After informing us what a king ought to be like in Jeremiah 22, the Lord continued to deliver His words through Jeremiah about how frustrated and upset He was with the false prophets in Jeremiah 23.
Jeremiah 23 is a long chapter and if we only take it from face value and its literal meaning, it is sufficient to tell us that God was overwhelmingly displeased with the false prophets who have gone and taught the people the wrong things. They have taken advantage of the Lord’s mercy and goodness, misusing His name to concoct stories to teach the people. Some went as far as telling their dreams to the people and framed it under God’s name. These are nothing but deceit and have hurt the good name of the Lord’s.
The Lord has also informed us through Jeremiah 23 that He found some to have committed adultery right within the temples of the Lord. Aside from being preposterous, it is also vile and sinful. When prophets can hold such wrong relationships under the watchful eyes of the Lord, it speaks much about the kind of ministry these prophets and priests would undertake and the kind of messages they would share to the congregation.
Jeremiah 23 (New International Version)
10 The land is full of adulterers;
because of the curse the land lies parched
and the pastures in the wilderness are withered.
The prophets follow an evil course
and use their power unjustly.
14 And among the prophets of Jerusalem
I have seen something horrible:
They commit adultery and live a lie.
They strengthen the hands of evildoers,
so that not one of them turns from their wickedness.
They are all like Sodom to me;
the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah.”
But adultery in itself can have many connotations. The easiest to decipher is a relationship outside of a fully performing marriage with another person. If this concept is expanded into the context of just relationship with anything, we may find ourselves guilty of committing the same mistakes by holding a relationship with other “gods” when we are to only worship our one and only God. These wrongful relationships could be the love for our cars, our tech gadgets, the jewelries, the celebrities, the movies, the holidays, the sushi bar atop the skyscraper, the ski holidays you find difficult to afford and more.
But back to Jeremiah 23, the Lord was tragically upset with the deceitful nature of the prophets and priests that He has decided to remove the people He has chosen from this flock of sinful people. This removed bunch will be protected by God and nurtured for their faith towards Him. They will begin to develop a heart for the Lord and from there build a relationship with Him. This could be the best treatment for the chosen people when the entire city was tainted by falsehood and sinful worships towards false gods like Baal.
3 “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. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.
But how do you detect a false prophet? The Lord provided some clues. One of which is a spiritual teacher who often speaks of a life that has no tragedies and also of supporting the deeds of the evildoers.
16 This is what the Lord Almighty 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.
17 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.’
18 But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord
to see or to hear his word?
Who has listened and heard his word?
21 I did not send these prophets,
yet they have run with their message;
I did not speak to them,
yet they have prophesied.
22 But 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.
25 “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ 26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? 27 They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their ancestors forgot my name through Baal worship.
30 “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31 Yes,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ 32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.
It does not matter whether we are in the end times or in the ordinary times of living a comfortable life with no worries clouding our minds, the fact is if there is a prophet who would only care about declaring peace ignoring all the calamities that are happening around, it is something to be watchful of.
It is also a sign when these “spiritual teachers” prophesy things to their advantage that are out of line and out of the normal treatment of what God would do in times of trouble. Yes, we need to be positive but we also need a real divine message from the Lord that assures us peace in the heart more than just lip service.
Our lives are governed by our God, not dictated by the whims and fancies of falsehoods and false teachers. If you find yourself worshipping material things more than God, it’s time to make a u-turn. If you find yourself in the company of proud and prideful individuals who prioritise their external appearance more than their relationship with God, it’s time to make some new friends.
If you find yourself in a church where the priests or pastors are nothing more than just puppets of prosperity gospels, you must at once pull yourself away and ask God if this teacher has been prophesying lies all these while. If the answer is yes, you should detach yourself from such an environment so you can escape from the wrong teachings and realign back with God.
Friends, much has happened in this world today. The scare coming out of Covid-19 has put the whole earth on a standstill. People are living in fear and many more are facing a daunting task of how to rebuild a life where job losses and pay cuts have dominated the employment scene. You might ask, from the millions and billions that a large company has made, why the layoff and the pay cuts when you have slogged endlessly for the company you helped to build? These are questions difficult to answer but if such employers are guilty, they will have to answer God themselves come their time.
For those who have held steadfastly in God, I pray that you will continue to trust in Him even in the most difficult of times. I personally have lost two clients within a span of two weeks at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The sight is not pretty but I trust the Lord for coming out to shelter us and provide for us. More than ever, now is the best time to look for a genuine preacher, a pastor, a priest who sings the tune of the Lord directly from God’s heart. You would not want someone out of sync with the situation and keep telling you prosperity lies in the face of a global rout. More than ever, it is time to find that church for yourself, find those godly friends for your family and find that one place you can come to the Lord and confess, speak and be in communion with. There is no guilt and shame in doing so because you are seeking an honest relationship with our one true God. It is time.