JEREMIAH’S MESSAGE NEEDS TO BE HEARD BY THE CHURCH TODAY!

An excerpt from “The Door of Judgment,” pages 140-142.

Jeremiah lived through the terrible last days of the Kingdom of Judah. He began his ministry at the time of a great religious revival during the reign of the righteous king, Josiah. But during this time of religious fervor, he noticed an appalling fact: the hearts and lives of the people were only superficially touched. Although Josiah was deeply moved to follow the Lord, the vast majority of the people only gave lip service to God: “And although they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’ surely they swear falsely” (Jeremiah 5:2; NASB). Jeremiah spent the remaining years of his life trying to influence the people to turn to the Lord with all their hearts, but with little success. 

One of the reasons for the deafness of the people to his plea was their choice to believe religious leaders who would “tickle their ears” with what they wanted to hear, rather than the truth about their hypocrisy. Concerning these false prophets, Jeremiah said, “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31; NASB). 

These popular prophets would assure the people that God was pleased with them, no matter how they were living. He would never judge them because they were the chosen people, His beloved possession. But Jeremiah countered, “They have lied about the Lord and said, “Not He; misfortune will not come on us, and we will not see sword or famine” (Jeremiah 5:12; NASB). 

One of the motives for the lack of backbone in the priesthood was financial. If the prophets and priests really confronted the people over their hypocrisy, they might lose their source of income. Josiah’s reforms had led to a resurgence in the fortunes of the priesthood. They were not about to lose their “favor” among the people by telling them to change their wicked ways. Therefore, they allowed financial considerations to take priority over God’s will: “For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:13-14; NASB). 

Nevertheless, the people chose to believe the lies about God’s nature and His ways, rather than turn back to the Lord. The people became deaf to God’s plea through His prophet: “To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it” (Jeremiah 6:10; NASB). 

Not only did they not want to hear Jeremiah (they once tried to get rid of him by throwing him into a well), but they stubbornly refused to return to the ways of God and walk with Him: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jeremiah 6:16; NASB). 

Finally, God told Jeremiah not to even pray for the people; they had gone too far in their apostasy and would be given over to judgment (Jeremiah 7:16 and Jeremiah 11:14). The Lord explained, “Therefore, thus says the Lord, ‘Behold I am bringing disaster on them which they will not be able to escape; though they will cry to Me, yet I will not listen to them’” (Jeremiah 11:11; NASB). 

The similarities between the judgment of Judah and the final judgment are sobering. 

Jeremiah’s message needs to be heard by the church today. False prophets who promise peace and prosperity surround us. People go to their churches and have their ears tickled with soothing words of good times and happy feelings. “God wants you rich,” they say glibly. “Give to this ministry, and you will reap one hundred-fold!” they promise. And what is most amazing is that thousands of people flock to them in order to be fleeced! 

Jeremiah’s words summarize the state of much of the visible church in America. We are a consumer-oriented people. We like a comfortable, non-confrontive church that entertains us and meets our needs for socialization. We want a large church with the most modern facilities, inspiring orators and professional musicians. All we are required to do is attend somewhat regularly (once a month is good) and drop a few hundred dollars in the offering plate once in a while to help pay for the show. 

We still want to go to heaven when we die, so we will raise our hands, or walk the aisle, and ask Jesus into our hearts (whatever that means). We readily believe only half the Gospel. God is a God of love. He doesn’t judge people anymore. We’re saved by grace, so we can do anything we want and still go to heaven. Jesus is coming back soon, but we don’t have to worry about persecution by the Antichrist because we will be all raptured out of here anyway. (And those who say otherwise simply do not believe the “plain and literal Word of God!”) 

The popular understanding of Christianity is so insipid and weak that the world doesn’t take it seriously. Jesus said that we are to be the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world.” If we do not wake up and revive what remains we may find ourselves “trampled underfoot by men.” 

The true believers in the last-days will find themselves repeating Jeremiah’s ministry, warning people who are complacent in their faith and deceived in their understanding of God’s ways. Despite our weeping, our compassion, our acts of kindness and generosity, we may only see a few sparks of revival among such spiritually hardened people. Like the people of Jeremiah’s day, they only seek God in order to get Him to do something beneficial for them. They are attracted to false gospels with counterfeit signs and wonders. They will be ripe for the deception of an Antichrist. Just as there were only a few who responded to Jeremiah’s message of repentance in his day, so we will see fewer and fewer people truly being saved today. Admittedly, this is not a popular analysis. No one wants to report bad news. But it is what is happening in our increasingly secular world.