Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
– Matthew 7:15, NIV-1978
Scripture provides clear direction for discerning between false prophets and true prophets of Yahweh. Chief among those tests is whether or not what the supposed prophets prophesied came to pass (Deuteronomy 18:22).
For example, the notorious Harold Camping has “prophesied” the end of the world to have occurred on no fewer than twelve specific dates, all of which have come and gone. I’m going to go out on the limb here and suggest that Harold Camping is a false prophet. That’s bold, I know, but my confidence is high.
Similar absurdities have fallen from the lips of Montanus, Johannes Stöffler, William Miller, Joanna Southcott, Hon-Ming Chen, and even a domesticated hen in Leeds which supposedly laid eggs with prophecies imprinted upon them.
All of this ridiculousness, and more, is widely available on the Internet, and we can enjoy a good laugh at such absurdities while simultaneously shedding a tear for the gullible minds that are led astray by them.
In scripture, when a prophet of God laid down a prophecy, those who heard him could inscribe it in stone. God’s prophets spoke truth, and those truths came to pass, no matter how strange the prophecy might have been.
Speaking of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem the week leading up to his death, Matthew quoted an odd prophecy from Zechariah, saying:
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to the Daughter of Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'”
– Matthew 21:4-5, NIV-1978
The picture is Jesus riding into Jerusalem – his “Triumphal Entry” – in a most non-triumphant way. Jesus rode into Jerusalem not on a well-bred, battle-hardened stallion, but on an unbroken donkey colt, exactly as Zechariah 9:9 said he would.
Well-versed in their own scriptures, the crowd quickly recognized that Jesus was fulfilling the Zecharian prophecy and thereby proclaiming himself to be their long-awaited Messiah. In response, the people began their own fulfillment of David’s prophecy, laying palm branches and cloaks in Jesus’ path, and crying out: “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
What the Roman soldiers seemed oblivious to was that this was a coronation march. The people were welcoming a new king! Had the soldiers realized this, they would likely have shut it down immediately.
All four gospels tell us of this event, but only Matthew’s gospel identifies it as the fulfillment of prophecy.
The king came, “righteous, and having salvation,” but it was not the salvation the people had in mind! It was not freedom from Roman subjugation but freedom from the cancer of sin and separation from our Maker.
But the prophecies continue.
Those who would crown a king at the beginning of the week called for the crucifixion of that same king by the end of the week. Following the influence of the jealous high priest, the fickle crowd now shouted for the murder of the one they would crown king. Their demands were granted.
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. – Zechariah 12:10, NIV-1978
Whereas the Jews wanted their anticipated king to come riding in with power, valiantly putting down their oppressors and enemies, they got something quite different, something perfectly aligned with the sayings of their prophets. And because the prophecies continue, we will see the triumphant king one day, and even more glorious and dominating than the Jews expected.
One More Prophecy to Go
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war . . . On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.– Revelation 19:11 & 16, NIV-1978
Just as precisely as every prophecy of Zechariah was fulfilled, stand firm through every coming trial brothers and sisters, because this one will be fulfilled with equal precision!
The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. – Zechariah 12:10, NIV-1978