(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the English Standard Version).
Lamentations 3:37 Who can speak and it will happen
if the Lord has not commanded it? (LEB).
The 2020 US Presidential election may have come and gone, but a bad taste still lingers in the mouth of some Christians who had relied on prophecies of prominent men of God to predict the re-election of Donald Trump as US President for another four years. Trump lost the election by a wide margin (both in the electoral college and popular votes), contrary to numerous prophecies of victory that went forth in Evangelical circles, and Joe Biden is now the 46th President of the US, having been sworn in on the 20th of January 2021.
This article does not seek to rehash the legality or desirability of the outcome of the just concluded US Presidential election.The focus here is on the prophecies concerning the election that failed to materialise, and the need to hold prophets accountable for failed prophecies. This is to ensure responsibility and accountability in ministry, as well as restrain the vain and frivolous use of God’s name in political permutations and psychological manipulations of Christians. Auditing of prophets and prophecies is needed to protect believers from false prophets and false prophecies, as well as to shield the Church from ridicule.
In the Scriptures, God warned his people against the consultation of mediums and other satanic agents for fortune-telling or divination, promising to send to his people prophets who would guide them in the divine will. God equally showed his people how to differentiate between true and false prophets. To know whether or not a prophet is speaking for God, we’re enjoined in the Scriptures to keep our eyes on the prophet’s prophecies and watch closely for their fulfilment, aside from scrutinising the fruits of the prophet’s life. If God really spoke through that prophet, whatever they prophesied must come to pass, for God cannot lie nor can his words fail to materialise or accomplish their purpose. It’s just impossible! This litmus test for prophets is as prescribed by God himself in the book of Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 18:13 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God,
Deuteronomy 18:14 for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this.
Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—
Deuteronomy 18:16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.
Deuteronomy 18:17 And the LORD said to me, They are right in what they have spoken.
Deuteronomy 18:18 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.
Deuteronomy 18:19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.
Deuteronomy 18:20 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.
Deuteronomy 18:21 And if you say in your heart, How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?—
Deuteronomy 18:22 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.
Numbers 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Hebrews 6:17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,
Hebrews 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
Isaiah 55:11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Thus, if a prophecy fails to come to pass, not only are we to conclude that God didn’t speak through whoever gave the prophecy, we’re also not to fear or revere such a person as a prophet of God! That’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? But that’s what God himself said in his word! If someone claims to speak in the name of the Lord, and the thing he prophesied failed to materialise the way he said it would, there’s no acceptable rationalisation to justify it. There’s no other conclusion to draw from it than that God did not speak through the medium that claimed divine revelation. It’s either the person spoke from his own mind while presuming to speak for/from God, or he was inspired by a lying spirit that he mistook for the Holy Spirit. Either way, such a person has made God a liar (God forbid!), and needs to be sanctioned appropriately!
To let such misguided prophets off the hook, some have argued that a divinely inspired prophecy may fail to come to pass if the people to whom it was given failed to back it up with prayer, or Satan could abort a prophecy by resisting or undermining it. In the case of the numerous prophecies concerning the 2020 US Presidential election that failed in their prediction of Donald Trump’s re-election, such people have claimed the opposition stole the election, thus subverting the divine will and making divinely inspired prophecies to fail to materialise. That’s ridiculous in whatever way we choose to look at it. First, for this ludicrous explanation to be believed, it has to be accepted that the Holy Spirit didn’t see “the stealing” of the election coming, and so couldn’t factor that in the final predicted outcome! Or that the Holy Spirit couldn’t prevent “the rigging” of the election that would undermine the prophecy he had given! Either way, it would make the Holy Spirit to appear not to see far enough into the future, to have failed to see the steal, or to be powerless in preventing Satan and his agents from undermining or subverting the will of God.
That’s utter nonsense! If there was going to be an attempt to steal the election, the Holy Spirit would have known and the election prophets should have prophesied of it alongside other election prophecies, if they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. That the prophets who prophesied of Trump’s election victory didn’t see “the stealing of the votes” simply means that they were blinded to that fact (if it really occurred) and so couldn’t have been inspired by the omniscient and all-seeing Holy Spirit (of course, there is no legal evidence of a stolen election, as no such proof was presented in court in some 60 cases filed by the Trump team and associates). For these prophets not to prophesy before hand of the circumstances that would lead to Trump not being re-elected despite “winning” means they were not led by the Holy Spirit in their prediction. What a grievous offence it is to presume to speak for God when God has not spoken!
If a prophet was divinely inspired to give a prophecy and God later changed his mind to give a counter prophecy on the same issue (following some changes in circumstances which necessitated the first prophecy), the same prophet will be sent back to carry the revised prophecy to the target audience before it happens, to show that even the modification to the original prophecy came from God, way before it happens! We see the examples of that scenario with Prophet Elijah/ King Ahab, and Prophet Isaiah/ King Hezekiah.
1 Kings 21:17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
1 Kings 21:18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession.
1 Kings 21:19 And you shall say to him, Thus says the LORD, Have you killed and also taken possession? And you shall say to him, Thus says the LORD: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.
1 Kings 21:20 Ahab said to Elijah, Have you found me, O my enemy? He answered, I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD.
1 Kings 21:21 Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.
1 Kings 21:22 And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin.
1 Kings 21:23 And of Jezebel the LORD also said, The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.
1 Kings 21:24 Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat.
1 Kings 21:25 ( There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.
1 Kings 21:26 He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.)
1 Kings 21:27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly.
1 Kings 21:28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
1 Kings 21:29 Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.
2 Kings 20:1 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, Thus says the LORD, Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.
2 Kings 20:2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying,
2 Kings 20:3 Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
2 Kings 20:4 And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him:
2 Kings 20:5 Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD,
2 Kings 20:6 and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.
2 Kings 20:7 And Isaiah said, Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover.
2 Kings 20:8 And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the LORD on the third day?
2 Kings 20:9 And Isaiah said, This shall be the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?
2 Kings 20:10 And Hezekiah answered, It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.
2 Kings 20:11 And Isaiah the prophet called to the LORD, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.
It’s not unChristian to desire and root for one’s preferred candidate to win in an election. It’s okay to pray and even fast for such a person to come out victorious. However, to presume to prophesy a victory for such a candidate because one feels so strongly about his candidacy is to attempt to force God to support one’s candidate by dragging God’s name into the political fray. Attempting to convert a personal or group desire into divine desire is to seek to bend God’s will to conform to ours. That’s literally trying to cajole God into supporting our position, rather than seeking God’s will and aligning ourselves to it! If this isn’t taking the name of God in vain, I wonder what is! Prophecy is hearing from God’s mouth and speaking thereafter in his name, and not speaking presumptuously from our frenzied minds and attaching God’s name to it to give it divine backing! There are consequences to such presumptuous prophesying!
Ezekiel 3:10 Moreover, he said to me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears.
Ezekiel 3:11 And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD, whether they hear or refuse to hear.
Ezekiel 3:17 Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.
Ezekiel 37:4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!
Ezekiel 37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone (NKJV).
Ezekiel 13:1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
Ezekiel 13:2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’”
Ezekiel 13:3 Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!
Ezekiel 13:4 O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts.
Ezekiel 13:5 You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord.
Ezekiel 13:6 They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed.
Ezekiel 13:7 Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The Lord says,’ but I have not spoken.”
Ezekiel 13:8 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,” says the Lord God.
Ezekiel 13:9 “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord God.
Ezekiel 13:10 “Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar—
Ezekiel 13:11 say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down.
Ezekiel 13:12 Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’”
Ezekiel 13:13 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it.
Ezekiel 13:14 So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.
Ezekiel 13:15 “Thus will I accomplish My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it with untempered mortar; and I will say to you, ‘The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it,
Ezekiel 13:16 that is, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,’” says the Lord God.
Ezekiel 13:17 “Likewise, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own heart; prophesy against them,
Ezekiel 13:18 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the women who sew magic charms on their sleeves and make veils for the heads of people of every height to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of My people, and keep yourselves alive?
Ezekiel 13:19 And will you profane Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live, by your lying to My people who listen to lies?”
Ezekiel 13:20 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against your magic charms by which you hunt souls there like birds. I will tear them from your arms, and let the souls go, the souls you hunt like birds.
Ezekiel 13:21 I will also tear off your veils and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall no longer be as prey in your hand. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.
Ezekiel 13:22 “Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life.
Ezekiel 13:23 Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”’” (NKJV).
Finally, there is the need to call out prophets whose prophecies failed to materialise and sanction them appropriately. They should own up that those prophecies didn’t come from God and stop hedging about and manufacturing more lies to cover the initial lie, which is adding iniquity to iniquity. That is arrogance and being more concerned about their personal name and reputation than the name of the Lord which they’ve brought into disrepute. Such prophets should come out openly and apologise for their errors and make it clear to the same group of people they prophesied to that they got it wrong. Maybe their human spirits moved them to pronounce “thus saith the Lord” when God did not speak, or a lying spirit filled their mouths to do so, like it did to Ahab’s prophets who lured him to his death at Ramoth-Gilead while promising him victory in battle. Instead of the resounding victory prophesied for him, King Ahab was killed at the battle of Ramoth-Gilead, and never had the opportunity to confront those false prophets about their false prophecy of victory in battle (thank God Trump is alive to demand answers from his own prophets).
1 Kings 22:19 And Micaiah said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;
1 Kings 22:20 and the LORD said, Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said one thing, and another said another.
1 Kings 22:21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, I will entice him.
1 Kings 22:22 And the LORD said to him, By what means? And he said, I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.
1 Kings 22:23 Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has declared disaster for you.
1 Kings 22:24 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, How did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?
1 Kings 22:25 And Micaiah said, Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.
1 Kings 22:26 And the king of Israel said, Seize Micaiah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son,
1 Kings 22:27 and say, Thus says the king, Put this fellow in prison and feed him meager rations of bread and water, until I come in peace.
1 Kings 22:28 And Micaiah said, If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me. And he said, Hear, all you peoples!
Whether Trump’s prophets prophesied from their deluded human spirits or were inspired by lying spirits, they misrepresented God and dishonoured his name in the process, and should repent and publicly acknowledge the great injury they caused to Christ and his body. Next, such prophets should subject themselves to in-house scrutiny and have their subsequent prophecies thoroughly vetted by other more mature prophets and Christians before they are released into the public domain. Subjecting themselves to such accountability is the only way to acknowledge and repair the great damage they’ve done to the name of the Lord and to the Church, through their presumptuous prophecies.
1 Corinthians 14:29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.
In conclusion, the false prophecies given out during the 2020 US Presidential election concerning the re-election of Donald Trump that failed to materialise did a lot of damage to the integrity of the prophetic ministry as well as the image of Christianity in general. To clear up the mess that resulted therefrom and to prevent such scandalous practice from happening again, we need to hold those prophets accountable and make them own up that their prophecies were false and that they didn’t hear from God on that issue, for no genuine prophecy inspired by the Holy Spirit would fail, for God cannot lie. Only by a humble acknowledgment of prophesying outside of the divine will can such prophets remove God’s name from their mess and take responsibility for their failed prophecies. Not to do so and to keep churning out lies to justify their failed prophecies is to add iniquity to iniquity, which is rebellion.