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Moses David: A False Prophet

The End Time Prophet, the New Moses?
The New David?
Servant and King of Peace
Studying the Scriptures

When we take a critical view at the American David Berg, who was considered a prophet and called Moses David by his followers in the religious sect "The Family" (previously known as "The Children of God"), certain norms for true and false prophecy may be used. These are based on the two articles by Knud Jeppesen and Helge Kjaer Nielsen in the Danish publication titled The New Dialog.

1: Quoting the Bible in support of one's statements does not prove anything. The devil did these when he tempted Jesus in the desert (Matt. 4). His quotation was actually correct, but as we all know, "like Hell".

2: When quoting the Bible, Biblical and Christian assumptions are assembled; i.e. the quoted text must be understood in the right context. Besides, there must be a correspondence between the word and action of the prophet.

When these criteria are applied to the actual circumstances regarding David Berg and our knowledge of him (partly on the basis of what he has written himself, and partly on the basis of the testimony given by recent and former followers), we are left with two main problems concerning his genuineness as a prophet.

First, there is a problem in connection with his word and his followers' use of Biblical texts in support of his dignity of a prophet. We might call this the "dogmatic credibility" of David Berg. Second, his behavior in specific situations constitutes another problem. This we might call his "ethical credibility."

It seems that the members of The Family have developed a conditioned reflex towards difficult quotations from scriptures cited by the sect itself. They always react by maintaining that the quotation has been misused and not seen in the right context. Therefore, it is even more surprising to see how the sect itself uses quotations from the Bible, as obviously the sect rarely succeeds in using quotations in the right context. This is especially true when the quotations are used to state the reasons for regarding David Berg as "Moses David."

There is not sufficient room in this page to produce a detailed investigation of the textual evidence of The Family, but we shall state the most important ones.

Edward Priebe, who for many years was a member of the Children of God, has written an undated text titled, "David the Prophet? Why David Berg is not God's Endtime Prophet." In a simple way he states The Family's misuse of Biblical texts. We thus get a clear picture of the dogmatic heresy of the sect relative to the founding prophet David Berg. The following examples are built on the experiences and insight of Edward Priebe.
The End Time Prophet, the New Moses?

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 is probably the most important text in connection with David Berg appointing himself to be a prophet. In a circular letter titled, "a Prophet Like Moses", he claims that God is speaking about him when the text says:
"The Lord your God will rise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. . . . I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account."
This identification and threat against those who do not listen to the new Moses is firmly established in the minds of the followers of David Berg as a precondition. But obviously they have not read on to verse 20:
"But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."
In verse 22 it is emphasized that a prophet is false when the words spoken by him are not fulfilled:
"If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him."
Whoever reads David Berg's written messages through the years -- the so-called "MO Letters" -- will find a pile of prophecies that were never fulfilled. Lack of space prevents mentioning them here, but there are his predictions in connection with the appearance of the comet Kohoutek in the 1970s, which never came true. Even the members of The Family cannot deny that.

Who is the prophet whose coming is predicted in Deuteronomy? St. Peter pointed to Jesus as the prophet anticipated by Moses (Acts 3:22). Stephen the martyr also identifies the predicted prophet as Jesus (Acts 7:37). The first Christians all believed that the expectations were fulfilled by the coming of Jesus of Nazareth.

Of course, we may question the correctness of the belief. But one cannot claim that a Christian is in correspondence with the New Testament. At the same time to disagree with these two basic statements form the early church is not possible.

Nor does it make any sense to maintain that the predictions of Moses apply to both Jesus and David Berg. Then we end up in contradictions and meaninglessness.

The New David?

Another important text for David Berg is his argumentation that he is the prophet in Isaiah 55:3-4. The text promises that the Lord will make an eternal covenant, this time and for ever, and "love you faithfully as I loved David."

St. Paul also used this text in his sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:14 and following. Note in particular verse 22). He connects it to the fulfillment of the resurrection of Jesus. In his opinion the new David was identical with Jesus.

Here again one might disagree with St. Paul. It makes no sense, however, to claim that Paul is right and at the same time maintain that The Family is right, when it says that David Berg is the one to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, both as "witness", "prince", and "instructor" (Isaiah 55:4).

Another text frequently used by The Family is Psalm 89 (in particular verse 28 onwards), where the Lord points out David and God's own faithfulness to him. Even though David's sons broke their words, the Lord will not break his word to David, "Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness -- and I will not lie to David" (Psalm 89:35).

The Family also often argues on the basis of the text from 2 Samuel 7, where Nathan gave his word to David, that the Lord will never withdraw his faithfulness from him (verses 12-16).

There is actually no connection between these texts and David Berg except for the name "David". Using these texts when arguing that he is the new David, to whom God shall always present the truth, David Berg makes quotations from Biblical texts in an obviously disconnected way.

Servant and King of Peace

Ezekiel 34:23-24 reads:
"I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken."
In A Prophet Like Moses, David Berg claims that the above text does not concern Jesus, as it mentions the word "servant." But this objection hardly deserves any comment, as Berg should know his Bible well enough to understand that this very word plays and important role in connection with Jesus' understanding of himself and his disciples. Anyone may look this up in Matt. 12:18, which quotes Isaiah 42 on "the suffering servant of the Lord" (see also Isaiah 49:3 and 52:13).

The Family also twists the word written in Ezekiel 37:24-25:
"My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. . . and David my servant will be their prince for ever."
From the context it is obvious that this text is a prophecy about the reunion of the two separated parts of the people of Israel, expressed by means of a symbolic act. The David mentioned here is the future King of Israel, the King of Peace.

Similarly, in Hosea 3:5, where it is said that the Israelites "...they will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days." The Family attaches great importance to the expression "in the last days" and uses it in their arguments that the prophecy concerns David Berg, who is the end time Moses and David. This is a somewhat twisted interpretation!

Studying the Scriptures

Edward Priebe analyses these very texts, as his experience of many years has taught him that they serve as "scripture proofs" within the sect of The Children of God to identify David Berg as a prophet with the same status as Moses and David.

Priebe closes his paper by quoting Jesus:
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (John 5:39,40)
This investigation of the Biblical basis for The Family to believe in David Berg as being end time prophet and future David, clearly shows that this form of theology makes no sense. It is clearly anti-Christian.

Of course, one may deny the expectation and fulfillment theology of the Bible. No one, however, is allowed to add to or subtract from the Bible, at the same time claiming to be a Christian group based on the Bible. David Berg wants to add to the Bible, placing himself next to Jesus. This is where he reveals himself as a false prophet, and his followers reveal their heresy in comparison to Christianity, confirming his misuse of Biblical texts.

The Family must understand that if it wants to be recognized as a Christian community, it will have to clarify these matters.

All scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version of the Holy Bible.