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Summary: PENTECOST 6(A) - Be on guard against deception realizing false prophets distort the truth but knowing God’s prophets report God’s truth.

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BE ON GUARD AGAINST DECEPTION

Jeremiah 28:5-9 - July 11, 2004 – PENTECOST 6

JEREMIAH 28:5-9

5Then the prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah before the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD. 6He said, "Amen! May the LORD do so! May the LORD fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the LORD’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon. 7Nevertheless, listen to what I have to say in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: 8From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disas-ter and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. 9But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true."

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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:

We know how important it is to be prepared, to be ready for the unexpected. We do that quite of-ten in our earthly life, don’t we? We take precautions against what the future might bring. In our day and age and in our society there are all kinds of insurance a person can buy--health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, crop insurance and more. There even is insurance to protect pets. This insurance protec-tion is an endless list. This insurance list reminds us of our obsession with being prepared, being ready for what might happen, being on guard against the unexpected.

This morning our text teaches us the same thing with a different focus. Believers are to be on guard not for the unexpected but for the expected. This expected to be on guard against is deception, de-ception because the Lord tells us deception abounds. It was present during the time of Jesus, during the time of Jeremiah, and will be until the end of the age. This morning we are reminded of the words of Je-sus as he walked on the earth. Jesus said: "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you every-thing ahead of time" (MARK 13:22,23). We are going to use these words of Jesus as our theme for to-day: Be on your guard! BE ON GUARD AGAINST DECEPTION

I. Being reminded that false prophets distort the truth.

II. Knowing that God’s prophets report God’s truth.

I. False prophets distort the truth

As our text began, we recognize the name of Jeremiah. We heard last week how Jeremiah was a prophet during the reign of six kings of Israel. Today in chapter 28 he is prophesying during the reign of King Zedekiah. Zedekiah had led the people to disobey God by worshiping false gods. So it was that the Lord God as part of judgment rose up a great king of Babylon--Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar came and conquered Israel and bit-by-bit he took them as slaves to Babylon. Now the children of Israel are slaves in Babylon, slaves to King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah has to prophesy during this bleak, dark time in the history of Israel. Of course, you can imagine the words were not words of encouragement, but words reminding them how they disobeyed and were facing God’s judgment. So what happens? False prophets come.

We also heard the name of Hananiah, a false prophet. He came and prophesied as if he were God’s prophet, as if he were telling the truth. Hananiah said to the children of Israel, "Guess what? In two years you will be going back to Jerusalem and in two years all the Lord’s belongings are going back to Jerusalem. Everything is going to be back to normal." Good news, wasn’t it? Even Jeremiah said, 6He said, "Amen! May the LORD do so! May the LORD fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the LORD’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon. Jeremiah had to agree. He says, "Wow! That would be good news that we would no longer be slaves that king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon would be defeated; and Zedekiah, the king of Israel, and all of Israel and all of the belongings of the Lord would be back where they belong, at the temple and at Jerusalem. But this prophecy was-n’t true. Even though Hananiah had come before God’s people and proclaimed this word, he had distorted the truth. He had done it in a public way, so Jeremiah answers him in a very public way. Our text began by saying: 5Then the prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah before the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD. Hananiah had gotten the people to come to the house of the Lord and tells his message, "Here’s a message I am going to proclaim, a message that your ears want to hear, a message that your hearts want to believe, and a message that sounds almost too good to be true." And it was. But Jeremiah was going to tell them the truth.

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