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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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