“And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’”
Today I read a sad, defamatory piece written by a third-rate actor who survives impersonating biblical characters and historic figures. The piece was badly researched. Without being too inflammatory it discharged enough lies, envy, and hate on someone who really does not deserve it, someone who is a poor person, a good Christian, and a good man whose only faults were to give witness of Christ, and to have that thing that a mediocre actor envies the most: a large following.
The office of prophet is perhaps one of the most dangerous. Just check how most of the prophets of God have died and you’ll get the idea. Once I heard that the objective of every prophet from the beginning of mankind has been to announce the Messiah either directly or indirectly. For us Christians that Messiah is Jesus the Christ. The text of Revelation 19:9-10 quoted at the start is clear: to bear witness of Jesus is the very core, the center, the basic motivation, the spirit of all prophecy.
What is then a false prophet? The exact opposite of the above: someone who bears witness of himself, of his own ideas, or someone else’s ideas. So when the prophet fails to center on Christ, when he centers on himself or on someone other than Christ we are justified in not paying any attention to him.
That passage of Revelation chapter 19 is placed by St John right in the middle of two important spiritual events in the history of the Church. From verses 1 to 8 the Marriage of the Lamb happens after the Bride, the Church, is made bright and pure. All the population of Heaven rejoices for they have been awaiting this event since the beginning of time. Then from verse 11 to 21 the theme changes into one of war. A holy war is waged against the enemies of the Groom and Bride. Their enemies do not fair well at all.
The difference between these two crowds is clear. Those invited to the wedding rejoice forever. Those not invited to the wedding are slaughtered. What distinguishes one crowd from the other is the witness they give. Included with those captured and killed is the False Prophet a servant of the Beast “who had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the Beast.” Obviously not the kind of person that gives witness of Jesus, nor the right kind of prophet.
So this business of prophesying is serious. Practice the wrong kind and it can have disastrous results. Fortunately it is easy to tell one prophet from the other. Any prophet that deceives is not giving witness of Christ. Everyone who does not give witness of Christ is a deceiver and a false prophet. The rule is given early in the Scriptures, and it applies to all of us. We must give witness to the truth because every word we utter is going to be examined and judged:
“If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.” Deuteronomy 18:5.