What is a prophet? Judaism 101 defines it as follows: ‘Many people think of a prophet as any person who sees the future. While the gift of prophecy certainly includes the ability to see the future, a prophet is far more than just a person with that ability. A prophet is basically a spokesperson for God, a person chosen by God to speak on God’s behalf and convey a message or teaching. Prophets were role models of holiness, scholarship and closeness to God. They set the standards for the entire community. The Hebrew word for a prophet, ‘navi’ comes from the term ‘niv sefatayim’ meaning ‘fruit of the lips’ which emphasises the prophet’s role as a speaker.’
As always the emphasis is on the task or function that the person must fulfil. It does not refer to the higher levels of some hierarchy. A good comparison would be the concept of ‘mother’ – any mother will tell you that being a mother is not a title but essentially a function, something that you do whether you feel like it or not. Hierarchical thinking and structures as exemplified in organisations like businesses and the military is not really the way of the Kingdom of God. Messiah said in John 15:15: ‘…but I have called you friends, for all the things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.’ He is basically saying that He has been transparent, something hierarchies are not particularly good with.
To be ‘false’ simply means: ‘not according to truth or fact, incorrect.’ It does not require an in depth study of the Bible to realize that the Lord hates anything false. Whether false: dealings (Exod 8:29); testimony (Exod 20:16); reports (Exod 23:1); gods (Deut 32:21); accusations (1 Kings 8:31); confidence (Ps 62:10); beliefs (Jer 7:14); visions (Jer 14:14) and then of course ‘false prophets’ (Jer 23:9)
Why is being false a problem? It’s because it’s sin. And what is sin? Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). What law? Well, the Torah – the word ‘law’ is just an inferior translation of Torah. But the standard is Torah, it is there where God articulated and defined what is right and what is wrong. Yes but what about the rituals? You mean the slaughter of animals and so on? It taught the seriousness of sin before the Lord and was a shadow of how Messiah would die for us. The physical spoke of and taught of the spiritual or unseen realm. The spiritual content of the Torah is eternal, whether it is 350 BC or 23 April 2013. Torah then refers to all the standards, values, teachings, statutes, principles, precepts of the inspired word of God. Remember, if we get saved it is by grace, in other words, we cannot earn it. But to walk in righteousness or righteous paths we have to align with Torah. I have just defined for you what the Torah is. Messiah is the Torah (Word) made flesh, that is, He not only fulfilled the Torah, but corrected false teachings and used parables to explain the different levels of meaning of the Word of God.
Here are some of the false prophets listed in the Bible: Ahab (Jer 29:21); Pashur (20:6); Hananiah (Jer 28:15); Shemaiah (Jer 29:31); Balaam (2 Pet 2: 15-16). See we live in the days of political correctness. It is unpopular to speak the truth. There is unwritten rule or understanding that says that we have to always cushion the truth. This is another fulfilment of the word of Paul the apostle or ‘sent one’ when he told Timothy (2 Tim 4: 3): ‘For the time will come when they will not endure (tolerate) sound doctrine (truth), but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up from themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.’
False prophets are not sent by God (Jer 29:31); speak lies (Jer 28:15); are greedy (Jer 6:13); teach others to follow after other gods -like mammon (Deut 13: 1-3); they prophesy peace, when what is required is a warning (Jer 6:14) and all men speak well of them (Luke 6:26)
The false prophets fulfil this vital role in that people want to hear what they want to hear. It’s a lucrative industry today. True prophets always point us to Messiah, false prophets always imply, if we listen to them carefully, that they themselves are awesome.