© Vincent McCann, Spotlight Ministries, 2002

What is a False Prophet?

The Bible definition of what a false prophet is, is someone who claims to speak for God, and that a certain event will come to pass, but that event fails to transpire:

"And when thou sayest in thy heart, How do we know the word which Jehovah hath not spoken? that which the prophet speaketh in the name of Jehovah, and the thing is not, and cometh not — it [is] the word which Jehovah hath not spoken; in presumption hath the prophet spoken it; thou art not afraid of him. (Deut. 18:21-22, Youngs Literal Translation).
"And I say, ‘Ah, Lord Jehovah, Lo, the prophets are saying to them: Ye do not see a sword, yea, famine is not to you, For true peace I give to you in this place. And Jehovah saith unto me: Falsehood the prophets are prophesying in My name, I did not send them, nor command them, Nor have I spoken unto them: A false vision, and divination, and vanity, And the deceit of their own heart, they are prophesying to you." (Jeremiah 14:13-14, Youngs Literal Translation).
Hananiah, prophesied falsely by just two years, but he was recognised by Jeremiah as a false prophet, and judged by God:

"And it cometh to pass, in that year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, in the fifth month, spoken unto me hath Hananiah son of Azur the prophet, who [is] of Gibeon, in the house of Jehovah, before the eyes of the priests, and all the people, saying, ‘Thus spake Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon; Within two years of days I am bringing back unto this place all the vessels of the house of Jehovah that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath taken from this place, and doth carry to Babylon, And Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the removed of Judah, who are entering Babylon, I am bringing back unto this place — an affirmation of Jehovah; for I do break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’...And Jeremiah the prophet saith unto Hananiah the prophet, ‘Hear, I pray thee, O Hananiah; Jehovah hath not sent thee, and thou hast caused this people to trust on falsehood. Therefore thus said Jehovah, Lo, I am casting thee from off the face of the ground; this year thou diest, for apostacy thou hast spoken concerning Jehovah.’ And Hananiah the prophet dieth in that year, in the seventh month." (Jeremiah 28:1-4, 15-17, Youngs Literal Translation).

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has defined what a false prophet is themselves, a number of times, over the years, as someone who claims something will happen but it does not come to pass:

"Sometime between April 15 and 23, 1957, Armageddon will sweep the world! Millions of persons will perish in its flames and the land will be scorched.". So prophesied a certain California pastor, Mihran Ask, in January, 1957. Such false prophets tend to put the subject of Armageddon in disrepute." (Watchtower 10/15/58, p. 613).

"If he is a false prophet, his prophecy will fail to come to pass." (Watchtower, 5/15/30).

"The difference between a true and a false prophet is that one is speaking the word of the Lord and the other is speaking his own dreams and guesses." (Watchtower, May 15, 1930, p. 45).

"Jehovah, the God of the true prophets, will put all false prophets to shame either by not fulfilling the false prediction of such self-assuming prophets or by having His own predictions fulfilled in a way opposite to that predicted by the false prophets." (Paradise Restored to Mankind - by Thecoracy, 1972, p. 47)

"True, there have been those in times past who predicted an "end to the world," even announcing a specific date. Some have gathered groups of people with them and fled to the hills or withdrawn into their houses waiting for the end. Yet nothing happened. The "end" did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? Missing was the full measure of evidence required in fulfilment of Bible prophecy. Missing from such people were God’s truths and the evidence that he was guiding them. But what of today? Today we have the evidence all of it. And it is overwhelming! All the many, many parts of the great sign of the "last days" are here, together with verifying Bible chronology." (Awake!, October 8, 1968, p. 23, italics in original).

Note. With the above quote, it is remarkable to consider that this was being said in 1968, when the Watchtower were themselves speculating over 1975 being a significant date.

In the Aid to Bible Understanding book, under the section on "Prophet", it states:

"Distinguishing the True from the False" and lists one of the qualifications for identifying a true prophet as: "the things foretold would come to pass (Deut. 18:20-22)" (Aid to Bible Understanding, 1971, p. 1348).

"Their prophecies did not come true. Therefore they are false prophets; and the people should no longer trust them as safe guides." (Watchtower, 15th May, 1930, p. 156).

Has the Watchtower Ever Declared Itself to be God’s Prophet?

"So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet?...This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses." (Watchtower, April 1, 1972, p. 197).

"Whom has God actually used as his prophet? ...Jehovah’s witnesses are deeply grateful today that the plain facts show that God has been pleased to use them." (Watchtower, Jan. 15, pp. 40-41).

"The Watchtower is issued twice each month and brings to its readers the current report which the Lord, in the exercises of his loving-kindness, manifests in the unfolding of his prophecies to those who are devoted to him...The watchtower being the means the Lord is pleased to use to transmit his message of truth to the people..." (1937 Year Book of Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 82).

Has the Watchtower Ever Declared Things Which Have Not Come to Pass?

The answer to this, is unquestionably "Yes", many, many, times. Here are just some:

"The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great 10000 year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great 7th Day, the 1000 years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873." (The Time Is at Hand, page ii, forword).

"Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874," (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 4, page 621).

"...the ‘battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced." (The Time Is at Hand, page 101, 1908 edition).

"We see no reason for changing the figures - nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble." (Watchtower 7/15/1894, p. 226, italics in original).

"...in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by the millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of "Christianity"". (The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 485).

"Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection." (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, page 89).

"The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914." (The Watchtower 9/1/22, page 262).

"Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge." (The Watchtower, 4/1/23, page 106).

"That period of time, beginning in 1575 before A.D. 1, of necessity would end in the fall of the year 1925, at which time the type ends and the great anitype must begin. What, then, should we expect to take place? In the type there must be a full restoration; therefore the great antitype must mark the beginning of restoration of all things. The cheif thing to be restored is the human race to life; and since the Scriptures definitely fix the fact that there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and other faithful ones of old, and that these will have first favour, we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth, right here in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will become the capital of the world, and out from this nation will flow blessings to all the nations of the earth. Because that time is at hand we can confidently say: Millions now living will never die." (Golden Age, 3/16/21, p. 381).

"Receiving the gift, the marching children clasped it to them, not a toy or plaything for idle pleasure, but the Lord's provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon." (The Watchtower, 9/15/41, page 288).

"More recently earnest researchers of the Holy Bible have made a recheck of its chronology. According to their calculations the six millenniums of mankind’s life on earth would end in the mid seventies. Thus the seventh millennium from man’s creation by Jehovah God would begin within less than ten years...Would not, then, the end of six millenniums of mankind’s enslavement under Satan the Devil be the fitting time for Jehovah God to usher in a Sabbath millennium for his human creatures? Yes, Indeed!" (Watchtower, 10/15/69, p. 623).

"Just think, brothers, there are only about ninety months left before 6,000 years of man’s existence on earth is completed. Do you remember what we learned at the assemblies last summer? The majority of people living today will probably be alive when Armageddon breaks out,..." (Kingdom Ministry, 3/68, p. 4).

In the introduction it was asked: "What is a false prophet?" The answer? - One who claims to act as God’s spokesman declaring things to come. Both the Bible and the Watchtower Society are in agreement with this definition. Has the Watchtower declared things to come which have not come to pass? The answer to this is certainly yes, many times, as the numerous quotes from Watchtower sources have demonstrated in this article. Therefore, it must be said that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, like Hananiah in Jeremiah‘s day, have said things in the name of God that have not come to pass. In the light of this, what does this make the Watchtower, and what should our response be? The final word could not have been said better than the Watchtower themselves. Obviousely, they are applying the quote to others who they feel fit the criteria for false prophets, but as the old saying goes: If the cap fits...:

"...they are false prophets; and the people should no longer trust them as safe guides." (Watchtower, 15th May, 1930, p. 156).

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