On September 7, 1992, David Wilkerson prophesied:

“I have had recurring visions of over 1,000 fires burning at one time here in New York city. I am convinced race riots will soon explode! New York City is right now a powder keg-ready to blow!… federal and State Welfare cutbacks will be the spark that ignites the fuse.

Next year, New York City could have over 100,000 angry men on the streets, enraged because they have been cut off from benefits…. Federal troops will have to move in to restore order. New York City will have tanks running down its avenues…. Churches will be closed for a season because it will be too dangerous to travel about.

Fires will rage everywhere.”

It did not happen. This was a false prophecy. After it failed, he claimed the prophecy was true except for the date. He said he had added the date. The prophecy would happen later.

“This is a common expedient for those who assume themselves to be prophets,” said Tom Riggle, “moving the goal-posts, hoping that others will forget by then.”[1]

It still had not happened by the time Wilkerson passed away in 2011. It is extremely difficult to imagine it will ever happen. It is just so extreme.

Experience

Wilkerson did not have a long track record of many fulfilled prophecies before or after this. This despite people calling him a prophet. He may have preached a thousand good sermons but it wouldn’t make him one bit better at delivering one true prophecy. It is a completely different kettle of fish.

Frequency

Note that Wilkerson said he had had “recurring visions.” It is easily assumed that recurring visions are incontrovertible evidence of authentic prophecy. (People have been assuming one of Paul Cain’s popular but unfulfilled prophecies is still valid because he says he had recurring visions.) The frequency probably convinced first Wilkerson and then the people who heard his prophetic word it was legitimate. The conclusion is frequency can be easily misinterpreted and is dangerous because of how easily it can lead to deception.

Accountability

He would have done better to submit his opinion of the future to a group of leaders for their input before going public. No doubt a lot of people who believed his prophecy and stayed in New York lived in fear for a long time; whereas others probably left the city. Any time a potential prophecy can affect a lot of people in a big way it should get outside counsel before distribution as long as that is possible. No public record was found of Wilkerson saying he did this; likewise no endorsements by other pastors, prophets, or leaders who said they believed it or received a similar impression independently, before or after he did.

End Notes

[1] Tom Riggle, “David Wilkerson False Prophecies & Unscriptural Teaching,” July 30, 2007. http://www.geocities.com/asterisktom/wilkerson.html [Dec. 20, 2008].

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