Still in Jeremiah- livin’ the dream. By the way, the reason I am calling these meditations in Jeremiah “Gleanings From Burnt Field” is because Jeremiah is a book about judgment, primarily. There are terrible things prophesied in this book. Yet even in the midst of grave judgment, God shows himself to be a God of mercy and hope.
There are some false prophets that show up in the book of Jeremiah, and one thing Jeremiah always points out about them is they have no stomach to talk about sin. They always prophecy peace when there is no peace. Usually Jeremiah countermands their nice talk of peace and prosperity with a death threat from the Lord, and the false prophet wanders offstage and promptly croaks (cf. Jeremiah 28).
Yet something I’ve been noticing, particularly as I get into chapters 30, 31, 32 etc., is that not only do the false prophets skimp on judgment, but on blessing as well. In Jeremiah 28:2-4, Hananiah the false prophet said that the Lord would bring Judah back from Babylon along with the articles from the temple. That’s nice and all, but compare that with one of the prophecies the Lord gives Jeremiah:
This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying ‘know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sins no more. (Jeremiah 31:33-24)
It seems to me that true preaching and false preaching work the same way in our age. Watered-down, Hell-is-a-metaphor, sin-ignoring preachers who avoid the hard truths of Scripture also seem to avoid the grandest truths. I’ve never heard a good sermon on grace from a preacher who wasn’t also big on sin. Maybe such a preacher exists, but even if he does, he’s a non sequiter, an exception to the rule. Mamby-pamby preachers (mamby-pamby– who came up with that turn of phrase?) like to stay in the kiddie pool either way- they’ve got no stomach for high stakes.