God’s Word for You
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, April 23, 2015
The Lord’s Response to Shemaiah’s Letter
24 Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite, 25 This is what the LORD of Armies, the God of Israel says. Because you have sent letters in your own name to all the people who are in Jerusalem, to Zephaniah son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, 26 “The LORD has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, so that there may be officers in the LORD’s house over every crazy man who calls himself a prophet, that you should put him in the stocks and in shackles. 27 So why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth, who makes himself out to be a prophet among you? 28 He sent this message to us in Babylon: It will be a long time. Build houses, settle in them. Plant gardens and eat their fruit?”
First there was Hananiah, who died in Judah, condemned for his false prophecies (Jeremiah 28:17). Then we found out that two more false prophets, Zechariah (not the Minor Prophet who predicted Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem “on a colt, the foal of a donkey,” Zechariah 9:9, but another man) and Ahab were executed in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace, also for their false prophecies (Jeremiah 29:22). Now we meet a fourth false prophet, named Shemaiah.
There had been a true prophet with this name in the days of Solomon and his son Rehoboam (1 Chronicles 12:22). This man, however, was condemned like the others for his lies and other sins.
The condemnation does not appear yet. Instead, we have Jeremiah’s summary of a letter written by this Shemaiah to the new overseeing priest in Jerusalem. This priest, Zephaniah (not the prophet) was not the high priest, but was the second ranking priest. It was his duty to arrest false prophets and “every crazy man who calls himself a prophet.” Zephaniah, however, did not arrest Jeremiah. In fact, the next verse tells us that he did something very different:
29 (Now, Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet.)
Rather than arrest Jeremiah, Zephaniah read him the letter. He made Jeremiah aware of this new attack on his preaching, in case he wanted to react personally, or to allow God to intervene for him.
Sometimes Zephaniah’s action can be difficult for us to repeat. When bad or difficult news falls into our hands, new that needs to be passed along to someone else, what should we do? There are some people whose personalities make them lean toward doing nothing, to let somebody else take care of it. But there may be nobody else.
What about good news? What about the gospel? Are even more of us tempted to let somebody else take care of sharing the gospel—even with our children and our other loved ones? Shouldn’t the good news of Jesus be something we want to share all the time?
Psalm 112 assures us that a righteous man “will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear. In the end he will look in triumph on his foes” (Psalm 112:7-8). Don’t be afraid to bring news, good or bad. But be especially bold with the gospel. It’s the best news of all.
Pastor Timothy Smith
To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.