Let me share some of my resent readings with you. I am reading Timothy Laniak's research on shepherding as a leadership metaphor. I am spending time in Amos preparing for chapel. And, I am working through Jeremiah in my own Quiet Time study. As you can see, the Lord is working me over with this theme of "shepherding". God had a sobering rebuke for those who were cavalier in their teaching and leadership.
First, the context: The southern tribes of Judah were fragile. They had become characterized by the rejection of God's truth in favor of self-styled, feel-good worship. God had been sending them prophets to warn them and call them to return in loyal devotion. Among these prophets was a faithful plodder named Jeremiah. He had spoken of the greater message of God's love, but then shifted to a warning that continuation on the path they were on would lead to certain doom. False prophets had been offering a counter-message. They had spoken of having dreams of peace and of how there was no cause for alarm. Observe God's frustration:
25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, 'I have dreamed, I have dreamed!' 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who use their tongues and declare, 'declares the Lord.' 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 23:25-32).
Get the point? God got more than a little upset when his truth was manipulated, changed, ignored, and when religious leaders claimed their message was from God when it was not. God assured them that the words of the false prophets had no power. Their message was like straw; however, his word was uniquely powerful and impacting.
- It was like "grain". It sustains, nourishes, strengthens, and gives life.
- It was like "fire". It penetrates, burns, and purifies.
- It was like a "hammer". It confronts, pounds home the message effectively, and creates new beautiful shapes.
I am so grateful that we foster a culture of deep reverence for God's word in our study, in our worship, and in our living. Let us encourage each other and hold each other accountable in our devotion to Christ and our loyalty to truth.
Partnering together in our need for God's pure and transforming work in our own lives.