You don’t have to spend much time on the internet or social media before you come across fake news. Some bogus stories are easy to spot—‘Actress gives Birth to Alien’. Other stories are trickier because they sound like they could be true—’Arthritis Drug Cures COVID-19 Patient’. Before anyone has bothered to check the facts, the story goes viral on Facebook and Twitter, perhaps putting lives at risk.
There was a lot of fake news circulating in Jeremiah’s day. God had sent genuine prophets to warn the Israelites what would happen if they continued to turn from him and go their own way, yet they wouldn’t listen. They preferred the words of false prophets who fed them what they wanted to hear (e.g. Jer. 6:13-15). God told them that he had not sent these prophets and that they were speaking ‘the delusions of their own minds’ (Jer. 14:14-16), but still the people ignored the warnings.
As we saw in last week’s devotion, the Israelites were carried off into exile by the Babylonians, where they would stay for seventy years. In their new circumstances, they could no longer deny the veracity of God’s word. The peace promised by the false prophets had come tumbling down, yet old habits die hard. Again, God warned them:
‘Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord. (Jer. 29:8-9)
God had good things in store for his people, if only they would listen to him and change their ways.
When the coronavirus pandemic struck, our world was thrown into upheaval. Yet we have a different story to cling to. We have a God who only wants what’s best for us, a God who gives us hope and a future. If only we will listen.
Dear Lord, I’m sorry for the times I’ve believed the fake news around me rather than following your Word. Please help me to discern your truth and walk in your ways. Amen.