If you are familiar with my ministry, you probably know that I believe fully in the nine manifestation gifts of the Spirit that are listed in 1 Corinthians 12, one of which is the gift of prophecy. I also believe that all five of the ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4—often called the fivefold gifts—are active in today’s church, including apostles and prophets.
While the Bible is clear about the importance of genuine prophecy, it is also clear in giving us several warnings about false prophets. One example of this comes from 1 John 4:1: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Not just a few, but many false prophets have gone into the world. We are not to accept every prophecy as from God or receive everyone who carries the title “prophet.”
A whole lot could be said on the subject of false prophets. But I want to highlight what I believe to be two types of false prophets: Balaam and Jezebel. Though these are not the only type of false prophets out there, they are specifically singled out by the Lord in the book of Revelation.
To the church of Pergamos Jesus says this: “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:14).
The next church that Jesus addresses is Thyatira, in which He gives this reproof: “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20). I find it significant that Jesus names these two in addressing back-to-back churches. I also find it interesting that while Balaam and Jezebel operated in very different ways, they both led the people of God into idolatry and sexual immorality.
To me, Balaam represents the merchandising prophet. It seems that he had genuine prophetic gifts at some point, but that he was caught by the trap of greed. He became a “prophet for hire.” The book of Jude deals with false prophets/teachers and says that they “have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit” (Jude 1:11).
The error of Balaam is turning the gift of prophecy into a means of financial gain. I am leery when someone offers to give a prophetic word, interpret a dream, or give a special blessing for a certain price. I am concerned when it is stated (or even implied) that those who give into a certain offering will receive an impartation or special word from the Lord.
We should not see the gifts of God–including prophecy–as a means to financial gain. Anyone who moves in the prophetic gifts must be on guard against allowing greed, desire for fame, or other impure motives to slip in.
Jezebel was a woman who came into covenant relationship with the king of Israel, and then began to control things from that position of influence. My understanding of Jezebel is that she represents, among other things, the usurping of legitimate authority. Jude 1:8 says that one of the characteristics of false prophets is that they “reject authority.”
It is concerning to me when a “prophet” or “prophetess” has a problem with authority, does not see a need for any accountability, or has a low view of the local church. It seems that these types wander around looking for those who will come under their influence. Prophecy is used to manipulate and control instead of edify and build up. They never come under the authority of a local congregation; or if they do, they seek to undermine the authority that God has put in place.
Both Balaam and Jezebel represent the misuse of the gift of prophecy; one for financial gain and the other for control. While God is restoring the genuine gift of prophecy today, these two forces are seeking to hi-jack the prophetic gift. When Balaam and Jezebel are tolerated, the result is that the people of God are drawn into idolatry and sexual sin.
Could it be that we have lacked the discernment and boldness to confront these issues in the church? I pray that God will give us the wisdom to receive the genuine and reject the false!
I think the rejection of authority is a good topic to bring up. We must first begin with a proper understanding of Biblical authority in the church before we can discuss what it means to reject it. Many people are often not rejecting Biblical authority, but are, and should, reject unBiblical structures of authority in churches.
Thanks for the comment. What I was referring to in the article is a mindset of rejection of authority or the need for authority/accountability in general. The type of person I was referring to would not even care if the authority was God-appointed or not, but would reject any and all authority. Does that make sense?
My understanding of biblical authority is that God appoints elders/fivefold teams to lead local congregations. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this! Feel free to keep the comment thread going, or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you Jake for further insight on the prophetic. I am from the Cayman Islands and i notice that there has been an “influx” of “prophets” gracing the churches here, many CAME with a message from God. the problem with that is i find that many (not all) of these so called prophets 1. insist that you call them prophet or prophetess so and so 2. they are always hearing the LORD tell them that you are to sew a “special” seed offering of 1000, 500, 200, 100, my biggest problem is that our neighbouring country Jamaica is in need of prayers for the youths in the ghettos killing each other, many of them are from Jamaica such as myself and i am yet to hear them going to the ghettos and prophetically speak to the young people. They are always coming where the money is. it is a joke to see many of them come here to Cayman and give a prophetic word that the LORD is getting ready to destroy Cayman because of greed, but yet every year they are here to give another word to get more money. many people line up in line to get a “word” a week has never passed without a prophet coming here to different churches to give a word. I pray that they would go to the Ghettos in Jamaica and give the youths a word. i am a christian and sometimes i get some powerful visions, and when you tell the vision to the church you are totally ignored, simply because you don’t come with a title. It is so sad what they are doing to the body of Christ in twisting the prophetic. Please Jake i am now asking you for “a word”
I would be leery of anyone who demands to be called “prophet” or “prophetess” and who attaches prophetic words to giving money to their ministries. It sounds like they are using the prophetic as a way to manipulate people. Here is an article that you might find helpful:
The jezebel balaam prophets are very hard to detect. Many teach the true word of God,but specialize in requesting and manipulating the people of God for money and or goods. It is a very sad thing to watch how not only has the now a day prophet been seduced and decieved into doing ministry this way but, the gullible people giving these fallen prophets (equivalent to fallen angels) all their money its saddening to watch. Another sad thing is the prophets themself have no idea that they are false prophets operating under false authority. Many have been taught wrong, thus have no idea they are not in sync with God, but rather decieved and in sync with Satan. Yes Satan will let you do a good thing the wrong way so you never figure out he hood winked you. The bible says judgement will start at the house of god . The punishment of these men and women will be worse than those who never new the word of God. I pray some of them wake up and realize God can bless em if their patient and repent and use this there ill gotten gains to start businesses on the side or something positive. Repent teach and preach the word of God without expecting anything ..they have to stop pressuring the people of God for money so they can live like a rockstar with 1000’s of dollars in there bill folds. WWJD. may God have mercy on them. No body wants to hear” move from me you workers of iniquity I never knew you. Jesus said take no money bag along for the journey, but these modern prophets are showing up with suitcases. seduced by the father of lies. Satan will do anything so not one soul makes it to heaven. If you know any preachers involved in this try to snatch them from the flames.