The prophets who predicted Trump to gain a second office didn’t do the greatest of harm. They may have appeared foolish just like those who announced the end of the world in the year 2000. They may have caused embarrassment to Christian circles but some were causing that way before they started prophesying the next US President. Some of these prophets appear to be very eccentric but then again the Bible has its characters doesn’t it?! Isaiah took off his clothes and preached naked for 3 years; Jeremiah hid his underwear under a rock and then after a long time went back for them! He also attached a cattle yoke to his shoulders for a season; Hosea married a prostitute; Ezekiel ate a scroll. He lay on his side for 390 days and then rolled over and repeated the action for a further 40 days. People had difficulty believing these prophets!
Here are our next verses:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7 v 15-20)
And perhaps watch out if you are a false prophet as fire is the result.
Mistakes in prophecy doesn’t necessarily make you a false prophet any more than if you teach an inaccuracy behind the pulpit makes you a false teacher. However the Church are forever lighting fires to burn people, it has never stopped.
In the US most evangelicals have heard of Jeremiah Johnson. He has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. “I was wrong, I am deeply sorry, and I ask for your forgiveness,” he wrote in a detailed letter he posted online. “I would like to repent for inaccurately prophesying that Donald Trump would win a second term as the President of the United States.”
But perhaps what they don’t know is the fire that Christians had erected for him. On Facebook, he reported that he received “multiple death threats and thousands upon thousands of emails from Christians saying the nastiest and most vulgar things I have ever heard toward my family and ministry.” Is he a false prophet? I think he is a mistaken one. He got it wrong. But others clearly disagree.
The false prophets as I view Jesus’ words here are not the ones who predicted the end of the world 21 years ago or those that said Trump would get a second term. But they are the Pastors, leaders, members, spiritual people who have ‘heard from God’ that the person should remain and submit to that abusive situation because marriage should not be broken. It is to the Pharisee who cause others to suffer because of their conduct lists. It is those who hide and appear to be like one of the sheep who share a fear of the wolf and only end up being revealed as the wolf themselves. They attack from within. There is a rising of insurgency within our world and within the Church. This is the falsehood we must watch for.
“Can this person be trusted? Is this person good?” A question we continue to ask which Jesus answers.
We all want people around us who will benefit our lives for the good. We don’t want our fruit to be growing in thistles of complaint, jealousy, regrets eating away at them and bitterness or superiority, pride and self-satisfaction.
So how can we spot a false prophet?
- We listen, not to the first thing that comes out of the mouth but perhaps the last sentence. The reasoning behind the words. The attitude. The story of the person’s life. The tone of their voice. We experience them not listen to their words.
- We slow down and we look for the good to impact our lives. That might mean we spew out of our mouths what is not so good about the person but digest the good. Ever wondered what to do with a series of books from an author that you thought were a super saint only to discover that they were not a very nice person? Do you hold a burn the books ceremony? If so, I think you may have a small library by the end of your life! No, we look for the good that we want to come into our life, we take the good and we make less heroes in our life.
- Give it time. Let time reveal the truth. Good fruit will come, good things will emerge and good words will be spoken and the reverse also. Just because it is a tree it doesn’t mean a thing, wait for the season of fruit, wait for time to pass, all will be revealed.
- Don’t light a fire. You don’t have to burn every mistaken gift or office.