Fake news - it's a term we all know ever since our president used it to describe certain major media outlets. It's also something that we see around us every day. How many of us have shared an article or photo on Facebook, only to find out later that it wasn't true? It's easy to do, especially when it is something that we want to be true. This may seem like a new phenomenon in the age of social media and global technology, but the problem of fake news has been around for thousands of years. It's a human issue, not a media issue.
In this week's reading, we enter a world in which Israel is in exile. In the year 587 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar's armies entered Judah and utterly destroyed Jerusalem. The city was decimated, the temple destroyed, and the king displaced. The remnant of Judah was in turmoil and desperately seeking to hear from the Lord. It is into this reality that the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak stern warnings about false prophecy.
In our readings this week, Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 13 both address the issue of false prophecy at length. The book A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament sheds some light on these passages. The authors write, "The prophet attacks his contemporary prophets who out of their imagination invent reassuring falsehoods in the name of Yahweh. The prophets themselves "whitewash" reality, making social reality look better than it is by saying "peace" when there is no peace. Such prophets, however, only give voice to the endless self-deception of the community." These passages show us that false prophecies are serious business to the Lord.
While these warnings about false prophecy were given to the people of Israel some 2,500 years ago, we would be wise to take the words to heart ourselves. We live in a world where many people still claim to have a new word from the Lord. We need to look no further than the dozens of Christian leaders who are attempting to redefine human sexuality. We must be vigilant and do the hard work of discerning whether or not a word is truly from the Lord, or if we should dismiss it as fake news.
So how do we discern whether or not a word is from the Lord? I believe there are two important facts to consider:
1. The Bible is the authoritative word of God.
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)
2. The character of God never changes.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8 ESV)
If someone's word from the Lord contradicts Scripture, we can safely dismiss it as fake news. This should always be the standard by which we evaluate whether a word is truthful or not.
Just like the people of Israel in exile, the people of our world today are longing to hear good news. However, as we speak into this world we must be sure that we are speaking the truth. We need to guard against the trappings of false prophecies. By testing and evaluating what we hear, we can avoid spreading false doctrine. More importantly, we can then be sure that we are only sharing the ultimate truth - the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the real news that our world desperately needs to hear.
~ Matt Kooi
August 12th Readings
August 13th Readings
August 14th Readings
2 CHRONICLES 36:10
2 KINGS 24:10-17
1 CHRONICLES 3:10-16
2 CHRONICLES 36:11-14
2 KINGS 24:18-20
August 15th Readings
August 16th Readings
August 17th Readings
August 18th Readings