“As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.” (Jeremiah 28:9)
In these days of public unrest and social distancing, what message should the church be preaching? Should it be a message of God’s judgment against sin as Jeremiah the prophet preached throughout his ministry, a message which was quite unpopular? Or should it be a message that ignores systemic sin which was the message brought by the prophet Hananiah? Hananiah represented the response of the religious establishment to Jeremiah’s pronouncements of God’s judgment on Jerusalem. He was an “official” Temple prophet, a self-righteous man who claimed he was doing God’s work. Yet he contradicted the word of the Lord as spoken by Jeremiah. He prophesied peace and an end to Babylonian oppression. He did not think that the Jews had done any evil, certainly nothing serious that merited down the judgment of the Lord. Much to his regret, he was punished for his rebellious blasphemy and did not live to see the judgment fall.
Many churches, many of the spiritual gurus and religious media stars today often contradict the word of God. Their sin is that they focus only on one sin or another, forgetting the whole panoply of evil that exists in the heart of every human being. Rather than preach God’s condemnation of all sin, they are more like Hananiah. They tell people what they want to hear, what will make them feel good about themselves, what does not offend them but which will condemn those whom they perceive as their enemies. On the left, we have the liberal mainline churches many of whom who condone and even praise immorality, violence, abortion, and sinful lifestyles in the interest of popularity and political correctness. They applaud themselves as enlightened and progressive servants of the Lord. On the right we have the fundamentalist churches many of whom who ignore the plight of the poor and downtrodden, the aliens and immigrants, while sanctioning warfare and promoting personal “God-given” rights because they have confused America with the Kingdom of God. The gospel that Jeremiah preached, that the Lord would have His church preach, was not soft on sin and injustice. It condemned sin, selfishness and self-righteousness in all its forms and called for repentance. The lesson is that unless a person or any person really acknowledges his or her own sin, that one will never find peace and harmony for they will never see their need for a savior.