Throughout history, God has raised up many people to preach his gospel and to shine his light to men. But except for his son Jesus, all of these men had their personal failings. Martin Luther was an anti-semite. John Wesley was a divorcee. In the bible we find King David had a man killed so he could take his wife. Samson was a fornicator. Ananias and Saphira were liars. Jospeh planted false evidence and accused his brothers of being thieves. The list is long if we were to recount them all.
The bible does not share their stories with us to condemn them. Joseph, King David, and many other of these men were truly called of God and He had a great purpose for their lives. The bible shares their stories with us so we can learn from them. We can learn to not fall into the same traps which they found themselves in. Another important lesson we can learn is that the men which God calls can and do have personal failings in their lives, sometimes very serious ones. This is why the Apostle Paul says in Romans 11:29 that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” In other words, God gives people gifts and callings despite their personal failings.
In this article we want to review some events in the lives of the men in the bible who held the Elijah anointing. These men were Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist.
Elijah was a man with a nature like oursJames 5:17
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was a great man of God. Jesus said he was the greatest of all the Old Testament prophets, and God gave him the honor of introducing his Son to the world. The Apostle John records records it this way.
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.John 1:29-34
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
John the Baptist proudly proclaimed to the all who would listen that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the lamb of God who would take away their sins, and that he was the Son of God. He witnessed the great miracle of the holy spirit descending and taking up its abode in Jesus Christ.
As time passed after this baptism, we find that John the Baptist has a great lapse in faith, and seems to recant his prophecy over Jesus. Matthew records this event and how Jesus responded to it.
2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,Matthew 11:2-3
3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
Here the man who had proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God and the lamb who would take away the sins of the world has suddenly been gripped with doubt as he sits in jail.
4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:Matthew 11:4-6
5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
These men conveyed John’s doubt before the multitude. This forced Jesus to give an explanation. How could it be that this greatest of the prophets could come to doubt his own prophecy? And worst of all, to show his doubt before others and influence them to doubt in Christ as well. Jesus had to give an explanation.
7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?Matthew 11:7
As a tinge of doubt entered into the hearts of those who heard John contradicting himself, Jesus asks them why they ever listened to John in the first place? Was it to see a shaking reed? Was it to see the unsteadiness and inconsistencies of a man? What was the answer?
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.Matthew 11:8-9
9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
It was not even just to see a prophet that they went out to see him. Why did they go to see him? They went to see him for the message he carried and for the Messiah he was pointing them to.
10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.Matthew 11:10
We can learn a lesson from John the Baptist’s case. Even the greatest prophet of the old testament could change an opinion about one his prophecies, and not for the better. More importantly, Jesus instructed the disciples to overlook John’s personal failing, his lapse of faith and self contradiction, but to accept his message and the Messiah he was pointing them to. That Messiah was and still is Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.
The prophet Elisha asked one thing of Elijah the prophet. He asked him him he could receive a double portion of the anointing that had been on him. As Elijah was taken from the earth to heaven, his mantle fell from the chariot of fire to Elisha as a token that his request had been granted.
Among the prophets of the Elijah anointing, Elisha had the most outstanding miracles recorded. He blinded and killed entire armies, raised the dead, healed the sick, set up Kings and caused Kings to be removed from their throne. There were a couple of unusual things in the ministry of Elisha.
First, it was the company he kept. Elisha lived with a group of men who were known as he “Sons of the Prophets”. These were men who had followed Elijah while he was living. In 2 Kings 2:15, the Sons of the Prophet refused to accept the reality that Elijah was gone, and for a period of time went to search for him, expecting him to return. This group had a number of unsavory members, including liars (1 Kings 20:39) and swindlers (2 Kings 5:15-27). Yet Elisha chose to live with them. (1 Kings 6)
We can also find that Elisha himself made up a story to mislead people. A great army was sent to arrest and kill Elisha by the King of Syria, but by the power of God, he blinded the entire army and then led them into a trap.
And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither isthis the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria.2 Kings 6:19
Finally we will look at Elijah the Prophet. God sent Elijah to bring a judgement against Israel and to call them back to serve the Lord. He began by bringing a years long drought upon the land which affected everyone. It was known far and wide that Elijah had called for the drought bringing him great fame.
Finally Elijah appeared and called for a showdown between him and the prophets of the false god Baal, who the children of Israel had been worshiping. Elijah opened the contest by telling the entire audience an exaggeration saying, “I only I am left a prophet of the Lord”. During the contest Elijah mocked and jeered his opponents. Finally, when it was for fire to be brought down, Elijah assumed a different demeanor. He quietly and humbly went up the altar. There a great miracle was performed, and God caused fire to come down from heaven to prove he was the only True Living God. This act was witnessed by all the great men and most of Israel. It caused them to leave Baal and return to serve the true God. They slew the false prophets of Baal.
Only a few days later, this man who had appeared to have all the power in the world, Elijah, began to run for his life in fear of Jezebel. He went and hid in a cave. There he began to pray to God.
And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.1 Kings 19:14
Elijah begins to exaggerate the situation a second time. Having just a few days prior seen the great multitude who believed in God, he now claims yet again that he is the only one left serving God. This time God corrects his exaggeration, saying:
Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.1 Kings 19:18
Critics of William Branham say that he made up stories, that he exaggerated things, and that he was inconsistent in the some of the things he said, and that some of the people he was associated with were disreputable. But we say, “What went ye out to see? A reed shaking in the wind?” We went to see and hear about the second coming of the Messiah and the call to prepare for it.
The critics go so far as to say that Bro. Branham was a false prophet because of his personal failings. Did associating with disreputable people make Elisha a false prophet? Did being inconsistent make John the Baptist a false prophet? Did misleading people make Elisha a false prophet? Did exaggerating make Elijah a false prophet?
Even if the allegations against Bro. Branham are true, they would not be enough to brand him a false prophet. Bro. Branham only ever admitted to one of these personal failings.
I’m not very good at making a… or estimating crowds, because I usually exaggerate on it.STRAIT.IS.THE.GATE JEFF.IN CH 35-66 59-0301M
May God help me not–not to exaggerate, but just be honest as I believe from my heart.SECOND.MIRACLE ERIE.PA 51-0729E
The biblical standard for declaring someone a false prophet
The bible let’s us know very clearly that a minister’s personal failings to do not take away the calling or gifts God has placed on his life. (Rom 11:29) If a minister does have a serious personal failing, he must of course step down from his office, as is expressed elsewhere in the bible. But that does not make him a false prophet. The bible give us only two mechanisms to determine if someone is a false prophet.
In the Old Testament times, God spoke by Moses how to detect a false prophet.
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.Deuteronomy 18:22
In New Testament times the Apostle Paul gave the following statement for detecting false prophets, and the Apostle John elaborates on the same point.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.Galations 1:8
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
1 John 4:1-3
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
These are the standard by which we must evaluate the ministry of William Branham, and these are the standards applied by the editors of this website. By these standards, we find no problem with Bro. Branham and his prophetic message.