God has a lot of people who speak in His name without ever first hearing from Him what to say – and He knows it. These false prophets lead people astray with messages that they have made up. They say whatever they want and they serve no useful purpose. Normally, they say what people want to hear in order to gain a following. This is no recent phenomenon, but has actually long been the case.
So it was in the days of Jeremiah. He was a bona fide prophet – the real thing – and he was especially unpopular. Prophets were a shekel a dozen in Jerusalem in those days and each of them had a following. Things were beginning to go badly in Judah, so it was pretty easy to get listeners if you said something that sounded nice. People were eager to hear pleasant-sounding messages – and to continue in their evil practices at the same time. Jeremiah, on the other hand, with his continuously unheeded messages of repentance, found it easy to get discouraged.
So the Lord encouraged Jeremiah, His faithful messenger, by offering His personal commentary on these popular, but unprofitable, prophets. Here’s what He had to say:
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran.
I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
But if they had stood in My counsel,
And had caused My people to hear My words,
Then they would have turned them from their evil way
And from the evil of their doings.”
– Jeremiah 23:21-22 (NKJV)
Every Christian should make it a point to stick to God’s counsel as found in His word. We will be more profitable as a result, when the time comes to open our mouths.