Deuteronomy 13—Dealing With Both Carnal and False Prophets

Deuteronomy 13:1, If there arise a prophet.

In the modern (especially Charismatic) church not only is the term “prophet” carelessly thrown about, but so is the term “false prophet,” which is often applied to any Christian who simply “misses” hearing the word of Elohim correctly, but isn’t guilty of leading Elohim’s people astray spiritually into heathenism. We need to fine tune our use of these words and learn how the Bible uses them and then do the same.

For years, I also had been using the term false prophet too broadly and generically (as many in the church do) to apply to those who either prophecy presumptuously out of the dictates of their own heart, or who hear a word from Elohim but incorrectly interpret it or misapply it (as was the case with Nathan the prophet who repented for telling David incorrectly that it was YHVH’s will for him to build the temple), as well as to those evil prophets who lead YHVH’s people away from the Truth of Elohim and into paganism.

The term “false prophet” is not to be found in the Tanakh (or Old Testament) at all, and is only occurs several times in the Testimony of Yeshua (or New Testament) and is applied to patently evil, satanic individuals. Therefore, based on the biblical evidence, it is incorrect to apply this term to a godly individual who, for example, makes an accurate prophecy, but gets the dates wrong, or somehow misinterprets a prophetic message from YHVH. 

Although the term “false prophet” isn’t found in the Tanakh, there are many warnings given against individuals who, through their false prophecies, lead YHVH’s people astray into idolatry or who don’t urge the people to repent and get back to YHVH’s straight paths of Torah-obedience, or who otherwise involved in ungodly activities (e.g. Deut 13:1–5; 18:20–22; Jer 23:9ff; 28:1ff; Ezek 13:2ff; Isa 28:7). The term “false prophet” doesn’t strictly apply to a godly person who isn’t leading YHVH’s people into apostasy.

Therefore, based on the biblical evidence, the godly person who “misses it,” so to speak, should be more correctly called a presumptuous prophet (Deut 18:22), or foolish prophet (Ezek 13:2) or a carnal prophet (i.e. who speak out of the flesh; Ezek 13:1). Based on scriptural evidence, I can see no justification for applying the derogatory term “a false prophet” to a Christian who simply misinterprets a prophetic word from Elohim, or who erroneously adds their own ideas to the prophetic word while assuming they are from heaven. One should be wary of such a “prophet,” and, if possible, teach him or her how to hear and interpret a prophetic word correctly from Elohim, but the church should not reject them as a false prophet. For this reason and for the purpose of accountability, Paul instructed the saints in Jerusalem (and us) to judge the prophets who prophesy in the local congregation (1 Cor 14:29) to insure that what they are saying is indeed from Elohim and lines up with his Written Word.

Deuteronomy 13:1–6, A prophet or a dreamer … a sign or a wonder. A prophet may claim to receive his or her vision or “word from YHVH” while they are awake in a vision or in a dream while asleep (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 1007). According to Rashi (the Jewish Torah commentator), a sign is a supernatural event in heaven while a wonder is a miraculous event on earth. There are those among the people of YHVH who, as Adam Clarke states in his commentary on this verse, “pretend to have a divine influence, so as to be able perfectly to direct others in the way of salvation” or shows some “miraculous proof of his mission … or some type of representation of what he wishes to bring you over to” (vol. 1, p. 774). Yeshua warned about false prophets in the latter days who would deceive many (Matt 24:11) and false messiahs who might even deceive the “very elect” (verse 24). Paul talks about a “man of sin” that would arise showing signs and lying wonders such that some would fall from the truth of the salvation message of the gospel (2 Thess 2:1–12). Paul warns, “do not be soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word … let no man deceive you by any means (verses 2–3). He then (in verses 15–17) encourages the brethren to stand fast in the simple truths of the gospel of Yeshua:

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Master Yeshua the Messiah himself, and Elohim, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work.

As you learn more about the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith and the Written Torah-Word of YHVH, are you being led astray from the simple Word of YHVH, whether as found in the Tanakh (OT) or in the Testimony of Yeshua (NT) by people claiming to speak as an oracle from heaven? Deuteronomy 13:3 says that YHVH proves his people “to know whether you love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul.” Jude, the half brother of Yeshua, speaking of the spiritual delusion to occur in the last days exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). Are you standing firm and earnestly contending every day or are you being allured by the siren’s song of the false prophets and teachers who lead people away from the gospel truth into spiritual delusion and eternal oblivion?

There is no place in the Scriptures that indicates that the ministry of the prophet isn’t still valid within the body of Yeshua today (see Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 14 entire chapter; also Joel 2)—and all the more so as the time of Yeshua’s return draws near (see Joel 2:28–30).

How then can we tell the true from the false prophets? One simple test is this: All the true prophets of the Bible were obedient to the Torah and often their message involved rebuking YHVH’s people for Torahlessness and urging them to repent. This is one of the major biblical proofs to determine the validity of a prophet: they are Torah-obedient. Beware of any modern so-called “prophet” who in any way denigrates, speaks derisively of or is ignorant of the Torah Regardless of whether one calls oneself a prophet, or whether men call someone a prophet is irrelevant. His living in accordance with and pointing people to YHVH’s Torah-Word is a key factor validating the legitimacy and accuracy of his prophetic ministry.

Deuteronomy 13:4, You shall walk. This verse reads from the Masoretic Text (or MT, the standard Hebrew text from which nearly all English Bibles are translated) as follows:

You shall walk after YHVH your Elohim, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible quoting the Dead Sea Scrolls renders this verse as follows:

You shall walk after YHVH your Elohim, and you shall serve him, and listen to his voice, and cling to him, and fear him, and keep his commandment.

The editors of The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (DSSB) comment that the syntactical (word order) variation between the two versions is significant, since the latter reading offers a definition of what it means to follow Elohim and a sequence in which the specified actions should be undertaken (p. 166, translated by Abegg, Flint and Ulrich). It could be reasoned that the sequence of steps in the believer’s growth in their walk with YHVH is more accurately stated in the DSSB.

Deuteronomy 13:5, 9–10, Put to death.It is not possible to follow this command today and to put to death apostate false prophets Therefore, all that we can do is first to warn the false prophet, and, if they fail to repent of their error, to put the false prophet out of our midsts or to walk away from, that is, to ignore and to have nothing to do with such a person. It would also be wise to publicly identify and then to warn others away from the false prophet. Following Yeshua’s instructions in Matthew 18:15–20 would be applicable here.

Deuteronomy 13:18, The voice of YHVH your Elohim.What is the voice of YHVH? Is it not the Torah commandments that he audibly thundered from Mount Sinai to the Israelites and dictated to Moses from the Most Set-Apart Place in the tabernacle? Do we have the right to be selective in our hearing and are you one who “does what is right in his own eyes” (Deut 12:8)? Do you make excuses why YHVH’s words do not apply to you, why you are an exception to the rule and why your situation is unique and special? Perhaps your finances, your marriage, your health, your family relationships and other areas in your life are a mess because you are not obeying YHVH’s voice. Stop and reflect for a moment on this. Let the Spirit of Elohim speak to or convict you on this matter. Then repent and resolve before YHVH to change your attitude and course of life today!


2 thoughts on “Deuteronomy 13—Dealing With Both Carnal and False Prophets

    • I’ve never heard the so-called leaders or teachers in the prophetic Charismatic church ever make these distinctions. Probably because if they did it would be self-indicting in exposing them for who they really are——carnal prophets who largely prophesy out of the dictates of their own hearts!!!!!

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