“I will give you peace in this place” (Jeremiah 14:13).
Beautiful sentiment, right? Even better when you realize that it was supposedly God making the statement to his people. Better still when you realize the actual quote in the New International Version says, “lasting” peace. Better and better! What a hopeful statement!
This quotation from Scripture adorned the cover of our church’s worship bulletin one Sunday in midsummer. It really was nicely designed, the type and colors all blending well and superimposed across a picture of a breathtaking waterfall. Really nice! The company producing these bulletin covers has done a consistently high quality job for us for years, and this one was certainly another nice effort.
Well, I thought it was. And they’re still way ahead on their batting average, but . . .
The next Wednesday evening following a meeting at church, a good friend and church member, a very astute fellow, came up to me smiling a little.
“I almost didn’t say anything,” he said a bit wryly, “but did you notice anything funny about last Sunday’s bulletin?”
I had not. But he showed it to me. Nice-looking pic. Encouraging Scripture quotation. I found myself looking for a typo. Nope.
Then he said, “Take a look at the full quotation on the back.” So I did.
Jeremiah 14:13-16, NIV.
The voice of Jeremiah begins as he says to the Lord God, “But I said, ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them [the people], “You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, [here comes the quote] I will give you lasting peace in this place.”’”
And then comes God’s verdict about that beautiful sentiment being forth-told by “the prophets”: “Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore . . .’”
Well, therefore, the Lord goes on to say in no uncertain terms, the false prophets preaching peace on their own, without God’s authority, when God was telling Jeremiah to announce impending disaster, those false prophets are about to get it in the throat! Famine is on the way. The sword is coming. And God says, “I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve.”
Oops. Peace really sounded good. Sure was a pretty bulletin back. But I think it was the first, and, I hope, the last, our church has ever published highlighting the encouraging—and absolutely false—words of false prophets who found themselves on God’s hit list!
God has warned his people time and again to be careful who they listen to. It’s still really good advice. Not everyone who claims to speak for God does.
I still think that waterfall was really pretty, though.
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Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.