“false prophets.” One of the most important things we need to be aware of about these false prophets is that they will arise from among the believers. While there will certainly be people who are not believers who will say many erroneous things about God, Christ, the Word, Christians and Jews, etc., these are not “false prophets” in the most common sense of the Word. In the Old Testament, the false prophets who got the most attention were prophets from among the Jews who left the true faith and followed other gods or spoke lies to the Jews.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5 says there will be prophets who try to lead the Jews into the worship of other gods. Jeremiah 28 records the conflict between Jeremiah and the prophet Hananiah, who turned out to be a false prophet. Ezekiel 13:1-12 is about the false prophets in Israel who “see false visions and speak lying divinations. They claim, ‘This is the LORD’s declaration,’ when the LORD did not send them” (Ezek. 13:6 HCSB). Jeremiah 27:14-15 and Jeremiah 29:8-9 record God saying that He did not send many of the prophets who were speaking in His name. Thus, they were prophesying lies (Jer. 23:26). In fact, Jeremiah 29:8 (HCSB) says, “Don’t let your prophets who are living among you…deceive you.”
Many of the false prophets in the Old Testament were living among the Jews because they were Jews. It will be the same today. Many of the false prophets will be believers—which at this time means Christians—who will be claiming to speak by revelation or what they know from the Word, but what they will be saying will not be true. We hear many of those voices today already (although they don’t necessarily agree with each other): “There is no everlasting punishment for the unsaved; people can get saved without believing in Jesus Christ; sexual sin is not a sin after all; diligently obeying the Word is ‘legalism,’” and so much more. The wise believer knows the Word of God and diligently works to separate truth from error so he is not misled. In Matthew 24:4, Jesus said to watch out that we are not misled, and it is up to each believer to take the time to learn the truth about God and the Word so he or she is not misled.