The False Prophet
False prophets speaks lies and words that their clients want to hear (1Kin 22). They are ‘misled’ and ‘guided astray’ (Isa 9:15-16). Their messages are always “pleasant things” and they “speak illusions” (Isa 30:11) and from their own ‘imagination’ (Ezek 13:17-21). They proclaim peace but peace never happens (Jer 28:9) and Jeremiah uses this tactic to force a false prophet to set a timeline for peace from Babylon which never materializes (Jer 28:16). Thus we can learn that the false prophet is in rebellion towards God for refusing to submit to his rule and believe his word.
They command true prophets not to speak in the name of the Lord (Jer 11:21). He expects his word to come true even though God hasn’t spoken to him and God’s hand is against these people (Ezek 13:8-9). Work for money and tailor their message to those who are paying (Mic 3:5, 11). They are also arrogant and treacherous (Zeph 3:4).
According to Jeremiah, false prophets lie, do not have ‘the word in them’ (Jer. 5:13, 31) Deception is part of the way of the false prophet (6:13, 8:10) though what kind of deception isn’t clarified directly, but we do know the “word of the Lord is offensive” to many who are erring (6:10, 8:9). There is also the prophesying of peace when in fact judgment is upon the land (6:14, 8:11). They will be exposed to disgrace in life and death by having bones strewn upon the ground (8:1-3). They are not sent by, appointed by or spoken to from God. There false words come from 4 arenas: false visions, divination (spirit world), idolatry (false worship), mental delusion (inner leading) (Jer 14:14) False prophets use power unjustly (23:10), lead people astray to 9false worship of Baal) (23:13), commit adultery and live lies (23:14), their ministry spreads ungodliness (23:15). Speak vision from own minds (23:16), say to enemies of God that peace is theirs (23:17). False prophets declare “I had a dream!” (23:25). Steal words and phrases from one another (23:30). Given vision of figs in temple and God interprets the vision (ch 24). Immorality/adultery is a sign of false prophet (Jer 29:23).
The Fate of the False Prophet in the OT
The people of God are instructed to kill the false prophet(s) who leads people into idolatry according to Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and we see Elijah doing just this in 1Kings 18:40 where he rounds up the prophets of Baal and has them slaughtered after the great display of God’s power on Mount Carmel.
Miriam’s story is an interesting one. She is called a prophet in Exodus 15:20 and she sings of God’s faithful deliverance but at one point in her life she also speaks presumptuously and talks poorly about Moses and his wife to which God quickly judges her with leprosy (Numbers 12:1-10). Thus the words of the prophet, even when they are not spoken as ‘thus saith the Lord’are important. The life of the prophet should be one of godly character, lest they fall under the judgment of the Lord.
The False Prophet in the NT
Jesus assumes that false prophets will exist in his day and in the days to come (Mat 7:15). Therefore he instructs his disciples to ‘watch out’ for them and to discern the true prophet from the false, just as Moses had instructed. But this time, the people of God are to look at the fruit of the prophet. Is there good fruit? Is there evidence of knowing God, not just talking about God or talking for God, but truly knowing God (Mat 7:22-23).
Matt 24:11 in context implies that the false prophet is the one who claims “I am the Christ” (Matt 24:5) These false prophets and false Christs will have great power to do signs and miracles but they are deceivers (Mat 24:24, Mark 13:22). False prophets may be treated well by people (Luke 6:26). The false prophet Elymas opposed the gospel and tried to keep someone from turning to the truth (Acts 13:6-8)