Wednesday, June 23, 2010

End-Times Topics: False Prophets/Christs

I have never had a guest blogger - but it seemed like a good time to have one - mostly because there is some stuff I don't know, which; today's guest does.

I was thinking about writing a piece or two on the things that will happen in the last days before the return of Jesus. HERE is the last blog I wrote on the topic. As I was researching - trying to get my thoughts together - I read some of Les Young's research. I decided to ask him if he would write a blog on the subject. In the process, I learned: never ask a soon to be graduate of doctoral studies in theology to write a short blog. So here is the first installment, and there will be others as we have time. You can read more of his Les's writing over at End Times Encouragement.

False Prophets/Christs

There is no better place to begin this topic than with the Word of God. The Bible is full of warnings concerning false prophets, going all the way back to the Torah. I think we can learn much by looking at the first (based on Thompson Chain Reference) reference to false prophets:

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (NIV)
1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder,
2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them,"
3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

Most of us are familiar with the sure-fire way of discerning a false prophet: he prophesies something and it does not come to pass. That test is valid if the prophecy is short term; but what good is the test if the prophecy is far-off? Should Isaiah have been stoned to death because the Messiah wasn't born of a virgin within the next generation? I think not. I believe that what we have in the Deuteronomy passage above is a test that can always be used to test for a false prophet (or false prophecy) and it is this: does the prophecy move you away from God and His righteous commands, or does it move you closer. This test works, even when the prophecy comes to pass.

Now concerning false prophets/Christs in the end-times, Jesus was not silent. At the beginning of His Olivet Discourse He said:
Matthew 24:5 (NIV)
5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.

And again, a few verses later:
Matthew 24:11 (NIV)
11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

During these portentous times in which we live, do we see any of these signs, increasing in intensity and frequency, like birth pains coming upon an expectant mother? I believe we do. Not only do we see certain people appearing on the political scene claiming to have connection with the divine, or to even possess a spark of the divine. I know it was with tongue-in-cheek for some (but not for all) that Barak H. Obama was labeled "The Messiah." The dictator of North Korea claims to be a god. The mad man of Iran claims to have a divine mission to usher in the age of the 12th Imam.

Paul wrote a couple of things that should make those who revere the Bible as the Word of God stop and question at least a few "false" religious practices, endorsed by false prophets who proclaim them to be true.
1 Timothy 2:5 (NIV)
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
This excludes Mary and the "saints."
1 Timothy 4:1-3 (NIV)
1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.

And the list continues. There are whole denominations (so-called Protestant/Evangelical) for whom the following Scripture paints a condemning picture:
Romans 1:32 (NIV)
32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Then we could travel to India, where Maharesh Yogi types are considered divine, and who enslave millions in a false religious system which embraces everything from child-prostitution to bankrupting lending practices to slavery. And from this dark and demonic system, the west has imported elements to develop all sorts of "eastern mysticism."

Within mainstream protestantism, there has developed a number of streams of thought that cause the discerning person to at least take a second look. How many 20th Century "revivals" have occurred that resulted in more focus on man and his program than on the Lord Jesus Christ? I don't have the specific answers here, but when wierd behavior and "signs and wonders take "center stage" and the Gospel of the Kingdom and holiness unto the Lord are lost in the shuffle - well, you decide.

Other streams of thought which may distract people from being prepared by God for the days into which we are entering include: The Prosperity Gospel, or "Your Best Life Now." This sort of teaching, along with a pre-tribulation rapture theology (only about 150 years old) do little to prepare Christians for lives of sacrifice and persecution. What was it that Paul said?
2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV)
12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

As Jesus was about to conclude the signs leading up to His Second Coming, He stated that one certain thing would happen before the end would come.
Matthew 24:14 (NIV)
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Just before that, Jesus makes a statement that includes one of those divine buts; which in this case describes the exception to the destruction and mayhem that are unfolding.
Matthew 24:13 (NIV)
13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

This is the passage of Scripture upon which Encouragement for End-Times Endurance (www.endtimesencouragement.com) was founded. False prophets/Christs wil arise, and in fact are so doing. To keep us from deception, we must have a clear understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is always better to focus on what is true rather than on the myriad of forgeries that are in the world.

Be encouraged by Christ, so that you may encourage one another.

4 comments:

Rick Yushenko said...

As you note, Deuteronomy makes it clear that if a prophet makes predictions that repeatedly come true, you must consider whether they move you closer to the Lord or further away. However, if a prophet makes predictions that repeatedly fail, if they move you closer to the Lord, then who should you follow? The false prophet (predictions that happened) or the true prophet (predictions that did not happen)?
The Indian chief Tecumseh had a brother called, interestingly enough, the Prophet. The prophet predicted many events accurately, most famously the New Madrid earthquake of 1805. Tecumseh predicted his own death in battle in 1813. These are examples of Deuteronomy’s false prophets: their predictions repeatedly came true, but they were not Christ centered.
The Reverend Pat Robertson predicted (May 1980 on “The 700 Club”) predicted the end of the world in late 1982 (http://www.abhota.info/end3.htm ). In May 2006, he predicted a tsunami would strike in the Pacific Northwest (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003004452_pat19.html ). On January 2, 2007, he said God spoke to him and told him that “mass killings” were to come in 2007 due to a terrorist attack on the United States of America.
Clearly, Pat Robertson’s predictions are to be preferred by the Christ centered. Though they did not come true, they are intended to strengthen the word of the Lord in man’s heart.

David said...

@Rick - there are other ways to test prophecy - here is a blog that I wrote about it some time back.

http://fireandgrace.blogspot.com/search/label/Prophetic

There are lots of folks that prophesy - and the Bible say that we all can. the problem is that the gift needs some development. There is not a seasoned prophetic voice that has not had all sorts of trouble trying to hear God and be humble.

I happen to find prophecies from some of th big name televangelists to have some of the worst track records for prophecies that do not come to pass.

That is not to say there are not folks out there that are very accurate, there are.

Foretelling the future can be done by someone under the power of the Holy Spirit, or by the demonic. The fruit is always going to our best guide.

Thanks for commenting.

Rick Yushenko said...

I read your blog on personal prophecy, and found it interesting. Sorry about the divorce, I’ve only known one couple with kids who split and remained amicable for the sake of the kids.

This guest blog has some problems. For one thing, the scholarship is rather bereft.

“Not only do we see certain people appearing on the political scene claiming to have connection with the divine, or to even possess a spark of the divine. I know it was with tongue-in-cheek for some (but not for all) that Barak H. Obama was labeled "The Messiah." “

Obama wrote about his acceptance of Our Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior in his autobiography, “Dreams of my father”. Is the author saying that Obama is not a Christian, and believes himself a deity? Or saying that because someone made that joke, that it’s true?

“The dictator of North Korea claims to be a god.”

Do you have a source for this? The Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il certainly has the power of life and death over the DRK, and has enforced a cult of personality, but to my knowledge, he has not claimed divinity, either. Yes, he’s evil, but deification is not a Communist sin.

“The mad man of Iran claims to have a divine mission to usher in the age of the 12th Imam.”

Assuming that you’re referring the often angry (but not technically insane) current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then yes, you are correct. The 12th Imam is the last prophet, thought to be living in a cave since 850 Anno Domini or so (what is it about Islamic prophets living in caves?). This is an article of faith in the Shiite branch of the Islamic faith, which we can agree is not a Christian faith.
http://analysis.threatswatch.org/2005/11/understanding-ahmadinejad/

If you want current examples of people who claim divinity, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon claims to be a Messiah. But I don’t see any evidence of a greater preponderance of latter day Messiah claimants today. In fact, with pagan religions on the sharp decrease (only Christianity and Islam show any serious growth today), the number of folks falsely claiming God-hood is way down.

photogr said...

David:

"This sort of teaching, along with a pre-tribulation rapture theology (only about 150 years old) do little to prepare Christians for lives of sacrifice and persecution. What was it that Paul said?
2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV)
12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,."

Pre tribulation and post tribulation. I have read a few books on these theroies. Two of those books were written by a prominent author ( and expert with over 40 years on the subject ) on Revelations and Prophesies in the bible pertaining to the end times. He is in fact a pre Tribulation believer which I also agree on.

Jesus will in fact come at the beginning of those times to take up his church and believers ( thus the rapture) to evade going through the tribulations. My interpretation of the scriptures also supports that theory.

Now this doesn't mean every believer gets to go then. Many will certainly face tribulations and more persecution before Jesus comes the second time to sit in judgement and the reasons will be obvious. Sadly I don't feel I will be one that makes the cut for the first round. The ones that are left behind will certainly be tested in their faith.

For over the last 2000 years there has been persecution of Christians and their beliefs but it will get worse during the end times as the anti christ comes to power.

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