The election prophecies

Most charismatic Christians did not prophesy a specific outcome of the US election; they just prayed and worked for whichever candidate they supported. (One particularly wise prediction was that whoever wins, we need to pray.) Some, however, prophesied a particular outcome. Until the electoral college votes in December, surprises remain possible. But at the moment, many feel significant reason to be concerned about the prophecies.

CT just posted my article here:

This is the main subject of this post today (what lies below is extra for those with extra interest).

I have had a number of blogs on failed prophecies or the need for discernment in the past couple years. The most recent warning (a couple weeks ago) was:

But some others are more on the subject of failed prophecies or discerning prophecy.

Also, the following section needed to be cut from the original CT article because it was less relevant and for the sake of space, but I include it here for the sake of completeness in case anyone has read this far and is interested:

False prophets

Mistakes in prophecy do not make everyone who’s mistaken a false prophet, any more than mistakes in teaching make everyone who’s mistaken a false teacher. Before elaborating, however, it’s important to note that false prophets are still a thing. In fact, even cessationists, who do not believe that the genuine gift of prophecy is for today, agree that false prophets are.

The Bible says much about false prophets. A genuinely false prophet’s prophecy can come to pass; what makes it false is that it leads people away from God (Deut 13:1-3). The language of false prophets and teachers applies especially to those who come to harm the sheep—wolves disguised as sheep (Matt 7:15; 2 Pet 2:1-3). Some may even prophesy truth and believe that they act in God’s name (Matt 7:22), but they do not follow biblical morality (7:21, 23; Jer 23:14). False prophets may undermine biblical ethics regarding God and others, for example compromising with other gods or immoral sexual standards (Num 31:16; Rev 2:14, 20).

False prophets may speak by other spirits (1 John 4:1; Jer 23:13) or from their own imagination (Jer 23:16, 26; Ezek 13:2-3). Sometimes God’s own Spirit may overwhelm someone to prophesy, yet they may remain wicked (1 Sam 19:20-25). In the context of warning against false prophets, Jesus warns us that a tree is known by its fruit, not by its gifts (Matt 7:16-20).


Not every dream or sentiment is the Lord’s voice (Jer 23:28), so we should submit them to testing by Scripture and by others who seek to listen to what God is saying (1 Cor 14:29; 1 Thess 5:20-22). A problem arises, however, most of the others have false expectations and hear something different from God’s real heart. False prophets generally tell people what people want to hear (Jer 6:14; 8:11; 2 Tim 4:3), and often they depend too much on what other “prophets” are saying (1 Kgs 22:13; Jer 23:30).

Sometimes, it’s falsehood that makes such prophets popular (Luke 6:26). In corrupt generations the majority of prophets catered to popular opinion and were generally wrong (1 Kgs 22:22-23; Jer 37:19). Ahab’s court prophets promised victory; Micaiah alone warned—correctly—that Ahab would perish (1 Kgs 22:5-38). Similarly, most prophets in Jeremiah’s day declared the outcome that their hearers wanted: no judgment on Jerusalem. Jeremiah stood virtually alone in declaring that judgment was coming, and the prophets who considered that warning blasphemous insisted that he be executed (Jer 26:7-11). What matters is not how prominent the prophets are, how many they are, or how vocal they are. What matters is whether they speak God’s message.

How, then, can we ever tell true prophecies from false ones? Even when the community that speaks for God fails in one generation, it rarely fails in all generations. Jeremiah warns that true prophetic voices stand in continuity with prophetic voices through history. The burden of proof is therefore on whoever just prophesies what their hearers want to hear; this is vindicated only when it comes to pass (Jer 7:25; 28:8-9).

After Jeremiah’s day, everybody knew that Jeremiah was right and the other prophets were wrong (2 Chron 36:21-22; Ezra 1:1; Dan 9:2). That’s why Jeremiah’s book is the one that made it into our Bible. The Bible gives us the surest basis for evaluating prophecies. Granted, on matters of detail, we still also have debates even about correct understanding of the Bible. Whether prophesying in part or knowing in part (1 Cor 13:9), we do our best and trust God to guide us.

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