How shall I console you? To what shall I liken you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What shall I compare with you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is spread wide as the sea; who can heal you? Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not uncovered your iniquity, to bring back your captives, but have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions.
I was watching a documentary on one of many charismatic leaders who led people not to faith but to falsehood. As I watched, I noticed that there were many different reasons that led people to those who would deceive them. Some were running from unresolved pain. Others just needed a community so that they would not feel alone in the world. Then there were those who were not that different than their deceivers. Their goal was not to find truth at all. They already had in their minds how they believed things to be, or they consciously wanted no part in the truth, and their search was only for someone to validate and nurture the delusions they loved to embrace.
Watching the story of Israel and Judah unfold shows us what happens when people decide that they would rather play pretend than deal with their real condition. In their straying from the Lord, the interesting thing is what they did with the practices God had given them. They followed him no more, yet they still utilized prophets and held on to the practice of prophecy. Of course, having given themselves to other gods, they could not have expected any prophecy to be true. These prophecies would have been crafted for comfort, giving the words of consolation the people wanted to hear even though the speakers knew that they were merely men’s words. One has to wonder how the listeners could not have known.
Following the Lord can be difficult for us. Between the world’s distractions and our own sinful desires, many things try to steer our attention from God by convincing us that another way is better for us. If we are not careful, we will be open to entertaining deceptive visions and prophecies because they affirm our errors in thought or faith instead of correct them. The beginning of that trajectory is a hard, proud heart. The soft heart that truly yields to the Lord, that seeks after his heart, is the one that will invite and grow from the revelation of truth. Father, give us those hearts that seek what is true, that discern and flee from deception from within and without.