Text: Jeremiah 23:9-40
I. At the founding of the church, Peter quotes the prophet Joel - Acts 2:14-21
A. A part of the foundation of the church were prophets - Ephesians 2:19-20
B. People in denominations claim that prophecy continues
1. Some claim they have prophets in their midst
2. Others essentially claim they all prophesy. They do not believe you can truly be a Christian without gifts of the Spirit, including the gift of prophecy.
II. The duties of the prophet
A. A prophet was only allowed to speak what God told him
1. Balaam understood this - Numbers 22:18-20, 38; 23:12
a. But it did not stop him from trying to go against God
b. Failing, Balaam instructed Balak on how to turn God’s anger against the Israelites.
2. This warns us that a prophet has some control - I Corinthians 14:29-32
a. Notice that the other prophets weighed the words of the one speaking
b. This would minimize a person making a false prophecy from getting away with it - I John 4:1
c. The words were weighed against what was already known - Galatians 1:6-10
d. A mark of a true prophet was his consistency with the revealed word of God - Deuteronomy 13:1-5
3. Because it was God’s words, it must be carefully considered - I Thessalonians 5:19-22
B. Prophecy involves teaching - I Corinthians 14:31, Ephesians 4:11-13
1. I Corinthians 14:22 - It is a sign to believers
2. It was to be used for edification - I Corinthians 14:26
3. Demonstrated by Judas and Silas - Acts 15:32
C. Prophecy can involve the telling of future events - Acts 11:27-28; 21:10-11
1. A prophet is a spokesman for God and God knows the future - Isaiah 44:6-8
2. God declares the result at the beginning - Isaiah 46:9-11
3. The ability to accurately state the future is a mark of God - Isaiah 41:21-23
4. It is used to test a prophet - Deuteronomy 18:22
5. Not all prophecy is fulfilled in the prophets lifetime - Matthew 13:17
a. “What good is that? By the time we find out he was a false prophet, he is long since dead.”
b. Take the reverse thought: If every prophecy was fulfilled in the lifetime of the prophet, the one could claim that the prophet was just good at reading current events or manipulating events to get them fulfilled.
c. God’s prophets often combined short-term prophesies with long-term prophesies. The short-term ones proved the truth of the long-term prophesies.
(1) Example: Jeremiah 28:9-17 - The people knew Jeremiah was right and Hananiah was wrong.
(2) I Kings 13:1-5 - The prophet’s words were known to be true because of the short-term prophecy. It was fulfilled 300 years later - II Kings 23:15-16
6. True prophecy is not vaguely worded statements which any of a multitude of events could match. God’s prophesies were filled with specifics – telling of future events and even naming who was to do it.
a. Another example Isaiah 44:28-45:1
b. Fulfilled in Ezra 1:1-3 145 years after Isaiah’s prophecy!
c. Think what it would take to predict an event 145 years in advance, naming the king of a foreign nation which wasn’t even in power at the time, nor was the king involved was even born.
D. Women as prophets
1. Philip’s daughters were prophetesses - Acts 21:8-9
2. Anna was a prophetess under the Old Law - Luke 2:36-38
3. It was predicted to be for men and women - Acts 2:17-18
4. Some look at these women and claim that God approves of women leaders, else why would women have the gift of prophecy
a. God plainly stated the role of women - I Timothy 2:11-15
b. A woman who prophesied had to wear a covering to show she was under authority - I Corinthians 11:3–10
c. She was not allowed to speak in the assembly of the church - I Corinthians 14:34-38
(1) Recall that Paul stated that when prophecy was done was under the control of the prophet - I Corinthians 14:31-32
(2) Prophecy involved teaching, and a woman was not permitted to teach men publicly.
III. Was prophecy meant to continue?
A. It was partial and would end - I Corinthians 13:8-10
1. Prophesy would be sealed up - Daniel 9:24
2. Prophesy would end - Zechariah 13:1-2
B. “But wisdom and understanding continue.”
1. There were gifts of wisdom and understanding from the Spirit - I Corinthians 12:7-11
2. Yet, it does not mean that all faith, wisdom, and understanding are miraculous gifts of the Spirit.
IV. Warnings against false prophets
A. Just because a prophet claims to have words from the Lord it doesn’t make it so
1. Jeremiah had problems with false prophets contradicting what he taught - Jeremiah 14:13-16
2. Where does a false prophecy come from? The deceptions of the false prophet’s own mind - Jeremiah 14:14; Ezekiel 13:2-3
3. They speak their own desires - Jeremiah 23:16, 25-27
B. Just because a false prophet has followers doesn’t prove his words are true
1. Jeremiah 5:30-31 - People don’t care if the doctrine is wrong so long as it leaves them feeling good.
2. They want to be taught what they want to hear - II Timothy 4:3-4
3. False prophets give the people what they want because popularity is a form of power - Jude 16
C. A false prophet plagiarizes the words of others - Jeremiah 23:30
1. They pad their words with God’s to make it sound legitimate
D. A false prophet can be detected by the life he lives - Matthew 7:15-23
1. Jeremiah 23:13-15 - The false prophets lived unholy lives.
E. A false prophet’s teaching doesn’t improve the listener - Jeremiah 23:17, 21-22, 32
1. Sensuality is popular, so these teachers teach things that appeals to the senses – smooth words, luxuries, fulfilling worldly desires - II Peter 2:2, 9-10, 12-14
2. They become unreasoning animals - Jude 10
V. Prophets were important in the early church
A. The perfect will of God took several years to record.
1. The prophets were involved in getting that word recorded.
2. They served as a partial replacement until the recording was completed.
B. The role of prophets was stated to be temporary and was said to end near the beginning of the church.
C. People who claim to prophesy today are frauds
1. Proof is in their lives and in their messages.