In Jeremiah 28 in get a glimpse into what Jeremiah thinks should lie at the heart of a prophetic ministry. In this chapter we have Jeremiah squaring off with on of the most prominent false prophets of his day, Hananiah. Hananiah had a very successful ministry of prophesying that which would tickle the ears of his audience. His message was basically (my paraphrase of course) ‘God loves us too much to allow us to suffer. We will certainly prosper!’ It was an old version of what is still around today – a classic ‘prosperity gospel.’ Jeremiah says that this kind of preaching is making God’s people trust in a lie (v.15).
Jeremiah, on the other hand is busy preaching “war, famine, and pestilence against many…” (v.8) Some might regard such preaching like they regard a sour, wet blanket. Why always such the frowning face, Jerry?
The reason Jeremiah preaches thusly is not because he does not want his people to prosper. Indeed he profusely “Amens” the sermon of Hananiah (v.5-9). He really hopes that what the false prophet says will come true. He just knows that it will not, because Holy God has said that it will not. And Holy God has said it will not because His people have become a profoundly unholy people. And whenever unholy people are trying to come to Holy God real prophets proclaim the gross reality of sin and its horrible consequences. They implore such sinners to flee the wrath to come.
So, having said all of that perhaps we should ask ourselves what kind of flavor does our “proclaiming” have to it. Can the people we share the gospel with not only sense the compassion in our voice but also the urgency we feel for their souls? Or do we present the gospel as one other alternative amongst an host of numerous options? “Why not trying Jesus if nothing else works for you?” Beyond this thought, what kind of preaching do we gravitate towards? Do we want to be entertained and have our ears tickled and leave with warm fuzzies knowing that our future is okay no matter what our lifestyle demonstrates? Or do we really welcome the rebukes of the word, realizing those rebukes are the very means God Almighty desires to use to keep us close to Him and faithful to the end?