"An Astonishing and Horrible Thing"

“An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and my people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” – Jeremiah 5:30,31 NKJV

God’s people were on the brink of a “great destruction” from the north (6:1) brought upon

them because of their spiritual decay. God, being a righteous God, said, “Shall I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?” (5:29). Judah was so corrupt that God could not any longer tolerate her. God, through Jeremiah, reminds her of her corruption and warns of its consequences in the first few chapters of this book.

God will not indefinitely tolerate corruption among his chosen people. The fleshly Israelites are no longer God’s chosen people – but Christians are. His nation is no longer an earthly kingdom, but a spiritual nation – the church. Spiritual Israel can profit from God’s dealing with fleshly Israel (cf. 1 Cor. 10:1-13). Do you think that God would be any more tolerant of such corruption as described in Jeremiah if it is found in His church today? Is it any less astonishing and horrible for the thing to be committed in the church than for it to be committed in the land? What was this horrible thing? It was a two-fold problem:

Political Preachers

It was the duty of a prophet to bring God’s revelations to the people. It was the duty of the priest to teach the people concerning God’s will. They had other functions to be sure but these functions are emphasized by the text. They were the preachers in Israel. Instead of telling the people what God had revealed, the prophets prophesied falsely. But instead of ruling (leading) by God’s power or authority the priests ruled by their own power. Why? A strong hint is given in the statement, “My people love to have it so.”

The priests and prophets were acting more like politicians than prophets and priests. They ‘put their finger to wind’ to see which way it was blowing before speaking. They were more concerned with what the people thought and wanted than what God said and willed. Like good politicians they spoke the will of the people and acted in harmony with the desires of the people rather than the will of God.

This evil presents a grave threat to the people of God this very hour. How easy it is for those who preach to be more interested in pleasing, or at least pacifying, those in the pews than declaring to them the whole counsel of God! How many formulate and express their convictions and/or govern their conduct by what the brethren will tolerate rather than what God will tolerate? God’s people are in trouble when public proclaimers of the word do not have the courage to form their convictions upon an investigation of God’s book and then have the courage to stand by those convictions – regardless of what the people want. They do themselves, their God, and the people they are trying to serve and save a terrible injustice.

Pampered People

The people “just loved” those prophets and priests. Why? Because they told them what they wanted to hear rather than what they needed to hear. The prophets and priests were to be blamed for Judah’s destruction because of their unfaithfulness – but the people were to be blamed because they wanted it that way. They should have demanded that prophets speak the truth without fear or favor – even if that truth hurts at times.

Brethren need to be careful and examine themselves to determine what they want in preaching. They need to try to bring their conduct into harmony with strong, sound, and scriptural preaching rather than demanding that the work of preachers be reduced to an effort to pet and pamper them by “ratifying” their cherished conduct. We must demand and support preachers who demonstrate that they are more interested in people’s eternal salvation than they are in courting their favor. Demand and support preachers who will not only exhort and comfort, but will reprove and rebuke when necessary.

“But what will you do in the end?”