One common characteristic of prophetic leaders in Israel—from Moses to John the Baptist—is their reluctance to take on a task which promised little in the way of comfort and much in the way of hardship. Moses, having grown comfortable tending his father-in-law’s sheep, tried to negotiate his way out of his call to be Israel’s deliverer. Amos, also, would have been content to remain “a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees.” Jonah had to spend three days in the belly of a fish before being convinced to go to Ninevah. Jeremiah thought himself too young to be taken seriously. Even Isaiah, before saying, “Here am I. Send me,” was overwhelmed by his unworthiness to stand in the presence of God.
The reluctance of the biblical prophets stands in stark contrast to present-day wannabes who seem quite eager to claim the prophetic mantle, regardless of whether or not God actually called them to take it up. . .
. . . and regardless of how many times their “judgments” fail to be “executed.”
The biblical prophets did not constantly go around telling people, much less viruses, to listen to them because they were “standing in the office of the prophet of God.” Their sole purpose was to proclaim the Word of God, not to call attention to themselves. Jesus could identify John the Baptist as Elijah (Matthew 11:14), but he who said he was unworthy to untie Jesus’ sandals would never make such a claim on his own (John 1:21).
The gift of prophecy ought to be readily apparent to a community endued with the spirit of discernment. If someone is constantly boasting that he is “standing in the office of the prophet of God,” it is a near certainty that he is merely falling for his own egotistical machinations.
Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).
The fruits, or lack thereof, of Kenneth Copeland’s over-the-top theatrics in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis are plain for all to see. So much so, in fact, that to call him a false prophet is giving him too much credit. One imagines that even the most nefarious of false prophets would be embarrassed to be included in the same company with this buffoonish charlatan.