#2 (The “Forgetting” Series)
“FORGET THE FAKES!”
TEXT: Jeremiah 23:25-40
INTRO: Have you ever bought an imitation item, a fake? Fakes try and look like the real thing, every attempt made to have these imitations appear like the real item, except in price of course, the imitations are cheaper and time usually reveals the evidence of that cheaper quality.
Fakes always come with a low price-tag, that’s what makes them appealing to people who don’t want to make a heavy commitment or pay a high price but want other people to think they did!
The message of the fake is just not the same as the message of the real ... if you were to give your fiancée a large diamond ring and she later discovered that it was really a zirconium (a fake diamond that looks pretty real!) the chances are that your beloved would not feel the same way about you as she did when she thought it was a real diamond!
No imitation is ever as good as the real McCoy! This is true in the spiritual realm as well. Today we are living at a time when there is a renewed interest in spiritual things, hence the big interest in the new age movement and other mystical movements. What these people are getting is nothing better than a cheap imitation of real spiritual dynamics however.
Anything but the blood of Jesus Christ is just a cheap imitation! For a while it might make you feel good, look good, and fool others; but when it is faced with time and eternity it will show its cheap quality!
PROP.SENT: The Bible teaches us to stay clear of fakes, to forget them and their promises of easy spiritual living. The real jewel is the Gospel presented by Jesus and the Bible, everything else is man made cheap imitations – “nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
I. SUPERSTITIOUS VS. SUPERNATURAL! 23:25-29
A. Popularity -27
1. There is a new hunger in the land for spiritual things and there are plenty of “fakes” around to exploit this new hunger.
a. There are hundreds of “channelers” that charge several hundred dollars a session to help you hear from the spiritual realm.
b. Literally thousands of people go to these “spiritual seminars” and plunk down millions of dollars every year to hear from spirits called “Rampha” and an assortment of other weird so called spirits with weird names.
c. Diving into the spiritual plane today has again become popular and many “false prophets” have appeared to play to that audience!
2. This is nothing new with humans, there has always been a temptation to give people what they want to hear, to SATISFY rather than SAVE!
a. This message or call from God for them to repent however was not well received, they enjoyed living as they pleased, they didn’t want to hear about repentance, or commitment, or sacrifice, or thankfulness, etc.
b. The result was predictable, they sought to get rid of Jeremiah rather than their sinful ways, and they flocked to “prophets” who would tell them what they wanted to hear, these were “prophets for profit!”
c. These so called prophets told the people what they wanted to hear, that they could live as they pleased, that they didn’t have to obey a bunch of outdated laws as long as they didn’t hurt anyone, they could fulfill any passion they chose, after all … God had told them as prophets to tell everyone!
(1. They were saying, “I had a dream, I had a dream!”
(2. They knew how to sound so spiritual and in touch with God but they were only sharing the delusions of their own wicked minds!
4. Were they effective!? Yes! They were leading
a. Deceivers are shrewd, they know what people want to hear and they become loved for giving what they know others want.
b. Through this process they become self deceived as well, they point to the good they think they bring as justification for what they do.
ILLUS: IN A PEANUT’S COMIC IT WAS THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, THE STUDENTS WERE ASKED TO WRITE AN ESSAY ABOUT RETURNING TO SCHOOL AFTER THE SUMMER. IN HER ESSAY LUCY WROTE, “VACATIONS ARE NICE, BUT IT’S GOOD TO GET BACK TO SCHOOL. THERE IS NOTHING MORE SATISFYING OR CHALLENGING THAN EDUCATION, AND I LOOK FOWARD TO A YEAR OF EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE.” NEEDLESS TO SAY, THE TEACHER WAS PLEASED WITH LUCY AND COMPLIMENTED HER FINE ESSAY TO THE WHOLE CLASS. IN THE FINAL FRAME OF THE CARTOON CLIP LUCY IS LEANING OVER TO CHARLIE BROWN AND SAYING IN A WHISPER, “AFTER A WHILE, YOU LEARN WHAT SELLS!” – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. By their telling and retelling their false visions they hoped to set themselves up for a long term financial boom. Eventually the people will ignore the true God and buy into their visions if they state them over and over enough!
6. These false prophets were only interested in popularity and money, not people! They were a cheap imitation of what a real prophet was suppose to be.
B. Power! 23:28-29
1. What a difference the real prophet is however, his message is one of real POWER and not just an effort for POPULARITY!
2. God is not afraid of the false prophets, in time their messages will be revealed for what they truly are – empty! He encourages Jeremiah to keep preaching even though it is unpopular; God’s Word will not be powerless!
a. The distinction between the two is given as that of straw vs. grain! What do these two things have in common ... NOTHING! An animal that eats only straw will die of malnutrition though it will find itself full after each meal! It can get full and feel satisfied but straw has no nutritional value!
b. Grain on the other hand will not only fill an animal but it will make it grow strong.
c. While the people may feel immediately filled by these fake messages they will find they are without strength when the struggles come! Only God can truly save them, and His Word is the only bread for their soul that has nutritional value to it!
d. This is still true today, yes there are many voices promising fulfillment today besides the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but they are all “fillers” and will in the end prove to have no eternal value.
3. You don’t have to be a brilliant philosopher to challenge the false teachers of this world, just share the truth of God’s Word, it will in time prove itself!
a. God’s Word is like a real fire, not just a picture of fire like the false prophets’ messages.
b. God’s Word is like a hammer that can break and crush, it has real power! 23:28-29
4. Never underestimate the power of your confidence in God’s Word, even when you can’t answer every question asked by the world!
ILLUS: LIKE THE
STORY OF A 4th CENTURY CHRISTIAN NAMED TELEMACHUS. HE WAS AN ASIAN HERMIT WHO LIVED IN A
5. While Jeremiah’s faithful preaching might not get through for the moment, time will reveal the truth of the message he preached against the messages of the false prophets!
6. Jeremiah might not have been able to prove wrong everything his rival prophets said but his job was not just to prove them wrong but to preach what was right! God will defend His own word as time goes on!
a. Preaching the truth didn’t endear Jeremiah to the people, he was anything but popular, he was deeply hated by his own people!
b. This broke his heart; he was called the “weeping prophet!”
c. But what a difference between him and the false prophets, they cared only about being popular but he cared about the people, so much so that on one occasion when God was angry at their rebellion and asked Jeremiah to no longer pray for the people Jeremiah prayed for them anyways! Jer. 14:7,20 Actually, God tells him three times not to pray for the people but he still does! ; What a difference between him and the false prophets!
II. SHOW VS. SUBSTANCE -40
A. Phony! 23:30-32
1. Jeremiah now records God’s reaction to these false prophets, these fakes!
a. Three times God says, “I am against these prophets” 23:30,31,32
b. In ancient writings repetition like this meant a strong emphasis, especially on the action emphasized!
c. The point, God was against these prophets! Not a pretty place to be!
2. They were not benefiting the people or themselves even if they were getting rich in the moment!
3. In time God will deal with them and expose their wickedness, they won’t be able to fool the people forever, they will be exposed!
ILLUS: LAST JULY 15, 1993 THE “BOARDROOM REPORTS,” PETER LEVINE WROTE: WHEN THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY RAN A HELP-WANTED AD FOR ELECTRICIANS WITH EXPERTISE AT USING SONTAG CONNECTORS, IT GOT 170 RESPONSES FROM INDIVIDUALS WHO CLAIMED TO BE EXPERTS IN THEM, EVEN THOUGH NO SUCH THINGS AS SONTAG CONNECTORS EXIST!! THE AUTHORITY RAN THE AD TO FIND OUT HOW MANY APPLICANTS FALSIFIES RESUMES! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. Solomon experienced the emptiness of this world’s wisdom, he tried it all and found it all vain! His conclusion: “fear God and keep His commandments!”
a. God is not passively standing by while all these fakes are doing their thing.
b. The time will come to expose them all and show the brokenness of their ways!
B. Polluting! 23:33-38
1. The problem was not just the false prophets, the people were just as bad, they were constantly asking, “What is the oracle?” They wanted all these sensational fake prophecies.
a. “Enquiring minds wanted to know!” … they ate this stuff up from the false prophets!
b. They found the false visions exciting and tantalizing!
c. They were the “National Enquirer” readers of the day, sensationalizing was appealing!
2. The land was being polluted with all this mysticism and garbage, even their worship centers were using this stuff.
a. Not unlike today; we have on cable TV the psychic hotlines, you can just call up and get a reading, these have become very popular channels!
b. Our churches today are abandoning the pure Gospel and using the Madison Avenue approaches to build their churches; big name celebrities, tantalizing topics, and entertainers and entertainment to draw crowds!
3. God hated this pollution! He was so disappointed with these prophets who could have done so much good but sold out to popular demand!
ILLUS: UNLIKE A
MAN NAMED HUGH LATIMER, ONE OF GREAT BRITAIN’S REFORMERS WHO HAD THE TOUGH TASK
TO PREACH TO THE LIKES OF KING HENRY VIII ... THE ONE WHO LOVED KILLING HIS
WIVES YOU MIGHT REMEMBER! ONE DAY HE WAS PREACHING ON THE EVILS OF THE
4. We are living in days when the pressure to soft-pedal the truth is everywhere! We are afraid of looking dumb if we stand up for God’s Word when we can’t answer every question the world asks, but don’t cave in to this pressure, Jesus didn’t answer every issue when He came! He came to die and rise again so we could be saved, while He didn’t answer all mankind’s questions He did answer all mankind’s problem -- the sin issue!
5. It is far more important that we keep speaking the truth to the world than our ability to answer all the tough questions that they might pose!
a. We can’t logically answer all their questions, we need to be honest about that, the plan of God to have Christ die for our sins is called the “mystery of godliness.”
b. But we can answer the one question they do need answered: “What must I do to be saved?”
6. Keep fighting the pollution of this world, stand against it, remember “Dennis, Dennis, Dennis, the king of kings is here, watch what you say!” (Fill in your own name!)
7. They were choosing pollution over purity! This would cost them their spiritual health – in fact it already had! God had time and time again warned them to ignore these phony prophets with their phony messages. The price-tag of ignoring that advice was just around the corner - judgment!
C. Price-tag! 23:39-40
1. There comes a time when ignoring God’s warnings carry a price-tag!
b. The people of Noah’s day can tell you how true this is also, they ignored Noah’s preaching for better than a century before they all perished!
e. Even King David could tell you all about the price-tag for ignoring sin, payment is eventually due!
2. The word translated in verse 39 “forget” is a play on the Hebrew word for “oracle” as used earlier several times. They wanted a message or “oracle” from God, here it is: “if you persist in listening to these false prophets, I will forget you! – you will get your ‘oracle’ – God will forget you!” ... therefore, the best thing they could do would be to FORGET THE FAKES!
3. If they don’t the price-tag will be a real “oracle” from God, “I forget you!”
a. With this came the price of being cast out of God’s presence along with the sacred city of Jerusalem!
b. With that would come everlasting disgrace, a shame that would not be forgotten! Indeed it hasn’t, it is recorded here for all generations to still read!
c. Indeed this happened, captivity came and much death resulted in the captivity, the holy city was trampled down and the glory of God’s people disappeared for quite a while!
4. We now live in a period of God’s grace, fakes are everywhere preaching their phony spirituality and easy living, but a day is coming when the price-tag of this pollution is going to make itself real to the world!
a. For believers Christ’s coming will be one of joy…
b. But to the world it will be a day of judgment!
WIERSBE IN ONE OF HIS BOOKS WROTE ABOUT A
5. What about you, are you going to follow the fakes or the faithful!?
CONCLUSION: The Lord has little tolerance for fakes! Phonies do a great disservice by pretending to love and honor God while using this image for personal gain. A phony Gospel will make you feel good temporarily but will bankrupt you spiritually in the end. The real Gospel transforms your life into Christ’ image and leave you with an eternal reward. Superstition breeds bondage, Salvation brings freedom! Get the real! – forget the fakes!