Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore this is what the Lord says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, ‘No sword or famine will touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine.
Jeremiah 14:14-15 (NIV)
In today’s chapter, Jeremiah describes a drought that struck sometime in his prophetic ministry. No one knows when this was, but drought is a periodic reality in that area of the world, just as it is here in Iowa.
What intrigued me about Jerry’s conversation with God was his description of all the other prophets who, claiming to speak in God’s name, continued to tell everyone that every little thing was going to be alright, that the drought would not lead to famine nor would the Babylonians attack as Jeremiah has repeatedly warned.
It made me meditate on three things this morning:
First, there have always been false prophets like Jeremiah describes. In today’s terms, I’m reminded the name-it-and-claim it preachers of prosperity gospel. Health, wealth, and bullet-proof optimism flow from their lips, telling their donors (they are always asking for money) and followers that God wants to bless them with health and wealth, too. I was in college during the televangelist scandals back in the late 80s. They are still around.
The second thing on which I meditated is the current state of our culture and media. This is my observation, not a political statement. The fact is that news organizations on both sides of the political spectrum have abandoned objective reporting to feed their viewers whatever those viewers political bent happens to be. One of the fascinating things I’ve witnessed coming out of the Covid years are small, independent news and journalism outlets on platforms like Substack. One that Wendy and I have begun reading regularly states openly that they began their site in order to return to journalism that’s about objective reporting of facts. The founders of the site came from one of the most prestigious news outlets in the world and complained of editors demanding that reporters write within the preferred political narrative the editors were pushing. It’s happening everywhere, and it’s happening on both sides of our cultural divide.
Which leads me to the third thing on which I meditated this morning. False prophets of religion, news, and politics are not going away just as Israel and Iowa will continue to experience periodic droughts as has always been the case. As I chewed on these things in the quiet this morning, I was reminded of Paul’s mentoring words to his young protégé Timothy:
You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.
1 Timothy 4:3-5 (MSG)
Along my life journey, I’ve observed that life is filled with tragedy and difficulties. It’s also filled will facts and realities that inconveniently refuse to fit into what I want to believe about the world as I desire it to be in the comfortable little box of my personal worldview. Jerry had the difficult job of being the lone voice pointing out the proverbial handwriting on the wall; A message no one wanted to hear. They preferred to have their fancies tickled with false assurances. It was still that way when Paul was mentoring Timothy. It’s still that way today.
I concluded in the quiet this morning that I am on a faith journey as I follow in the steps of Jesus. It is Maundy Thursday as I write these words (the commemoration of Jesus’ final night before His execution) and I’m reminded that the end of Jesus’ earthly journey was not a pleasant one. It’s funny how easy it is for me to believe that it should be different for me than for the One in whose steps I follow. If the world operated perfectly within the comfortable little box of my personal worldview then Jesus would never have had to cry out, “Father, let this cup pass from me” and I would never need faith.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.