S (Scripture): Jeremiah 38:1b Jeremiah had been telling the people: 2 The Lord proclaims: Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and disease. But whoever surrenders to the Babylonians will live; yes, their lives will be spared. 3 The Lord proclaims: This city will certainly be handed over to the army of Babylon’s king, who will capture it.
4 Then the officials said to the king: “This man must be put to death! By saying such things, he is discouraging the few remaining troops left in the city, as well as all the people. This man doesn’t seek their welfare but their ruin!”
5 “He’s in your hands,” King Zedekiah said, “for the king can do nothing to stop you.” 6 So they seized Jeremiah, threw him into the cistern of the royal prince Malchiah, within the prison quarters, and lowered him down by ropes. Now there wasn’t any water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah began to sink into the mud.
O (Observation): The message God continuously shared through Jeremiah, was that the Hebrew people would need to go with the Babylonians, if they wanted to live. Not only would they live, but God’s promise is to bring God’s people back to their homeland one day.
If they stay, they die. These are their choices: life or death.
Jeremiah was called to stay and continue to prophecy to God’s people, so he was sort of exempt from the proclamation (he is after all, God’s mouthpiece to the people). Several of God’s people chose life; they chose to give to Babylon.
Yet the king and many of the king’s advisors and false prophets declared that God’s people would withstand another attack from the Babylonians. They would be wrong. And they were so adamant about their prophecies (Israel victorious in battle) that they had Jeremiah thrown into the cistern full of mud, just to shut him up.
We see how things turn out. God’s people defeated, and yet, God’s promises coming true: God redeems the people of God. God brings them back, but not before the prophetic witness of Jeremiah is heard and ignored.
A (Application): How many prophets exist today? True prophets. Does someone have to be famous to be a prophet? Rich? Poor? Wear clothing of camel hair?
I think many of God’s people today have a gift of prophecy, in the sense that they receive feelings / visions / thoughts of what God is saying to them as individuals or about us as a community.
How de we know which prophetic message to follow? This takes discernment amongst the Christian community. Once one receives a message, one would be most wise to share it with a trusted group such that the community (however large or small) may discern the vision together. Then, move forward with sharing the vision with the people at large. In this way, the community can discern the truth of the vision and move forward.
We all can act like prophets behind our keyboards these days (even myself). And we can make bold, prophetic statements. My suggestion: gather trusted folks together (or share with several individually) before we share the vision. And then move forward humbly, and with a strong will. Let God be your confidence.
P (Prayer): Lord, give us the gift of discernment. Amen.