How Do We Know the Word Which YHVH Has not Spoken?
And if thou say in thy heart: ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?‘ When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken; the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deu 18:21-22 JPS)
Many understand these verses to mean that if the prophet has made predictions for the future and they do not come to pass, he is a false prophet. If they do, he is a true prophet. And many interpret these verses to mean that studying the end-time Bible prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah is a date-setting. Is this what Mosheh told his people? Hardly.
The point of view from which Mosheh promised the sending of a prophet in Deu_18:15-18, and is laid down in Deu_18:19-22 and more specifically the criteria for distinguishing between true and false prophets. Israel was told that when they would come into the Promised Land they were not to be like the nations which Israel was to dispossess and not to learn to do like the abominations of these nations (Deu 18:9-14). And Mosheh began with the worst abomination of all: burning children alive for Moloch-worship (see at Lev_18:21), which nothing less than murdering unborn children in the mothers’ wombs today.
Then he named the abominations Israel was by no means to do. In Talmud, Sanhedrin 65b these abominations are interpreted, as follows:
A soothsayer is one who takes his rod in his hand and says [as though to consult it], “Shall I go, or shall I not go?”
A diviner of times: According to Rabbi Akiva, these are people who determine the times, saying, “Such-and-such a time is good to begin a venture.” The [other] Sages say, however, that this refers to those who “catch the eyes” [i.e., they deceive by creating optical illusions]. (see also Num_23:23)
One who interprets omens — e.g., bread falling from his mouth, a deer crossing his path, or his stick falling from his hand.
Charmer: One who collects snakes, scorpions or other creatures into one place.
Pithom sorcerer: The sorcerer raises the spirit of the dead, and it speaks from the sorcerer’s armpit. (see Lev_19:31)
Yido’a sorcerer: The sorcerer inserts a bone of the animal called yido’a into his mouth, and the bone speaks by means of sorcery.
A necromancer is one who raises the dead spirit upon his membrum, or one who consults a skull.
After Mosheh warned his people about the danger of doing those abominations, he made the following promise which Israel remembered,
Yehovah your Elohim shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your brothers. Listen to Him, according to all you asked of Yehovah your Elohim in Horev in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of Yehovah my Elohim, nor let me see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And Yehovah said to me, ‘What they have spoken is good. I shall raise up for them a prophet like you out of the midst of their brothers. And I shall put My Words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. (Deu 18:15-18)
But first what does constitute the office a prophet? Is a prophet someone who predicts the future? Surely, the prophets of YHVH spoke words concerning the future as seen in Jer_28:9, but many prophecies had not come to pass in the life-time of the prophets and according to the interpretation of Deu 18:21-22, if a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, and the prophecy does not come to pass, this is not what the Lord has spoken. So, how are we then to regard such prophets as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel and others, whose prophecies had not come to pass in their life-time and are not yet fulfilled? Are they false prophets just because whatever they spoke had not been fulfilled?
Seemingly, there is a great deal of misunderstanding of Mosheh’s words and/or we read poor translations; either way many people have been misled to believe that if a prophecy has not come to pass then it is a false prophecy. Here is the place to say that some prophecies spoken by the prophets may not come to pass although the prophets spoke in truth the words of YHVH. “How could that be possible?”, one may ask.
In order to understand this apparent controversy, we need to remember that there are two types of prophecies: positive and negative. The positive prophecies will come to pass as spoken by the prophets. They are YHVH’s promises and whatever He has promised to His children, it will be fulfilled. However, the negative ones are a different story. They would better not come to pass. Why is that? Because even the darkest prophecy as in Ezekiel 38 and 39, and Zechariah 12 and 14 can be diverted at one simple condition: if there is repentance. Repentance from sins is the requirement for admission in the kingdom of YHVH.
For more insight on the prophecy in Ezekiel and Zechariah, the reader may refer to Two Scenarios for the War of Gog.
Let us return back to our verses. The present author has made a literal translation of key words in the passage, as we read,
And when you say in your heart, ‘How do we know the word which YHVH has not spoken?’ When the prophet speaks in the Name of YHVH and the word does not exist, nor does it come, that is the word which YHVH has not spoken. Deu 18:21-22)
The subject matter is very simple. If a prophet who speaks in the Name of YHVH words that do not exist, that is, they cannot come to us [because they do not exist], those are the words YHVH has never spoken. That prophet is a false prophet. It is not that a prophecy does not come to fulfillment that makes a person a false prophet, but the words he has spoken but do not exist makes him such.
Nowadays, there are many preachers, teachers, and TV evangelists who say words YHVH has never spoken. They say that the Torah of YHVH has been abolished, while YHVH says that His Torah is perfect and everlasting. And if something is perfect and everlasting, it cannot be done away with. Others say that the Torah has not been really done away with, but it is for the Jews, not for the Church, while YHVH says that His Torah is for the native Israelite and for the non-native. And of course they all say that the Church has replaced Israel and the Church is the true Israel. They even quote Apostle Paul “to prove” their point.
One thing is common for all these words of the modern-day “prophets”: such words do not exist, YHVH has never spoken them.