Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 22 - 26 …
People are easily deceived. They will believe anything ... but the truth! It is said that "the truth hurts," and when it comes to God's judgment against those who reject Him, or who pretend to worship Him, that is certainly true. People do not want to be confronted with the reality of sin and its consequences. We are, by nature, willing to overlook our own faults, while holding the sins of others against them forever. Such is the state of those who do not know Jesus Christ or His Father in heaven.
God had sent the prophet Jeremiah to the nation of Judah to warn them of His coming judgment. Jeremiah had told them to surrender and to go into exile in Babylon, but the false prophets continued to tell the people that everything would be all right and they would have peace. It was a battle between truth and lies, between those who claimed to speak for God and the ONE prophet who really DID! As Jeremiah warned of the judgment to come, the cause of God's wrath was obvious ... or at least should have been: "They have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God and have worshiped and served other gods" (22:9). Idolatry was and is a common cause of God’s judgment. Though we may come up with “nicer” names for it today, worshiping anything or anyone other than the one true God, our Creator, is idolatry and deserves His judgment.
In Chapter 22 Jeremiah condemns the kings of Judah, and then in Chapter 23 he condemns the priests ("shepherds") and the prophets. "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture” (23:1). "The prophets follow an evil course and use their power unjustly. Both prophet and priest are godless" (23:10-11). What a horrible state of affairs, and how like today in many places throughout the world and even in the United States. People are lied to and used as pawns to build political and religious empires. The "priests and prophets" claim to speak for God, but listen to what God says:
"Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise Me, 'The LORD says: You will have peace.' And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, 'No harm will come to you'" (23:16-17). So preachers and teachers tell those who claim to believe in "God" that all is well, that no harm will befall them. The "Interfaith Movement" of today is an example of these false prophecies that offer peace on earth, good will toward men as all people are called to believe whatever they want "for the common good."
God says, "But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear His word? ... If they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds" (23:18, 22). God has spoken in His Word, the Bible, yet the false prophets of today do the same thing they did in Jeremiah's day. They say, "I had a dream! I had a dream!" (23:25). "Let the prophet who has MY WORD speak it faithfully. ... Is not MY WORD like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?" (23:28-29). God's WORD has power to condemn and power to save.
Jeremiah declares that the exile will happen and the whole country will become desolate for seventy years. Then God will punish Babylon for how they treated His people. The people threatened Jeremiah with death for His prophecy, but when Jeremiah promised them that the LORD had sent him and that if they killed him God would hold them guilty, they determined that it was not wise to take the chance that Jeremiah was speaking the truth, so they let him live.
If you fail to see the parallels between these events and what is happening in the visible church today you may find yourself following a false prophet and be part of the apostasy from the truth that God predicts will take place near the return of Christ and which appears to be starting at the present time. False prophets, false teachers, offer peace to all. The Pope falsely declared that atheists could be saved; that God loves all of His children. Other leaders in the church who claim to speak for God teach that God is love and that ultimately everyone will be saved. As Paul wrote to his young friend, Timothy, people are gathering for themselves teachers who will tell them what they WANT to hear, rather than what they NEED to hear.
Yet, there is hope for those who draw near to the LORD through His Son Jesus Christ, "the Way, the Truth and the Life." God says, "I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number" (23:3). "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In HIS days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness" (23:5-6).
Certainly, Jeremiah is referring to Jesus Christ, the King who will reign on David's throne (Luke 1:31-33). In the last days God will restore the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and will draw them to Himself. In the past few decades God has drawn millions of Jews from the nations of the world. More will come. Meanwhile, God is at work through His true Church, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world ... preparing the remnant from the nations to receive the King of the Jews as their King. Jesus IS "The LORD Our Righteousness!"
Have you listened to the word of the LORD, or are you listening to false prophets? There are two distinct parts of the message of God's Word: Judgment is coming, but there is ONE way to escape God's wrath ... listening to God's Word and believing in His Son, Jesus Christ. Any other message ... ANY other message, is a lie. It is not from the mouth of the LORD! Hear the Word of the LORD our God today, and believe!
"O LORD, our God, Your Word reveals the truth that all people need to hear, yet only those who are given Your Spirit will listen. I thank You for opening my ears, my heart and my mind and I pray that You will use me to speak truth to others, that they, too, may come to know You and be saved from Your coming judgment. In Jesus' name, Amen"