Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 23:9-40
Jeremiah begins with the statement that his heart is broken within him! I once heard a statement which probably describes Jeremiah’s problem – ‘the more holy a person is, the more painful for him or her to be in close proximity to a sinful situation’! When the people of God are sinful – it’s one thing, but when a king is sinful and worships idols, he affects the whole culture, but the greatest damage is done when God’s prophets and priests are off course! They stand in a very special close responsible connection to God, and although this privilege is wonderful, if they are sinful, how many more people do they affect! God actually says that because of this, there is wickedness even in HIS temple!
He promises punishment. In the ten tribes in Samaria they are worshiping Baal, but now in Judah, God says ‘I have seen something horrible (God sees something horrible – that must be extreme!?). And what is it? I cringe at the answer, “They commit adultery (want something worse than God and are CONNECTED to it!) and they live a lie! (Do I really do that?) And to the Lord, they are worse than Sodom and Gomorrah (whom God rained brimstone down on! (EXTREME punishment!)). Did you have to stop and go back up in your reading to find out what it is that is SO upsetting to God!
And then God proceeds to lay bare what HE thinks of the prophets! Did you see what the prophets – the ones who professed to talk on behalf of God were doing wrong? They were giving people FALSE HOPES. So when you listen to someone speaking from the Word of God, make sure you check out the context to make sure you are not getting false hopes! And how would I know a true prophet – someone who truly spoke on His behalf? It says that if they speak on God’s behalf – the result is that the people listening are turned from their evil (wrong?) ways and evil deeds! What a true prophet speaks for God causes real CHANGES in people’s lives! A false prophet helps a person to turn away from God! A true prophet – what he says will be like a fire (to burn away unholiness from lives) or a hammer that breaks my hard heart which has become like a rock because I am headed in the wrong direction! It hits the nail on the head! – is relevant! – I hear what I need to hear from God’s perspective!
False prophets do not benefit God’s people in the least! I wonder what kind of prophet I am! God has given us His loving beautiful Word which is so honest and straight-forward! May I never be found guilty of using ‘my own words and ideas’! But if I do, God promises to treat this misdeed in the most severe way possible! – everlasting disgrace – everlasting shame that will not be forgotten! Paul tells Timothy (& me) (1 Timothy 3:3) that if he or I do not teach with “wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and according to the doctrine which is according to godliness… then God has words to describe me….. 1 Timothy 3:4-5 (not the words I would like him to use to describe me!) And again Paul tells the Colossians (4:5-6) our speech is to be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man! And I begin to reflect on when was the last time I checked up on my speech! These prophets certainly hadn’t checked anything recently! And not only they, but others suffered the consequences of the prophets’ wayward rebellious hearts! Hopefully that’s not true for any of us?