Modern prophecy and a low view of blasphemy – Deuteronomy 18:18-22

I have been studying the spiritual gifts in detail the past few months for our Sunday Bible study. It has really been an interesting and challenging study. The last couple weeks have been on the topic of modern prophecy.  Now, I went in to this study already believing that the gifts had ceased, so I have tried to read some writings from more conservative brothers’ in Christ who disagree with me on this subject. Perhaps the most shocking thing I found was that there is an amazingly low view of what I would consider blasphemy. Let me back up a bit. Here is the Old Testament word of God regarding prophets:

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:18-22).

In the Old Testament, falsely speaking a word as if it was from God was punishable by death. Blasphemy was considered very serious business back then. Note also that the person who hears these revelations from God has an obligation to listen and, it is implied, act upon those words. God will require it of them too. We often neglect the obligation of the hearer.

To me, it appears that these modern prophets have a very low view of blasphemy. I am certain they do not want to convey a false message, but they seem regularly willing to take that risk. To me, the sin of blasphemy associated with falsely attributing a message to God is the same today as it was at the time of Moses. Sure, we do not stone the false prophets today for their sin, but it should still be considered sin that needs repentance and Christ’s forgiveness. And, they should desire to stop doing it.

The flip side of this is that these modern prophecies have also removed any obligation on the hearer. Yes, there are various leaders who try to force people to act upon their prophecies. But, in general the obligations are minimal for both parties. It is okay if the prophet gets the message wrong, and it is okay if the hearer ignores the message. In both cases, this seems like a very low view of God and his word.

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