Still, no matter what we say, we are left with the nagging suspicion that some of what these activist pastors who spend their ministry preaching against the church are saying is actually true. It just sounds like maybe they're onto something. In most cases, they really are doing a fantastic job of convincing us that they sound like Jesus, that the things they are saying are things that Jesus would say.
But then again, the false prophets have always been good at that.
Remember these guys? These are the men (and women) who have been part of Israel's story from the very beginning, the ones who come speaking boldly in the public squares and sounding for everything like they have the same kind of authority as real prophets. They tell the people what they think, and they use very holy-sounding language to do it, and then the people are convinced that these men and women are actually speaking for God.
Over and over again throughout the Scriptures, we see them coming face-to-face with real prophets of God. We see them standing there right in front of guys like Jeremiah or Elijah and continuing to preach the messages that God hasn't given them. But they wrap these words in such language that the people don't know what to think any more. The false prophet in the King's presence sounds so much like Jeremiah that it's hard to know which one is speaking with authority and which one isn't (except that the King always seemed to know...and choose the false prophet).
We're not talking here about prophets of other gods. We're not talking about things like Elijah's showdown with the prophets of Baal on the mountain. That's an entirely different story altogether. We're talking about the guys who claimed that the Lord sent them, who talked to Israel in their own Hebrew holy language, and who were just entirely making it up because it sounded good to them.
Because they, like too many activist pastors these days, were trying to make a name for themselves.
In the New Testament, they aren't called false prophets any more, but false teachers. And the writers of the epistles, especially Paul, continually warn the church about them. Paul even goes so far as to say that if anyone comes to you preaching a Gospel that is different than the one that he has shared, that person is a false teacher, and you must deal with them as such.
A gospel, perhaps, in which Jesus doesn't love His church and is ready to demolish it.
That is one of the fundamental differences between false prophets in the Bible and false prophets today - the ones in the Bible always seemed to be building up God's people in the face of coming judgment; today's false prophets seem to always be tearing down God's people against His desire to build them up - but false is false is false.
And these guys are bold; they always have been. There is a scene in Jeremiah in which the prophet literally calls out the false prophet standing right in front of him, and the guy knows that Jeremiah is a true prophet of the Lord, but stands there and insists in his own false prophecy anyway. Right to Jeremiah's face. That's bold.
And that's what we're still seeing today. Most of these activist pastors are being called out, at least from time to time, and they are just standing there, insisting in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that they are right.
The truth is that there were many in Israel who believed their false prophets, almost entirely because they wanted to believe their false prophets. They liked that message better than the one God's real prophets were preaching. And the same is true today. There are plenty of persons, even persons of faith, even persons of real faith, who believe these false prophets, almost entirely because they want to believe these false prophets.
As strange as it seems to understand, they would just rather believe that God is disappointed with His church than that He loves it dearly. Why?
(One more day.)