophesy to his own people, but God had him send a message to the nations surrounding Israel (Jeremiah 27:3). According to Yahweh’s plans, those various nations were to likewise submit to being conquered by God’s “servant” (Jeremiah 27:6), Nebuchadnezzar. If they didn’t, just like Judah, He would subject them to sword, famine, and pestilence. In other words, Yahweh’s plan was for the Babylonian empire to consume all the nations in that region.
Not surprisingly, the pagan prophets in those countries were declaring victory, rather than the yoke of Babylon. But God had Jeremiah specifically tell them that their prophets didn’t know what they were saying. Only the God of Israel knew the future. These prophets were liars.
This was the same message that God gave Jeremiah for the people of Judah. They were to submit to the will of Nebuchadnezzar or they too would receive punishment by sword, famine, and pestilence. God warned Judah in Jeremiah 27:14-15:
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you. I have not sent them, declares the Lord, but they are prophesying falsely in my name, with the result that I will drive you out and you will perish, you and the prophets who are prophesying to you.”
Despite this, a so-called prophet by the name of Hananiah declared in Jeremiah 28:2-3:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon.”
Jeremiah, a true prophet of God, knew this to be a lie, but he played along with Hananiah, saying in Jeremiah 28:6:
… “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord make the words that you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles.”
No doubt, Jeremiah sincerely wished Hananiah’s prophecy was true, but he knew better. That led him to state in Jeremiah 28:9 what has become – or at least should be – the gold standard in determining a true prophet of God:
As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”
In other words, when a prophet makes a declaration that his words and their intent have come from God, they’d better do so. If they don’t, the prophet is speaking from his own imagination (perhaps with demonic input), and he does not represent the Lord; he is not speaking the Words of God.
In the case of Hananiah, Jeremiah told him that because of his declarations that caused the people of Judah to believe a lie, the Lord would soon take his life. Indeed, that is what happened.
In our present day, we have a large contingent of men and women declaring themselves to be prophets and apostles of God. This movement, although they don’t necessarily acknowledge the name, is what we call the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). There are many problems with the ways these people represent themselves that are not at all Biblical. One of these many aspects that has to light repeatedly is various declarations by the self-proclaimed prophets and apostles that do not come to pass. I don’t know what their accuracy rate is, but it’s definitely not anywhere near 100%.
An example of this would be Kenneth Copeland. In 2020 at the height of the plandemic, he prophesied and declared the end of COVID in the Name of the Lord. That obviously didn’t happen. Unfortunately, he wasn’t alone among his peers stating various false outcomes that God had supposedly given them.
The interesting thing about this cohort of prophets and apostles is how they view the results of their declarations they make in God’s Name. They don’t have any problem with being wrong and continuing to view themselves as servants or instruments of the Lord. This is despite the injunction we saw earlier that only someone who is 100% accurate when effectively stating, “Thus says the Lord” can or should be considered as one of His prophets.
What is worse is that many of these men and women have significant followings. Paul wrote – and prophesied! – in 2 Timothy 4:3-4:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Is this not exactly the case with these NAR prophets? They speak to those who have itching ears and no discernment. Many have said there is great revival ahead. They’ve spoken of how the church will reclaim the Seven Mountains of culture and effectively Christianize the world to make it ready for the return of Christ. Really? I missed that part of Scripture as it describes the gathering darkness leading to the Tribulation. If someone reads the Bible and knows the Word of God, he should also understand the criteria for someone who truly proclaims that which God has spoken. Far too many people obviously don’t know that or willfully ignore what Scripture says in this regard.
Sadly, this also should not surprise us. We know from what we read in the Biblical text that these times in which we live will challenge the faith of many. Jesus said we would face trials and tribulations and that deception would be rampant. Paul also warned elsewhere of those who would turn from the Word of God. A falling away from faith, i.e. apostasy, is what was prophesied and which is happening before our very eyes.
Paul stated in 2 Timothy 4:7 those things which he did that kept him rooted:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
If we practice these virtues as well, and not follow vain teachings and declarations, won’t God be pleased with us just as he was with Paul?