Before you go to church today, pray!
Later, after attending worship today, pray again!
Why such admonition on this Sunday morning? It is because blessings from the Holy Spirit are not found everywhere people are assembled before ministers who are opening their mouths. Oft times, when people are gathered for worship, ministers and congregants are further harmed by what has been pronounced from ceremonial pulpits.
Consider what is transpiring in Jeremiah 14. Jeremiah is in the process of faithfully delivering God’s Word. According to God’s revelation, extremely tough times is still on the horizon for Judah, and those who are wise will run to their Lord while accepting the national consequences deserved by their nation.
However, Jeremiah is not the only ministerial option in town. Oh, he is the most faithful preacher, but if someone desires a different “word from the Lord,” they can find it. Yes, down the block, there is another “man of God” promising peace and not calamity. And it appears his tribe is increasing.
In chapter 14, Jeremiah and the Lord have a conversation about these ministers, their messages, and the resulting consequences. This is the Word of the Lord:
Then I said: “Ah, Lord God, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ ” And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them. (Jeremiah 14:13-16)
God notices the false preachers who are not sent by him. They are characterized by turning to faulty sources to get their content. Therefore, they are uttering forth worthless lies. Worse yet, they are doing so in God’s name.
Therefore, what are the consequences? God promises these false preachers will be consumed. Perhaps hell will be hotter for them. Who knows, is this what the Apostle James’ has in mind as he starts writing James 3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
But God is not done laying out the disastrous consequences. Harm will also come upon the foolish congregants and their dependent children. They are the ones who neglect the true Word of God for ministerial garbage. And they will still receive all the national consequences promised to all Judah, but they will also be “cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them — them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters [as God pours] out their evil upon them.”
Therefore, I leave you with the following admonition on this Lord’s Day. Before you go to church, pray. Ask the Lord for a fresh outpouring of his Holy Spirit, that a wise head and mouth might be found in your minister, and that you might have an affectionately tender heart ready to hear and do the will of God.
Then, later, after attending you carefully selected worship service, pray again. But this time, give thanks to the Lord for his sovereign and gracious presence. Thank him that he used a very sinful and foolish minister to faithfully deliver God’s Words of life. Then, continue on by thanking the the Lord that he has stirred, impressed, and motivated you to lust more passionately for him.
Oh friend, if this is our experience today, give God glory and give him great thanks. For this will not have been the experience of every man, woman, boy, and girl sitting in the presence of a pulpiteer.