Satan lies. So do his servants. But God always tells the truth. Those who haven’t seen the future think prophets are lunatics. To believers, they’re truth-tellers. Only time can prove the truth or falsehood of their statements.
The first prophecy in the Bible is not Genesis 3:15, where God tells Satan in the form of a snake that Eve’s seed will crush his head as he crushes his heel. It’s really in chapter 2, where God tells Adam that when he eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he will die (2:17). This prophecy makes little sense to Adam and Eve. They believe God but think the unknown thing called ‘death’ will be instant rather than played out in time. This is why Satan is able to deceive Eve into eating the fruit. Will she die on the spot? No. Will Eve’s eyes be opened and will she, like God, know good and evil? Yes, a fact God later acknowledges (3:22).
Yet Satan’s truth is twisted, full of lies and omissions. First, Eve is human; she’ll never be equal to God. This is Satan’s desire, not men’s. Instead, Eve’s knowledge of evil produces spiritual separation from God. No longer can she and Adam talk to him face to face. Now they must meet through sacrifice, which only God can provide (Genesis 3:21). Second, Adam and Eve will die, a fact God reinforces through his curse on Adam (3:19). Their bodies will eventually decay and turn to dust. This process, however, will take hundreds of years rather than a single moment.
God told Noah he would destroy the earth with a flood (Genesis 6:17, 7:4). This “preacher of righteousness” entered the boat with his wife and children, while all the unbelievers died (2 Peter 2:5). I wonder what they said to Noah while he built the ark.
God told Abraham to leave his country because he would make him a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham believed and went to Canaan. So did Sarah. Otherwise she wouldn’t have followed him. But neither one believed God about Isaac. When he prophesied the boy’s birth a year ahead, they laughed (17:17, 18:12). Only when Isaac was born did they believe.
Two angels told Lot that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed (Genesis 19:12). He believed them and prepared to leave. But when he told his sons-in-law what the angels had said, Lot “seemed to be joking” (19:14). They died in their unbelief.
Joseph’s unbelieving brothers hated him for his prophetic dreams (Genesis 37:8, 11). But they came true just as he said and his brothers were God’s instruments to fulfill them. If Pharaoh had chosen not to believe Joseph’s interpretation about his prophetic dreams, Egypt and other nations would have perished (41:37-44). Another Pharaoh chose not to believe Moses about God’s ten plagues on Egypt. Pharaoh’s unbelief finally cost him his oldest son (Exodus 12:29-30).
Ten spies chose not to believe God about entering the Promised Land. All they saw were giants (Numbers 13:28, 33). They and their families died in the wilderness after 40 years. Only the spies who believed, Joshua and Caleb, were spared to enter Canaan (13:30, 14:7-9).
Many of God’s prophets have told the truth about the future. Some people believed them, most didn’t. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others were rejected by the people to whom they preached. They also encountered false prophets. God’s word on false prophets and their lies is simple.
Whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:19-22)
I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal. The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? Is not My word like a fire? And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:25-29)
Jesus Christ, the greatest prophet, said he could destroy the temple and raise it again in three days (John 2:19). His listeners thought he was a lunatic, but he spoke of his own body (2:21). Jesus also said he was the Son of God and the great I AM (8:58, 10:30). Unbelieving Pharisees killed him for his words (19:7). Jesus prophesied this, but he also said he would be raised from the dead three days later (Matthew 16:21). Peter thought he was crazy, but Jesus warned he’d deny his Lord (16:22, 26:34-35). Everything came to pass as he prophesied.
Jesus prophesied his Second Coming too (Matthew 24:27-31). Do we believe him? Or will we be like last-day scoffers who ask, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4) In the last days sons and daughters will prophesy, old men will dream, and young men will see visions (Joel 2:28). Will we believe them when they speak the Word of God to this generation?