The concept of a prophet (a person speaking for God) is a good thing until a prophet stops speaking for God and starts speaking for himself. That is the situation discussed in the last chapter of today's reading from Jeremiah. The sad reality is that false prophets still arise today, and we have to be careful not to believe their lies. There are some safeguards to making sure that you don't get taken in by a false prophet:
- A real prophet will never speak against God's written Word (i.e. the Bible) – I met a few Mormon guys back in November, and they told me about the "prophet" from the LDS church who receives direction revelation from God. I asked them about polygamy and why the "prophet" ever received a message from God telling people to practice the disgusting act. They couldn't explain it, but Genesis reads that one man and one woman will unite together. A real prophet will never say anything that goes against what God has already communicated through the Bible.
- A real prophet will stand the test of time – This takes a little more patience, but when a prophet's prophecies don't come true, then you can bet that he is not a real prophet.
In Jeremiah's time the prophets led the people away from worshiping the Lord. Hopefully in our day we will not get sucked into a similar fate as the Israelites faced.