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The prophet must die

July 28, 2010

We’ve talked about false prophets before.

Deuteronomy 18 lays out a pretty clear code of conduct: If a prophet prophesies something in the name of the Lord that the Lord did not send him to say, he should be put to death. How do you know if it’s something the Lord did not tell him to say? If it doesn’t come to pass.

Pretty simple.

And while I’m not advocating killing people who attempt to prophesy in Jesus’ name, it is worth noting that it’s a serious matter.

There is grace and forgiveness and second chances, but sometimes apathy is mistaken for grace and we try to forgive the fear of the Lord and second chances aren’t taken with much extra caution. Everyone makes mistakes. But I think the New Testament Church in the West in the 21st century needs to swing back the other way a bit, and get back to holding would-be “prophets” to some kind of standard.

And I came across an interesting story related by Flavius Josephus in his work The Wars of the Jews, recently. True story – kind of funny, kind of profound – about a prophet named Judas (not Jesus’) who had a crazy day.

“And truly any one would be surprised at Judas upon this occasion. He was o the sect of the Essens, and had never failed or deceived men in his predictions before.

“Now this man saw Antigonus as he was passing along by the temple, and cried out to his acquaintance, [they were not a few who attended upon his as his scholars,] ‘O strange!’ said he, ‘it is good for me to die now, since truth is dead before me, and somewhat that I have foretold hath proved false; for this Antigonus is this day alive, who ought to have died this day; and the place where he ought to be slain, according to that fatal decree, was Strato’s Tower, which is at the distance of six hundred furlongs from this place; and yet four hours of this day are over already; which point of time renders the prediction impossible to be fill filled (sic).’

“And when the old man had said this, he was dejected in his mind, and so continued.

“But in a little time news came that Antigonus was slain in a subterraneous place, which was itself also called Strato’s Tower, by the same name with that Cesarea which lay by the sea-side; and this ambiguity it was which caused the prophet’s disorder.”

Judas prophesied that Antigonus would be killed in a certain place on a certain day, and when he saw the man alive that day – and too far from where he thought his prophecy required him to be killed – he assumed he was wrong and declared it was good for him to die.

That’s taking the job seriously.

And again, Internet, I’m not advocating the murder of mistaken prophets. It would be nice, however, to see anyone alive today in the Western Church, who dares call him/herself a prophet, show half as much concern for their office.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 28, 2010 3:39 pm

    dood. this is a straight legit post. i was just reading this passage and then found your post – great little side-by-side commentary. for real.

    hope you guys are well!

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