The accuracy of a Prophet
Prophets and there message are to be completely accurate. The test of complete accuracy is a starting point in determining if the message is from God. If the message or the signs accompanying it fail to occur, God is very clear that the ‘the prophet has spoken presumptuously’and ‘that is a message the Lord has not spoken’(Deuteronomy 18:22). False prophets and their messages should not be feared or heeded.
Some have argued that this Deuteronomy passage only relates to Jesus Christ as the ‘prophet like Moses’. And that this was a litmus test for determining the great prophet to come compared to the other prophets and this is no doubt a truth to this statement. But which message of God’s prophets never occurred. Did any of Isaiah’s or Jeremiah’s, Ezekiel’s or Daniel’s, Joel’s or Amos’or the messages and signs of the other prophets every fall to the ground unfulfilled? I can think of none. In fact, it was because of their complete accuracy and the fact that the Lord never let one of their words fall to the ground that the people of God recognized these men and women as prophets from God (1Samuel 3:19-20).
And it is because these men and women are ‘from God’and their message is ‘God’s message’that accuracy is so important because the words are from God and since they are from God, the messages of prophets require the full obedience of the people. Those who disobey are liable to be punished for rebellion against God as we see in many of the prophecies of the major and minor prophets.
Jehu is given a message of judgment upon Baasha, king of Israel that is very specific involving their deaths and all of this occurs (1Kin 14:11, 16:1-7, 16:12, 21:19, 21:24, 22:38).
Is this message from God?
It is important to recognize that not every message spoken by people and declared to be from God is in fact a message from the Lord Almighty. There are messages which are proclaimed to be ‘of God’which in fact are nothing more than the wishful thinking, or lies sent from evil spirits. 1Kings 22:22 talks about the lying spirits sent to deceive Ahab and these lying spirits were put ‘in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Jeremiah reminds us that ‘everyone’s own word becomes a message from God. So you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God’(Jer 23:36). Furthermore, there is a distinction to be made between dreams which are like ‘straw’and the word of God which is ‘grain’, ‘fire’and like ‘a hammer that breaks a rock to pieces (Jer 23:28-29).
Given this fact, it was important for the people of God to be able to accurately discern between the messages from God and the ones not from God. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 provides a series of litmus tests for such a situation. Interestingly enough, it is not supernatural occurrences that are to verify the message, for God makes it clear that false prophets may speak words that are corroborated by future events. The ability to predict the future is not the only indicator that a message is from the Lord. But what is an accurate indicator is whether the prophet and his message call people to worship the one true God. Messengers who are not sent from God may try to lead people into idolatry and false worship. Since this is true, God’s people must know the Scriptures in order to compare the message of the prophet to the revealed Word of God.
Should the message be obeyed?
Absolutely. Daniel ties the prophets to those who give the laws of God and he tells how his ancestors didn’t obey the prophets. Therefore if the prophets are truly of God there words must be heeded (Dan 9:10). Jeremiah makes it abundantly clear that they much be listened to or else the people will continue to sin and fall under judgment (Jer 7:25-26)