The world is living through turbulent times. Wars and rumors of wars abound. The COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Instability in national leadership continues. Individuals are concerned about the possibility of a collapsing economy and what the future might look like under a technocracy. Communist China is on the move, testing the mettle of the world as they push toward their goal of global domination. All of these circumstances provide an avenue for false prophets to rise to prominence by preying upon the concerns of people, and Christians in particular, who seem to be especially susceptible to the sensational. Jesus warned of this when he said that “an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Matt. 12:39).
America must truly be an “evil and adulterous generation” because so many Christians are enamored with prophecy and prophetic utterances. From home Bible studies to pulpits across the country, there is a constant study of the “signs of the time.” Christians take the daily news and attempt to force current events into passages of Scripture, and, in so doing, have twisted the Bible to fit a presuppositional, eschatological paradigm. On earth, men are made to tremble. In heaven, God laughs, and when He stops laughing the Lord sends a “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thess. 2:11).
So how can we know a false prophet when we see one? Scripture provides for us three distinct marks of a false prophet we would all do well to remember.
First, a false prophet is willing to invoke the name of God in forecasting the future, but what is said does not come to pass. Second, a false prophet is willing to induce fear in the hearts of others. Third, a false prophet loves to make money by provoking fear in people in the name of God. Biblically speaking, it is called “the way of Balaam” (2 Pet. 2:15). Balaam was willing to preach something contrary to God’s Word for personal gain. He was willing to compromise his own holy standards. That is called “the error of Balaam” (Jude 1:11).
To encourage the hearts of His people, the Lord has a word to say. First, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22). God does not want His people to be afraid of anyone, or anything except Himself. While “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Prov. 9:10), generally speaking, God has not given to His people “the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Among those in recent days who found himself among the false prophets against whom God warned is Jeremiah Johnson. The self-described prophet promoted himself for years as having the “privilege of walking in a strong prophetic anointing since he was a little boy.” For years, Johnson built up his reputation in order to enhance his credibility. Then, his prophetic world fell apart when he admitted to falsely prophesying that President Donald Trump would win a second term. If he had spoken as a political pundit, Jeremiah Johnson would simply have been in error. But because he spoke in the name of the Lord, he used the name of God in vain, deceived many, destroyed hopes and dreams, and brought shame to the body of Christ.
To his initial credit, Jeremiah Johnson offered a public apology for his false prophesy. He suspended his online ministry after a “visitation” from God—but only did so for two months. “After much prayer and the clear direction of the Lord,” he closed the brand Jeremiah Johnson Ministries.
However, this discredited prophet is not going away any time soon, and for good reason. There is money to be made off of God’s people. So, there is to be a rebranding of the ministry. It will now be known as, “The Altar Global,” and the fleecing of God’s flock for personal gain will continue. Jeremiah Johnson, after all, has had a new vision from God, he says.
Ah, of course! That is how God works. God does not really care when individuals take His name in vain. He will not hold a false prophet accountable—or will He?
Indeed, God will hold a false prophet accountable. Hear now the word of the Lord. “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exod. 20:7).
One way Jeremiah Johnson can rebrand himself and revamp his ministry after a slight bump in the road is by playing the victim. This is what he said earlier this year in an effort to justify his actions:
“I have received multiple death threats and thousands upon thousands of emails from Christians saying the nastiest and most vulgar things I have ever heard toward my family and ministry. I have been labeled a coward, sellout, a traitor to the Holy Spirit, and cussed out at least 500 times. We have lost ministry partners every hour and counting.”
The message: pray for me, “I am a victim. I am a wounded healer. I will do better.” But the larger question is this: Has Jeremiah Johnson repented? Is his repentance as wide as his transgression?
A quick look at “The Global Altar” says no. Jeremiah Johnson is back to his old tricks, but within a more conventual framework called Dispensationalism, a system which has fostered many individuals like Johnson, making fantastical predictions in the name of the Lord.
The Dispensational system predicts a rapture of the Church, a seven-year period of great tribulation, an Antichrist, a third coming of Christ, multiple resurrections from the dead, and a literal, thousand-year reign of Christ on earth from Jerusalem. There will also be a third Temple yet to be built. Jeremiah Johnson’s “Global Altar” will fit nicely inside Dispensationalism.
“Our mission according to Revelation 22:17 is to help prepare the Bride of Christ for the return of our glorious Bridegroom King Jesus. We have been instructed to prepare an Altar for the Wedding day.”
And the money? That will come from a school for prophets whereby students “will receive classroom training from Jeremiah Johnson and other instructors on the lifestyle of an end-time messenger and the return of the Lord.” The Altar School of Ministry “will be available online for an affordable cost . . .”
Is there hope for a false prophet? Sadly, false prophets do not seem to change. May God have mercy on these people. May the Lord have greater mercy on His people who are caught up with the excitement and sensationalism of the messengers that purport to be from God.