Since we are living in a day and age where prophets are going to rise up and make themselves known, it is helpful for Christians to know what sort of things prophets would hold in common, or characteristics that they would hold. Here I will enumerate what the Bible shares with us about prophets.
#1 If the thing follows not, then that prophet is speaking presumptuously.
Deuteronomy 18:22 " 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."
If the prophet gives a timeline for the fulfillment of his prophecy, and it does not come to pass, then he is either a young, immature prophet who does not understand fully yet the nature of his gift or he is a false prophet.
#2 A prophet many times has skeptical family members who reject his office or ministry and may have trouble finding fulfilling life in his home.
Matthew 13:57 " And
they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not
without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house."
#3 Most people will certainly not speak well of this man. They will tarnish his name and some they will even kill.
Luke 6:26 "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets."
Luke 21:16 "And
ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and
friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death."
#4 Prophets almost never give words of great tidings, peace and prosperity, as is the custom in American churches. But Jeremiah says only if that word does come to pass should that prophet be believed.
Jeremiah 28:8,9 "The prophets that have
been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many
countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of
prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall
come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him."
#5 Popular in many "prophetic" circles is the philosophy that politicians share with these speakers: Telling the listeners what they want to hear, so long as it serves the speaker and his lusts. Conversely, the true prophet will care little if you are interested in hearing his words, he will speak them without fear and let the chips fall where they may. Many would be astonished, as they were when Jesus spoke, after the prophet speaks and some might turn violently against the man.
2 Timothy 4:3,4 "For
the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after
their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching
ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
#6 A prophet will have some sort of unusual direct communication with God that most other Christians do not have.
Exodus 3:2 (burning bush)
Jonah 1:1, Haggai 1:1, Zechariah 1:1, Jeremiah 1:2, Ezekiel 1:3, etc... (the direct word of the Lord, speaking directly to God)
Ezekiel 1:1, Acts 7:55, Acts 11:5 (visions)
Genesis 37:5, Genesis 37:9, Daniel 7:1 (dreams from the Lord)