The First False Prophet
And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ — 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:21-22 NKJV
False prophets and false prophecy began in the Garden of Eden when the Serpent “prophe-lied” to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:4, 5).Remember, the serpent was crafty and cunning, and said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘you must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” But Eve knew the Word of God’s commandment that she and Adam could eat fruit from all the trees in the garden, except the fruit from the tree that was in the middle of the garden lest they die. But the Serpent, being a false prophet, “prop-lied” and said, “You will not surely die.” The prophecy immediately failed and Adam and Eve were naked, disappointed and humiliated (Gen. 3:1-7).
A false prophet is someone who intentionally prophesies with an agenda that is not God’s. The agenda of false prophets is usually money, fame, or power. In the Garden, the Serpent’s agenda was to lie to gain power over God’s creation—Adam and Eve.
To warn His listeners of false prophets, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the metaphor of sheep and wolves, and admonished them to beware of false prophets who come to you in “sheep clothing” (Matt. 7:15). So, how can you know if a prophet is false? False prophets look like sheep and sound like sheep, i.e., look the part and sound the part, but it is a mistake to judge them by an outward appearance only (1 Sam. 16:7). They may look like sheep but they attack like ravenous wolves; they are really dangerous predators, looking for prey to viciously attack with their lies. How can you really know? “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 (1 John 4:1). You test the spirits of prophets by the Word (Acts 17:11) and by the discerning of spirits (1 Cor. 12:10). Like the Serpent, a false prophet will not speak in line with Gods’ Word, neither minister with God’s Spirit.
A true prophet will speak “thus says the Lord” into a situation by proclaiming a true Word. A false prophet will also say “thus says the Lord” but speak lies rather than the truth to get you to put your trust in him/her rather than God. As God told Jeremiah, “Don’t let the false prophets and mediums who are there among you fool you. Don’t listen to the dreams that they invent, for they prophesy lies in my name. I have not sent them says the Lord” (Jer. 29:8-9 TLB).
The first false prophet was the Serpent who was motivated by power. He “prophe-lied” to Adam and Eve to draw them unto himself. After the prophecy failed, he introduced them into shameful confusion when his lies didn’t come to pass; and, in this day and time, the same spirit of the Serpent will cause the simple and unsuspecting to be led into the same deep deception (Rom. 16:18). Beware of false prophets!