Saturday, January 13, 2007

Clear visions?

Another quick update from Lamentations. I have found Lamentations 2:14 quite a challenging verse. Here it is, then we'll think about it for a moment:

'Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading.'

The verse comes in the context of a chapter of mourning for Jerusalem, describing in detail horrific aspects of the city's ruin - the gates sunk (8), bodies slain in the city (21), and infants and babies fainting in the streets (11). And how has this all come about? Why are there Lamentations at all?

Because God's spokesmen weren't actually speaking God's words. Instead, they were seeing false visions, deceptive visions, false oracles and misleading oracles. Not very helpful, I think you'll agree. But what were they like? Well, we find one such example in Jeremiah 6: 'They have healed the would of my people lightly, saying "Peace, peace," when there is no peace' (Jer 6:14).

Imagine the situation. The people are listening to the prophets, thinking they are hearing from God, hearing this message of peace, even as the Babylonians are coming towards the city. All will turn out well - for sure, the prophets are speaking this in God's name.

Except, they weren't. The prophets were making up their own messages, and speaking from their own hearts and minds. Not only that, they were also failing to do their duty, from the middle part of the verse: 'they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes.'

Rather than promising peace for the city and people that disobeyed the commands of God, the prophets should have been exposing the sin of the people; speaking against it, and calling them to repentance. It was only this recognising and confessing sin that would lead to the restoration of the people and their fortunes.

Look, after all, at what brought about the restoration of the exiles to the city - it was the confessing of corporate sin by Daniel (Daniel 9:3-23).

So why has this verse been challenging for me? As I approach the full-time task of gospel ministry, or rather, as I engage in full-time gospel ministry and prepare for ordination, how do I speak? How accurate are my messages? Do I preach the full counsel of God? Do I expose sin, and demonstrate the need of people to accept Jesus as their saviour?

I'm reading 'Robert Murray M'Cheyne: A Good Minister of Jesus Christ' by JC Smith at present. Have you heard of him? He was a minister in Dundee around 1839, and saw revival hit the city (ironically while he was on a mission to the Holy Land) - but the revival came through the grace of God and the faithfulness of M'Cheyne in praying for the people and preaching the sinfulness of sin. Revival was marked by the recognition of the people's sin.

O Lord, grant that I would not speak false and misleading messages, but would always speak your truth. Amen

1 comment :

  1. Speaking false testimony is something that always worries me about my own faith experience. Cool post. Helped me address things.

    Chin up Moses...