While in church yesterday listening to our pastor talk about the Palm Sunday story of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey, an account that can be found in all four gospels (check out here for references), I found myself turning, for an obliquely related reason, to Matthew 24 and two verses in particular.
“11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
In my quest to understand the times and suggest how we (especially fellow Christians) should respond, I have found myself referring to all sorts of sources outside of mainstream media, which I have begun to distrust. One such person is David Icke (check here about him and here for some of what he has said and which I have listened to). Two mature Christians friends have decided NOT to check out what Icke has to say based on his outlandish claims; one example among many is that our Queen is part descended from a reptile race that is seeking to take over the world. While some “dubious” sources appear non spiritual / religious, Icke while not remotely subscribing to orthodox Christian belief, seems to be a espousing a New Age variant of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, one of many “the Church” has had to contend with over two millennia, and rejected.
While I do not apologize for referring to Icke, given what he says about the current Syrian crisis makes a good deal more sense than most other explanations on offer, I do believe he is a false prophet. While I recognize Icke is rightly calling people to ditch the deception he believes “the hidden hand” is trying to impose upon us, if his teachings are followed entirely those who do so will find themselves deceived. It got me thinking again about that desire among earnest Christians and other truth seekers, to understand the times we live in and respond in an appropriate way. It also got me asking the question: where are the modern day Sons of Issachar who understood the times and knew what people should do?
Later on when I did a Bible word search on prophets and prophecy, I was reminded that in the Bible there are rich pickings on this subject. While there have always been false prophets and the people of God were called to steer away from, it was clear God raised up prophets to warn and encourage his people, although all too often their words were ignored, often in favour of false prophets who tended to proclaim what the people wanted to hear rather than what God wanted them to know. My own “tradition” in Christianity, tended to regard prophets and prophecy as a thing of the past and we should look only to the Bible for what we need, as opposed to Pentecostal and Charismatic types that tended to see this as a gift that can still be manifested today for the benefit of those who hear. I tend to veer to the latter view these days, believing we should both test prophecy and not despise it. I have been helped by the prophetic word, but always there is a note of caution to be had, mindful of the words of Jesus that many will be deceived (referenced above).
I believe there is a calling upon believers to watch and pray. There is a warning that we live in perilous times (all too evident) and to test all teaching – following what is true and rejecting what is false. There is also a call for shepherds to shepherd the sheep, who might otherwise stray. And at the heart of all this is the gospel message (see here for my thoughts on this subject) which we are called to embrace and proclaim. Going back to Palm Sunday, when Jesus came into Jerusalem as a humble king, only to be rejected a few days later by the people who welcomed his coming, there is also a glorious hope. Yesterday much of the churches attention was on Palm Sunday, but this coming Sunday it will be on Easter Sunday, when it remembers the one who died and rose again. Soon and very soon the King (Jesus) will return in glory and put right that which is wrong, and it is about his Kingdom we must teach. And on the subject of prophets, Jesus epitomized how a true prophet should be, even though he is much more than that, and for those who aspire to being a prophet then our eyes must be firmly fixed upon Him.