With everything else Jeremiah had to deal with as a prophet of God with an unpopular message, he had to deal with “fake news” as well. There was another “prophet” in town and he had a very different “thus says the LORD” than did Jeremiah.
In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, Hananiah the son of Azzur, the prophet from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the LORD, in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD’s house, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, declares the LORD, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.”
(Jeremiah 28:1-4 ESV)
Pick a prophet! Whose voice are you going to be inclined to want to listen to? The one who says, You’re outta’ here for 70 years, so go peacefully and “seek the welfare of the city” of your exile (Jer. 29:7), or the one who says, Hang in there, don’t give in, only 2 more years and our enemy will be defeated and everything’s back to normal?
As I hover over Jeremiah 28 I realize that competing news cycles aren’t anything new (actually, as Ecclesiastes keeps reminding me, nothing’s new under the sun). I’m reminded that confusion about how to understand the signs of the times has always been a deal. So what’s a follower of God to do?
How we need to be discerners. How we need to be able to filter the feeds and figure out the way of faith. And what’s the best way to do that? Thus says the LORD . . . the word of God.
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:14 ESV)
Powers of discernment are developed through training. By constantly practicing to distinguish good from evil. And that, as we chew on solid food. Meat and potatoes from the revelation of God. Bringing everything under the scrutiny of Scripture. Taking the redemption story and overlaying it upon life’s realities . . . and it’s fake realities.
Not saying that everyone who does this will end up with exactly the same answers for every question, but at least we’ll be working from a common reference point. Aware that we have an enemy, the prince of this age (Eph. 2:2), who is the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), who is going to stir up confusion in order to bring about division, we stand firm on the Word as our authority. As we test every new theory against the old, old story, we grow discernment muscle, becoming increasingly able to distinguish good from evil. All from chewing on food for the mature.
By His grace. For His glory.