False Prophets, Profiteers

Matthew 7: 15-20
2 Kgs 22: 8-13; 23: 1-3 / Ps 119: 33-34, 36-37, 40

Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-16)

They claim this world as God’s kingdom,
False prophets lead us from the truth;
Pray to the Lord for the wisdom
To recognize them by their fruit.

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruits you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7: 15-20)


In yesterday’s reflection on the Gospel reading of Luke, we read about St. John the Baptist, our model of the true prophet of God. And our reflection on the Gospel of the day before that was about judging (Mt.7:1-5). How strange that today’s Gospel reading confronts us with the question of how to judge whether a prophet is true or false.

Jesus warns us about the danger of falling prey to charlatans whose devious schemes can bring disaster to our souls (not to mention our pockets). The tens of thousands of “Christian” denominations that have proliferated all over the world bear witness to the accuracy of our Lord’s prophecy. The principle of the separation of church and state has given rise to thousands of ‘profiteers’ who have seen that they can raise a bundle of tax-free money, with a little charisma and a good memory for verses in the Bible. Millions of nominal Christians who are ‘prophet-profiteers’. Instead of repentance, they preach the Old Testament practice of tithing and love offerings for the salvation of souls.

Jesus, however, tells us that we can recognize these false prophets by their fruit (or lack of it). Of course our Lord tells us not to be judgmental, but cautions us to be more discerning in choosing the leaders that we can trust. The “fruit” that we can recognize are the good examples that they have shown – in shepherding and in stewardship. Are they leading others to Christ, or to themselves alone? How well are they managing the resources that have been entrusted to them?

We had the misfortune of encountering one such false prophet, many years ago before I joined the Christian renewal. He was a very astute businessman who so impressed me with his grasp of Holy Scriptures that I thought we had found a perfect business partner worthy of our full trust and confidence. Little did we know then that his keen knowledge of Scriptures was contrived to lure unwary investors into an investment scam. It was an expensive lesson to pay for my naivete’.

We have been warned repeatedly about false prophets. Writers in both the Old and the New Testament have written about many false prophets on this earth. They will be around deceiving millions until the Second Coming of Christ. As members of the Communion of Saints, let us pray for the intercession of our prophets and saints in heaven that God our Father will protect us from the evil influence of these false prophets in our midst.

Dear God, send us true prophets to counter the false; true leaders to show us the right ways in following Your will. May Your judgment fall swiftly on the anti-christs who are leading so many away from Your kingdom. Amen.

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