Reading through the Bible together
Another wave of false prophecy emerges in the person of Hananiah. He predicted that in two years the nation would be restored and the Babylonian captivity will come to an end. He broke the yoke from Jeremiah’s neck. The people who were recipients of this prophecy had to compare it to what other prophets have said before Jeremiah.
In this chapter, Jeremiah helps the people to reflect on this: “The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many countries and great kingdoms of war and disaster and pestilence” (v. 8). But Hananiah is preaching peace to the people. One of the tests of a true prophet is that: “When the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent” (v. 9).
In the past few decades of our day we have experienced more predictions about the end of the world than we have in earlier centuries in history. Some of these have come with specific dates. These prophets and their prophecies have not measured up to the Word of God. We also need to bear in mind that this is one of the tests in case there might be a coincidence of events. Prophets of the modern days have to fulfill all the tests found in the Scriptures to be recognized as true prophets.
Passages of Scripture that may be used in testing a modern day claim to prophecy are such passages as Isaiah 8:20; Matt 7:15-20; 1 John 4:1-3. Ellen G. White is one such modern day prophet who has been subjected to such Biblical tests over a long period of time and proved to be a true prophet by meeting the criteria as presented by Scripture.
The warning in 1 John 4:1 is apt: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” This responsibility is not just given to theologians or pastors and leaders, every member must test the spirits for themselves and there is also room for a corporate responsibility in this regard.
“Dear Lord, help me to apply the test of a prophet to anyone who claims to be one or even speaks like one. Amen.”
Assoc. Professor and E.G.White Research Center Director
Helderberg College, South Africa