12:21–14:11 These passages are united by a concern with false prophecy. The Old Testament uses a number of criteria for distinguishing true from false prophecy. These criteria focus on what the message was, how it was received, and who received it. (a) The preeminent criterion for true or false prophecy is the fulfillment of the prophet’s words (Deut. 18:21, 22). His message must not contradict earlier revelation (Deut. 13:1–5). The message of a true prophet often ran against popular sentiment, and the prophets were persecuted because of their unpopular pronouncements (Jer. 20:7–10; 38:1–13; cf. Matt. 23:34, 35). (b) Certain means of discerning God’s will were forbidden (Deut. 18:9–14), such as divination, spiritism, and sorcery. However, prophets could receive revelation through dreams and visions (Num. 12:6–8). (c) The true prophet was admitted to God’s confidence (Jer. 23:18). The experience of admission to God’s counsel as if to a divine assembly was often reported in a call narrative (1:4–3:15 note). Finally, the prophet’s character had to be consistent with the glory of the God he served.
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