First of all, end-time prophecies are not something new - there are actually quite a few of them in the Bible itself. Throughout the ages there have also been several different prophecies about coming disasters and the end of time. This should not surprise us if we are Bible-believing Christians for God makes it very clear in His word that He knows the beginning from the end - nothing that happens surprises Him (Isaiah 46:10)
We should not be surprised, either, that God reveals future events, because the Bible tells us that “…the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7)
But are all end-time prophecies from God?
Does this mean that all prophecies of coming disasters and the end of the world are from God?...
However, God both knows the future and doesn't mind warning His people when there is danger on the way. Sometimes He brings warnings because we should pray that it would be stopped, and other times He reveals the future so that when disaster comes we can trust His leadership. If He knows what will happen, He also knows how to keep us safe.
If I am to hear Him speak, I need to listen, though. If we make up our minds that God never brings warnings about disasters or calamity then it will be hard for God to warn me about such things. I need to keep my head on, have attentive ears and an open mind.
How do I judge what prophecies are from God?
I believe the first step of being able to discern if something is from God or not is to have a personal relationship with Him. When this is said, there are some other points I believe can help us discern if something is from God or not.
1. Is it scriptural?
The first thing we should check is if it lines up with the Bible. I am of course aware that there are some different views when it comes to eschatology, and here I believe we should not get too rigid. However, if we hear prophecies that clearly don't line up with Scripture or are given under the inspiration of demons, we should not accept them. The prophecies might turn out to be accurate, but we should make up our minds that our only source should be the God of the Bible.
If the prophecy is from God, it will of course be accurate too, but accuracy alone does not make it biblical. What the slave girl in Acts 16 said was biblically correct, but the spirit behind it was not God.
2. Is it accurate?
As I mentioned in the point above, a prophecy given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit will also be accurate and this should be a part of our evaluation when we seek to discern prophecies.
As an example you can take the prophecy given by the elderly lady in Norway in 1968. She couldn’t have known some of the things she mentioned.
- She mentioned what we might call "the prosperity gospel". When she came with her prophecy, this trend had not started.
- She mentioned an unhealthy focus on grace; a trend that was almost unthinkable in Norway at this time.
- She mentioned several TV stations, which was totally unthinkable. You have to remember that Norway up until 1992 only had one TV channel.
- She talked about sex scenes on TV and at the time she came with her prophecy, sex scenes on TV were actually illegal.
- She talked about immigration and I believe that at this time the only immigration that took place was Norwegians moving to America.
So the fact that today we start to see the accuracy of her prophecy should make us take more heed to what she was saying.
When Jesus prophesied about the end of the age He gave several specific signs. These signs were not all a reality when He spoke the prophecy, but He gave them so that we would know when the time was approaching. He told us that just as we could know that spring was coming by looking at the fig leaves, we could know the times by looking at the signs He gave us.
3. Soon does not always mean 5 minutes
Another issue that has often caused frustration when it comes to prophecies is how we interpret the word "soon". The fact that something is happening soon does not always mean that it has to happen within the next five minutes.
If my wife asks me when I am coming home and I say soon, that might indicate that I am coming in a few minutes. If my wife goes to a shopping centre and says she will soon be back, I know soon can mean several hours. If someone says they are soon finished with this school semester, then they might be indicating that they have only a few weeks left. If the government say they soon will build a new highway, soon might mean several years.
The size of an event can have a significant influence on what the word "soon" means and we should take this into account when we talk about biblical end-time prophecies. When we are talking about prophecies regarding world events, we need to have a global attitude to the word “soon".
4. We are all just human vessels
The last point I want to mention is that we should also remember that when someone delivers a prophecy, the word of the Lord is being filtered trough a human vessel. Therefore we should listen for heart of the message and not take it as a literal, inerrant word from God.
Some might say "God will make a wall of fire around you...", while another person might say "As a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, so God will cover you...". The message is the same, but the choice of words depends on the person who gives the prophecy.
Of course there are people that are more mature in the prophetic and therefore will be more accurate, but we always need to remember that the word that is being delivered is filtered through a human vessel. The level of the prophetic encounter will of course also influence the accuracy, but generally keep in mind that the prophecy is being delivered through a human vessel.