Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Listening To False Teachers

Jeremiah 14:1-20

“The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.

Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.  And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads.  Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.  Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass.  And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass.” (Jeremiah 14:1-6)

All of Judah was suffering as a result of a severe drought.   Everything was dried out, and wilted, and the gates that normally would be bustling with activity were deserted and Jerusalem was crying about how bad things were.  Their wells and springs and the pits that so often held water had dried out so that the people they sent to find water returned home without any.  The ground was so dried out from lack of rain that the crops the farmers had planted didn’t even sprout or grow.  It was embarrassing to realize they had wasted their seed.  Deer were traveling so far looking for food they never returned to care for their young, and the wild donkeys were climbing to the tops of hills trying to smell any moisture, but were so dehydrated their eyes were failing. 

“O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.  O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?  Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.” (Jeremiah 14:7-9)

Jeremiah called on the Lord to give them relief as a testimony of his faithfulness.  He recognized that they had been disobedient and habitual sinners, but he was their only hope in times like this.  Why would God not intervene, acting like he was just a tourist passing through instead of getting involved?  Why did he just act as if he was unable to do anything for them when in fact He made His home among them and the very name, Israel, meant A Prince With God?    He asked that God not leave them at such a time

“Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.  Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.  When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.” (Jeremiah 14:10-12)

God said the people had deliberately run away from him and gotten themselves into trouble and as a result He was not willing to come to their rescue.  He would remember their attitude toward him and demand repayment of what they owed him.  In fact he commanded Jeremiah not to even pray for their benefit because God was not going to listen to their prayers or accept their sacrifices and offerings, but will collect what he is owed, even if it causes them to lose everything. 

“Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.” (Jeremiah 14:13)

Jeremiah felt that God’s position seemed a little harsh.  After all, their prophets were telling them that God would bless them and prevent them from experiencing problems because he loved them, much like modern evangelists and pastors do.  Surely it wasn’t fair to punish them for doing what the prophets said. 
“Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.  Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.  And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.” (Jeremiah 14:14-16) 

Though the prophets claimed to be speaking by God’s authority, they had not been sent by him and their messages were lies.  They claimed God had spoken to them or commanded them to do what they were doing or that God had revealed some special vision, but it is a result of their own imagination and lusts.  As a result the very things they promised would not happen would happen to those prophets. 

The people that listen to those prophets and follow their teachings will be punished as well, because they have listened to the prophets instead of to God.  They had God’s written word to tell them what was right.  In addition, God had given them a way to determine whether a prophet came from god or not.  Deuteronomy 18:20-22 describes what they were to look for.  “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.  And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?   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.”   The prophet was to give a short term sign that wouldn’t normally happen as proof that the message was from God.  If the short term sign didn’t happen they knew the prophet was not from God and they were to execute him for lying about God. 

They knew how to tell if the message was from god or not and they knew what his word said.  They had no excuse for going along with the lies of those false prophets.  They would suffer the full punishment for their sin because they didn’t bother to find out what was right.  Their failure to check was itself disobedience to God.   as a result they would die as a result of war and terrorism, and also as a result of starvation, and there would be no one who cared enough to even bury them.  They were just receiving the consequences of their wickedness. 

“Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.” (Jeremiah 14:17)

Jeremiah was to tell them there prayers were not going to stop their suffering because God was breaking them.  It is very similar to the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 and has serious implications for churches today.  Jeremiah then describes what he was experiencing. 
“If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not.  Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul loathed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!” (Jeremiah 14:18-19)

Everywhere he looked, Jeremiah saw signs of suffering.  Dead bodies lay in the fields outside Jerusalem and those who were still alive in the city were starving to death.  Even the prophets and priests who have lived there through it hardly recognize the land in its present state.  He asked if God had completely disowned Judah and hated them.  Why else would god allow such things to happen to them?  They were expecting something completely different. 

“We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee.  Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.  Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.” (Jeremiah 14:20)

Finally they are broken enough that some of them recognize their sin and ask that God not hate them or disgrace his word by breaking his covenant with them.  They realize none of the gods other peoples worship can help them.  Only God has the power to send rain and they are willing to wait for him.  

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