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Was Jonah a false prophet?

The Bible warns against false prophets.

The prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, “How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?”—when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.  (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

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Golden calves

Exodus 32 describes the creation of the first golden calf mentioned in the Bible.  Moses had gone up Mt. Sinai to get God’s commands for the people.  When he was gone longer than expected the people asked Aaron to make a god to lead them.  They had just come out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt where there were images of all the Egyptian gods.  The idea of following a god they couldn’t see was foreign to them.  While Moses was with them they could follow him but in his absence they needed a visible representation of God.

He received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.  (Exodus 32:4,5)

When Aaron proclaimed a feast in honor of the calf he proclaimed it in the name of the LORD, the true God.  In making the calf the people weren’t breaking the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.”  They were breaking the second, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Read the rest of this entry

True and false prophets

There are a lot of people who claim to be prophets who speak for God.  The Bible warns us that many of them are not true prophets and we are not to listen to them.  But how can you tell who really is a prophet and who isn’t?  The Bible answers this question.

And if you say in your heart, “How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?”— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.  (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)

God sent Jonah to prophesy to the people of Nineveh.

Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4)

This is how the Ninevites responded.

And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:5-10)

Jonah said Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days and it didn’t happen.  Does this mean that Jonah was a false prophet? Read the rest of this entry

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