7 Marks of a True Prophet

7 Marks of a True Prophet

Anyone who loves to study Bible prophecy should get acquainted with the men and women that the Bible calls prophets and prophetesses. Who are they and how were they identified? Are prophets those strange people, wearing strange clothes, eating strange things, preaching strange sermons, and doing strange things that no one understands?

It was a great and distinct honor to be a prophet of the living God. That’s why there were so many false prophets in Israel. The prophets anointed kings, performed miracles, and predicted the future.

At the same time, a prophet’s assignment could also bring great danger, difficulty, and even death. As God’s mouthpiece and spokesman for predicting and previewing the future, the prophet was called to speak God’s uncompromising message to an often rebellious people, which frequently brought reproach, opposition, criticism, and even execution.

Throughout history, many people have claimed to be a prophet and made several predictions about the future. How do we distinguish between true prophets and false prophets? In this post, we will look at the 7 distinguishing marks of a true prophet

The Test of a Prophet

The true word and way of God have always been plagued by imitation and counterfeiters. For this reason, the Lord established a clear set of test questions a person had to pass to be received as a true spokesman for God.

Four main passages in the Old Testament deal with false prophets.

Deuteronomy 13:1-14

In this passage, Moses warns the people that there may arise from among them prophets or dreamers who could also accurately predict the future or produce a sign or a wonder. So, they must be careful and not believe them right away. Instead, they should allow God to bring confirmation as it would be unusual for God to speak alone through a dream without confirmation.

Deuteronomy 18:15-22

In this passage, Moses makes a distinction between a true and false prophet.

First, Moses tells the nation of Israel that the Lord God will raise up for them a (true) Prophet like him from their midst, from their brethren, and they should listen to Him for God will put His words in His mouth and will speak to them everything that God will command Him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).

A false prophet on the other hand, who presumes to speak a word in God’s name, but speaks in the name of other gods shall die (Deuteronomy 18:20). How shall the people know he is a false prophet? If the thing that he speaks does not happen or come to pass, it means the Lord has not spoken through him (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

Jeremiah 23:9-40

This passage describes the pain inflicted on Jeremiah by the false prophets.

True prophets know how serious it is to be called by God to declare His word, and they accept the responsibility with fear and trembling. So, when they see self-styled prophets living like sinners, they grieve.

No wonder Jeremiah had a broken heart and trembled like a drunken man. He realized what the false prophets were doing to the people and the land, and it makes him sick. The false prophets were committing adultery and walking in lies.

Ezekiel 12:21-14:11

In Ezekiel 12:21-28, Ezekiel’s messages rang with the certainty and the nearness of God’s judgment on Jerusalem and the land of Judah. But the people were quoting a proverb that may have been devised by the false prophets to humiliate Ezekiel.

Because Ezekiel’s prophecies had not been fulfilled immediately the people started paying more attention to the false prophets than to the Word of God. The visions of the false prophets were false and misleading (Ezekiel 12:23).

In Chapter 13 of Ezekiel, God declared that the false prophets had spoken only lies and explained how He would judge them.


7 Distinguishing Marks of a True Prophet

In the above passages and many others, Scripture presents at least seven key distinguishing marks of a true prophet. These marks were not always present in every case, but certainly, in some cases they were.

However, for any follower of God who really wanted to know, there would have been no question who was a true prophet and who was false.

1. The true prophet never used divination, sorcery, or astrology.

See Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Ezekiel 12:24; Micah 3:7. The source of the prophet’s message was God Himself.

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

2. The true prophet never tailored the message to cater to the desires of the people.

See Jeremiah 8:11; 28:8; Ezekiel 13:10.

The false prophets, or “pillow prophets” as some have described them, spoke the message that would bring them popularity and money. They were the “Fortune 500” prophets, the religious opportunists (see Micah 3:5-6, 11).

The true prophet spoke God’s unadulterated message regardless of personal loss, shame, and even physical harm.

3. The true prophet maintained personal integrity and character.

See Isaiah 28:7; Jeremiah 23:11; Hosea 9:7-9; Micah 3:5, 11; Zephaniah 3:4.

Jesus said that true and false prophets will be known by their fruits, that is, by what they do and say (see Matthew 7:15-20).

4. The true prophet was willing to suffer for the sake of the message.

When the prophet Micaiah, son of Imlah, prophesied the defeat of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, he was put in prison and was given nothing but bread and water (1 Kings 22:27-28).

Jeremiah was cast into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son when he declared the Word of the Lord saying, “Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but those who surrender to the Babylonians will live” (Jeremiah 38:4-13).

5. The true prophet announced a message that was consistent with the Law and the messages of other true prophets.

See Jeremiah 26:17-19.

The true prophet’s message must neither contradict nor disagree with the previous revelation of truth, but rather should confirm and build upon that body of truth (see Deuteronomy 13:1-3).

6. The true prophet, when predicting future events, had a 100 percent success rate.

See Deuteronomy 18:21-22.

Unlike the modern psychics, 25 percent (or even 99 percent) was not good enough! If alleged prophets were not 100 percent accurate, the people were to take them outside the city to stone them to death (see Deuteronomy 18:20).

7. The true prophet sometimes had the message authenticated by a miracle.

See Exodus chapter 5 to 12.

This test was not conclusive evidence, however, because false prophets also produced miracles on occasion (see Exodus 7:10-12; 8:5-7; Mark 13:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). Therefore, Moses added further aspects to this test in Deuteronomy 13:1-5.

The true test is the content of the message, not miracles. The true prophet spoke only in the name of the Lord and called people closer to God, not away from God.

Conclusion

As the saying goes, prophets were both foretellers and forth tellers. Although they are usually thought of as being announcers of the future, they spent most of their time proclaiming God’s words about the age in which they themselves lived.

But as the prophets delivered God’s message about the present, it naturally spilled over into the future as they threatened punishment or promised blessing.

Do prophets exist today?

There may not appear prophets today as in the Old and New Testament periods. However, it must be noted that God can still speak through people in whatever way He chooses to reveal certain information at certain times. And this information will not contradict what God has already revealed about Himself in His written word, the Bible.


Reference: The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock

The End by Mark HitchcockThe end times have seen a great amount of interest in the last two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and eschatology for more than five decades.

Mark Hitchcock’s book is a comprehensive resource for the twenty-first century. The End will do for eschatology what Randy Alcorn’s Heaven did for people’s understanding of heaven. It provides a solid biblical foundation for Christians to explore the essential truths around the topic of the end of the world.

The End lays out Biblical prophecy in a clear and understandable way explaining how to interpret Bible prophecy, pointing out key passages, events, and characters. It also discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the different views on the Rapture, the Millennium, and the chronology of end-times events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *