Three times contemporary prophets have ‘appeared’ to be wrong
Seaborn Hall, 9/24/20, updated 10/03/20
Jeremiah was appointed a ‘prophet to the nations’ and his purpose under God was clarified in Jer. 1:10: “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant” (Jer. 1:10 NAS95).
We have used this verse elsewhere to clarify the purpose of God’s true prophets, but technically it was part of Jeremiah’s commission. It may be that Moses’ and Elijah’s and Nahum’s – and other prophet’s purpose – was slightly different.
Also note that at least two-thirds of Jeremiah’s commission was focused on ‘negative’ activities: ‘pluck up’, ‘break down’, ‘destroy’, and ‘overthrow.’ The phrase, ‘pluck up’ means to ‘eradicate by tearing out from the roots.’
We believe that at least a part of each prophet’s purpose is represented here by Jeremiah’s commission. Genuine prophets are called to confront enmeshed traditions that prevent the people from clearly seeing God and who He is and their responsibility and obligation to their Creator.
The point we are making here is that true prophets of God have a unique and clear purpose under God. Because of the confrontational nature of their ministry their words are unlikely to be fully understood or received – even by many within the church.
A genuine higher level prophet’s words will eventually be backed up by God, but over the short term they may ‘appear’ to be wrong.
This is why we say other places (see Evaluating Prophets and Prophecy, for example) that whether a prophet’s predictions appear to be accurate or not is not the correct criterion for deciding who or who not is a prophet – or even an ‘accurate’ prophet. Yet, this is one of the primary criterion that even prophetic leaders place on prophetic voices.
When Have Contemporary Prophets Appeared ‘Wrong?’
Here we will examine three instances of when contemporary, genuine – what we call ‘high level’ (Numbers 12:1-8, again see Evaluating Prophets and Prophecy) – prophets have ‘appeared’ wrong.
Sadhu Selvaraj: ‘Obama’s House Will Burn’ (between 2008-2016)
During the Obama administration, Sadhu Selvaraj prophesied at the Lancaster CA Prophetic Conference that ‘Obama’s house would burn with fire.’ This did not happen during the Obama administration. Either Sadhu was ‘wrong’ (in which case he is not a true prophet – more on that in the Conclusion), or the prophecy must be for a later time – or, perhaps there is something about the prophecy that we don’t understand.
There are at least two ways this could be fulfilled in the future. One is a literal interpretation: Either Obama again becomes US President in some capacity, an event which would mean a violation or modification of the US Constitution. Second, a more figurative interpretation: Someone from Obama’s administration, or someone indicative of his legacy, rises to become President.
If the Biden-Harris ticket were to win the 2020 election that would qualify as fulfilling this second condition. If the White House burned during their administration the prophetic word would be fulfilled.
On the other hand, could the prophecy be fulfilled during Trump’s tenure? Is there a third option? There is. We would have to say it is possible because the ‘White House’, metaphorically meaning the Deep State within the federal bureaucracy, is still largely representative of Obama and his administration. It is still largely Obama’s ‘house’. This is evidenced by the frequent leaks and betrayals of Trump – the ongoing attempted coup – as well as the slow moving process of anything that Trump wants done. Trump’s policies and his attempts to eliminate ‘deep corruption’ are being hampered by infiltrated opposition.
This type of fulfillment might seem like a stretch to some, yet it is a more subtle manner in which prophecy is fulfilled. Also, since we don’t know the exact means of the revelation’s ‘delivery’ to Sadhu, we don’t know whether we should interpret the prophecy more literally or more symbolically. (For more on this see, Evaluating Prophets and Prophecy.)
Terry Bennett: We Will Experience ‘The Sum Of All Fears’ (2015)
In January of 2015 Terry Bennett prophesied that ‘the sum of all fears’ would come on the United States in September of that year. (Again, see Evaluating Prophets and Prophecy,) If we tear apart this phrase from a technical standpoint, it refers to a terrorist nuclear attack. The event – or any event like it – did not happen, so the prophetic judgment must have been pushed back (see Jer. 18).
In our view, Terry was not wrong, God had mercy and pushed the judgment back for another time. But, like Sadhu above, Terry has appeared to be wrong for a time.
In the message, ‘The Fate Of Two Nations’, Terry predicts that there will be another judgment in 2015 like the judgments on the U.S. in 2001 [9/11] and 2008 [the Great Financial Crisis, or GFC]. As far as we know, no judgment of a similar intensity or level occurred during that year. As we noted above, the ‘sum of all fears’ event did not manifest in September of that year as Terry predicted.
According to Deuteronomy 18,
“20 But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ 22 “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”
Was Terry presumptuous or wrong? Was Sadhu? In our view, no. God had mercy on America based on Jeremiah 18 and the prayers and repentance of God’s people by pushing back the judgment for a later time. Based on our extrapolation of Terry’s more recent statements the next likely period for the ‘sum of all fears’ to occur is 2021-2022. Terry has prophesied a critical event for that time period – without saying what it is.
Terry Bennett: I Would Be Surprised If Trump Won (2016)*
In 2016, though Terry made some favorable comments – and shared one prior revelation about a ‘Trump card’ vision, that in hindsight he interpreted as meaning Trump would win the election – to our memory, at least, he never prophesied clearly that Trump would win. What we remember is that up to Election Day he was saying that he would be surprised if Trump won (based on our memory, so we could stand corrected here).
That changed on Election Day, apparently, when he had an encounter in which God showed him how He had intervened in America’s destiny and had given the nation more time by sovereignly causing Trump’s victory.
Again, because of Trump’s victory, Terry Bennett ‘appeared’ wrong on many of his prior prophetic words of judgment – his prophetic ‘headlines’ and other prophetic words – concerning the U.S. because God had mercy and compassion on the nation due to the prayers of believers and His own sovereign choice.
- As we note in the Body, we might be wrong on this one since we have not heard every message Terry gave leading up to the 2016 election.
The late John Paul Jackson, and others, have also prophesied and ‘appeared’ to be wrong. John Paul predicted that his ‘Perfect Storm’ prophecy would begin in 2012 – it did not.
Timing, and understanding timing and application, is perhaps the most difficult interpretive issue of prophecy, but it does not mean that a prophet is wrong. Elisha – and other prophet’s prophecies – were many times fulfilled after their deaths.
Jonah, prophesied to the Ninevites and they turned and repented. As a result, God withheld His judgment (Jer. 18). Eventually, the Ninevites returned to their wayward ways and forgot their repentance and were judged – about one hundred fifty years later. We read about that coming judgment in the book of Nahum. However, judgments are not always delayed for so long.
A true servant of God speaks for his King, regardless of whether he or she likes the message or not. According to Jeremiah 18, the message in many cases is meant to produce change in the people of God so that God does not have to act or that He may change His actions. According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, if “My people [a]who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
God is merciful and compassionate. He desires to bless His people. He is patient and long-suffering and desires to give people more time to repent of sin and injustice. He does not consider the reputation of His servants important relative to His willingness and ability to show mercy and compassion to His people – when He can.
But, His just nature can not wait forever. True prophets – what we term ‘higher level’ prophets, per Numbers 12 – are never wrong. They just appear ‘wrong’ for a time.
We can therefore expect the prophetic words of Sadhu and Terry and John Paul Jackson to eventually be fulfilled.
For deeper background on this topic, hear Terry Bennett’s message with our synopsis on the 10/11/20 Spiritual Life Page next week
Evaluating Prophets and Prophecy, Seaborn Hall, Common Sense Spiritual Life
The #1 Objection To Prophecy: Prophecy Is Not For Today, Seaborn Hall, Common Sense Spiritual Life
The #2 Objection to Prophecy: If It Does Not Come True, It Is a False Prophecy Given by a False Prophet, Seaborn Hall, Common Sense Interpretation
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