Do prophets of God sometimes make mistakes? What about Huldah?
Some individuals claim to be prophets of God. Yet, they admit that they have prophesies of things that did not come to pass. They defend themselves by claiming that the prophetess Huldah in 2 Chronicles 34:28 made a mistake. She made a false prophecy. She said King Josiah would die peacefully. Then they claim King Josiah was killed in battle by arrows according to 2 Chronicles 35:22-24. That is, he did not die “in peace.” The question we are concerned with is, “Do prophets of God sometimes make mistakes?” This brief study examines the prophecy of Huldah and its fulfillment as recorded in 2 Chronicles 35:22-24.
Did Huldah the Prophetess Falsely Prophesy?
Huldah was a prophetess according to 2 Kings 22:14-20 and 2 Chronicles 34:22-28. These passages record her advice to King Josiah. Near the end of both passages, the prophecy that we are concerned with is recorded (2 Kings 22:20; 2 Chronicles 34:28). Here is the prophecy from 2 Chronicles 34:28 that some claim was false or a mistake.
“Behold, I will gather you to your fathers and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, so your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place and on its inhabitants.” And they brought back word to the king. 2 Chronicles 34:28 (NASB)
The prophecy is about King Josiah. She prophesied that a) the king would die in peace and b) he would “not see all the evil” which God would bring “on this place and on its inhabitants,” that is, on the kingdom of Judah.
Those who claim that God’s prophets sometimes do make mistakes claim that 2 Chronicles 35:22-24 reveals King Josiah did not die in peace. Here is 2 Chronicles 35:22-24.
However, Josiah would not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo. The archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in the second chariot which he had, and brought him to Jerusalem where he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. 2 Chronicles 35:22-24 (NASB)
This passage states that Josiah was killed in battle by an arrow. They believe this means he did not die “in peace.” At this point, it seems that those who claim prophets and prophetesses do make mistakes are correct.
However, those who claim Huldah was wrong miss the fact that the prophecy does not say that Josiah’s death would be peaceful. The prophecy states that the peace would be that he would not see or witness the evil that God would “bring on this place and on its inhabitants.” That is, on Judah. They have misunderstood the prophecy.
It is important to notice that in both 2 Kings 22: 20 and Chronicles 34:28 the Hebrew conjunction, that is translated as “so,” in the statement is we. This Hebrew word can be translated as “and,” “so,” “then,” “when,” and “now.” This word is used to provide more information. That is, “so your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring” explains the statement “you shall be gathered to your grave in peace.” That is the better understanding of Huldah’s statement. That is, King Josiah would not be burdened with the pain and anguish of the defeat of Judah by a foreign invader. J. Barton Payne in his commentary on 1 and 2 Chronicles in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary agrees with this comment about the prophecy of Huldah.
Josiah, however, was promised that his eyes would “not see all the disaster.” Postponements of divine wrath had been granted previously to King Hezekiah (cf. on 32:26) and even to King Ahab of Israel (1 Kings 21:29) when they too displayed humility and repentance. Josiah would “be buried in peace,” i.e., before the disastrous Fall of Judah that constitutes the point at issue here; for though the king was buried in honor, he did, in fact, die from battle wounds (35:23-24).
His conclusion is correct. Huldah was a true prophetess and she did not make a mistake.
Do Prophets of God Make Mistakes Sometimes?
Those who claim that Huldah was a true prophetess who made a mistake to justify their own false prophecies have ignored Scripture. They ignore what God has said in Deuteronomy 18:20-22. Here is the passage,
“‘But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:20-22 (NASB)
The passage states that anyone who claims to be a prophet of God (male or female) is a liar if they make a mistake. That is, they make a false prophecy. There are two important conclusions we can reach now. First, if Huldah did make a mistake, then Deuteronomy 18:20-22 reveals she was not a true prophetess of God. Further, the prophets and prophetesses of God do not make mistakes. Second, those who claim to be prophets even though they make mistakes are liars. They are not true prophets and prophetesses.
Do the true prophets of God make false prophesies occasionally? The answer is no! Did Huldah prophesy falsely? The answer is no! That is, true prophets and prophetesses of God do not make mistakes when prophesying for God. God’s reputation is at stake. Does God know everything? Yes! Does God lie? No! God never makes mistakes and those who truly speak for Him do not either. Otherwise, they are not His prophet or prophetess.
1. J. Barton Payne. 1 and 2 Chronicles. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Regency Reference Library. 1988. p. 552.
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