The End of the False Prophets

Thus says the LROD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed” (v. 15).

- Jeremiah 14:13–18

That God speaks is a privilege we dare not take for granted. Certainly, the Lord does not owe men and women a revelation of Himself, especially because in Adam we basically told our Creator to be silent when we refused to obey His word to our first parents (Gen. 2:15–17; 3:1–13). In His grace, however, the Lord continued revealing Himself to humanity in creation and through His prophets and Apostles (Ps. 19; 2 Tim. 3:16–17).

Because of this general revelation, we can never make an absolute claim in the presence of God that we did not know any better. Paul tells us as much in Romans 1:18–32 when he explains that all people suppress and deny what the Lord has said about His character and what He requires of us. True, the extent of our knowledge of God’s special revelation, and the circumstances of any given situation can mitigate the consequences of our actions (Ex. 21:28–32; Matt. 11:20–24). The more light one has, the more one is accountable for his actions. Nevertheless, even those who break God’s commandments unknowingly incur guilt (Lev. 5:14–19). In Adam we willingly chose not to know better, so the “I did not know any better” will never finally get us off the hook before the Lord.

Despite their obstinance, Jeremiah loved his fellow Judahites, as seen in his attempt to get God to reconsider His intent to send sword, famine, and pestilence against Judah (Jer. 14:1–12). The prophet tried to excuse the people by stating that false prophets had deceived them, but the Lord had none of it (vv. 13–18). If the plea “I did not know any better” cannot finally cover our sin, how much more will the Lord refuse to reconsider His judgments when we do, in fact, “know better”? The ancient Judahites had general revelation but also the Mosaic law, which told them how to discern false prophecy (Deut. 18:15–22). Moreover, Jeremiah ministered during Josiah’s recovery of the Mosaic law. Even if the people for a time did not “know better,” their claim had no merit post-Josiah (2 Kings 22:1–23:27). Matthew Henry comments, Jeremiah’s “excuse would have been of some weight if they had not had warning given them, before, of false prophets, and rules by which to distinguish them; … if they were deceived it was entirely their own fault.”

The old covenant community did not love the truth, rejecting it when false prophets gave them false comfort in their rejection. So, God gave them over to their love of the lie, as He is wont to do (Rom. 1:18–32). This would result in their destruction (Jer. 14:16).

Coram Deo

God will not give a people His revelation of salvation forever. If we will not love the truth, He will give us over to a lie (2 Thess. 2:9–11). Let this be a sobering truth to us all and an encouragement not only to know but also to love the truth of God. It is not enough to know what Scripture says, for if we do not love it, we will be consumed by falsehood. It is not enough to intellectually know and affirm what the Lord says, but we must also love His Word, entrusting ourselves to His promises and grace.

Passages for Further Study

2 Chronicles 18
Psalm 81
Amos 8:11–12
Revelation 16:12–16

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343