Would Jeremiah survive in the church today?
I came across this meme a while ago (a meme is a kind of joke that is shared via a picture on the internet):
I actually thought it was funny, but it made me think…. The person who says:
“Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord.Jeremiah 23:2
That was Jeremiah. He was one of the major prophets of the Hebrew Bible. According to Jewish tradition, Jeremiah authored the Book of Jeremiah, the Books of Kings and the Book of Lamentations.
And those biblical prophets… never(!) had good news… just some examples of what prophets have said and what is recorded in the bible. I think this paints the picture:
“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord.Jeremiah 23:1-2
Another example, the prophet Zephaniah:
“I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord. “I will sweep away both man and beast; I will sweep away the birds in the sky and the fish in the see and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble.”
“When I destroy all mankind on the face of the earth,” declares the Lord, “I will stretch out my hand against JudahZephaniah 1:2-6
and against all who live in Jerusalem. I will destroy every remnant of Baal worship in this place, the very names of the idolatrous priest those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host, those who bow down and swear by the Lord and who also swear by Molek, those who turn back from following the Lord and neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him.”
Ezekiel, then, no a happy camper either:
Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will shave you; I will not look on you with pity or spare you.Ezekiel 5:11
More to the New Testament? Have a look at this:
Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’Luke 23:25-27
Jesus (God’s son) is very clearly here:
So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”John 2:15,16
(did you notice that Jesus himself made the whip? He didn’t just find it on the floor accidentally, He made it…. very conscious… step by step)
Those are tough messages… but what if…. Someone is making a mess of God’s church today… and John, Jesus, Ezekiel, Jeremiah or Zephaniah were to say this today(!) in church… or outside of it… would they get away with it? Really?
As soon as you say something is wrong, even with the Bible verse in hand…. how often do you hear this today:
Do not judge! God is love! Don’t argue, love each other! Be kind to each other, Jesus loves everyone! Couldn’t you say that a little softer? Don’t divide!
Can the message of John, Jesus, Ezekiel, Jeremiah or Zephaniah still be told today, or will we also be thrown out of the church? Would the funding or partnerships for those missionaries be stopped? In a lot of cases… I’m afraid it would happen….
Or are we saying the same thing as the Jews in John 2 when Jesus had swept the temple empty when people had made a mess of it?
The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”John 2:18
If we are no longer allowed to talk about sin, are not allowed to address people in the same and clear tone as John, Jesus, Ezekiel, Jeremiah or Zephaniah….. What are we doing? Then we throw away a lot(!) of Biblical truth. Throw it in the trash can, don’t say that no more. Jesus is love. Full stop.
In all honesty, if we can stop talking about the wrath of God and His judgment, stop talking about false teachers and false teachings, stop talking about wolves, stop talking about idols and hell waiting as you don’t repent.. why do we still need Jesus love? Because then hell and God’s judgment no longer exist… and Jesus is not needed anymore.
May the message, similar to that of John, Jesus, Ezekiel, Jeremiah or Zephaniah still exist today? When you hear such a message, what do you say? Do not judge? Would you rather say that?
We have lost the balance somewhere. Woeh if you have a Biblical message that people MUST repent NOW, or they will go to HELL forever…then you are the evil person in the room….
And suppose…. God puts it on your heart, just like John, Jesus, Ezekiel, Jeremiah or Zephaniah, to bring such a more than clear and hard message…. Do you still dare to do that? Or do you prefer to keep your mouth shut… otherwise you will be sent out of the church, your funding will be stopped, and you will receive annoying e-mails and people at your door saying that you really should be nicer to others….
Something to think very carefully about before we ourselves say: “don’t judge, say that a little nicer”.. do we still want to listen to the sturdy, sometimes very harsh and sincere Biblical message, or do we prefer to see flowers and unicorns?
Let’s end with the good news (otherwise I will also be told that I am only a preacher of doom and should not be so harsh…..yep, that’s not a joke….):
The reason all those prophets, disciples and also Jesus did this is simple: either you repent and stop your sinful behavior (now!) or you go to hell.
On the one hand, a hard message, on the other hand a beautiful message of hope: repent and a beautiful heaven awaits you. A heaven where there is a just God who loves you forever.
PS, have you seen what people say these days who call themselves “prophets”? No clear “repent or you will go to hell” message to be seen, but only “Jesus is love, you have a bright future” messages….. the Biblical prophets had a completely different message… also something to think about think when someone says: I am prophet X and have a prophetic word for you…. is it really a prophet saying that, and is it really a message from the Biblical God? Are you sure?