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   In the Olivet Prophecy, the Messiah warned us that in the latter days, many false prophets would arise and decieve many.
   Are there false prophets today? If so, where are they? What are they teaching? And how can we recognize them? These questions should be answered. However, before proceeding, we must first understand what a prophet is, according to Scripture.
   The Hebrew word for Prophet is nabiy (naw-bee), H.5030 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, and means a prophet, or inspired man that prophesies by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is manifested either through speech or in song, and in expression, either foretells some future event or tells forth a simple discourse … as in declaring the Evangel, whether ministry from a pulpit or a Bible study venue or more simply, given in witness of a personal testimony.
   All Scripture is inspired by Elohim and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of Elohim may be adequate, equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. (Scriptures cited herein are from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.)
   Here, the Apostle Sha’ul makes it clear that all Scripture is inspired (including the Torah). If all Scripture is inspired, then to preach from Scripture is a form of prophesying and those who prophesy are prophets.
   So, now that we have established what a Prophet is, let’s identify the false prophet.
   You may say in your heart, “How will we know the word which Yahweh has not spoken?” When a prophet speaks in the name of Yahweh, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which Yahweh has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him, Deuteronomy 18:21-22.
   These verses inform us that any person foretelling a future event that does not occur, identifies him as a false prophet. However, further inquiry reveals that if anyone who speaks a word which is followed by a sign or wonder to corroborate what had been spoken, then urges a people to forsake their obedience and service to Yahweh and to pursue and serve other elohim, he is a false prophet and is not worthy to live (Deut. 13:1-5). This is very grievous, because the false prophet will attempt to turn Yahweh’s children back to sin and death. Had Yahshua even, as That Prophet of Whom Moshe spoke in Deuteronomy 18:15-18, not been faithful to speak all that which had been given Him of His Father, then He, too, would have been a false prophet, a liar, a sinner, and worthy of death … no longer unblemished, but imperfect and unfit as a redemption-price for you and me who would still, be dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) and of all men, most pitiable.
   Moreover, the Apostle Peter further says,
   “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words …” (2 Pet. 2:1-3). 
   “… Springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved …” (2 Pet. 2:17) are they, “speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption …” (Verse 18-19).
   Peter gives vivid details of how false prophets act saying that they are self seeking, committers of lawlessness, indulgers of the flesh, despisers of authority, etc.

The Tree is Known by Its Fruit
   Peter’s observation is strikingly similar to the works of the flesh mentioned by Paul, his peer Apostle, who in the letter to the Galatians wrote,
   Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities,  strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh, Galatians 5:19-21.
   By these then, the fruit produced by the works of the flesh, identify the false prophet. The Master Yahshua, under Whose tutelage the Apostle was instructed, first proffered a description of a false prophet:
   Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn [bushes] nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits, Matthew 7:15-20.
   By all these characteristics, we are thoroughly furnished to know and distinguish the good from the evil, and truth from error; to know and distinguish, a fellow sheep from a hungry wolf.
   In speaking of the men of religion of His day, and to whom the trust of the Torah and the Prophets had been committed, He charged them, saying,
   “You are doing the deeds of your father. … You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:41, 44). 
   Children often follow in their fathers’ footsteps. So also, those who are children of the evil one will bear his traits – principally, lying, accusing, and murdering (spiritually). Therefore, false prophets in working against Yahweh, are by default working for Satan, and they will bear his fruits – leading people astray from the truth of Yahweh’s word; mixing lies with truth ever so subtly; drawing the sheep, weak in the faith, away from the flock – condemning them to a sentence deprived of eternal life – and, from the shepherd that guards them and whom also, they will accuse as the deceiver.

Two Notable Examples of False Prophets
   The Scriptures provide us with examples of behaviors of ancient false prophets. Balaam, the son of Beor, and a non-Israelite diviner was probably the most infamous false prophet in all Scripture. In Numbers, Chapter 22, we read he had been summoned by Balak, the king of Moab to curse Israel. It would appear that in his refusal to honor Balak’s request, that he had the favor of Yahweh but as with Satan of which we are taught in Job 1:12, Balaam could not indeed speak but what he had been bid by Yahweh to speak.
   A case might be made that his reply, “I will bring word back to you, as Yahweh may speak to me,” to the king’s emissaries, and forthwith his dismissal of them would suggest him honorable. But afterward, with the return of more numerous and more highly esteemed than the former, and with the pledge of more abundant honor and the greater pecuniary reward, Balaam established the conditions for his “divining” in favor of Balak, saying, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of Yahweh my Elohim” (Num. 22:18) … this last, but an affirmation that he could speak nothing but what He had been bid of Yahweh, though it is certain that Yahweh was not his Elohim.
   Three times, Baalam spoke to Balak in favor of Yahweh blessing Israel. He could do nothing else, except to advise the princes of Moab and Midian to lay a snare for Israel (Num. 31:16, 25:1-3).
   In this account we see the wickedness of Balaam, that he still cursed Israel by teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before Israel, thus bringing a curse through their own disobedience with the outcome that 24,000 of Israel were slain for their whoredom through Yahweh’s execution. Balaam’s sin was recompensed him, as he was slain with the five kings of Midian (Num. 31:8).
   Another which comes to mind is Bar-Joshua (called bar Jesus in most English translations) mentioned in Chapter 13 of the book of Acts. He was set at variance with, and at enmity against the Apostles Paul and Barnabas.
   When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Joshua, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of Yahweh. But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also [known as] Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of Yahweh? Now, behold, the hand of Yahweh is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Master, Acts 13:6-12.
   In this account we see again that false prophets are sons of the evil one, bearing both his will and character, in seeking to turn people from the narrow path of salvation. This account makes clear that false prophets are enemies of all righteousness and will stop at nothing to destroy the works of righteousness.

Identifying False Prophets Today
   Now, that we have looked at ancient false prophets let’s look at present/future false prophets. In Matthew, Chapter 24, Yahshua tells us, saying,
   “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will mislead many … At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many ... Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Messiahs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them” (Matt. 24:4-5, 10-11, 23-26). 
   Many false prophets and messiahs will arise in the latter days, either claiming to be Messiah or professing Yahshua is the Messiah but proceed to lead people astray by teaching false doctrine. We have already established preaching from the Word is prophesying and anyone doing so is a prophet by definition.
   The Apostle, in his instruction to the believers at Thessalonica, declared,
   Do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything [carefully]; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22.
   No man can lay a foundation of truth but what hasn’t already been laid, which is Messiah Yahshua (1 Cor. 3:11). Every man’s work (doctrine) will be tested and become evident, because it will be revealed by fire … that fire, being the Word. The Word of Yahweh is like a fire; It will burn false doctrines like chaff and true doctrine will be shown pure by the fire.
   One principal false doctrine is this idea of hyper-grace ... taught by some, that declares that no matter what you do, you can’t lose your salvation – very deceptive and blatantly false, Scripturally.
   A second false doctrine promulgated by some, is the ‘prosperity gospel.’ It basically claims that Yahweh wants us to be abundantly prosperous in life, and that we won’t experience anything bad happening to us. Experiencing adversity, they say, occurs because of a lack of faith. This teaching mixes truth with lies. Yahweh does want us to prosper and to live life abundantly (John 10:10) as He promises blessings if we obey, and curses if we don’t. Then He urges us to choose life, as it is written:
   See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity … I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, Deuteronomy 30:15, 19.
   Yahweh both wants to, and will give us, blessings if we obey. However, disobedience brings a curse and misery. And though all that live righteously will suffer tribulation (John 16:33) and persecution (2 Tim. 3:12), they which do live righteously and suffer for it, are not appointed to His wrath (1 Thess. 5:9). We should expect to be hated, because of His Name … seeing we are not above the Master (Matt. 10:22, 25; John 15:18).
   Yes, bad things do happen to good people which manifest that physical prosperity, though fleeting, will give place to eternal, spiritual prosperity if we endure to the end.
   On the other hand, if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. … Yahweh will judge His people. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the the hands of the living Elohim, Hebrews 10:26-27, 30-31.
   Sin is lawlessness, and whoever practices sin is of the devil (1 John 3:4). It should be a terrible loss, on the day of judgment, to receive His declaring, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:23)
   His grace is unmerited favor that is granted to us. We don’t deserve it, but Yahweh gives it to us on the condition we repent of our sins. Repentance isn’t just an “I’m sorry” attitude. To repent means to make a 180 degree turn from sin to Yahweh. It means to change one’s mind, henceforth reflected in a change in one’s behavior. This doesn’t mean you will never sin again or that you won’t stumble, but it does mean you will be wanting and doing better day by day as you are conformed more and more into the image of our Messiah.
   False prophets abound, too, in pronouncing the day, month, year of Messiah’s second coming. Perhaps, they should inform Him, as He plainly affirmed that of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone, Mark 13:32.
   Nevertheless, no matter how many times some predict His second advent, and that time passes and He is still not returned, people still place their faith in these false prophets.
   Characteristically, too, false prophets are anti-nomian – that is, without Law (the Torah) – teaching the Law has been abolished, twisting the Scripture … making “the handwriting of ordinances” (Col. 2:14, KJV) a thing contrary to us, and thus, blotted out and nailed to Yahshua’s tree, so now, we can eat pork, keep sabbath any day we want, or even disregard it, etc. We have already seen that anyone teaching the Law doesn’t have to be kept is a false prophet and we aren’t to listen to them (Deut. 13:1-5). They which teach all these false doctrines “will incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1) because they are responsible for those who hear them. They bear the consequences, whether good or bad, for the result their teachings have on their hearers. It is, however, no less incumbent upon those hearers who have been instructed by the Master both to take heed to what (Mark 4:24) and how (Luke 8:18) they hear. Solomon in his wisdom, instructs, saying, Cease, my son, to hear the instruction [that causeth] to err from the words of knowledge, Proverbs 19:27 KJV.
   We defer to the Apostle Paul’s advice to his young protégé, Timothy:
   “… instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of Elohim which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertion” (1 Tim. 1:3-6).

   Yahshua, of course, must have the first and the last word – strong words of rebuke, with which he addressed to the false teachers of His day, and which are as applicable to men today –
   In His discourse in Matthew, Chapter 23, He rails upon scribe and Pharisee alike, who were charged with teaching the Torah to the people, but who imposed the heavy burdens of their traditions – borne out of the oral law … esteemed higher than what Yahweh had codified in the Torah – and which, neither they observed. He charged them with compassing sea and land to make to themselves proselytes, and when they were made, shutting up the Kingdom of Heaven against them … neither entering in themselves (Verses 23:13, 15).
   Then, He proceeded to pronounce no fewer than eight woes upon them for their hypocrisies, calling them fools and blind guides (Verses 16, 17), and having “neglected the weightier provisions of the Law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Verse 23).
   Yes, quite would He reveal their feigned nature: like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful but inside, full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness; outwardly, appearing righteous to men but inwardly, full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Verses 27-28).
   Yes, they which coveted the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the market places and being called by men “Rabbi,” He instead, referred to them as “serpents” and a “brood of vipers” who would not escape the sentence of the lake of fire (Verses 6-7, 33).
Such are they, today, as well. And such will also, be their sentence the day on which they will give account before Him Whose judgment is according to Truth (Rom. 2:2 KJV).

-Brother Lucas Bentley

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