Jeremiah 14:11-18 – Beware of False Prophets

Read Jeremiah 14:11-18

wolf in sheep clothing

People being led astray has been happening for centuries. What’s frightening is when, like in our reading today, the prophets claim to be sharing a message from God. Clearly, these prophets were lying and totally deceived if they believed what was coming out of their mouths. That was certainly not the message God wanted the people to hear!

The Bible warns us to expect false prophets. In Ezekiel 13, there are false prophets saying whatever they please. Just like in our reading today, these false prophets would face the punishment promised by God for their folly.

What happens to false prophets? In Deuteronomy 18:20, Moses sets out as part of the law, “But any prophet who falsely claims to speak in my name or who speaks in the name of another god must die.” So how do we tell the difference? Moses goes on to say, “But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the LORD?’ If the prophet speaks in the LORD’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the LORD did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.”

In Matthew 7:15, Jesus warns, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.” In speaking of the future, Jesus also shared this with his disciples in Matthew 24:24. “For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.” The Bible is clear that false prophets will attempt to deceive us.

Have you ever encountered someone who claimed to have a message from God? Did the message affect more people than just the one hearing the message? Did the prediction come true? We must be on guard and discerning. We are at risk for trusting the wrong message if we aren’t careful.

Thankfully, God will never contradict his word or his will. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” Those are some good questions to consider. God’s word is always true, and God is always faithful.

God wanted Jeremiah to let the people know he was weeping for them. God’s heart was breaking because his chosen people were ignoring him and trusting lies instead. God’s message was also trying to correct their misinformation. God called out the false prophets by saying, “The prophets and priests continue with their work, but they don’t know what they’re doing.”

As humans, we tend to want to believe what sounds good. The evil one can be crafty in making false messages sound enticing. This is not a new phenomenon happening in our culture today. Such a messenger may not even call himself a ‘prophet,’ but simply forecast an appealing reality that is totally false.

How can you protect yourself? Look around at the sources you trust for your news, education, or even entertainment. Do these messages ever contradict God’s word? Here are three helpful steps for discernment.

1) Ask yourself, “where in Scripture does it say/tell…?”

2) Surround yourself with other Christ-focused people who can help you discern whether a message or interpretation is on point or skewed, and

3) Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray … Lord, it can be frightening to listen to people talk about what’s happening in our world today. Help me to discern the truth from lies and protect my heart and mind from deception. Open my eyes to the truth of your word and help me share that with others in a meaningful way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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