Can Prophecy be wrong?
Some claim Jonah’s message of Nineveh being destroyed in 40 days when it was not shows that prophets can get it wrong. Scripture says he spoke what God told him to speak (3:2). So is God wrong. Prophecy is from God, it does not originate with man
False prophecy is never called a mistake. God did not, and still does not tolerate false (being wrong) prophesying. If they wrong, they are false and not speaking for God. Jonah was commissioned to cry out against them because of their wickedness (Jonah 1:2) “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” So the people of Nineveh believed God,” (3:4-5). Jonah knew that if he preached to the Ninevite’s they would have a chance to survive. God didn’t tell Jonah everyone would be saved, and he doesn’t tell this to people today, despite their prophesying that the cities and nations will come to Christ. We know God’s heart in these matters, through the prophet Jeremiah 18:7-10: “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.”
This principle is based on God’s character of mercy to the repentant. Judgment was sure to come unless Nineveh repented. God gave them a chance to repent by sending Jonah with a message of judgment and they did.
This was a conditional proclamation to give them a chance to repent. Very few warnings are conditional on mans reaction. Noah did not have one, his was to build and then get in the ark to be saved. The false prophets way out is to tell Christians to pray for the event they prophesied about (usually disaster) so it can be averted. When the prophecy fails to take place they come up with excuses. Enough people didn’t pray or their prayers were not strong enough. This excuse is absurd. Can we pray to avert the Tribulation or any of the events God has written as our future? What God has written will take place just as it is written - it did in the past and will in the future.
What about prophecies that come true from other than Christians? Some of the predictions of psychics, astrologers, and mediums appear to come true. Nostradamus had a few, Edgar Cayce also; but we do not attribute their ability to produce predictions of the future as being from God.
A sure test used on prophets is found in Deuteronomy 13:1 where true prophecy, signs and wonders can come through a false prophet. “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,” and the sign or the wonder comes to pass of which he spoke to you”
Deuteronomy 13 warns of a “prophet or a dreamer” that gives a sign or a wonder which comes to pass.” This passage of Scripture shows that even if a false prophets prophecy can come true, but it is still not of God.
Deuteronomy 13 sets the principle of removing those who mislead by spiritual experiences from among Israel’s families and cities. This is a good principle that is not being followed today. V.5 If they turn you away from the way the Lord instructed them to walk.V.6 If your brother, or your son or daughter, wife, or even your closest friend says this, you are to expose them. The Lord goes on to instruct the Israelites (v.13-14) how to purge the corrupt men’s influence within each community: “You shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently.” V. 4 NASB translation says: “you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly.” God had no grace, nor does he give power or prophecy to those who bring what is false to his people. It was dealt with publicly; it was harsh and final. The person and those who followed him were put to death and everything was to be burned. A lesson is to be learned from the way Israel was told to take care of those who mislead others. What we do not do is remove them from life but from the congregation. The point: He trained them to discern and judge quickly.
Here, God is testing the people to see if they love only Him (v.3). This is probably the most overlooked Scripture relevant to an examination of the claims of those who profess supernatural power that they claim comes from God. If they contradicted the word that had already been revealed which had provided knowledge of the one true God, they were seen as false prophets. After warning about a prophet who is accurate and has a sign or a wonder (v.2) he spoke to you, saying ‘Let us go after other gods’-- which you have not known --’and let us serve them,’ this means strange or unknown gods (god by a different name?) This does not only mean a completely different God but one who could be called God with a different concept presented of him.
If a prophecy from a prophet failed to come to pass, the people were told to no longer pay attention to him and rid them-selves of that prophet. “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).
If we went by the Old Testament model today, many who lay claim to the position of prophet would experience a quick end to their so-called prophetic anointing by the churches rejection!
It is rare that a false prophet repents. They go largely unchallenged. It’s hard to admit one’s falsehood when so many people approve. When was the last time you heard a false prophet admit to his false prophecies? There is no telling how many saints have been ruined from listening to their false words and guidance, but it is vast, and the numbers continue to grow while Christians sit idly by. The words of the “new prophets” today have become like the tradition of the elders of Jesus’ day. Many listen more carefully to their new words than God’s word, making God’s word of no effect.
According to the modern prophetic movement, there is no such thing as false prophecy because prophecy can be conditional and subject to change. When they don’t get their prophecy right, they adjust it. We are told these prophets are just learning to prophesy, we should allow for a certain percentage of wrong prophecy along with the right. Their explanation is that one does not need 100% accuracy in prophecy but can have a lower percentage as they learn to hear God’s voice they can improve. How convenient! Does this sound like the biblical prophets from the Bible? Does this sound like “I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass” (Isaiah 48:3) “...I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who foils the signs of false prophets ... who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers” (Isaiah 44:24-26). There is no example of any TRUE prophet being less than 100% right. One cannot divide prophecy and say part of this prophecy is true to validate a man’s ministry, when another part is false. If only one part did not come to pass the whole thing is a false prophecy and its origin cannot be from God. As one person put it, “false prophesying is like shooting an arrow into a tree then painting a bull’s-eye around it. With slight of mind they rearrange events and torture Scripture to make prophecies appear true.” You are not God’s prophet by getting a good percentage right, but by speaking on his behalf and getting it ALL right.
Yet false prophets don’t care if they are right all the time! Any prophetic gift they are exercising that is not accurate 100% of the time is not from the same God who gave the Word to the prophets of old. Jeremiah says the same thing “And the prophets become wind, and the word is not in them,’-- thus it is done by them” (Jeremiah 5:13).
That is the question for those who ride this carousel -- they need to ask themselves this before they reap ruin and are judged along with them. What will you do in the end? Ezekiel writes of those who follow the false prophets, “And they shall bear their iniquity; the punishment of the prophet shall be the same as the punishment of the one who inquired” (14:10).
Ezekiel 13:6: “They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, ‘The Lord declares,’ when the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope their word may be confirmed” (come true). The false prophet takes a chance what they said takes place. As God told Jeremiah (23:21) “I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied.” In Ezekiel there is an interesting Scripture, Ezekiel 13:2-3: “say to those who prophesy out of their own heart…‘Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!’”
There is a day of reckoning and in Mt.7.22-23 Jesus has prophesied what it will be like for them.