Today’s selected passage continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Scripture, and more specifically, begins with the thirteenth verse of the fourteenth chapter and continues through to the fourteenth verse of the following chapter. This particular portion of Scripture begins with yet another reality which so grieved the very heart and soul of Jeremiah. The prophet had just finished proclaiming and declaring that when the house of Judah gave themselves to fasting, the Lord would not hear their cry. The prophet just finished declared that when they offered burnt offering and an oblations, He would not accept them, but would instead consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. When we come to the thirteenth verse of the same chapter, we find the prophet being seized, consumed and gripped with grief and anguish. “Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will you assured peace in this place” (Jeremiah 14:13). This particular passage of Scripture begins and opens up with the prophet being so utterly and completely consumed and overwhelmed with the activity of the prophets that were present within the land. Perhaps one of the most intriguing and alarming realities concerning this particular verse is that within this verse we have the prophet of the Lord—that one who ordained and appointed by the Lord of hosts—bemoaning and crying out against the prophets that existed within the land. To help put this into perspective, it would almost be as if a minister in our generation rose up—either from behind the pulpit in the church the Lord gave them to shepherd, or in the streets—and began crying out against all the other ministers within the nation. The actions of Jeremiah in this chapter are almost like a pastor rising up in the nation in this generation and crying out against the various other pastors that stood behind pulpits in countless congregations. The prophet Jeremiah was seized and gripped with the tremendous burden of the false message which the prophets in his generation were proclaiming in the hearing of the house of Judah. The prophet was torn up within the very depths of his being because of that which the prophets were proclaiming unto the people. In all reality, the prophet heard the words which these prophets were speaking in that generation, and brought a complaint before the Lord. In fact, I would dare say that the prophet Jeremiah didn’t merely bring a complaint before the Lord, but a burden before the Lord. Not only did the prophet bring before the Lord a burden, but he also brought with him zeal for the true and established word of the Lord. When you read this particular verse, one of the single greatest realities you must understand and acknowledge is that Jeremiah carried within the very depths of his being a burden for the true prophetic word of the Lord. The prophet Jeremiah was a man who moved within and among the culture and society of his generation, and in the process of doing so, he heard the various messages and words the prophets were proclaiming in the hearing of the house of Judah. What’s more, is that the prophet Jeremiah doesn’t merely speak of prophet in the singular tense, but speaks of prophets in the plural tense. Within Jeremiah’s generation, there wasn’t merely a prophet in the singular tense that was prophesying falsely in the land. Jeremiah witnessed in his generation multiple prophets who dared prophesy falsely in the hearing of the house of Judah. Jeremiah stood alone and stood out as the true prophet of the Lord amidst numerous prophets who prophesied falsely and according to their own inspiration. One cannot say with absolutely certainty why these prophets persisted in prophesying peace in the midst of, and in the time of famine, in the time of the sword, and in the time of pestilence. Is it possible that these prophets moved with a tremendous attempt to gain popularity among the house of Judah? Undoubtedly the most popular “word” and message of that generation was not the word which Jeremiah proclaimed in the hearing of the house of Judah, but the word(s) which the prophets spoke and proclaimed. Undoubtedly no one wanted to hear and listen to a message of famine, a message of sword, and a message of pestilence—even though such a message was the true and authoritative word of the Lord. The prophet Jeremiah was prophesying sword, pestilence and famine in the midst of a generation that had absolutely no desire to hear or listen to such a word or message. Undoubtedly there were countless men and women in that generation that had absolutely no desire to hear such a message proclaimed and preached by one such as Jeremiah. Men and women had absolutely no desire to believe that everything they had known, everything they had built, everything they had loved, everything they had enjoyed would suddenly and without warning be stripped from them.
This thought—the thought of being unwilling to believe, and unwilling to accept the fact that your entire world is going to be radically and dramatically altered—is one that I cannot seem to shake. There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the single greatest reasons why men and women had such a difficult time with the prophetic word and message of Jeremiah was that they did not want to believe—much less accept—the reality that their world could come crashing down around them. Jeremiah was one who was appointed and ordained by the Lord to stand before him and faithfully proclaim the word(s) which He would command them. The prophet who was ordained and appointed by the Lord could not deviate in any way, shape or form from that which the Lord had spoken in their hearing. Eventually there came a point in the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah when he would see the sword rising on the horizon and quickly approaching. There came a point in the prophetic ministry and life of Jeremiah that he saw famine rising just over the horizon and quickly approaching the land of Judah, and the city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah saw something coming—something that was quickly approaching, which the Lord of hosts continually and repeatedly warned the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah about. Countless men and women had a hard time hearing—much less accepting—the prophetic message that their entire world was going to be changed. Such men and women believed themselves—and perhaps even the land and city they dwelt in—to be untouchable and impenetrable. Such men and women enjoyed living in a relative place of comfort and security, and did not and could not believe that such a reality could or would ever be altered. If there is one thing the prophetic book of Jeremiah—and quite possibly the prophetic book of Isaiah, and the prophetic book of Ezekiel—reveals, it’s that men and women have a hard time accepting the fact that their entire world is going to cave in and crumble all around them. Jeremiah wasn’t prophesying peace and safety in his generation, but was prophesying famine, sword and pestilence. Jeremiah saw something that would radically and dramatically alter the landscape of Judah and Jerusalem. Jeremiah saw the house of Judah and the city of Jerusalem as being vulnerable and susceptible to the sword from without and both famine and pestilence from within. The prophet Jeremiah didn’t merely see danger from without, but the prophet also saw danger from within. That which the house of Judah and the city of Jerusalem faced wasn’t merely peril from without as seen and evident through the sword, but they also faced peril from within as famine and pestilence would strike from within. Jeremiah didn’t see safety and security for the house of Judah, nor for the city of Jerusalem, but instead saw peril, disaster, devastation and destruction.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU SEE SOMETHING THOSE AROUND YOU CAN’T SEE? No, I am not speaking of the Bruce Willis move “the Sixth Sense” when the little boy makes the iconic claim “I see dead people. They’re everywhere.” It isn’t until the end of the movie when you come to realization that Bruce Willis’ character was dead the whole time, and he was one of the many whom this little boy saw and carried on conversations with. What I am speaking about when I ask the question what you do when you see something that no one else around you sees is when you see something in the spiritual realm that those around you can’t see themselves. What do you do when you hear something, or are hearing something that those around you can’t and are unable to hear? This thirteenth verse reveals the tremendous truth that Jeremiah was hearing something which the various prophets in his generation could not hear and were not hearing. This verse reveals the powerful truth that Jeremiah was seeing something which the prophets of his generation could not see. Jeremiah saw famine, sword and pestilence within and coming upon the land, yet the prophets of his generation could not see. Jeremiah was hearing deep within his spirit a word and message of devastation and destruction, yet those present during that generation could not hear such a message. The prophets during Jeremiah prophesied unto the house of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a false vision and divination—a word that did not originate within the heart and mind of the Lord. Jeremiah was grieved within the very depths of his soul because he saw the sword, pestilence and famine quickly approaching the land and the inhabitants therein, yet there was present in that generation prophets who prophesied their own imagination, their own inspiration, and their own “insight.” Undoubtedly there were prophets in that generation whose message was intended to directly counter that which Jeremiah was proclaiming. Such prophets heard Jeremiah speak of and prophesy the sword, famine and pestilence, so they rose up among the inhabitants of the land with a completely different message. The prophets during Jeremiah’s generation sought to offer the people a completely different message—a message not of destruction and devastation, but a message of safety and security. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if such prophets rose up and made such claims in an all out attempt to directly counter that which the prophet Jeremiah In other words—the prophets heard the word and message Jeremiah was prophesying and proclaiming, and they sought to offer the people something much smoother and much nicer. Such prophets sought to present a reality that was much more suitable and much more pleasant to the ears and minds of the people—a reality that holds true even in our generation today.
As you come to the fourteenth verse of the same chapter, you find the Lord’s response to Jeremiah’s grief and anguish. “Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart” (Jeremiah 14:14). THEY PROPHESY LIES! THEY PROPHESY A FALSE VISION! THEY PROPHESY A DIVINATION! THEY PROPHESY A THING OF NOUGHT! THE PROPHESY THE DECEIT OF THEIR HEART! Pay close attention to that last phrase—the phrase “the deceit of their heart”—for the words which proceeded forth from their lips was but a manifestation of that which was in their heart. They were able to prophesy lies and deceit because their own heart was given over to and consumed with deceit. The prophesied the deceit of their heart which meant that their heart was in fact deceived, and the truth did not abide within them. It might even be said that they held a flexible relationship with the truth—one that could be easily altered and manipulated. Such prophets prophesied the deceit of their heart which means that they prophesied what they themselves believed. This is actually quite a powerful declaration when it comes to proclaiming the word of God in the hearing of others. The prophets during Jeremiah’s generation prophesied the deceit of their heart, which indicates that there was a specific reality which they themselves held to and believed. That which proceeded and came forth from their mouths was but a manifestation of that which they believed within their hearts—even if what they believed was a lie, a falsehood and a deceit. This reality must be explored in our generation today, for much of what is preached and proclaimed from the pulpits of our churches may very well come from the deceit of men’s hearts. There are men [and even women] who stand before congregations and prophesy and proclaim the deceit of their hearts—that which they believed within the very depths of their being. WE PREACH WHAT WE BELIEVE! WE SPEAK WHAT WE BELIEVE! There are men and women who refuse to preach and speak the whole of Scripture because there simply aren’t things that they themselves believe. Such men and women only speak and proclaim half truths because the truth of the matter is that they simply do not believe everything they read. Let me pause for a moment and ask you this very pointed question—how much of the Scripture do you actually believe? How much of God’s word do you actually trust and believe in within the very depths of your being? The prophets of Jeremiah’s generation prophesied the deceit of their heart, which means that they prophesied what they believed—even if what they believed was a farce and was absolutely and completely believe. WHAT YOU BELIEVE DICTATES WHAT YOU SPEAK!
BELIEF DETERMINES SPEECH! BELIEF DETERMINES ACTIONS! When considering the thought that the prophet prophesied the deceit of their heart, I can’t help but be struck with the concept that their belief was actually deception. WHEN BELIEF BECOMES DECEPTION! WHEN DECEPTION BECOMES BELIEF! It is possible that belief can become deception within our heart, and deception can become belief within our heart. It is possible that we can be so deceived that we actually believe that deceit, and even begin disseminating that belief [deception]. The prophets of Jeremiah’s generation believed a lie, a falsehood and a deception, and as a result of their belief, they began proclaiming and propagating it among the inhabitants of the land. It was the belief within their hearts that determined and dictated the words which proceeded forth from their lips. The prophets which existed during Jeremiah’s generation believed a lie and a falsehood, and their belief in this lie actually fueled and propelled them to proclaim that belief in the hearing of others. The prophets which were present during Jeremiah’s generation prophesied the deceit of their heart, which of course means that they prophesied deceit and deception. The words which proceeded forth from their mouths was nothing more than the spreading of their own deception among the hearts and minds of those present during that generation. Perhaps the greatest example that comes to my mind when I think of this is Jesus’ parable of the enemy which came in the night and sowed tares among the wheat. When the wheat sprang up from the ground, the tares sprang up also and choked the life out of the wheat. I can’t help but see Jeremiah as one who was ordained to sow seeds of wheat among the soil of Judah and Jerusalem, yet there were those that arose in that generation and sowed seeds of tares amidst the wheat. Such tares were deceit, were falsehood, were divination and the like. It’s almost as if through the prophets the adversary was seeking to sow seeds of a false word in the same soil in which the seed of the true word was being sown. If the seed of the word of God was going to be sown in the soil of Jerusalem and Judah then the enemy would come along and sow his own seed(s) in the same soil. What’s more, is that the enemy didn’t seek to sow his seed in a soil that was different than the original soil, but the very same soil in which the good seed was being and had been sown. The enemy did not seek a completely different soil in which to sow his false and destructive seed, but the same seed in which the true and good seed had been sown. THE ENEMY DOESN’T SEEK DIFFERENT SOIL! Jesus’ parable reveals the incredible reality that the adversary doesn’t seek different soil when it comes to sowing his tares among the wheat, for it is is design and intention that when the wheat begins to spring forth, the tares spring up as well and begin to choke the wheat.
GUARD THE SOIL OF YOUR HEART! GUARD THE SOIL OF YOUR LIFE! The more I consider this reality, the more I can’t help but be struck with the reality that we must with all diligence work on guarding the soil of our heart. We must with all diligence and effort work on guarding the soil of our life, for the adversary and enemy can and will rise up in the night and sow tares among the wheat. What we must realize and recognize is that as surely as the good seed of the true word of God can and will be sown, the enemy and adversary will seek to invade that same soil and sow his own false seeds of deceit, divination and falsehood. So long as there is wheat being produced within your life, the enemy and adversary has always and will always seek to sow tares in the midst of the wheat. How subtle is the enemy, for it wasn’t evident what had been done until the wheat had begun to spring up. The farmer didn’t know the tares had been sown among the wheat the day after they had been sown. In fact, I an’t help but wonder if the farmer looked at the soil and thought it was all one kind of seed present within that soil. I can’t help but wonder how long these seeds grew together beneath the surface before they both began to break the surface. How long had the seeds of the tares grown beneath the surface with the seeds of the wheat before it became evident what had occurred. I would dare say there is a powerful prophetic word that is found within this, and that truth is that we don’t always know and we aren’t always aware when the adversary has sown tares amidst the wheat within our lives. Both the wheat and the tares might grow beneath the surface within our lives. As I am sitting here right now, I can’t help but wonder what tares have begun to spring up within my life right now—tares which have sprang up when the wheat also begins to spring up. What tares within my heart and life right now are springing up attempting to choke the wheat which has been sown by the good Farmer? I am finding myself asking the Lord to reveal and expose the tares which have been planted within my heart and life. What tares has the enemy and adversary planted within my life that needs to be removed and extracted from my life? What tares need to be removed and cut out from my heart and life because they are choking the wheat. What tares has the enemy sown into the soil of my heart stealthily—tares which have been permitted to grow beneath the surface with the wheat that has been sown? Oh that the Spirit of the Lord would reveal and expose the tares which have been sown within our heart and life.
Jeremiah was aware of the tares which had been sown in the soil of Jerusalem and Judah, for those tares were completely contrary to the wheat of the word of God and the word of the Lord. Jeremiah’s heart and soul was burdened with the prophets that were present in his generation—prophets which prophesied the deceit that was embedded deep within their hearts. Jesus emphatically declared that it was out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and this reality is proven and demonstrated in this passage of Scripture. The prophets which were present during Jeremiah’s generation prophesied deceit in the hearing of those in Jerusalem and Judah because they themselves were deceived. It has been said that hurting people hurt people, and while I believe that’s true, I would also state that deceived people deceive people. The prophets in Jeremiah’s generation were themselves deceived, and as a result of their deception they in turn deceived others. When it comes to the false prophets that were present during Jeremiah’s generation, it’s necessary to note that because they themselves were deceived, they spread and propagated that deceit in the hearing and hearts of others. The prophets in Jeremiah’s generation were deceived, and as a result of their being deceived, they in turn deceived as many as they could. This same reality is true even in our generation, for deceived ministers deceive others. Deceived pastors deceive congregations. Deceived prophets deceive others. Deceived apostles and bishops deceive the masses. It is more often than not those who are deceived who spread deceit in the heart and minds of others, for very rarely—if ever—will you ever see one who is not deceived deceiving another. Deceived people are more often than not those who will rise up and in turn deceive others. This reality is largely and widely seen through false teachers, false apostles, false prophets who are present within our generation who attempt to deceive others. I am convinced that unless you are first deceived yourself, you cannot and will not deceive those around you. It is only those who are themselves deceived within their heart that will in turn deceive others—a deception which sometimes can be eternally damning and damaging. What was true in Jeremiah’s generation is also true in our generation—we must diligently guard ourselves from being deceived by those who themselves are deceived. We must with all diligence and effort guard ourselves from being deceived by deceived men and deceived women.
I feel the need to close with the words which Jesus spoke in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew. “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4). “AMC many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:11-13). “For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). We must pay close attention and take heed to Jesus’ words within our own heart and life, for we must with all diligence guard ourselves from becoming deceived by the false Christ’s, the false apostles, the false prophets and the false teachers that have arisen and will arise in our generation. Oh that the Spirit of the Lord would shine His light on those which are deceived and would enable us to keep ourselves from being deceived. Oh that the Spirit of the Lord would reveal the tares which have been sown among the wheat within our hearts and lives. Jesus understood that the two greatest dangers that would arise in the final generation were deceit and offense, and He made sure to warn us against such dangers. The dangers which Jesus spoke of in His Olivet discourse were indeed the same dangers which were present in Jeremiah’s generation, for that generation which is in danger of judgment will always struggle, battle and deal with deceit and offense more than anything else. There were countless men and women in Jeremiah’s generation who struggled with deceit because of the false prophets and their message, and offense at Jeremiah and his message. The same reality was true during Jesus’ day, for there were men and women who struggled with deceit because of the words of the Pharisees, Sadducees and the religious system, and with offense because of the words and message of Jesus. Let us this day pay close attention to our hearts that we might keep ourselves from being deceived and from becoming offended. I would even dare say that Jeremiah himself ran the risk of being offended—not with man, but with the Lord himself—because of the tremendous opposition and resistance he experienced. We are deceived because of falsehood and we are offended because of trials, trouble, persecution, suffering and opposition. Let us read this passage and pay close attention to the words that are contained within it, for there is a wonderful and powerful message to us in this generation—a message that if heeded and paid close attention to will lead us into truth and will spare us from deception.