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Introduction 5

This bible study shows how the fruits of true prophecy enable us how to recognize true and false prophets.


1 KINGS 21:27-29
27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he tore his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
29 Do you see how Ahab humbles himself before me? because he humbles himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.

5 Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, who were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, Thus says the Lord, You have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.
6 Upon which the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The Lord is righteous.

ISAIAH 38:2-2
2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord,
3 And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech you, how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

JONAH 3:5-10
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: do not let them feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we do not perish?
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do to them; and he did not do it.

Note: In contrast to this, false prophets do not turn people from their sin, but rather make them worse:

(Jeremiah 23:14) "I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, so that none returns from his wickedness; they are all of them to me as Sodom, and its inhabitants as Gomorrah.
(Jeremiah 23:22) "But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings."
(Lamentations 2:14) "
Your prophets have seen vain and foolish things for you: and they have not uncovered your iniquity, to turn away your captivity; but have seen for you false burdens and causes of banishment."
(Ezekiel 13:22) "Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life."


MATTHEW 5:11-12 (Jesus)
11 Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

LUKE 11:49 (Jesus)
49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:

ACTS 7:52 (Stephen to the Jews)
52 Which of the prophets have your fathers not persecuted? and they have slain those who showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers:

12 And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God, and are contrary to all men:

HEBREWS 11:36-38
36 And others had trial of cruel mocking and scourging, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Note: There are plenty of examples of true prophets being persecuted (1 Kings 22:24-27 - 2 Chronicles 16:10; 18:23-26; Jeremiah 20:2; 32:2; 37:15; 38:6; John 18:22; 19:1), even becoming martyrs (2 Chronicles 24:21; Jeremiah 2:30; Matthew 23:37; Mark 12:5; Luke 13:34; 1 Thessalonians 2:15; Hebrews 11:36-37; Revelation 11:7; 16:6).
In contrast to this, there are no examples of false prophets being persecuted by those who they prophesied to. False prophets are well spoken of:

(Jeremiah 5:31) "The prophets prophesy falsely, ... and my people love to have it so."
(Luke 6:26) "Woe to you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets."

The reason why the false prophets are not persecuted is because they say what people want to hear. They prophesy peace and good things to come, which is what people want to hear, and they do not rebuke sin.

(Isaiah 30:9-10) "That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord:
Who say to the seers, Do not see; and to the prophets, Do not prophesy to us right things, speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits."

Contrary to this, true prophets torment evil people:

(Revelation 11:10) "And those who dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented those who dwelt on the earth."


20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall you be established; believe his prophets, so shall you prosper.

EZRA 6:14
14 And the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.

Note: In contrast to this, false prophets do no good for the people they prophesy to:

(1) They do not profit people.

(Jeremiah 23:32) "Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams, says the Lord, and tell them, ..." they shall not profit this people at all, says the Lord."
(Jeremiah 28:12-13) "Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet , after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus says the LORD; You have broken the yokes of wood; but you shall make for them yokes of iron."

(2) They cause people to err.

(Jeremiah 23:13) "And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err."
(Jeremiah 23:32) "Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams, says the Lord, and tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies."
(Micah 3:5)
"Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace."

(3) They deceive them.

(Jeremiah 29:8) "For thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel; Do not let your prophets and your diviners, who are in the midst of you, deceive you."
(Matthew 24:11) "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many."
(Matthew 24:24) "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."

(4) They make people vain.

(Jeremiah 23:16) "Thus says the LORD of Hosts, Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.

(5) They cause punishment to come to those who hear to them.

(Jeremiah:14:16) "And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have no one to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them."
(Ezekiel 14:10) "And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him who seeks to him."


1 CORINTHIANS 14:1-5 (Paul)
1 Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts , but rather that you may prophesy.
2 For he who speaks in an unknown tongue does not speak to men, but to God: for no man understands him; however in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
3 But he who prophesies speaks to men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
4 He who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he who prophesies edifies the church.
5 I would that you all spoke with tongues, but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he who prophesies than he who speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

Note: Many people may be confused because false prophets seem to encourage and edify people. Their smooth words comfort people, and the hearers often go away feeling good. They have, however, deceived them, and built them up on a false foundation, believing everything is going to be all right, when in fact it isn't. No doubt when false prophets prophesied a quick return from Babylon (Jeremiah 28:1-4), people were happy to hear it, and were lifted up with hope, but they would be really discouraged when it failed to come to pass, wouldn't they.
On the other hand, true prophets turn people away from their sins (See #5.1), and it is only when people turn from sin that they can be built up on the solid foundation of God's word and faith. God's true people are always edified when they know that God is speaking to them and dealing with them. True prophets will edify a true church, but false ones will temporarily build up a false one superficially.

(Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11) "They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace."
(Zechariah 10:2) "For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd."


ROMANS 8:15 (Paul)
15 For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

2 CORINTHIANS 3:17 (Paul)
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Note: True prophets point people towards freedom from deceit, lies, fear of people, and sin, but false prophets tend to lead people into them:

(Nehemiah 6:12-13) "And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
Therefore he was hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me."
(Lamentations 2:14) "
Your prophets have seen vain and foolish things for you: and they have not uncovered your iniquity, to turn away your captivity; but have seen for you false burdens and causes of banishment."

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