The Chilling Side of Personal Prophecies

Grantley Morris

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Throughout the Bible, we find God choosing to communicate a personal message to individuals by speaking through another person. Today, with varying degrees of success, many people try to emulate this by giving personal prophecies.

Obviously, instances preserved in the Bible are genuine – other than certain ones the Bible clearly says are false (e.g. Jeremiah 23:16) – and, equally obviously, they should be treated as the standard by which other personal words from God should be judged.

Since God’s Word abundantly acknowledges the existence of false prophecies, and the New Testament is filled with warnings that false prophets (and teachers) will slip into the church and try to deceive (Proof), it is clear that care must be taken in determining whether a supposedly Spirit-filled utterance today is truly from God.

Judging any prophecy not enshrined within the covers of the Bible, is not disrespectful, but honoring God. In fact, the Lord requires it:

    1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 Don’t despise prophecies. Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good.

    1 Corinthians 14:29 Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the others discern.

    (Emphasis mine.)

The last word above, is translated judge in many versions (as in 1 Corinthians 6:5). In fact, in many contexts, the word means doubt (such as Mark 11:23; Acts 10:20; 11:12; Romans 4:20; 14:23; James 1:6). In Acts 11:2 and Jude 1:9 it is even used for a dispute.

There is not the slightest hint in the two Scriptures quoted above that the need to judge prophecies evaporates once a prophet has an established reputation. A person’s past record should obviously be considered, but no one can be regarded as incapable of erring. The Lord makes this crystal clear in such Scriptures as:

    Galatians 1:8 But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you any “good news” other than that which we preached to you, let him be cursed.

    1 Corinthians 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (NIV)

    1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall.

    Galatians 6:1  . . . if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted.

    James 3:1-2 Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment. For we all stumble in many things. . . .

An unmistakable example of the need for case by case discernment is seen in Peter, who one moment received Jesus’ highest commendation for receiving divine revelation, and the next earned a stinging rebuke for speaking from his own heart, not God’s (Matthew 16:17, 23). Even after Pentecost, Peter could get things quite wrong (Galatians 2:11).

An obvious factor in determining the reliability of a personal prophecy is whether it agrees doctrinally with Scripture. Another indicator is whether it agrees in tone with the many authentic examples the Lord has granted us in Scripture. With this in mind, we will sample a wide range of personal prophecies recorded in the Bible. (When we specifically look for them, the number is surprisingly high.) We will discover this startling difference with typical prophecies today: a much higher percentage of those in the Bible were quite sobering and contained what one might call bad news.

Even if it were a rebuke, every word from God is precious. And good. That by no means implies that every true prophecy is thrilling or instantly encouraging. In fact, you will find below abundant proof that personal prophecies are often not the exciting ego boost that is commonly supposed.

We’ll start with the theory, and then move to many biblical examples. In exploring the theoretical, we will examine both New and Old Testaments. For practical examples of personal prophecies, we will start with Jesus, our ultimate Example, then move on to other New Testaments examples of personal prophecies, and finally delve into Old Testament instances. Throughout, we will find an impressive consistency.

Before diving into the Bible for a quick-fire action-packed treasure hunt, however, we should consider the implications of 1 Corinthians 14. We cannot sidestep the glaring conundrum that something about it says about the spiritual gift of prophecy is either commonly misunderstood or is somehow at odds with the what the rest of Scripture indicates.

I am in no way suggesting that prophecy ever be used as an excuse for criticizing or judging anyone. That could quickly become a serious form of abuse. Nevertheless, engaging in the more obvious abuse of putting people down, is usually less tempting than spiritual abuse that has the potential to multiply the offender’s popularity and income. That’s the likely result of delivering prophecies that inflate people’s ego or excite them like winning a lottery.

To help us spot fakes, we need to discern the biblical pattern to which genuine personal prophecies could be expected to conform. So let’s, right now, develop a biblical picture of true prophecy.

People differ as to the amount of proof they need, but as soon as you become convinced, I suggest you return to the page to which this is merely as sidenote: Hurt & Confused by Fake Personal Prophecy.

I suggest you keep reading, but if you wish to jump to a section that particularly interests you, here’s your chance:

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What Edify Really Means

First Corinthians says that whoever prophesies edifies the church. This is sometimes taken to imply that prophecies cannot be somber or expose sin. Let’s look a little deeper:

    1 Corinthians 14:4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. (NIV)

The previous verse speaks of “edification, exhortation, and comfort” (King James Version). We’ll explore this later, but let’s start here.

The first thing to note is that this does not seem to be referring to prophecy directed at an individual, but prophecy addressed to the entire church. The contrast in this verse is between a gift that edifies an individual, with one that edifies everyone present. A prophecy given to an entire church immediately eliminates the jealousy and feeling left out (the opposite of edifying the church) that personal prophecies delivered in public often engender. The entire passage is about “when you come together” (1 Corinthians 14:26). In fact, church is mentioned nine times in this chapter (1 Corinthians 14:4, 5, 12, 19, 23, 28, 33, 34, 35) – far more than any other book in the Bible, except for being equaled in one chapter in Revelation, for the obvious reason that Revelation 2 contains many of the letters to the seven churches.

(Those letters, by the way, are prophecies to entire churches. As such, they seem closer to what Paul had in mind when writing about the use of spiritual gifts in the church. Six out of seven of Revelation’s prophecies to specific churches contained rebukes and unpleasant predictions – Proof.)

I have often seen prophecies given to individuals in a church setting. I don’t think I have ever seen the practice edify the church but, at most, only the individual recipients.

In the Greek New Testament, edify means to build, and is mostly used for the construction of a building or tomb/monument (used e.g. in Luke 6:49; 7:5; 11:47; 20:17). Of particular relevance is the thought of building a house/temple of God. (It is used, for example in 1 Peter 2:5: “You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house . . .” More). Being built up, however, must never be confused with being puffed up. Pride and/or complacency build up no one. On the contrary, they bring down people in an alarmingly deceptive way (Scriptures). Knowing that we will face trying times can build steely resolve. Consider, for example, how Paul and Barnabas strengthened the church:

    Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them . . . that through many afflictions we must enter into God’s Kingdom.

Moreover, the reference to prophecy edifying comes from the very passages that says:

    1 Corinthians 14:24-25 But if all prophesy . . . he is reproved by all, and he is judged by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed. . . .

The prophet Nathan did this for King David:

    2 Samuel 12:10-11  . . . the sword will never depart from your house, because you have despised me, and have taken Uriah the Hittite’s wife to be your wife.’
    This is what the Lord says: ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he will lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. . . .’

Consider also Jeremiah’s commission as a prophet:

    Jeremiah 1:10 Behold, I have today set you . . . to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. (Emphasis mine.)

His prophetic calling involved building, but also uprooting, tearing down, destroying and overthrowing. To build a structure that will last, one must first remove everything that threatens its stability. Hence the link between edification and the exposure of sin and bringing down anything that is not of God.

Who can deny that Scripture is edifying? Nevertheless, it is given “. . . for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

A genuine word from God must conform to God’s heart. With that in mind, consider this:

    Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I reprove and chasten . . .

Note also this divinely inspired directive:

    2 Timothy 4:2-3  . . . reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts

Here’s some biblical wisdom:

    Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me . . .

    Proverbs 9:8  . . . Reprove a wise person, and he will love you.

    Proverbs 12:1  . . . he who hates reproof is stupid.

    Proverbs 13:18  . . . but he who heeds correction shall be honored.

    Proverbs 15:32 He who refuses correction despises his own soul, but he who listens to reproof gets understanding.

    Proverbs 28:23 One who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than one who flatters with the tongue.

A true word from God can contain dire warnings. For instance:

    Genesis 2:17  . . . in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.

Contrast this with a false prophecy:

    Genesis 3:4-5 The serpent said to the woman, “You won’t really die . . . in the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God . . .”

If anyone has received distasteful personal prophecies, it is Jesus:

    Luke 18:31-32  . . . Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are written through the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be completed. For he will be delivered up to the Gentiles, will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit on. They will scourge and kill him. . . . (Emphasis mine.)

Compare this with an enticing satanic prophecy:

    Matthew 4:8-9 Again, the devil took him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He said to him, “I will give you all of these things . . .”

All the true prophecies in the Bible with dire warnings are far too numerous to cite. Here’s but one example:

    Jeremiah 15:13-14 Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder . . . because of all your sins throughout your country. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for my anger will kindle a fire that will burn against you. (NIV)

No wonder Jeremiah was imprisoned and, like many other biblical prophets, was despised by respected leaders and accused of undermining morale.

False prophets, on the other hand, had inspiring messages of hope:

    Jeremiah 23:17 They say continually to those who despise me, ‘The Lord has said, “You will have peace;”’ and to everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart they say, ‘No evil will come on you.’

    Jeremiah 14:13-15 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets tell them, ‘You will not see the sword, neither will you have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ . . .”
    Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in my name. I didn’t send them. I didn’t command them. I didn’t speak to them. They prophesy to you a lying vision, divination, and a thing of nothing, and the deceit of their own heart. Therefore the Lord says concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name, but I didn’t send them, yet they say, ‘Sword and famine will not be in this land.’ Those prophets will be consumed by sword and famine.
    (Emphasis mine.)

Such prophecies were both popular and profitable:

    Jeremiah 6:13 From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.

    Isaiah 56:10-11 Israel’s watchmen [seers, prophets] . . . are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who . . . each seeks his own gain. . . .

    Micah 3:5, 11  . . . As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if one feeds them, they proclaim ‘peace’; if he does not, they prepare to wage war against him.  . . . prophets tell fortunes for money. . . .

    Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. . . .

    (NIV, Emphasis mine.)

Prophecies that were truly of God, however, were despised, and Jeremiah, like many other biblical prophets, was accused of undermining morale:

    Jeremiah 38:1-6  . . . the words that Jeremiah spoke to all the people, saying, “The Lord says, ‘He who remains in this city will die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he who goes out to the Chaldeans will live, and he will escape with his life, and he will live.’ The Lord says, ‘This city will surely be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon, and he will take it.’ ”
    Then the princes said to the king, “Please let this man be put to death; because he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words to them: for this man doesn’t seek the welfare of this people, but harm.”
     . . . Then they took Jeremiah and threw him into the dungeon  . . . In the dungeon there was no water, but mire; and Jeremiah sank in the mire.

    Jeremiah 26:11 Then the priests and the prophets spoke to the princes and to all the people, saying, “This man is worthy of death; for he has prophesied against this city . . .”

No wonder religious officials had him beaten and put in stocks (Jeremiah 20:1-2) and said he should die. Indeed he was thought guilty of treason and treated accordingly (Jeremiah 37:13-16).

There are too many similar instances involving other prophets to cite them all here, but I’ll give just one other example of the difference between true and false prophecies:

    1 Kings 22:6-8 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Should I go against Ramoth Gilead to battle, or should I refrain?”
    They said, “Go up; for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king.”
    But Jehoshaphat said, “Isn’t there here a prophet of the Lord [as contrasted with false prophets], that we may inquire of him?”
    The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. . . .”

As he expected, the real prophet predicted disaster. The king chose to believe the false prophets who prophesied victory, and he died in battle.

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“Edification, Exhortation, and Comfort”

How does what we have so far said gel with Paul saying, “he who prophesies speaks to men for their edification, exhortation, and consolation” (1 Corinthians 14:3)?

The Greek words, here translated exhortation and consolation, have a wide range of different meanings, depending on the context. Rather than get bogged down delving into this, let’s see the implications of taking these words in their most soppy way. Would it put this chapter at odds with everything the rest of the Bible reveals about the nature of Spirit-filled prophecy?

Let’s examine an extreme example of genuine prophecy that utterly contradicts Paul by being the exact opposite of comforting. As recorded in Scripture, Jonah’s entire message was, “In forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4). That sounds like a message of total condemnation and doom delivered to thousands. But wait a minute: if it were, what would be the point of declaring it, unless it were to torment them? There is nothing sadistic about the God of love. Even divine wrath and judgment are a manifestion of infinite love. Moreover, it would have only distressed believers – those who believed the message – not the callous. That would have been senseless, and God is always wise.

When Jonah fled from his calling, it was not because he feared the Ninevites, but because, being a prophet himself (2 Kings 14:25), he understood the divine purpose of prophecy. A genuine prophecy is a word from the God who “is patient with us, not wishing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance,”(2 Peter 3:9, note also 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and Ezekiel 33:7-9, 11). It is a message from the God who is “gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and of great loving kindness;” the God who “is good to all. His tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:8-9).

Jonah 4:1-2 makes it clear that the prophet objected to his mission because he realized that warning – no matter how harshly – the people he despised (and considered unworthy of mercy) was giving them a divinely inspired chance to avert disaster.

Just as Jonah feared, the prophecy left his hearers distraught (Jonah 3:5-8) and this led to the matchless comfort and relief of each of them and their loved ones and livelihoods and homes and properties, being saved from annihilation.

So there is utterly no contradiction. No matter how devoid of comfort a genuine prophecy is, God’s goal is always our comfort. God is always love, and so love is always his motivation and goal in prophecy, no matter how harsh that word might superficially seem. “As many as I love, I reprove and chasten,” says an indisputably authentic prophecy (Revelation 3:19). “. . .  God disciplines us for our good . . . No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace(Hebrews 12:10-11, NIV, emphasis mine).

“Bear one another’s burdens,” says Galatians 6:2, “and so fulfill the law of Christ” (which is that we love as he loved – John 13:34; 15:12). This beautiful Scripture is in the context of correcting a wayward brother (Galatians 6:1).

Consider this prophecy:

    Isaiah 40:1 “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.

And yet, both before and after this, the Lord delivers disturbing warnings to his people through Isaiah’s prophecies (Examples).

False prophets, however, offer false comfort:

    Jeremiah 23:16-17  . . . Do not listen to what the [false] prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’

    Jeremiah 6:14  . . . ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

    Jeremiah 28:9 But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true.

    Lamentations 2:14 The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.

    Micah 3:5,7  . . . As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if one feeds them, they proclaim ‘peace’; if he does not, they prepare to wage war against him. . . . The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God.

    Zechariah 10:2  . . . diviners see visions that lie . . . they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

    (NIV, emphasis mine.)

What prompted my writing on this subject in the first place were tragic instances when so-called personal prophecies turned out disastrously for the people receiving them. Messages that seemed encouraging ended up wreaking havoc in people’s lives, and a primary reason for the message being allowed to cause such damage is that they initially seemed comforting and uplifting.

The test of whether something is sugar-coated poison is not how it makes the recipient feel after the first little while. False prophecy is slow-acting poison, and what entices people to imbibe it is its initial sweetness. The test of true prophecy is not whether it initially seems to produce “edification, exhortation, and consolation” (I’m about to provide a vast number of biblical instances when it did not) but whether it ends up (perhaps years later) proving to have brought “edification, exhortation, and consolation” to those who responded to it the way God intended.

Let’s see how this fits the rest of Scripture.

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Our Supreme Example

Of course, our divine Savior is far more than a prophet, but if ever anyone has been God’s spokesperson and the perfect model by which to judge anyone’s prophecy, it must surely be the Lord Jesus (cf. Mark 6:4; Luke 24:19; John 1:21; 6:14; Acts 7:37). We hardly need Scriptures confirming Jesus’ qualifications for this role, but I cannot resist citing these, as they are essential attributes for anyone hoping to consistently hear from God:

    John 5:30 As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me.

    Matthew 22:16 Teacher, we know that you are honest, and teach the way of God in truth, no matter whom you teach; for you aren’t partial to anyone.

We will later move on to other biblical examples of Spirit-filled people giving inspired, insightful words from God, but for now let’s focus on the ultimate: our Lord himself.

Individual words to three would-be followers

    Luke 9:57-62  . . . a certain man said to him, “I want to follow you wherever you go, Lord.”
    Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

    He said to another, “Follow me!”
    But he said, “Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.”
    But Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead, but you go and announce God’s Kingdom.”

    Another also said, “I want to follow you, Lord, but first allow me to say good-bye to those who are at my house.”
    But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for God’s Kingdom.”

A healed man

    John 5:14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”

The woman caught in adultery

    John 8:11 Go your way. From now on, sin no more.

Certain Sadducees

    Matthew 22:29  . . . You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

The Canaanite Woman

To be publicly told “Woman, great is your faith! Be it done to you even as you desire.” (Matthew 15:28) might be quite an ego boost but to get there, Jesus had to elicit great faith by publicly telling her “I wasn’t sent to anyone but the lost sheep of the house of Israel. . . . It is not appropriate to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” (Matthew 15:24,26).


    Mark 8:33 Get behind me, Satan! For you have in mind not the things of God, but the things of men.

The disciples

    Matthew 8:26 “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm.

    Matthew 16:8, 11Why do you reason among yourselves, you of little faith, because you have brought no bread? . . . How is it that you don’t perceive that I didn’t speak to you concerning bread?  . . . (Emphasis mine.)


    Mark 14:18-21  . . . one of you will betray me – he who eats with me. . . . It is one of the twelve, he who dips with me in the dish.  . . . woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that man if he had not been born.

The eleven

    Mark 16:14  . . . he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they didn’t believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

Cleopas and his companion

    Luke 24:25  . . . Foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken

Not only was Peter’s personal prophecy that he would deny Jesus three times (Mark 14:30), each of the other disciples was told that they would desert Jesus (Mark 14:27). And, of course, none of them liked hearing it (Mark 14:31).

Later, Peter received another disturbing prophecy:

    John 21:18  . . . when you were young, you dressed yourself and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you don’t want to go.

The next verse makes it clear that this prophecy was about the type of death Peter would suffer.

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New Testament Examples Beside Jesus

If Peter’s prophecy was disturbing the ones Paul received were even worse:

    Acts 9:15-16  . . . he is my chosen vessel to bear my name before the nations and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

    Acts 20:23  . . . the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions wait for me.

    Acts 21:4  . . . said to Paul through the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

    Acts 21:10-11  . . . a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming to us and taking Paul’s belt, he bound his own feet and hands, and said, “The Holy Spirit says: ‘So the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt, and will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ”

Of course Paul persisted despite these divine warnings. As indicated in the first of the above quotes, he had received such prophecies from the outset of his call. Followers of the one who said if they did it to me they will do it to you (cf. Matthew 10:24-25) were forewarned of persecution not so that they could avoid hardship but to prepare them to endure it (Mark 13:12-13, 23).

The prophecy to Ananias was still worse:

    Acts 5:3  . . . why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the price of the land?

And also Sapphira’s:

    Acts 5:9-10  . . . Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” She fell down immediately at his feet and died. . . .

The prophecy Simon received was certainly disturbing:

    Acts 8:21-23  . . . for your heart isn’t right before God. Repent therefore of this, your wickedness, and ask God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the poison of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.

Neither was Paul’s prophecy to Elymas exactly chocolates and roses:

    Acts 13:10-11  . . . You son of the devil, full of all deceit and all cunning, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is on you, and you will be blind, not seeing the sun for a season! . . .

The Christians in Jerusalem received a prophecy not of prosperity but economic hardship:

    Acts 11:27-28 Now in these days, prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up, and indicated by the Spirit that there should be a great famine all over the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius.

We mentioned in the main page Mary’s prophecy. “And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart,” is how the good news Bible renders Luke 2:35. With this reminder, we have virtually exhausted New Testament examples of personal prophecy, but we have so far only paddled in the ocean of Old Testament examples. They should be just as illuminating. After all, the New Testament keeps stressing that the Old Testament is given for the instruction of us who live under the New Covenant (Proof).

Now that we have a clearer understanding of what 1 Corinthians 14:4 means by edify, we find no indication of any difference between personal prophecies in the New and Old Testaments (other than the fact that the Spirit who moved Old Testament prophets is no longer restricted to a few of God’s people). As expected, a careful comparison of New and Old Testament personal prophecies bears this out.

I have provided many examples below, but if you are already convinced and wish to continue with the main page for those hurt by false personal prophecies, please do so.

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Old Testament Examples

Throughout this webpage, we will cite primarily instances when God spoke to individuals through a human intermediary. There should be no need, however, to limit ourselves to such instances to learn the type of things God chooses to prophesy to individuals. If it is the same God who is speaking, what he chooses to reveal will be consistent, regardless of the means he uses to communicate his message.

In light of this, we will now mention some instances when God spoke to individuals without a human intermediary. We will then move on to personal prophecies spoken through human messengers. As I do, I fail to detect any difference – either in theory or in practice – in the type of things communicated.


    Genesis 2:17  . . . in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.

    Genesis 3:17-19  . . . the ground is cursed for your sake. You will eat from it with much labor all the days of your life. It will yield thorns and thistles to you . . . You will eat bread by the sweat of your face until you return to the ground . . . For you are dust, and you shall return to dust.


    Genesis 3:16 I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. You will bear children in pain. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.


    Genesis 15:12-13 “. . . a deep sleep fell on Abram. Now terror and great darkness fell on him. He said to Abram, “Know for sure that your offspring will live as foreigners in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them. They will afflict them four hundred years. . . .”


    Genesis 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man, because of the woman whom you have taken; for she is a man’s wife.”

Abimelech heeded the warning and his life was spared. Nonetheless, that word from God was certainly chilling.

The prophecy given to the Pharaoh’s chief baker is particularly interesting because it indicates he was swayed by having just heard a favorable prophecy given the cupbearer:

    Genesis 40:16-19 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, “I also was in my dream . . .”
    Joseph answered, “This is its interpretation . . . Within three more days, Pharaoh will lift up your head from off you, and will hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from off you.”


    1 Samuel 2:27, 31, 33-34 A man of God came to Eli and said to him, “. . . the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father should walk before me forever.’ But now the Lord says, ‘Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me will be cursed. Behold, the days come that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father’s house, that there will not be an old man in your house. . . . The man of yours whom I don’t cut off from my altar will consume your eyes and grieve your heart. All the increase of your house will die in the flower of their age. This will be the sign to you that will come on your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they will both die. . . .”


    1 Samuel 13:13-14 Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you; for now the Lord would have established your kingdom on Israel forever. But now your kingdom will not continue. The Lord has sought for himself a man after his own heart, and the Lord has appointed him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept that which the Lord commanded you.”

    1 Samuel 15:22-23,26, 28 Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the Lord’s voice? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because you have rejected the Lord’s word, he has also rejected you from being king.” . . . Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the Lord’s word, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”  . . . Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours who is better than you.


    2 Chronicles 16:7-10 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to him, “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped out of your hand. Weren’t the Ethiopians and the Lubim a huge army, with chariots and exceedingly many horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. For the Lord’s eyes run back and forth throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. You have done foolishly in this; for from now on you will have wars.”
    Then Asa was angry with the seer, and put him in the prison; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time.


    2 Kings 5:27 “. . . the leprosy of Naaman will cling to you and to your offspring forever.”
    He went out from his presence a leper, as white as snow.


    2 Chronicles 25:15-16 Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against Amaziah, and he sent to him a prophet, who said to him, “Why have you sought after the gods of the people, which have not delivered their own people out of your hand?  . . . I know that God has determined to destroy you . . .”


    2 Chronicles 26:17-18 Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him eighty priests of the Lord, who were valiant men. They resisted Uzziah the king, and said to him, “. . .  Go out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed. It will not be for your honor from the Lord God.”

The prophecy “It will not be for your honor,” was quickly fulfilled. Leprosy broke out on his forehead and he was thrust out of the temple. Indeed, he himself hurried out. He remained a leper for the rest of his life; having to live in a separate house and, being unclean, never able to enter the temple (2 Chronicles 26:19-21).


    Jeremiah 22:18-19 Therefore the Lord says concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “They won’t lament for him, saying, ‘Ah my brother!’ or, ‘Ah sister!’ They won’t lament for him, saying ‘Ah lord!’ or, ‘Ah his glory!’ He will be buried with the burial of a donkey, drawn and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”

Ahab and Zedekiah

    Jeremiah 29:21-22 The Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and concerning Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who prophesy a lie to you in my name: “Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he will kill them before your eyes. A curse will be taken up about them by all the captives of Judah who are in Babylon, saying, ‘The Lord make you like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire’


    Daniel 4:31-32 While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from the sky, saying, “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: ‘The kingdom has departed from you. You shall be driven from men; and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You shall be made to eat grass as oxen. Seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will.’ ”


    Daniel 5:26-28  . . . God has counted your kingdom, and brought it to an end. . . . your kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

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In this, and the main webpage, we have cited from over forty books of the Bible and have found personal prophecies in the New and Old Testaments to be indistinguishable, and they frequently contain rebukes and unpleasant news.

Back to Hurt & Confused by Fake Personal Prophecy

Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2019 Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged and it is not used in a webpage. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at www.net-burst.net  Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.


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