Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
– 1 Corinthians 13: 8 – 10
What do you think when prophetic words do not come to pass? Do you automatically think that someone has prophe-lied to you? If you say to yourself that ‘real prophetic words must come to pass no matter what’, then you may want to read 1 Corinthians 13:8 – 10! Now, why does this passage say that we know in part and we prophesy in part especially now that we have the Holy Spirit within us who reveals things to us? What should we do with prophesy? How do I know if what I am hearing is a prophe-lie? Hopefully your questions are addressed as we examine the reasons why prophesies fail.
Reason 1: The prophetic ‘word’ was really a prophetic ‘dream’
Not all words that come out of the mouth of prophets are words from God. The scriptures put it this way in Jeremiah 23:28: The prophet, who has a dream, let him tell a dream; And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.
Note: If you ever wondered where ‘in your dreams’ came from, wonder no more!
Just like the prophet who prophe-lied that the congregation of Israel was only going to spend 2 years in captivity or the false prophets who told King Ahab that he was going to be victorious in battle, we too can become dreamers if we are not careful.
But can we deduce if a prophetic word is a dream? Absolutely!
The story of the man of God in 2 Kings 13 who was sent to Jeroboam will shed light on this. See, this man had heard from God that he should return back to his home a certain way, but decided to turn another way because of the lying words of another prophet who simply wanted some company.
Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.”
16 And he said, “I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. 17 For I have been told by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.’”
18 He said to him, “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (He was lying to him.)
19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water.
Unfortunately, this man of God decided to listen to the lying prophet and followed him. As a result, the man of God paid the price of death for his disobedience. The irony of it is that true prophetic announcement of the man of God’s death came by the same prophet who had first lied to him (see 2 Kings 13:20 – 23!
Here are a few things this story relates to us regarding prophesy:
- We should never doubt what the Lord has told even if another ‘prophet’ tells us different
- Our obedience to what the Lord tells us is critical to life; disobedience blocks out the blessings of God
- Even true prophets fall prey to dreaming. Hence, no amount of prophesy from anyone beats listening to the direct command of the Holy Spirit
- If we are hearing contradictory prophesy about a specific situation, then one of the prophecy is not of God, as God will NEVER contradict Himself. Also, God will never contradict the scripture.
- The best kind of prophesy is confirmation of what the Lord has already told us. Yes! We can now hear from God who longs to speak to us directly. Therefore, all prophesy really ought to be confirmation. If it’s not, we need to check the health of our relationship with God.
- We become prophe-liars the moment we take our eyes off God to entertain ourselves, our circumstance, or others.