One of the most popular phrases in Christianity is “God is telling me to…” It is also one of the most dangerous.

In Jeremiah 28, a man named Hananiah proclaimed that God would free the people of Judah from Babylonian captivity within two years.  When the prophet Jeremiah heard this, he told Hananiah (paraphrasing) “I hope you are right. But the true test of your prophecy will be whether or not it comes true.” (Jeremiah 28:6-9) If Jeremiah, a man who was ordained by God to speak prophesy and record it into Scripture is slow to claim what is and isn’t God’s will, maybe we should be too.

Later, Jeremiah prophesied,

Listen, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the LORD.” (Jeremiah 28:15-16)

God takes His Word and His reputation seriously (Psalm 138:2). Even when we quote the Bible, we should never take it lightly. Jeremiah says because Hananiah put words in God’s mouth, he “made this people trust in a lie.”  Claiming to hear from God through special revelation doesn’t just put you at a risk for personal embarrassment later, but it can also cause your brother to stumble by putting him at risk of believing lies about God. Misrepresenting God is so serious that God called it “rebellion against the Lord,” and executed Hananiah with capital punishment.

Maybe the false prophet Hananiah had good intentions. Perhaps he really thought he had something special to say.  But the problem was that He wasn’t content with the existing Word of God and so He started guessing at what He thought God might have said.  He acted as though He knew everything going on behind the curtains of God’s mystery.

You may have good intentions as well.  Maybe a thought or an idea has entered your mind that sounds so good; you know it must be from God.  Or perhaps an opportunity has developed that is so big, you can’t imagine how to explain it except that it came from God.  If that’s you, here’s a word of wisdom from Hananiah:  Don’t attach God’s name to it unless you can be 100% sure it is 100% from Him.

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2 Comments

  1. Good thoughts. I think we often take the name of the Lord in vain, even when that is not our intention.

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