Jeremiah 23: On False Prophets
Jeremiah 23 provides us with God’s opinion of the false prophets who have been leading His people astray. They say that they are speaking for God, but God tells Jeremiah that He truly never sent these people.
Jer 23:30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
Jer 23:31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
Jer 23:32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
False prophets are rampant today. In a world where ideas can spread so easily on the Internet, it is not hard for someone to gain a following simply by having access to a self-created website. Obviously, we need to be careful about who we are following and what teaching we are taking in.
That being said, this is difficult to do. We might come across a pastor or teacher who says a lot of things that we agree with. They might sound good, and they might be fabulous, inspiring speakers. However, you want to be very careful about what they are teaching. Just like in the times of Jeremiah, not everyone who claims to be preaching the word of God is really doing it.
How do we protect against this? Unfortunately, we don’t always have God coming down like He came to Jeremiah to specifically point out that certain, specific things are blatantly wrong. That being said, we do know about God. We have a Book that tells us a wide variety of things about God, and when we hear things that don’t fit with that image as it is purely portrayed by the Book, we know we are dealing with a false prophet on some level. If not a false prophet, at least we are talking about a false teaching that ought to be corrected.
Implicit in this is that we have a responsibility to be Biblically literate. One of my favorite pastors always mentions the Bereans. Even though Paul and Silas had great reputations as Bible teachers, they did not go by that authority alone.
Act 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Act 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Act 17:12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
We need to have a similar commitment to the word of God. It is one of the major ways that God reveals Himself to us, and it has a higher authority than any teacher we might run into who deviates from it. The Bible trumps in these types of situations.