Many claim that if the prophecy hasn’t been fulfilled, that’s a false prophecy:
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; – Deuteronomy 18:21-22
God warns us to test the spirits..
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
Deuteronomy 18:21-22 was said through Moses, to the people, when they were scared to hear God’s voice directly. We, on the other hand, are living in a time where the work of Christ has been fulfilled on earth which in return has bridged the gap between us and God. Through Christ, we can approach God, and now we are enjoy intimacy with God. Prophecy then takes on a different meaning to what it was like then.
We need to remember prophecies don’t necessarily take place instantly.. It often does tarry. Remember the prophecy announcing the birth of Jesus on earth. It took well over 2000 years to see it’s fulfilment. In the time preceding this fulfilment, people who didn’t get to witness it, going by the logic of ‘what does not happen or come to pass’ would then have claimed that to be a ‘false prophesy’.
Joseph saw the vision and declared the prophecy. Yes, many people claim he spoke hastily and saw his destruction. I, however believe, that was his declaration of faith despite it all being impossible from the human eyes. He saw it in the spiritual realm and held on in faith, trusting God to make it come to pass despite the seeming detour and the decades of time in between. His brothers, the very ones who ridiculed him sent him off his way thinking that would prevent the fulfilment.. and thought they had the last laugh. That very act was what initiated the trip to make it where God wanted him to be! Ultimately the ones who scorned him were at his mercy for survival – that is an amazing example of how God exalts those who humble themselves before God.
Time can lapse, things can go the exact opposite way to what is being prophesied or being revealed.. but that doesn’t make it a false prophecy! People who don’t comprehend the spiritual realm – like Joseph’s brothers, all who belonged to God mind you – will poke fun and try to stop it.
Jonah ran the opposite direction when God called him to utter a prophecy to the people. He thought heading to Tarshish could help. Why did he run? He knew that if the people repented, God would relent.. and do away with the punishment, which thus meant that his ‘prophecy’ wouldn’t come to pass… A matter of pride perhaps.. but Jonah felt it was better to flee from the scene instead. Of course, God intercepted and Jonah came back.. and later sulked too!
Yes, repentance from the people the prophecy is uttered to can change things around and thus the prophecy of warning would obviously not come to pass.
Obviously all the instances above were not false prophecies despite the time delay or it not coming to pass in the way the wording was.
There are also times, when given a prophecy, the recipient of the ‘Word’ has a hardened heart, pushing it away.
I recall when I was still a new Christian, God gave me a verse and I knew instinctively that He was calling me to full time ministry. By this time, I already had glimpses to the fact that I would be a missionary – much to my dismay I must admit as I longed for stability. When I took that Rhema word to the ladies who were discipling me, both of them responded that it was possible that I was called to the healing and deliverance ministry but not now. Both of them gave me human reasoning.
I embraced an opportunity of career advancement at that same time. Another friend warned me that I was making the wrong decision. It turned out that she was right, not the ‘leaders’. This of course took place over a matter of months but there are times when recipients are too hard heartened, that they ‘refuse’ to hear what God is saying through the word.
Scripture says that a carnal mind is at enmity with God, and He does not reveal His will to His enemies, but only to His friends. It is only the renewed mind that finds the will of God – Derek Prince
When minds still have a foot in the carnal realm they are unable to know God’s perfect and pleasing will. This often happens with the situations of marriage partners, where one finds the will but the other pushes it away and instead does an Adam – blameshifts . Hence, the prophesy isn’t a false word, but rather the response to it was of disobedience or denial.. which may yet come to pass over a prolonged elasticated time period if that person’s heart is pliable in God’s hands, or if that person would repent and be humbled.
As a new Christian, I was excited when I began to hear God’s voice and see visions.. Being a blabber mouth by nature, I would blurt it out especially to those who are close to me. I would also analyse it with human wisdom instead of waiting for God’s interpretation.. or instead of waiting to be humbled to be the messenger and not necessarily understand why it is being given to the recipient.. Sometimes, I have learned that God gives me a revelation not to share it with the person but rather intercede to wage warfare and release the person from the particular situation that would have been detrimental. That doesn’t mean the prophecy was wrong but rather, it wasn’t necessary to know what was going on behind the scenes.
Yes, there are times I have erred so much that I have distorted the word.. Does that make me a false ‘prophet’ so to speak? Definitely not! It makes me a human being who makes mistakes and learns through mistakes, and simply desires to keep trying… and over the years, I’m getting there!
Of course people have called me names because they don’t understand the things of the spirit as they are obviously not in a relationship with God. A true leader would build up and encourage to steer the younger Christian to the narrow path.. A person who assumes to be a leader, who isn’t enjoying intimacy with God, will criticise, condemn, discourage, reject and even label the one who desires to operate in the Spirit, as ‘mental’.
God sees the heart and doesn’t look at the appearances. Over a period of time, the fruit of someone’s life will be tested.. That is how we can evaluate ‘false prophesy’. What is the life of the ‘vessel’ like? Does it display sincere fruit of the Spirit (not sugar coated sweetness) or is more acts of the flesh which includes selfish ambition and greed and envy?