Weekly Drash - Shoftim
Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
Shoftim - שפטים : “Judges”
Testing for a False Prophet
Thought for the Week:
In the case of would-be prophets, the Torah is like the rabbinical kosher-authority, checking to see if the product is kosher. If the prophet proves to be true and proves to be in concert with Torah, it is as if the Torah stamps that prophet with its heksher (kosher seal). Just as a kosher-keeping person is always careful to check to see if a particular food is kosher before popping it into his mouth, so too we should be careful to check to see if a particular prophet is kosher before heeding his words.
How do you tell a false prophet from a true prophet? The initial test for a prophet is offered by Moses. In Deuteronomy 18:21–22 it says, “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”
If a prophet prophesies a sign, a wonder or a prediction, and that prediction fails to come to pass, that person is to be regarded a false prophet and never heeded again. In fact, in the days of the Sanhedrin, such a prophet was liable to be stoned.
But does that mean that any prophet who prophesies something that does come true is a true prophet sent by God? No. There is a second criterion for determining a true prophet; a true prophet does not counsel against the commandments of God:
But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God … to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. (Deuteronomy 13:5)
From this passage, it is very clear that any prophet who counsels anyone against keeping God’s commandments is a false prophet. Thus the Torah teaches a two-fold criteria for a prophet of God. First of all, if a prophet predicts a thing that will come to pass, his prediction must prove true. If the sign, wonder or prediction fail him, his prophecy is disqualified. But if the miracle, sign or prediction does come true, even that does not make him a prophet of God. Instead, his message must also be consistent with the Torah. If in his message, he prophecies something contrary to the commandments of God, such as idolatry, he is a false prophet. Signs and wonders alone are not sufficient to verify a true prophet. He must also be tested against the Torah.
Yeshua taught His disciples to keep the Torah of God, even the smallest of the commandments, and all of His prophecies have proven true. Therefore, according to the Torah’s criteria, Yeshua checks out as a legitimate “kosher” prophet. He has the Torah’s own heksher upon Him. Since this is so, then we must consider all of His words as the true prophetic utterance of God.
Shavuah Tov! Have a Good Week!
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