Jeremiah 23 “Be Discerning; Be a Watchman on the Wall”
Jeremiah’s words could have been written today for today our culture “demonizes what is right and celebrates what is wrong.” [Decision Magazine] Our culture wants God’s love apart from the price paid on the cross. The people of Judah were uncomfortable with Jeremiah’s words of impending judgment for their sin and so they flocked to the street corners to hear those who preached “you can be happy for God is with us.” Jeremiah’s words fell upon deaf ears and sometimes landed him in stocks or a mud filled cistern. How then do we discern those who are not of God because they only know ‘about’ God but do not ‘know’ God?
Jeremiah gave the people at least 6 ways to discern those false prophets. We can learn from his words. The question do we just want our ears tickled or yearn for truth? Observe and listen carefully. Do their words line up with what God’s Word? Secondly, observe their lives in and out of the temple or church or whatever you call your religious institution; is it consistent? Are they honoring God in word and deed? Thirdly, are they presenting false hopes? These street corner preachers countered Jeremiah’s words of judgment with ‘nothing bad will happen to you.’ Fifthly, they were in a hurry to present their message. Sixthly they claimed to hear God speaking but had they been in God’s inner circle they would have heard the same words of impending Babylonian judgment God gave Jeremiah due to their disobedience.
Fast forward to today. There are sheep in wolves clothing amongst us. We must also discern the character of them. Listen and look; observe their fruits, listen to the doctrine they teach. “We dare not become lazy and expect others to do our studying and thinking for us.” [B. Deffinbaugh]