By Elizabeth Prata
Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!’ But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their evil and make no offerings to other gods. Therefore my wrath and my anger were poured out and kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, and they became a waste and a desolation, as at this day.And now thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel: Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves, to cut off from you man and woman, infant and child, from the midst of Judah, leaving you no remnant? (Jeremiah 44:4-7).
What were they doing that provoked the LORD to anger? They “went to make offerings and serve other gods that they knew not” and they “did not listen or incline their ear…” to His servants the prophets.
The LORD had “persistently” sent to them His prophets to plead with them, tell them to do right, and to turn from their idolatry. They did not.
Notice the LORD sent His servants the prophets persistently. Other translations of the word say “again and again”.
We know the sad story that happened over and over not just in Jeremiah but in many of the Old Testament books- that the people did not listen to the God-sent prophets but they did listen to the false prophets. When you listen to false prophets, it is because you want to make a god of your own. A god of your own fulfills your lusts, tickles your heart and satisfies the flesh (if the flesh can ever be satisfied…).
Listening to the false prophets means you are worshiping at the altar of a false god, actually engaging in idolatry. The false prophet does not speak of the true Holy God of Israel, they speak of the false gods you desire to hear about instead.
So we warn, plead, rebuke those who follow false prophets, and engaging in idolatry.
Yet, discerner warners like me receive criticism from people who say ‘let them be…who are you to judge…they’re getting something good out of the false teacher, leave them alone…let go and let God…” and so on. But notice the verse where God says,
i>Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves (ESV)
Why bring such great disaster on yourselves (NIV)
Why are you doing great harm to yourselves (NAS)
Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, (KJV)
No matter which translation, it’s a good question about a bad practice.
God is God. He isn’t harmed by what we do. His authority and strength does not rely on mere humans. He was self-satisfied and perfectly independent of humans for eons before He created Adam. If we listen to a false prophet thereby setting up a false god in our heart’s altar, we do not harm Him.
He is concerned because idolatry harms ourselves.
The Bible says to reach out to people who follow false teachers and are being idolatrous with His twisted word. That’s why we warn. It’s why we rebuke. It’s why we plead. It’s not because we are trying to “be right”. It’s not so that we “win an argument.” It’s because it harms the listener. It allows space in the heart to build an altar to a false god. it is idolatry.
And it harms the listener.
It’s a simple question. “Why are you doing this to yourselves?”