Points to Ponder: Dealing with non-prophet ministries

Points to Ponder
Dealing with non-prophet ministries

I wrote this two days before it was to happen. You are reading it over two weeks after the "non-event." A radio preacher stating that the "rapture" would happen on May 21, 2011 issued a prophecy. The word itself is not in the Bible, but the idea it describes (rapture means to be "caught up") is found in Paul's letter to the Thessalonian Christians.
"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:15-17).
The Bible says that Christ will take away from the earth those who are His (both living and dead) prior to the Tribulation period and subsequent judgment of the world. It is the beginning of the end of history.
There have been false prophets across the centuries. Jesus said they would arise (Matthew 24:23-24).
In Moses' final messages to the Israelites before they would be entering the Promised Land, he warned of false prophets, calling them "dreamers of dreams." And when they utter prophecy as if speaking for God, he warned the people to not listen to them. Moses said that the Lord is "testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 13:3).
I have heard radio and television news programs covering this "prophecy." The reporting has been fair and without the scoffing tone one might expect from the media. What is sad and dangerous in this nationwide topic of discussion is that the atheists, the agnostics, and those skeptical of the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture are being inoculated against biblical truth. When a man steps up on the national stage, confident that he is smarter than the Bible, he damages the credibility of true men and women of God.
As the Israelites were entering a land filled with idolatry of all sorts, God took seriously the arrogance of any of His own people who would dare speak falsely in His name.
"But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die" (Deuteronomy 18:20).
How would one know that such a person is a false prophet?
"...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 18:22).
Today, it's a fundamental measure of whether a prophet or preacher is a true man or woman of God; if they claim to know the date of Christ's return (the final judgment, or any aspect of Christ's second coming), this is a false prophet.
Jesus gave clear warning:
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Matthew 24:36).
When Jesus was preparing to ascend to heaven, the disciples asked about when He would restore the Kingdom to Israel. He did not answer that question specifically, but issued a general statement with regard to date-setting:
"And He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father has put in His own authority'" (Acts 1:7).
As He ascended to heaven, they stood looking up, watching Him rise out of their sight. Two men in white apparel (Acts 1:10-11) asked them why they were looking up into the sky. The implication? Jesus gave His followers an assignment, to be witnesses to Him and to make disciples. Jesus had said in Matthew 24:14 that when the gospel reaches all the nations on earth (and only He can know when that will be completed), "then the end will come."
What this current false prophecy has accomplished is: millions of people focused their attention on the deceiver and those deceived by him. They fervently proclaimed a message, which Jesus said no human being can have. "It is not for you to know..." (Acts 1:7).
Most of the 27 books of the New Testament warn of hypocrites, false teachers, and "wolves in sheep's clothing" (Matthew 7:15). This is normal. If this discourages you, then they have succeeded. Before his execution, Paul wrote,
"But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of..." (II Timothy 3:13-14a).

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring, MD (1/4 mile east of Clear Spring on Rt. 40). These articles (and sermons) are also found at www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 10:45pm, both days.