The Scriptorium

False Prophets

They were the downfall of the nation. Jeremiah 23.9-34

Shepherds False and True (5)

Pray Psalm 7.1-5.
O LORD my God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me,
Lest they tear me like a lion,
Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
O LORD my God, if I have done this:
If there is iniquity in my hands,
If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me,
Or have plundered my enemy without cause,
Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;
Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,
And lay my honor in the dust.

Sing Psalm 7.1-5.
(Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
O Lord, my God, in You do I take refuge;
save me from those who my poor soul would tear!
Deliver me from my foes’ angry deluge,
lest I be swept beyond all hope and care.
Let not injustice, let not evil stain me,
lest to the dust my glory trampled be.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 23.9-24.

1. How did Jeremiah feel about the false prophets?

2. Why were they false prophets? What were the effects of their teaching?

The prophets of Judah and Jerusalem were very active in Jeremiah’s day. They were preaching all over the place. They just weren’t preaching the Word of God. They were calling the people to follow the idolatrous ways of their pagan neighbors (v. 13). They turned a blind eye, and perhaps worse, seem to have encouraged the people in wicked practices contrary to the Law of God (vv. 10, 13, 14). The prophets were regarded as having the authority of God behind them. So when they began going astray, everyone followed them into the path of disobedience.

But God saw all this, and He intended to punish the false prophets (v. 15). Their unfaithful preaching and teaching had reduced the land to wickedness, profaneness, and unfruitfulness (vv. 10, 15). They falsely promised the people prosperity and peace, and encouraged them to do whatever seemed right (v. 17).

If they had actually stood in the counsel of the Lord, and heard and marked His Word, they would have seen that God was preparing to judge the land and its people and prophets (vv. 18-22). Jeremiah could see it, and he spoke courageously and compassionately (v. 9) to recall the people to the Lord. He offended the kings, priests, and prophets of Judah and was undaunted by their threats and opposition.

No one would be able to hide from the coming judgment of the Lord (vv. 23, 24). He was not some distant deity, merely watching and shaking His head from afar. He was there, in their midst, in the words of Jeremiah the prophet; and He would not fail to carry out all He had declared against those who despised Him.

James reminds us that those who are entrusted with the ministry of the Word of God are to be more stringently judged (Jms. 3.1). Preachers and teachers and all who read the Word of God must listen, hear, mark, and obey the Word in all it teaches. We must not allow our views of what’s best for us to be determined by the spirit of the age or the activities and views of our unbelieving neighbors. Jesus speaks to us from throughout the Word of God (Jn. 5.39), and He continually says, “Come, follow Me.”

We deviate from Him and His Word at our own peril.

1. How had the false prophets gone astray? What had they looked to instead of the Lord? What might be some equivalents to this today?

2. What does it mean to “stand in the counsel of the Lord”? When do we need to do that?

3. How does this passage encourage you to pray for your pastors and teachers? For yourself?

If God were distant from us in place, you might well doubt, but he is present everywhere. To him who strives with purposeful intent, God is near. For this reason also the psalmist said, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me,” and God again, “I am a God near at hand and not a God afar off.” Then, just as our sins separate us from him, so do our righteous deeds draw us near to him. John Chrysostom (344-407), Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew 54.8

Thank You, Lord, for being always near at hand to me, so that I…

Pray Psalm 7.6-17.

Call on the Lord to go with you throughout this day, to draw you into His Presence and guard you against straying from His righteous path.

Sing Psalm 7.6-17.
Psalm 7.6-17 (Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
Arise, O Lord, rise up in wrath to save me!
Let rage and judgment fall upon my foes!
From all around to You let thanks and praise be.
Rise up on high; the wicked curse with woes.
O Judge of all, observe my just demeanor
And vindicate me by Your grace, O Lord.

Bring to an end the evil of the wicked,
but let Your righteous ones established be.
You are my shield, my soul will not be stricken;
You save the upright; You will rescue me!
You are a righteous Judge in every way;
a God of indignation every day.

Let all repent or know Your piercing sword!
Your bow is bent and ready for the fight!
Take deadly weapons in Your hand, O Lord,
and fiery arrows, aimed against the night.
The wicked fall and stumble in their mischief,
but to my soul Your grace will bring relief.

All praise and thanks to You, O righteous Savior!
My hope, my trust, my confidence are You!
Embrace me with Your kindness and Your favor,
and to Your glory make me ever true.
We sing Your praise and glorify Your Name,
Who brings our foes to judgment and to shame.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore