“Because both prophet and priest are ungodly, even in My house I have found their evil, says the Lord. Therefore, their way will be to them like slippery paths in the gloom. They will be driven away and fall down there, for I will bring disaster on them, the year of their punishment, says the Lord.” vs11-12
If we do not speak the word of God faithfully, then He will punish us. He will not hold us guiltless who take up His name in vain, but He’ll deliver the sheep from the false shepherds. God will not allow His people to go down into the pit because men prophecy visions they have not seen. It is serious business to MISHANDLE the word of God or to speak it unfaithfully. God will hold you to account.
First, He will deliver His people [vs1-6]. He says, “What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the LORD…But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the LORD, have spoken!” He will not allow the oppression to rule over us, but He saves us by the truth. Everywhere in the New Testament TRUTH is believed! Men are not saved by sincerely believing lies. No, He gets us the truth, and we receive it. He says, “When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit [Eph 1:13].” He says, “In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is what He will be named: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS [Jer 23:6].” Jehovah Tsidkenu is the title that He gives Himself, and we will receive it, because we will all be justified by faith. There won’t be a single child in the fold who rebels against this doctrine as Paul plainly says in Galatians, and even when great ones like Peter stumble, they will be brought back [Gal 2:11-21].
It is cardinal to gospel doctrine that a sinner be justified apart from the deeds of the law, and our standing with God never wavers. We are to grow in this imputed and perfect righteousness, but we never grow beyond it or out of it. We are justified by faith, fully declared as righteous, and by faith alone we have access into the grace where we stand [Rom 5:1-2]. Human wisdom doesn’t teach this, but God does.
Secondly, the false prophets shall be destroyed [vs9-12]. “Therefore their path will become slick; they will be driven away into the gloom and fall into it. For I will bring disaster upon them in the year of their punishment,’ declares the LORD.” This is no light matter of secondary importance: sincerity won’t save them. God doesn’t judge men by human standards, and there will be no pleading of ignorance or temporary insanity. He will save the false prophet OUT of his lies, or He will destroy him IN them.
Do not lessen your grip on truth. No one can lie on God and say, “Thus says the Lord”, when the Lord has not said, and escape [see next sermon from second half of this chapter]. When men dream dreams and visions, they deceive us, but they doubly deceive themselves because God will hold them to account. When they say, “God told me”, and He’s said nothing, they dig their own pit.
Do not play with this. Some in our day are ready to receive the Pentecostal spirit, though the signs are false! It doesn’t matter to them that God is not working in their tongues, dreams, and visions! So long as it feels good, they do it, and this breaks my heart. Jeremiah said, “Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me, and all my bones tremble. I have become like a drunkard, like a man overcome with wine, because of the LORD, because of His holy words [vs9].” He felt the oppression of the ungodly and the unrighteousness of their ways, and it overwhelmed him as drunkenness. This is how we feel, as we AGONIZE about men babbling their dreams and visions: We know it is not God, and yet it is accepted and tolerated, as if it doesn’t matter, and everyone has the right to pretend to speak for God as he sees fit. Let this warn you, dear one. God is not holding them guiltless who deceive in His name!
Thirdly, this will be a great deliverance, when He brings us from the false prophet [vs7-8]. “In that day,” says the LORD, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land.” Not only will we be clearly justified by faith, but we’ll experience the greatness of God. When He brought us out of Egypt, He delivered us from bondage. When He saves us out of Babylon, then He delivers us after we’ve been proud about our first salvation! God’s second work is greater than His first work because it shows a man can squander all that he has and be recovered – that he can lose his First Love, and then come storming back! He can be lifted from the dunghill a second time, with a deliverance so great, that the first one is forgotten and the new experience reigns triumphant in the mind!
Are you a poor sinner, O believing child of God? Have you fallen into the pit again? Are you justified by faith? Then come out! Arise from the dead and Christ will give you light [Isa 60:1-5].
Finally, do not fear that God’s cause will not triumph. He will deliver from the false prophets, damn them, and He will save all His people. While we mourn the iniquity of our day, the Lord our Righteousness shall prevail!