Identify false prophets

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise me, the LORD says: You will have peace. And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.…’ See, the storm of the LORD will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked. The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly.”

Jeremiah 23:16-20

False prophets have always plagued God’s people.  In Jeremiah’s day, sin and apostasy was widespread and God had already purposed to turn Judah over to the Babylonians who would plunder them and carry many off into a distant exile.  The prophet Jeremiah continually warned of pending disaster and deportation.  No one wanted that to happen, so Jeremiah’s message was unpopular, to say the least.  The false prophets, on the other hand, sought to comfort people with promises of peace and safety.  The only problem was, these prophets were not from God and therefore didn’t speak God’s truth.  Instead they spoke what the people wanted to hear—falsehood.  God continued to take the false prophets to task (v.25-40) for daring to claim they spoke in God’s name when they did not.

God’s wrath was against them as He promised (v.39-40): “Therefore, I will surely forget you and cast you out of my presence along... I will bring on you everlasting disgraceeverlasting shame that will not be forgotten.”

Lest anyone think this was merely a problem in “Bible Times,” let us beware that there are MANY false prophets in pulpits and cluttering up the airwaves on TV and radio today.  Like their co-conspirators in Jeremiah’s day, these modern false prophets do not preach the Word of God.  They preach what people want to hear.  They may refer to scripture, but never faithfully or accurately.  And even if they do not speak outright lies, they water down the Word of God so their listeners will listen.

I shudder to think of the judgment of God on these false prophets who pervert the Word of God and mislead who-knows-how-many!

But think also of this: though the false prophets will have Hell to pay, what about the vast numbers of people who profess faith in Christ who listen to and support these wolves in the pulpit?  Are we not also responsible to see that our preachers are preaching the truth—and if they are not, to either throw the deceivers out, or leave?