Seeking What you Want Heard

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 4, 2021 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“What does your heart tell you?”

This is one of the most common ideas in our modern society and perhaps the deadliest, too. You can’t escape a Disney movie without hearing this and yes, this even got into “The Chosen” when Jesus is helping Nicodemus process His dialogue with him. So while I do like “The Chosen,” it does miss some things. Whenever you hear or ask the question, “What does your heart tell you?” another way you can rephrase this is, “What do you want heard?” It is very dangerous to seek your own heart on any matter because it is deceitful and wicked. Some translations say “desperately wicked.” The prophet Jeremiah even goes as far as saying that you can’t even know your own heart.

Jeremiah had to deal with this issue later in his ministry. After Babylon came and finally conquered Jerusalem, a series of events took place. A man named Johanan warned the appointed governor of an assassination plot, and the governor, Geldidiah, didn’t listen. Johanan went after the assassin but couldn’t catch him. As a result, the fear of a Babylonian retribution, smothered the place. So Johanan went to Jeremiah to seek the Lord about whether they should flee to Egypt or not. Jeremiah spent ten days seeking God out and came back with a message saying, “Stay in Jerusalem and you will be well taken care of” (my paraphrase). Johanan rejected this message and accused Jeremiah of not getting this from God and instead from Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe and servant. He then organized the people and fled to Egypt, forcing Jeremiah to come with them.

Did they just fear Babylon so much that they didn’t trust God? Keep in mind, the whole time Babylon was invading, all the prophets except Jeremiah were proclaiming peace and victory and that Babylon would be repelled. They were proclaiming that God had their back, and then Jerusalem fell. People would have been disillusioned. They could have blamed God for it, or they would have done what many “Word of Faith” people do: accuse the people of lacking the faith for deliverance. But when they get to Jerusalem, we see the real motivation behind rejecting God’s word. This is found in Jeremiah 44.

Jeremiah rebuked them for fleeing to Egypt because Babylon was going to come and conquer Egypt too; this time, there would be no escape. There was no other nation to flee to. The people said (again paraphrasing): “Back in Jerusalem, we worshiped the idols and we had everything we ever needed. When we stopped worshiping them (such as in Josiah’s revival and cleansing), we have had nothing but trouble. So we are going to go back to worshiping our idols, namely to the ‘queen of heaven.’ We will fulfill our vows to our idols.” Let me translate the meaning behind this: “Things were going just fine when we worshiped our idols just as when we worshiped your God. When we left the idols to worship your God, all this trouble came. We won’t listen to you or your God. We made promises to our gods and we will hold to them.”

Jeremiah’s response was in essence, “God’s promise was for those who went willingly into captivity to Babylon and to those who survived and stayed in Jerusalem. But you who disobey God still will perish from the very thing you fear (Babylon) here in Egypt and you will not go back home.” The people wanted to hear what they wanted to hear. They rejected what God actually said and went with what they wanted to do from the get-go. They got what they asked for, to go to Egypt and escape Babylon at Jerusalem, but they also got what came with it: doom, destruction, and no escaping Babylon anyway.

This encounter in Scripture reminds me of Paul’s warning to Timothy that many people were going to reject him and reject Christ because the people would no longer listen to sound teaching and instead pile up for themselves teachers who would tell them what they want heard. Johanan did not actually want to hear what God had to say. He wanted what he wanted to come out of Jeremiah’s mouth. This was Ahab’s problem too. When he was deciding if he was going to war with Syria, he sought to get Jehoshaphat to come with him. All his prophets said to go and he would win. Jehoshaphat knew better and asked for Micaiah to give a real word from God. Micaiah was told what Ahab wanted to hear and the prophet refused to say what was wanted to be heard. He said he would say what God said to say.

We live in times where people do not want to hear truth. They want to hear their ideas coming out of your mouth to “validate” their ideas. And they especially want to hear it coming out of the mouths of Christians. This is one of the reasons why so many false teachers and false converts seek to be in a church where sin is not addressed. They know they are in sin (God does not let someone hide from that fact), and they want someone who is supposed to represent God to tell them they are okay just as they are. This is one of the reasons why I think so many “militant atheists” come to harass Christian and Creation groups, or why those who practice homosexuality constantly berate believers. It’s not because they actually have anything to show us that we are wrong. They really want us to admit we are wrong or to give anything that showcases that we don’t follow what we claim to teach. They are looking for reasons not to have to listen to us and to God. They don’t want “discussion,” so don’t try to give it to them. This is why the numerous false teachings I have addressed throughout the years are so popular - they will allow you be religious without actually having to submit to the truth. And the real challenging part is that some will proclaim to teach the “core doctrines” when what they actually teach is nothing of the sort.

There are two things we can learn from this event in Jeremiah. 1) Not all who come to you for advice are actually looking for your advice or knowledge. They are looking for you to tell them what they want to hear. Tell them the truth whether they will accept it or not. 2) When seeking advice, don’t fall for the trap of trying to get someone to tell you want you want to hear. Be willing to listen to rebuke. If you really don’t want to hear someone’s advice, don’t ask for it. Don’t waste their time or yours. Instead, let us take God’s advice. It will often seem counter-intuitive, but it’s always the right thing to do. If the people of Judah had followed God from the start and not ever turned to their idols, they would have remained in their homes. But because they loved their idols more than God, they lost both. Again, take note of that. Those who kept hold of their idols lost both the True God and their idols, as will be the case of all people in churches who follow false doctrines. They will miss the True God, and they will miss out on what they sought to get. So don’t follow them. Follow God and God alone.

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