When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 18:22 (KJV)
Presumptuously – The Hebrew word zadown means “pride”. The prophet who speaks in the name of God, and his prophecy doesn’t come to pass, that prophet is prideful. He is assuming authority where it is not granted. This is one of the most dangerous actions for a people to endure, and that is why the punishment for this action was death (Deuteronomy 18:20).
It is the cause of the first sin that we’re aware of – Lucifer’s pride against the Almighty YHWH caused him to be thrown down from heaven. Lucifer was grasping for authority that was not granted to him. This is the false prophet – the man who claims the authority of God falsely. This action deceives people and it bears bad fruits.
All it takes is one time, one false prophecy to be considered a false prophet. It happens when a man presumes too much in his favor. A man confidently goes to speak in the name of God without ever being called. It is presumptuous. Sure, it might be out of love, or a desire to help, but it is wrong nonetheless.
So what do we do with this?
Do we twist the prophet’s words so that we might find some spiritual meaning? Do we cover up and carry on as if nothing happened? Or do we rightfully discern and judge by the Word of God?
Accountability needs to happen. If a matter was foretold and did not come to pass, it is not of God, and that man does not speak for God. We might be concerned that we don’t want to chase someone away, or that we don’t want to stifle the Spirit, but who is the one that shows love? Is it the man that allows this to continue and says nothing, or is it the man that rebukes the false prophet and offers correction so that he may repent and return to God? I would argue it’s the latter.
Are you a witness to a false prophecy? What have you done about it? We are called to give righteous judgment (John 7:24). Do you love your brother who performed the wrong action? Then reach out to them in love and call him back to repentance. It’s a life and death situation – it matters – make it count.