Like a fire

Jeremiah 23:28-29
28 “The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream;
And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.
What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the LORD.
29 “Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD,
“And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”

In the days of the Babylonian captivity, the Lord God was very angry with false prophets and the priests of Israel who had led the people astray. Even as the Lord listed the sins of the people, He also pointed out that much of the problem was with the priesthood who had become complacent or fallen to idol worship. The people hadn’t gotten to their fallen state on their own, they had been led and kept there by shepherds who had used the name of the Lord to their own ends. In losing their faith, the priests had “perverted the words of the living God” (Jeremiah 23:36), and in so doing they had brought a judgment that God had never wanted to give to His people:

Jeremiah 23:38-40
38 “But since you say, ‘The oracle of the LORD!’ therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Because you say this word, “The oracle of the LORD!” and I have sent to you, saying, “Do not say, ‘The oracle of the LORD!'”
39 “‘therefore behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and will cast you out of My presence.
40 “‘And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.'”

The same God who had said “I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5) is now saying to those among His people who have turned away “I will utterly forget you and forsake you.”

Is this the same all-loving God some preach today? Yes, it most certainly is, but many preachers today forget that He IS such a jealous God. As the Lord says in today’s verses, He wants His Word to be spoken as fire that burns – not as a fire that comforts. Rather than using God’s Word as a hammer to break down the stones of the citadel of lawlessness and immorality, many pastors today comfort sinners with soothing words of their own. The church institutions have become complacent, and rather than conforming themselves to the image of Christ, they have conformed themselves to the world.

Jeremiah 23:16-17
16 Thus says the LORD of hosts:
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.
They make you worthless;
They speak a vision of their own heart,
Not from the mouth of the LORD.
17 “They continually say to those who despise Me,
‘The LORD has said, “You shall have peace”‘;
And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say,
‘No evil shall come upon you.'”

The false prophets say to those who DESPISE the Lord, “You shall have peace.” Does that sound familiar? Do we not hear that from thousands of pulpits, as wayward shepherds lead their flocks astray with words that comfort rather than convict? Do we not hear pastors speaking words of personal power rather than repentance? Do we not hear preachers avoiding speaking about sin, and saying to sinners “No evil shall come upon you”?

Luke 12:49-51
49 “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
50 “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!
51 “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.”

“You shall have peace”? Quite the opposite! Fire and division! (See also Matthew 10:34-39)

It is time to confront those pastors who speak of making peace with sin and the world, for such words are not of the Lord. It is time to use the Word of the Lord to “Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2) In Scripture, the Word of the Lord is often likened to a sword, but nowhere is it spoken of as a comforting blanket or an olive branch of peace. The Lord does indeed comfort us in distress, but He also wants us to turn from evil, to seek justice, to do good. (See Isaiah 1:16-17) Let us be sure that where God’s Word is spoken, it is not be taken lightly and softly, but treated boldly as the fire and the hammer and the sword that it is.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Almighty God and Father, let Your Word pierce my heart today, proving that I no longer have a heart of stone but a heart of flesh ready to receive Your Spirit. Speak to me always Your eternal truth, and allow me to always proclaim Your truth boldly and without shame. Comfort me is distress, O Lord, but also bring me the fire of conviction so I shall not be led astray by Satan and the world. Amen.

About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and a father and grandfather. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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