False Prophets 7:15-20
This passage stands on a very large contextual background. Initially, a prophet gains a hearing by performing miracles and/or predicting things that consistently come to pass. However, Deuteronomy 13:2-4 is a strong example of pointing the people back to the Covenant. If this prophet performs miracles and accurately predicts the future, he may still be a liar. How would you know?
Jesus characterizes the whole question as one of fruit. In this case, shalom is the fruit. You don’t get shalom from a liar. Your heart knows when someone is pulling you against your convictions, and that violates shalom. This is a good time to remind ourselves that a primary manifestation of shalom is social stability within the Covenant.
The Covenant of Moses is not a code of bylaws; it is an organic whole that rests firmly upon the character of God woven into the fabric of the cosmos. It’s an expression of His personality and what He expects of His people. Like anything that lives, it requires an active nurturing hand if it’s going to bear the fruit of shalom. Anyone whose presence within the Covenant community has the net effect of spoiling the fruit will also bear with them some uncomfortable vibes. The two are intimately linked in the life of Covenant believers. If you know the Covenant, you know God, and then you can spot a fake because it deviates from what your convictions can accept.
A real prophet knows he has to give it time for fruit to ripen and be tasted. Most Old Testament prophets were already recognized as such long before they began pressing a particular issue. They made it a point to establish their credibility by echoing the Covenant Law first. Jesus warns us not to be awed by someone who seeks to bypass the one most critical test of promoting a greater adherence to the Covenant. They should call you to repent and return, not depart.
In case it’s not quite obvious, the whole business of Hellenism and substituting reason for faith is what destroyed Old Testament religion, putting legalistic Judaism in its place. This was a clear departure from the very foundations of the Covenant, and brought forth a very poisonous fruit that stole away shalom. When the Messiah comes, those who perverted Moses would be excluded.