If I Heard The Lord Correctly?
By Todd Strandberg
Over the years, I have heard countless divine revelations that
people claim to have received from God. In all this time, I don’t recall
encountering a single instance that truly deserved the title revelation.
The poor spiritual state of the Church today is the primary reason these types of messages go unchallenged. People will latch onto anything that seems spiritual. As long as it tickles their ears, they don’t care what the Bible has to say about prophets who stray from the core salvation message.
“Your prophets have seen false and foolish things for you. And they have not laid open your iniquity, to provoke you to repentance. Yet they have seen for you false revelations and banishments” (Lam. 2:14).
“Now the Spirit has clearly said that in the end times some persons will depart from the faith, paying attention to spirits of error and the doctrines of devils....” (1 Tim. 4:1)
Adding to the Word of God
The best defense against strange new teachings is to understand that man is barred from adding to the Bible. A few groups have added material to the Word of God. Most people who make an attempt to add to the Bible do so by changing the meaning of Scripture.
In America, thousands of Christian organizations all have their own interpretations of the key biblical passages. The reason we have so many conflicting doctrines is because too many people use the Bible to reinforce their own personal views. Unless you allow God’s Word to do the leading, your imagination will take over and lead you astray.
In 1919, Dr. Isaac M. Haldeman, pastor of the First Baptist Church in New York City, predicted that before the Jews returned to Palestine to establish a Jewish State—an event that happened in 1948-- the Antichrist would appear. Haldeman explained: ‘The Scriptures teach that this man (the Antichrist) will be the prime factor in bringing the Jews back, as a body into their own land; that he will be the power that shall make Zionism a success; that through him the nationalism of the Jews shall be accomplished.” Haldeman was in error because he expected the course of world events to follow his own timeline instead of one God predestined.
In his book, Armageddon Now!, Professor Dwight Wilson includes this wise caveat on the cover jacket: “The author cautions his fellow Premillenarians that they will lose their credibility if they continue to see in each political crisis a sure fulfillment of Biblical prophecy—despite their obvious errors concerning earlier crises.”
The Bible has its own warning for people who tamper with God’s Holy Word. At the end of Revelation, the Lord promises eternal damnation for anyone who adds or takes away from “this book”: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19 KJV).
A Prophet's First Mistake is His Last
There are two forms of prophet: the one who tells the future, and the one who poignantly explains the “signs of the times” as a way of critiquing and calling the people back to God. Because the word "prophet" has become so misused, I would not want to be called an end-time prophet. I am simply one who expounds upon the prophetic message that God has already given.
The problem generally rests with people who claim to have received new divine revelations. Because only God knows the future, any detailed prediction that does not come from Him will most likely fail to come to pass.
The minimal standard for anyone claiming to be a prophet is 100 percent accuracy. His or her credibility ends at the first mistake. In fact, the Bible tells us that this is how we should judge such predictions: “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” (Deut. 18:22).
Pat Robertson of "The 700 Club" is famous for making yearly predictions. On May 8, 2006, he made the following forecast: “If I heard the Lord correctly about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms.” The following Wednesday, he added, “There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest.”
I selected the Robertson quote as the title of this article because of a comment made by comedian Jay Leno. In a mocking tone, Leno said,
“Please, Pat, pay attention. This is a life and death issue.” Robertson was obviously dead wrong. There was no flood, tsunami, hurricane or any other water-related disaster in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, all of North America was unusually quiet that year.
Robertson received further scorn when a site called the Sacred Sandwich ran a fake news story that reported Pat had been named “Meteorologist of the Year” by the American Meteorologist Society. The author of the article noted, “Sure, his hurricane prediction was a colossal blunder, but when was the last time Willard Scott got anything right?”
An endless number of false prophets try to predict end-time dates. Someone recently forwarded me a link to a site that described a vision of the rapture occurring the summer of 2007.
“I received a vision from God through a dream in 1986. God showed me the rapture of the church in relationship to my life. Everything God showed me that was going to happen in my life has happened exactly as He showed me. God directed me to write a book. He told me I would have 3 years to spread this message. I got the book published in 2004. When I got the book published, that was the beginning of my mission. Three years from 2004 is 2007. God showed me that my family and I were swimming in the pool the day before the rapture. I interpret that to mean summertime, which is anytime between June 21-September 21. This is how I came up with SUMMER 2007.”
It doesn’t matter how appealing someone may be in presenting a new prediction. If they were wrong 10 years ago, they have no feet to stand on today. They should consider themselves fired. Never mind the fact God never hired them in the first place. It’s unlikely the Lord would use someone who defamed his Holy name.
Try, Try and Still Fail Again
I’ve always been interested in why people continue to follow predictions made by some people who have a track record of being wrong.
Evangelist Benny Hinn has been making wild predictions for years, and he has a dismal track record. He is so consistently wrong, someone else could build a career as a much better prophet by simply taking the opposite view of what Hinn forecasts.
Marilyn J. Agee has been trying to predict the rapture for 11 years now. Every year she has produced charts showing numerical proof that the blessed hope is right around the corner. When her prediction fails, she moves to the next calendar year. Despite the fact she has been consistently wrong, she still manages to draw the public’s attention.
Anyone who faithfully predicts the rapture will come during the next year will eventually be correct. I don’t think anyone can claim the title of true prophet for that kind of forecasting.
Human beings seem to thrive on hope. It doesn’t matter how wrong someone has been in the past, there is always the chance that person may be correct in the future.
I guess gambling operates on the same principle. For every 1 winner, there are 60 million losers. When the pot builds back up to $300 million, everyone feels like he or she has enough luck to beat the horrendous odds.
In preparation for this article, I looked high and low for prophets of any stripe who were successful in having a small percentage of their predictions come true. I could not find anyone who stood out. Some of the people I looked at were so wrong, it seem to defy laws of random chance that would make them occasionally correct. I truly wonder if God has something to do with their high error rate.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
God Does Not Ramble
Over the years, I have developed my own simple rule of thumb for determining whether someone is truly speaking from God. The Supreme Lord of the Universe does not dictate messages that make little sense or seem trivial in nature. God does use symbolism in describing prophetic truth, but He never leaves us guessing. He always goes on to provide us with keys to understand the symbolism.
I recently read a report about a California woman being sued by the city of San Mateo for painting what she called messages from God on her house. Estrella Benavides was fined $5,000 for violating the city’s sign ordinance.
The messages were in white paint, and they consisted of cryptic rants about “rape,” “mafia,” “Bush” and “the Miami teen.” A message above the garage read: “Help worse crime ever: evil + out of mind: from Bush to neighbors using witchcraft + technology against people not belong to their religious group.”
The woman writing this garbage on her house is either crazy or under the influence of demonic spirits. There is no biblical example of a true prophet being given a similarly incoherent message.
The king of rambling prophets would have to be Nostradamus. His so-called prophetic writings have survived for nearly 500 years because they are extremely vague in nature. Over the years, people have applied them to any number of world events.
Here are three examples of his work that are so murky and nonspecific there is no way one could use them as a prophecy:
Against the red ones sects will conspire,
Fire, water, steel, rope through peace will weaken:
On the point of dying those who will plot,
Except one who above all the world will ruin. (Century 6:51)
So much silver of Diana and Mercury,
The images will be found in the lake:
The sculptor looking for new clay,
He and his followers will be steeped in gold. (Century 6:2)
Naval battle night will be overcome,
Fire in the ships to the West ruin:
New trick, the great ship colored,
Anger to the vanquished, and victory in a drizzle. (Century 9:100)
Another form of rambling often occurs when a prophecy is laced with God supposedly pouring lavish praise on the person giving the message. I remember one such prophet from South America who seemed to be God’s favorite: “My children, please listen to my humble servant. He is my faithful messenger. He will guide you to the truth.”
I once attended a charismatic church where a preacher gave a prophetic message that was so self-serving, I had suspicions about who was the true author of the message.
“Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart” (Jer. 14:14).
The Quiet Period
It would be too easy to say all prophecies today are not from God. I do think that it is possible for the Lord to give a supernatural revelation to someone. He is, after all, God. He can do anything, except lie.
The question that needs to be asked: “Is it part of His plan for mankind?” The Lord doesn’t predict things just to provide titillation. Everything done by the Creator of the universe has a divine purpose. Right now, silence might be the top priority on the Lord’s agenda.
I believe the fulfillment of the Church Age is one of the reasons we don’t see people being given any new prophetic messages. God has spent 2,000 years warning mankind through prophecies given in His Word, the Bible. He has let us see world conditions shaping up exactly as He said they would be at the end of the age, just before Christ returns. And now the door to the Church age might be about to close.
The rapture is a sign-less event and is a reward for everyone who is ready to go. Jesus can’t come at an unknown hour if He appoints prophets to go around saying, the Lord is coming within a specific time frame—giving an hour or day.
|If someone with a supposed "gift of prophecy"
prophesied over me right now, I'd say "thanks very much", then I'd treat
it with a pinch of salt. I've known of people who have even decided to
not have children as a result of what some "prophet" said to them.
The only prophets I unquestionably regard as genuine are those mentioned
in the Bible. I would never say that no one ever receives a glimpse into
the future anymore as a result of the Holy Spirit moving in them. That
would be limiting God. But I'm convinced it's far healthier to err on
the side of skepticism than believe anything that is spoken "in the name
of the Lord".
If a person is sincerely and humbly seeking God about an issue in their life, they don't need to seek out the local prophet. That's no different to the gullible thousands who seek out fortune tellers or study their horoscopes. The Lord will give you answers in due time, if you pray, are humble and if you are patient. He has many ways of getting that answer to you which don't require some miraculous occurrence or a person with a supposed prophetic gift.
I've seen people who have prophesied about some event which has come true, subsequently treated as though they were truly God sent, even though the event they said would come to pass could have been predicted by anyone with half a brain. They have then made a living out of their so called ministry doing the church circuit and wreaking havoc on gullible Pastors and their congregations.
And then then there's those people who approach you and say "Hi there, you know, I believe the Lord has given me a message to give to you". If these people approach you and want to "prophesy " over you or tell you the Lord's will for you ...RUN...FAST!
Personally, if on the way to work one day, I hear an audible message from the heavens in the midst of a blinding flash of light which strikes me blind for three days, .....THEN I'll take it seriously as being from the Lord.
With regards to end time prophecies, all that is needed is to study the Bible and the countless prophecies relating to the times we live in contained therein.
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