How long does a prophecy have to be fulfilled before someone is considered a false prophet? How long did it take for Isaiah’s prophecies about Israel to come true? Jeremiah’s? Many people know the scriptures about testing prophets to make sure we are not led astray. However, what we don’t know is that God’s time table is not our time table. While we do not know the timetable for prophecies unfulfilled, we can reflect on prophecies that were fulfilled in scripture and how long they took to be fulfilled.
The very first prophecy in history occurred when God himself said that the seed of Eve would crush Satan’s head. This was fulfilled in many shadows throughout the old testament in stories such as David and Goliath. However, it was ultimately fulfilled in the cross of Jesus Christ and his resurrection. That is a prophecy that took several thousands of years to be fulfilled.
However, there are other prophecies that happened very quickly. For example, Peter, in Acts, prophesied to Saphira that the men who buried her husband would bury her. She immediately fell down and died. This was pretty quick.
I think that most people in our time think if prophecy does not happen quickly, the prophet is a false prophet. Not at all. In fact, it says in 2 Peter:
2 Peter 3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Purpose of This Letter
3 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
The Coming Day of the Lord
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
A New Heaven and Earth
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
There are many things I can say about this. However, false prophets would be ones to get you to take your eyes off of the truths of God and the idea that we need to repent from sin and wickedness. The true prophets in the old testament, men like Isaiah and Jeremiah told of judgement, the cry for repentance to escape judgement and the promise of the mercy of God, even after judgement comes.
Jeremiah, in particular, endured GREAT persecution from the religious people, because they didn’t like his negative message. It wasn’t uplifting. It exposed their sin.
Did you know that Isaiah, who prophesied BEFORE Jeremiah, prophesied about Israel’s destruction for 45 YEARS before Daniel and his friends were taken into captivity?
God gave ample time for Israel to repent from their sin and to turn. How fair would it have been for God to have sent Isaiah 1 year ahead of time? Nope. It was the length of an entire generation. An entire new generation heard the message for years and they ignored it, for the most part.
In fact, I imagine how many people rolled their eyes when they heard
one. more. prophetic word.
Did you know that Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, endured persecution and prophesied for over 50 YEARS before the destruction of Jerusalem? Can you imagine giving that terrible message for 50 years? What a naysayer, right? What a doom and gloom prophet! In fact, I am sure they taunted him with name-calling and circulated rumors that he was, in fact, a false prophet. He didn’t have a single good thing to say to the nation of Israel of the day.
In closing. I want to remind you that there are godly men and women who have been warning America for a good 30-40 years or more of God’s judgement coming on the nation. Some of those prophecies are beginning to come true. For example, David Wilkerson’s book The Vision, written in 1974, has seen a majority of the things God showed him come true already in the past generation.
Do not be hasty to dismiss those whom God raises up. Do not mock them and say, “Things like this have been going on since America started.” Unless someone is setting dates for Christ’s return or saying something unbiblical, truly pray when you hear a person you know and respect speak what God is showing them. Ask the Lord to show you the truth and protect you from lies. If someone has an excellent track record and a Godly life and is showing a fruitful ministry with souls being saved and lives delivered, you may want to pay attention. Take it to the Lord and to his Word in prayer.
If it’s a random youtube video of someone you don’t know spouting conspiracy theories, that is different. Do NOT be led astray by every person who knows how to upload a youtube video. Anyone’s kindergartener can do that nowadays.
However, if someone godly says that God has shown them something, pray about it. Remember the time frame of Isaiah and Jeremiah, because time seems to be running out and it would be good to consider the option that we should be repenting and pouring out our lives to make sure that’s God’s desire “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” is fulfilled through our obedience and prayer.
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