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In Deuteronomy 13 the warning is sometimes a prophet prophecies come true but then he teaches worshipping false gods so that makes him a false prophet even if his prophecy or miracles come true but then in Deuteronomy 18 the test of true prophet is he speaks in the name of the LORD so he is speaking for the true God or claiming to be AND his prophecy comes true.

This confuses me. I thought only God can foretell the future. How can Satan who is not timeless do foretelling? What is the difference?

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    – agarza
    Oct 5, 2023 at 13:32

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Jesus helps clear this up. In Matthew chapter 7 he explains how believers can identify false claimants by observing the 'fruits' those false ones produce. That's a way of showing the need to not just heed their words, but to see what their actions show about their words. The principles he stated apply across the board throughout Old Testament times (those claiming to be the prophets), the first century Church (those claiming to be the saints) right through to today.

A person can say words that seem to be true, such as, "I cast demons out in the name of Jesus!" and - right enough - it appears that they succeeded. Does that prove the person to be truly speaking in God's name, to carry out God's will? Not necessarily, according to Jesus. He said:

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits... Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to be in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?' And then I will profess unto them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity'." Matthew 7:15-23 A.V.

Apply that to Deuteronomy chapters 13 and 18.

You express your confusion because you suppose that only God can tell the future - how can Satan do that? Well, he's been in existence in heaven for untold millennia, and even though now cast out and confined, he knows exactly how to manipulate humanity to deceive them, to turn them away from God's true prophecies. That's what he's out to do. It's nothing to him to come out with something that sounds just like what God said, but with a subtle twist. He is still a supernatural, powerful creature, out to usurp God's rightful rule, and he has a track record of getting his agents to speak false prophesies, and to do amazing things that make people think "This must be of God!" Well, Jesus said that he cast out devils by the Spirit of God - false prophets do not. (See Matthew 12:27-37 too much to copy here.)

The key is that whichever way Satan and his agents twist and turn, their power to speak and to do is not from the Holy Spirit. Same in days of yore with the prophets. Believers can cut to the chase by just looking to see whether the resulting 'fruit' is good, or bad. Once believers know the good fruit that identifies a godly believer, they can spot the rotten fruit of Satan's agents - it does not accomplish God's will; it does not declare God's truth; it is not done or said in the power of the Holy Spirit. Hidden idolatry is at back of it. Of course, one has to first know God's will, God's truth, and something of the power of the Holy Spirit. That comes with devotion to the word of God, and seeking to live only for God. Then sham appearances, and sham words, will ring hollow, no matter how great a following those false prophets gain.

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  • This answer presupposes the univocality of Deuteronomy 13 and Matthew 7. There is no data to support that presupposition, it'd be helpful to use a contemporaneous source instead Mar 5 at 17:37
  • @AviAvraham If you wish to stick only to the Hebrew scriptures for answers, that can be done by studying true prophets like Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Hosea, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. If the Q had restricted answers to the Hebrew writings, I would have given a different answer. But I suggest that the supreme authority for exposing Satan's deceitful attempts at foretelling is the Jewish Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth. But, anyway, the Q is not about univocality of Deuteronomy & Matthew
    – Anne
    Mar 6 at 11:40
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Did you know that only God knows of the thoughts of your mind and heart? The devil does not have access to that. Let me ask you a simple question, if he cannot access the thoughts of your heart and mind, what of your future? Chances are he does not have access to your future.

The devil is not omniscient and hence most of the prophecies coming from his power will not come to be

The devil is not omnipresent, yes because he will be thrown into the bottomless pit for a thousand years and he won't be able to deceive anyone during that time. People tend to think that the devil is ways watching them but cannot be everywhere at the same time like God

Those two attributes limit his knowledge of our future.

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Excellent and important question! There is so much misdirection in modern church life concerning the prophetic word (and end-times prophecies).

As in all positions in every secular occupation or spiritual ministry there are not just one, but usually several requirements or qualifications that a person must meet. This was no less true of men who claim to prophesy:
1) A person claiming to be a prophet must not give false prophecies.
2) A man must not prophesy in the name of a false god.
3) A true prophet must be living the godly character of a Believer (one like Moses for example, Deut. 18:15; see Jesus's warning about good fruit/character, Matt. 7:15-20)

False Prophets Regardless of the strong admonitions and punishments against prophesying falsely, there are many who delve headfirst into this corruption...all throughout ancient and modern history. And since the the average person (believer) has an innate curiosity about the future, the prophet 'has their ear' . Sometimes this is a legitimate desire, crucial to making decisions during troublous times! So, many people are exploited and manipulated by prophecies that seem to be true, but aren't.

How do false prophets get away with their schemes? Does Satan know the future just like God? What causes people to believe them? (1) Some prophecies are merely the fulfillment by a coincidence. For example, a 50/50 chance of raining could be prophesied accurately 50% of the time. (See Nostradamus life of prophesying) (2) Sometimes prophets dip from each others' cup. Jeremiah complained about this in the Old Testament. Prophets were borrowing prophecies from true prophets, or passing on prophecies that had been "rumored about". They hadn't really heard from God themselves. (Jer. 23:30) (3) Other times a prophet will work an immediate sign or wonder by demonic or magically means, to verify a long range prophecy (Matthew 7:22; 24:11, 24 Such was the case during the siege of Jerusalem; see Josephus. As well as during the time of Moses, Deuteronomy 13:1) (4) Sometimes a congregation will accept a prophecy that is false because they put too much faith in the Man of God. Because he is a 'man of the cloth' his word is taken authoritatively and at face value without verification. This may be why Paul spoke of having several prophets in a congregation; this would act as a checks-and-balances against one man going too far (1 Corinthians 14) All prophecies are to be judged, confirmed by elders, etc. (1 Thess. 5:20-22)

Good Spiritual Gift In spite of false prophesying, and the misuse of this charismatic gift by some, it is revered by Christ and the Apostles. Jesus will reward anyone who receives a prophet (Matt. 10:41; see Psalm 105:15, "Do my prophets no harm..."). Paul emphasized that prophecy in a church meeting can impress an unbeliever, and cause repentance (1 Cor. 14:24-25). He advised that believers should covet to prophesy (1 Cor. 14:39). >Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good (1 Thess. 5:19-21)

Additional note The N.T. declared that the gifts of God are without repentance. A Man of God may be gifted with prophecy, then backslide and drift into worship of another god. So the gift of prophecy may be true, but used to promote evil. That false man will be judged eventually. But if the Word of Prophecy was indeed from God, it will ring true. That's why it is written, "Judge all things."

{Note: Prophecy is not just about telling the future. Old and New Testament prophets had a broader job description. Much of it was confronting evil in men with leadership roles (priests, kings, princes...and false prophets). Many were stoned, sawn asunder...as a result of being faithful to their calling as a Prophet. (Matt. 23:31, Heb. 11:37)}

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  • What's the difference between prophecy and divination? Like I assume a prophecy is always 100% accurate while divination is less than 100%? Something like that? Oct 8, 2023 at 11:42
  • @ Aryan anand - Good question. A divine prophecy ought always be accurate. Divinations can be deceptive employing demonic power; sometimes borrowing from true prophecies, and sometimes aided by a "familiar spirit." (Recall the incident of Saul going to a witch of Endor.) Recall the evil prophecy given to the Persian king about a great victory about to occur. Unfortunately, the false prophet neglected to tell the king which side would be the victor! (The concept of a "familiar spirit" would be an interesting study.)
    – ray grant
    Oct 27, 2023 at 20:59
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Deuteronomy 13:1-5 describes how the prophets of Satan deceive people into worshipping idols. They use fabricated tricks to make their prophecies come true and persuade people to believe them.

Deuteronomy 18:20-22 describes those who claim to be prophets of the Lord. A true prophets of the Lord will have their prophecies fulfilled, otherwise they are false prophets.

It is note worthy that the Lord does not deceive people.

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19 NIV)

However, Satan tells lies to deceive people. All his lies are fabricated, deliberately to appeal the lust of those who wish they were true. A typical example is in Genesis, how Satan deceived Eve by saying:

Genesis 3:4-5 NIV

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

Knowing that God is good and Satan is evil does not make us like God.

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  • Is only God capable of making prophecies? Then why Bible warns against mediums necromancers divination? What is difference between a God inspired prophecy and satanic divination? Oct 7, 2023 at 13:06
  • The Lord's prophecies and the satanic prophecies/divinations have different aim. The Lord's prophecies are mostly warning/judgement to the Israelites, urging them to repent from idol worship and to acknowledge there is only one true God. His prophecies sometimes take generations to be fulfilled, such as the seventy years of exile or the Messianic prophecy. The satanic prophecy/divination have the purpose of leading people away from God and therefore they are fulfilled in a short time for the target audience. In Deuteronomy 13:2, you see this implication. Oct 7, 2023 at 16:10

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