Before my praying time last night, I took my Bible and was led to open Jeremiah 23. I’m currently having some dilemma about my job so before I opened the Bible, I had expected to find some encouragement for me as I had planned to have a discussion with my boss about it today.
It turned out the book was talking about false prophet. Verse 16: Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” For a while, I felt confused. I didn’t feel like listening to any false prophet these days. What is it I have to learn today?
Earlier in the evening, I had listened to one of Piper’s sermon where he explained the importance of praying –to seek God’s grace in giving us the spirit of wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,) Piper stressed: the most important need of human being is to know God, more than we need health, job, marriage, wealth, or any other things in our life. And we need God’s grace so we can understand Him. That’s why we have to pray before we read the Bible so it’s not a merely an empty information but a true knowledge, knowing God more in person.
That’s what I’d asked even before I opened my Bible, so I felt honestly confused about what God wanted me to learn. But somehow I knew that must have been something I have to learn – that even in this false prophet chapter, I can learn about God, and about myself. So I kept reading and went through the whole chapter.
When I read verse 16 followed by 17: 17They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ I thought, “Oh, maybe it talks about the booming prosperity theology. But no, the verse must be here to fix me, not to fix others.” Then I found verse 13 and 14: 13In the prophets of Samaria I saw an unsavory thing: they prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray. 4But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.”
Whoa! God find Samarian did an unsavory thing (surely it doesn’t sound too bad), but He thought the one’s done by the prophet Jerusalem was horrible! He hated Jerusalem prophets more than Samarian: 11″Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the LORD. The prophets of Jerusalem were loathed by God even more because they have done evil things even in the house of the Lord. Even in front of His eyes, these people who knew Him, who had listened to His words and received His laws, dared to do the wickedness and even spread it to all people in Israel (verse 15b: for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.).
I read more – verse 10b: Their course is evil, and their might is not right (ESV). I read in Indonesian and somehow it hit me deeper: “apa yang dikejar mereka adalah kejahatan, dan kekuatan mereka adalah ketidakadilan.” I felt struck by these verses and thought, oh my God, while all of these times I thought that the false prophets are those who stand telling false gospel. But could it be me? Because here I am, always claim that I belong to God, pleased to be in His house (and even once dreamed to be a preacher myself), but in fact my daily life is full of evil and wickedness that I’ve done right here in His House? I stopped and think about myself and realize, yes it’s me, who pursues wickedness and have relied on the injustice as my power. (Yes, I’ve been doing that 🙁 though a lot of people might think that it’s nothing, it’s normal, it just happens, but I can’t help to think that for a long of time I’ve been fed in the unfairness toward others and somehow at some point I started to feel content and stop feeling guilty about it).
Verse 19 and 20 warned me about the wrath of God upon the false prophets (namely me): 19 Behold, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. 20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly. And how I won’t be able to escape from His sight, my sins are not hindered from His eyes: 23″Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? 24Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? Declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? Declares the LORD.”
I’ve been asking myself for a long of time, do I feel frightened of the wrath of God? Or have I taken it so lightly and casual – to read about it in the Bible and maybe I just think: ‘Oh, God doesn’t like this. Hmmh, OK. He’ll be angry. Hmmh, well, that sounds serious.’ – But in fact I’ve never been really fearful of His anger?
So I prayed last night, and will keep praying, for God to give me the ability to sense and envisage the power of His rage, so I might fully understand what it means to fear Him. I prayed and keep praying, so I would be granted the heart that fears Him more – not fearing the consequences of my errors that might come from human, but truly fear the God as He is the One who is holy and hates sins.
I’m awed by the strength of God’s word in revealing Himself to me, and by letting me know him; He had shown me the depth of my own soul, the hidden sinner inside of me. I’m awed by the amount of my transgression and aware by the dread of His rage, but somehow I could feel that when I came to His presence and repented, He is willing to forgive me and cleanse me from my sin, and continue His works within me – though I know that in fact, I’m not worth anything before Him. I’m awed by His love, His love that is so deep and never let me go.
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
(O Love that wilt not let me go, a hymn by George Matheson, Scotland, 1882)
For Thee, I will give back this life I owe!