All is night that is here, in respect of ignorance and daily ensuing troubles, one always making way to another, as the ninth wave of the sea to the tenth; therefore sigh and long for the dawning of that morning, and the breaking of that day of the Coming of the Son of Man, when the shadows shall flee away. Persuade yourself the King is coming; read His letter sent before Him, “Behold, I come quickly…” (Revelation 3:11). Wait with the wearied night-watch, for the breaking of the eastern sky, and think that you have not a morrow.Samuel Rutherford
But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, ‘As the LORD of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us.’”Zechariah 1:6
What Are You Hearing & What Are You Saying?
There is an infinite world of difference between a ‘reactionary narrative’, conceived by the carnal mind, and the painful and expensive process of surrendering oneself to the revelatory work of the Holy Spirit.
The former is merely an echo of human/cultural ideology, the regurgitation of others and a projection of self; the latter is the Holy Spirit’s gift of prophecy, the very witness of Christ Jesus Himself. (See 1 Corinthians 14:1; Revelation 19:10).
The former is like an increasing quagmire of overdraft; the latter like the instantaneous peace of settled accounts.
In Jeremiah chapter 28, we witness the convergence of two prophets of Israel meeting not only each other but also encountering the wider community of God’s people.
It’s this ‘three-fold witness’ (Prophet-Israel-Prophet) that is important to examine as we study what this chapter of the Bible is saying to us today on the eve of 2022.
In short: Hananiah was mercifully given the opportunity to repent; Jeremiah himself was also mercifully given the opportunity to repent.
However, sandwiched precariously between these two prophets, was God’s chosen Israel: the covenantal, betrothed, hesed people of God over whom a colossal struggle in prophetic legitimacy and faithfulness was unfolding.
I’ll come back to this three-fold witness of Prophet-Israel-Prophet in a few short paragraphs.
What Witnesses Are There in the Body of Christ Today?
In a similar way that I read the book of Jeremiah as a whole, as I listen to what is being said within the multifaceted British Church today, I hear the witness of three primary narratives:
1) The same old, comatose blethering of lukewarm religious people, spiritually dead, that has resulted in the current chaos of the Church;
2) The fibrillating, fumbling attempts of the rousing people of God towards a faithful narrative and faithful call to action, that have also resulted in the current chaos of the Church;
3) The gentle whisper of God riding on the Wind.
You and I are in either the first or second camp.
I needn’t say anything about the first category; their sins go before them and should be obvious to all people who have been graced with the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. (1 Timothy 5:24).
The second, ‘fibrillating’ group of believers are the most difficult to address but also, as the seedbed of the radicalised church of tomorrow, perhaps the most exciting: ‘difficult’ because of the torrid curse of denominational brain-washing; ‘exciting’ because they are believers who are currently half-correct, disciples whose barking is toward, if not yet directly up, the right tree.
The difference between a ‘hit’ and a ‘miss’ when it comes to prophecy, (essentially, the difference between corporate discernment and corporate confusion), is where the aforementioned contrast between spiritual revelation and carnal regurgitation comes into play.
Whereas the wilfully unfaithful church repeatedly returns to eat its vomit, and all the while the well-meaning ignorant church can’t yet see the wood for the trees, The Holy Spirit is like the rotating tumbleweed of wild, desert places, like bizarre displays of nature that only the obscure hiddenness of creation is graced to see.
As the Church, we know tales of His mysterious wonder but will we ever see it? (Psalm 27:13).
Calling to Repent With Carnal Minds.
Don’t you see? Calling the church in Great Britain to repentance is the only sensible thing to prioritise even if one has not personally heard the voice of God; one would only need half an unregenerate heart to recognise the appropriateness of emphasising this specific call to action at this point in history.
Indeed, many Christians are quite convivially talking about repentance today who do not even believe the call to be true. (Those, for instance, who think and preach the pipe-dream about the Church, that somehow national repentance will supposedly just happen automatically when “persecution hits the Church”).
But the only way in which the call to national repentance will become anything other than the fibrillating and fumbling attempts of man to speak life into an army of dry bones, like for Ezekiel, will be when we obey God’s command, (however shocking and even seemingly inappropriate to our flesh), to prophesy to the Breath of God. (See Ezekiel 37:9).
In other words, repentance will only prove legitimate when we are truly desperate and truly humble before Him, when we are truly, in faith, willing to ‘do whatever it takes.’
Then, and only then, will we think and preach and repent and pray as we are required to.
Why is the concept of turning away from man, to wholeheartedly seek God in desperation, so foreign to us?
False Prophets: Trusting in Lies
And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.Deuteronomy 18:21-22
First, please read Deuteronomy 13:1-5.
In response to those today who are calling for repentance from carnality, (those who cry “repent!” while grieving the Holy Spirit by neglecting and mocking prophecy, idolising denomination, compartmentalising reformation and trivialising the return of Jesus), the most important scriptural observation from Jeremiah chapter 28 is this:
1. The false prophet Hananiah was prophesying against the oppressive powers (governments) of the day and for the prosperity of Israel (Jeremiah 28:2-4; 11).
2. God’s true Prophet, Jeremiah, was prophesying against the adulterous people of God who were graciously being sanctified through the oppressive powers (governments) of the day.
Hananiah’s indignation was with Babylon; Jeremiah’s indignation was with Israel.
Hannaiah would have vociferously argued for the unlocking of churches today; Jeremiah would have argued urgently for their immediate closure.
Therefore, a simple, child-like reading and application of this passage of Scripture is this:
Calling the oppressive government of Great Britain to account today, ahead of the adulterous Church of Great Britain today, is tantamount to prophesying falsely, misrepresenting God and misleading the Church to believe in a lie.
The widespread unwillingness of the Body of Christ in Great Britain to adequately stop the unfaithfulness of our corporate proceedings, our refusal to genuinely fall on our knees regarding our idolatry, our failure to cry out to God for personal and corporate mercy, our refusal to submit to His radically disruptive ways, is the grossest showcasing of sin that, in the short months and years ahead, will be judged accordingly.
What Price Have You Paid?
The kind of call to repentance today that is genuinely of God, just as Jeremiah was genuinely the weeping prophet of God, will be one that is authenticated by a record of tears.
Are you calling the Church to repent without a public record of your repentance? Are you glossing over your own blindness and fallenness while majoring on the unfaithfulness of the collective whole? Don’t you feel floored in your bedroom before commanding corporate flooring in the pulpit?
Are you commanding the rebuke of the LORD while not fully heeding the command to thoroughly fall down yourself? Are you commanding the people of God, the Church, the Body and Bride of Christ, to a reality that you are yourself unwilling to discover?
I defy any Christian leader in the world today who accepts applause for stating the obviousness of our unfaithfulness; I am wary of those who do not publish and broadcast their congregational repentance with candour.
I rebuke the Church who wax lyrical about the rarity of a leader’s backbone and vim, who applaud his volume and the most elementary of passions that every Christian should possess, and who bleat like wayward sheep while the Good Shepherd of their redeemed lives stands knocking again on the doors of their heart.
The bar is so very low.
Finally, to conclude, returning to the “threefold witness” of Prophet-Israel-Prophet:
The significance for me of Jeremiah 28 at this juncture of 2021-2022 is that this prophetic altercation took place in an intensely public way.
The deliberation of false vs true prophecy is not to be for the privacy of email flows.
The ultimate gauntlet was laid down publicly by Yahweh’s Prophet, Jeremiah:
As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet.”Jeremiah 28:9 (ESV)
If you are truly calling the Church to repentance by the Spirit of God today, what you are doing/calling for will happen, just like Israel was carted off to Babylon despite what the doomed Hananiah had said.
If you are falsely prophesying, knowingly or not, unwittingly or not, the sobering reality – just like the imminent removal of the lamp-stands in Revelation 1-3 – is that you will be silenced.
Dear Body of Christ, (dear church leaders especially), once again hear the command, beyond all of our current cliches, in words found in Cantique De Noël:
“Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices…”O Holy Night
Fake prophet? True prophet? False prophetic unction? Legitimate prophetic unction?
As we haunch down to our knees within the impossibility of the situation, we must remember that it is the the Jewish people of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, the very Bride of Jesus Christ, who resides in the midst.
What else will the genuine and preparing Bride of Jesus Christ cry while we wait?
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!