Fallout Revisited is a series that looks back through the six plus years of posts on the everlasting fallout and revisits the best and most relevant. This post, originally titled Proclaim, was posted three years ago in August of 2012.
“I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.”
– Jeremiah 23:21-22
We are in an age where opinion has been crowned king, and those whose opinions are most popular are crowned the king of kings. Our world is growing ever more desperate for truth. Despite the increasing availability of information there is a vast shortage of deep, penetrating truth. Even in the church and the Christian community across the western world we have sold the proclamation of truth for the sake of purchasing the opinions that we want to hear.
Our situation isn’t far removed from Israel’s in the days of the prophet Jeremiah. Prophets across the nation proclaimed the Lord’s favor despite the fact that God himself declared destruction and calamity due to Israel’s idolatry. God says that the false prophets, “prophesy the deceit of their own hearts” (Jeremiah 23:26) and by doing so lead His people astray.
Sadly, as I look around at my fellow Christians I see numerous people who have been led astray and are in the process of bringing others with them, speaking from human logic and experience rather than from faith, confident that they have discerned what the word of the Lord is even though they have failed to actually listen.
My longing, and Jeremiah’s longing in his time, is to see a day come where the Lord’s people boldly speak the truth to each other and to the world. Oh, what a transformation this would bring! Truth has the terrible power to divide and unite, to root up what is evil and plant what is good in its place. In a world where politicking, deceit, and convenient lies are acceptable and even encouraged, the emergence of a people who speak the truth will have an earth-shaking effect.
In Jeremiah 23 God makes a statement that I believe is key for us to understand if we are to be the people who bring that prophetic truth to bear on our friends, communities, and world. I want to draw out four implications of the Lord’s words in hopes of giving us all practical ways to move toward the truth.
1: Begin in the presence of the Lord.
After declaring that he didn’t send the prophets who were promising peace and prosperity, the Lord says a phrase that offers both an admonition and hope. “If they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people and they would have turned them from their evil way.” Throughout the book of Jeremiah it is clear that God’s earnest desire is that his people turn from their rebellion and be healed so he can relent from bringing disaster upon them. Time and time again he sends prophets to warn and admonish his people. However, because these prophets did not wait for a word in the presence of the Lord, they end up sending the people of Israel deeper into rebellion rather than realigning them with the Lord’s commands.
How often we make this same mistake! Know full well, oh Christian, that if you do not stand in the presence of the Lord often and at length, you will end up leading those around you further into sin. We are easily led astray, and without the constant pressure of the presence of Christ in our lives we are wanderers indeed. Make it your solemn promise to always begin in the presence of the Lord; to stand before the throne of the Almighty until you have the word you are to speak. Humble yourself daily in prayer and fill yourself daily with the scriptures. Then, when you can truly say that you have been in council with the Lord, your words will be words of truth that bring healing and not harm.
2: Be patient. Don’t go until you’re sent.
Another of God’s accusations is that the prophets didn’t wait for him to send them. Instead they went on their own timing, running when they shouldn’t even have walked.
An essential part of speaking the truth is speaking it at the right time. As Proverbs, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Even if we have received a word from God or our eyes have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to see how some scriptural truth applies to a certain person’s situation, we must wait until we are sent by our King, lest we speak out of turn and do damage. Only when the Lord sends us will our words be powerful and true. And remember, do not run where you aught to walk, or walk where you aught to tread tenderly. There are times to proclaim the truth in a flood of rebuke and there are times when the truth must be gently poured out like water from a spring. Go when you are sent and go in the way you are sent, then the truth you speak will be mighty to save.
3: Be Bold. Proclaim the word of the Lord.
For me, this is the hard one. By God’s grace it has become a habit to begin my time in the presence of the Lord, attending to his council. Patience in timing is relatively easy for me as well, however, my patience often turns to procrastination. Often I know the truth I need to speak and when I need to do it, but want to avoid any conflict that might result from speaking a pointed word.
We must note that it is only when the word of the Lord is actively, boldly proclaimed that people are turned from their sin. Webster’s dictionary defines proclaim as, “to declare publicly, typically insistently, proudly, or defiantly and in either speech or writing.” There is no timidity here, only a courageous declaration of the truth that calls the hearer to respond.
In order for our world to be transformed, we must be proclaimers. Not silent onlookers, not whisperers, and not mumblers. When we have stood in the Lord’s council and are confident we are in line with his timing, we must proclaim the truth that he has sent us with, not apologizing or mitigating, even if it is a difficult thing. The word of the Lord is a double edged sword, but even the sharpest blade will not cut unless it is swung with strength. So speak boldly the truth you have received and,
4: Be Hopeful. Expect the Lord to work.
There is no wavering in the last sentence of God’s declaration in Jeremiah 23:22. “If they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.” If God’s prophets stand in his council, go when they are sent, and boldly proclaim the word they have been given, then the people will turn from their evil ways. This is not a question of whether the people are willing or if their hearts happen to be in the right place at the moment the truth is spoken to them. It is a matter of whether the sovereign God of the universe pours out his grace and awakens the hearts of the hearer to the truth and to repentance. What the Lord has promised, he will do.
We have a similar promise in the New Testament’s great commission, where it is declared the all authority is Christ’s and that Christ is with his people until the end of days as the go forth to make disciples. God has spoken and promised. It is for us to put our faith in that promise and step forward boldly, in full expectation of people being transformed as the word of the Lord is proclaimed throughout the world.
My friends, we have a beautiful task ahead of us. We have been brought from darkness into the Kingdom of the light of the Beloved Son, and have been commissioned to go as ambassadors and prophets to those who are still in darkness. We go from the councils of our God, at his command and in the power of his Spirit into places where the wells of truth have run dry for eons, bringing with us the living water that can heal and restore what was once dead and lost. As we, the disciples of Christ, begin to proclaim truth to each other and to those around us, supernatural things will begin to happen. We will see lives transformed and people brought out from bondage into freedom; we will see dead live and hard hearts be softened. Oh, what a work we partake in! Don’t back down from it. Press forward, for the reward is great.