Wednesday, May 26, 2021

False Prophets and the Infallible Scriptures


     
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. -Deuteronomy 18:20-22

    In ancient Israel, the penalty for being a false prophet was death.  It was a serious offense, as a false prophet could devolve all God's people into sin.  Although we now live in an age of grace, where God will receive all to himself who accept Him, the standard to measure a false prophet still remains the same.  The biblical standard for a false prophet is simple, that if there is even one false prophecy proclaimed out of the mouth of the individual, we are to reject their words.  Charles Taze Russel the founder of the Jehovah Witnesses serves as a perfect example of failing the biblical test for a true prophet.  In contrast, the Bible itself can be trusted as it affirms dozens upon dozens of fulfilled prophecies, confirmed by true prophets.

    Charles Taze Russel falsely predicted in 1914 that the end of human rulership would usher in the millennial reign of Christ. When this failed, it led to kicking the date goal post forward several times over with false prophecies becoming the norm.  Rutherford, a later head theologian of the Jehovah's Witnesses (pictured at the head of this article) had his fair share of false prophecies set to be completed in the early 20th century that never came to fruition.  The sad part of it all is that if any of these followers, past or present,  decided to trust the biblical standard by measuring it against their organization's claims, they would've never allowed these false proclamations to gain root in their minds.

    The devil himself, the father of lies, serves as the first false prophet.  Peddling a false prophecy, the devil deceived Adam and Eve into believing that they themselves could become as gods if they partook of the forbidden tree:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. -Genesis 3:5

It's clear that Adam and Eve did not become as gods, but rather just the opposite happened.  They lost their immortality and death entered the world by sin (Genesis 3:17; Romans 5:12). Mankind became separated from the only true and living God. This lie still promulgates across the world today, with many believing they can become gods, such as those involved in the New Age movement. The Bible warns about the deceit of the devil, and of the false prophets he cunningly puppeteers (Matthew 5:17).  However, one may wonder about the Bible itself and the accuracy of its prophecies.  Luckily God has several that has been fulfilled with pinpointed accuracy.  The prophecies of Christ and his fulfillments are numerous.  One of my personal favorites is found in Psalm 22.

    When Christ was on the cross, he cried out: "My God My God why hast thou forsaken me?"  Many don't realize that Christ is actually quoting the opening line in Psalm 22 written by King David approximately a thousand years before.  It wasn't uncommon in that day for Jewish rabbis to invoke certain passages by stating the first line.  In other words, those witnessing the death of Christ, who understood the scriptures, would recognize the Psalm Christ mentioned.  There are multiple reasons as to why Christ stated this line, but the ultimate reason is found in the prophetic fulfillment of Psalm 22. Let's look to the author of Psalm 22, King David as a prophetic type of Christ before we unpack the prophetic fulfillments in the famous Psalm. 

    David is constantly referred to as a man after God's own heart (1st Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).  David was also born in Bethlehem, was a shepherd, and was the King of Israel.  Likewise, Christ was also born in Bethelem, is called the good shepherd (John 10:11,14), and will be the everlasting King of Israel.  In addition to several other parallels, King David is a shadow of what would ultimately be fulfilled in Christ.  When King David wrote Psalm 22, we can see David himself in distress and calling upon the Lord.  Although this had a present time application with David, it had an ultimate prophetic fulfillment in Christ.

Psalm 22:1 would be a fulfillment of Christ's own words on the cross before his death. Many in the audience undoubtedly would seek out the Psalm after Christ's death on the cross and witness its fulfillment.

Psalm 22:4-5 statesOur fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. David is referencing Exodus 2:23-24, when his fathers cried to God for deliverance from their slavery in Egypt. These verses point to the Passover. Prior to sending the 10th plague over the land of Egypt, God commanded His people to use an unblemished lamb and paint its blood over their doorposts.  The death angel would then pass over all doorposts painted with the blood of the lamb. All those who failed to place their trust in God received the repercussions of the plague, the death of their firstborn sons.  This Passover is a picture of Christ (1st Corinthians 5:7), all those who place their trust in the blood of the lamb will be delivered from death into eternal life. Just as God led his people out of bondage in Egypt, Christ is our exodus from death into life. Trusting in Christ is the only way (John 14:6). 

Psalm 22:7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  It's easy to see the prophetic fulfillment here, many in the audience of Christ's crucifixion laughed Jesus to scorn as mentioned in the gospels such as Matthew 27:42.

Psalm 22:14-16: I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feetThis prophetic passage starts with the fulfillment of when Christ's side was pierced and water poured from the wound (John 19:34).  The Roman punishment of crucifixion was excruciating.  As Christ hung on the cross his muscles would give way, causing the weight of his body to hang creating pressure on the joints, leading them to be made out of place. Christ would later be buried into the dust of death, he was pierced in his hands and his feet (John 20:27).  Roman crucifixion was not a thing in the day David wrote it which makes this prophecy all the more compelling.

Psalm 22:18-19 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. This was fulfilled in Matthew 27:35, when the Romans soldiers cast lots and gambled for the Messiah's clothes.

Psalm 22:26-31 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD'S: and he is the governor among the nations. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this. Notice that all kindreds of nations shall worship the one and true God, this prophecy was fulfilled in God reaching all nations by the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21). Christianity today has spread to all nations as also prophesied in Isaiah 49:6. God has made a people unto himself and all he requires is faith in the promised Messiah.  Notice how this prophetic Psalm is layered: the author King David is prophetically a type of Christ mentions in his writing the Passover another prophetic type of Christ, and then lists several prophecies that Christ himself would fulfill.

    God's Word has been fulfilled prophetically through the Lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 22 is one of several examples. Hundreds of years before Christ was born of a virgin, it was prophesied that he would come to suffer for the sins of humanity in passages such as Isaiah 53.   God's Word has been gifted to us as our standard of truth.  The heart is not the standard of truth (Jeremiah 17:9), feelings are not the standard of truth, God's Word is the standard of truth. No other book can boast a flawless prophetic record. This is one of the many reasons all should receive God's gospel.  What is the gospel? The gospel literally means good news, Paul summarizes the Gospel in 1st Corinthians 15:1-4:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

    Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, and was seen by several witnesses mentioned in verses 5-7.  Why did Christ die for our sins?  Because we all are guilty of sin, we have all broken God's commandments (Romans 3:10; Romans 3:23). As a result, we are all under the penalty of death and risk eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:8).  Luckily Christ came and died in our place, God's Word has been prophetically fulfilled in that our sins can be justified in God's sight (Romans 5:8). God paid for your sin debt, all you have to do is receive the gift that he provided on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that he died, was buried, and rose again, and you will be raised in likewise fashion into the glorious realms of eternity (John 3:16; Romans 10:9).

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