Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, "Hear now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the LORD.'"|
A little background -- Hananiah was a fellow who lived around 600 BC in the ancient Israelite kingdom of Judah. He claimed he was a prophet of God with a message concerning the future of Judah. His was a message of "good news" in sharp contrast to the message of Jeremiah who was a "gloom & doom" kind of fellow.
You see, this Jeremiah had for quite some time been declaring that Judah was in big trouble because of its rejection of the ethical, moral and spiritual laws of God. Its leadership (religious & political) had become corrupted. Unless there was total repentance from sin on the part of the people of Judah and their leaders, God was going to bring a devastating judgment upon them! In this case God's instrument of judgment would come by means of king Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army.
So for each true prophet such as Jeremiah you had a bunch of Hananiahs -- the proverbial clash of the "gloom & doom" guys with the "good news" ("Everything is just fine, folks -- God bless you!") guys. And we all know that everyone wants to hear good news and not that gloom and doom stuff, do we not?
Now let's fast forward in time about 2,603 years -- now we're in the beginning of the 21st Century. My, my -- what have we here? It looks like Hananiah and his breed have been resurrected!
What's this -- you're skeptical and don't believe that could happen -- is that what you're thinking? Well, take a good honest look -- here's the way it is in our culture (and through much of the professed civilized world for that matter):
a herd of "prophets" who talk "God and Jesus" talk along with a ton of rhetoric to go with it -- just one sober thing to keep in mind -- we've been clearly warned about this gang making its appearance as we come down the home stretch of human history as we presently experience it:Titus 1:16 - They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
2 Peter 2:1-3 - But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
2 John 1:9-11 - Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 - But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it.
Jesus specifically warned of an invasion of false prophets and teachers in the latter stages of human history as His return to earth approaches. How crystal clear His words on this matter: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many....Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many....For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect." (Matthew 24:4,5,11,12,24).
Jesus' statement regarding those who come in His name saying, "I am Christ.", takes on a most horrifying reality when you remember that there are those who will say that Jesus is the Christ, but in their messages which follow there is a denial of what He really is, why He came to this world, what He really accomplished, where He is now, and what His plans are for this world in the future! Added to those denials are also the denials of God's holy standards for human behavior and relationships!
the "graveyard spiral" in which the world and its nations find themselves -- the "cancer" of rebellion against God and His holy standards is in the explosion mode with nothing significant being done to restrain and turn back the explosion -- do you see the mushroom clouds rising on the horizon because of widespread expressions of individual and collective human depravity? Who better described, than Jesus Himself, the path the human race would travel as it finds itself in a situation where time is rapidly running out on the clock of history? He said, "And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed." (Luke 17:26-30).
He also made this very significant statement which should serve as a sober warning to every person who professes to follow Jesus Christ: "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold." (Matthew 24:12).
The apostle Paul was inspired to detail a vision of what to expect in the latter stages of human history -- he specifically notes 3 deadly loves which will be shared by the masses of earth's inhabitants in a period of time he notes as being "perilous" -- that being a reference as to how it will be for a faithful Christian confronting such conditions:"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
the advent of "positive thinkers" -- these are the ones, whether circulating within the church or out in secular society, who admonish us to always wear a smile on our faces and always speak a positive word in all our conversations! The "positive" prophet attempts to build a case for this by referring to so-called health "authorities" who state that negative attitudes and conversation have a destructive effect on one's health and well being! But wait a minute -- can you find among the big names of the Bible record of human history evidence that these people were totally positive in all that they did and said? Read completely through the writings of such persons as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos and others. Review the statements of John the Baptist, and last, but by no means least -- go through ALL the statements of Jesus, especially Matthew 23!
And of course, you need to digest all the statements and actions of God in the Old Testament and for dessert, then tackle the book of the Revelation! Now here's a good project -- cut out and discard every bit of Scripture that has a negative, gloom & doom quality to it and see how much Bible you have left -- oh yes, you'll have some left, but it won't be the whole volume of 66 books! But the Hananiahs of our day insist that we need to be always "positive!"
the growing acceptance of a major moral shift -- the moral boundary "fences" set up by God at the dawn of human history are being aggressively torn down in many ways. Acceptable sexual expression and practice is no longer limited to intimacy between a husband and wife. Now it is considered quite acceptable for 2 males or 2 females to be sexually active and intimate with each other. And our culture no longer considers acts of fornication or adultery serious moral violations! Further, acts of incest and bestiality are gaining acceptance -- but this is not as much out in the open as are the previous practices -- at least yet! But all this stuff is the heart and core of a very lucrative pornography industry which thrives without serious challenge in most countries of the world with the United States right up there near or at the front! There seems to be a Hananiah on about every street corner who tells us this is a good thing -- it reflects our "diversity" and it will be healthy for our children and youth to be exposed to the variations of human sexuality -- and oh yes, some of those Hananiahs pop up in our churches as well -- why, would you believe it -- that some are in high profile leadership positions in a number of denominations!
There is evidence just about anywhere you look of a massive propaganda campaign which has been underway for some time -- it's within church, government, business, mass media outlets, and the entertainment industries. The message, although it may be packaged a bit different depending on where it is served, is basically the same -- we have the right to determine the extent of and how our sexuality will be expressed -- and that means there is no absolute standard on what is right or wrong sexually, as long as it is done in "love" for each other! So whether you have 2 people or a dozen in an orgy, so long as it's done in the name of "love" it's got to be OK! You don't believe it? Then go talk to your local Hananiah -- he or she will set you straight -- ah, sometimes females will take on the identity of Hananiah!
because of the major moral shift as just noted, there is also the dedicated effort on the part of a lot of people, both church related and secular, to redefine what marriage and family are all about. The effort is now at full throttle with countries beginning to institute legislation permitting legal marriage between persons of the same gender. Lawsuits are pending in a number of courts throughout the U.S. to permit legal marriage between sodomites and lesbians. Recent months have witnessed a growing aggressive effort on the part of church related Hananiahs to permit special "union" ceremonies for same-gender couples, and for full participation, including ordination into ministry, of those couples.
Further, the drive is on for same-sex couples to be permitted to adopt children and thus a "family" is established. Images and articles on these experiences are increasing through our media culture as the Hananiahs in those positions put forth the reasons why these "families" are just as legitimate as are the families consisting of a married male and female with children.
our nation continues to increase the boundaries of its own unique brand of "killing fields" -- the victims are unborn children! Much rhetoric during our recent "war" centered on the unfathomable brutality of Saddam Hussein and his sons as they ruled the citizens of Iraq. Estimates of the number of victims resulting from the Hussein's ruthless barbarism seem to hover at the 1 million mark.
However, note what the tally is as we look at the U.S. version of "killing fields" from the date we jumped into a "war" with Iraq!
Hey! Look at the Number
of Unborn Children Brutally
Mutilated & Murdered in USA
since the USA started "liberating" Iraq
from the brutality of Saddam Hussein!
March 19 2003
Watch this for about 60 to 90 seconds
and see what happens!
Keep constantly in mind that there are a flock of Hananiahs in the political arena, the churches, the ranks of professionals, the educational institutions, and the mass media outlets who say, as did their namesake of old, "Everything is fine -- there is absolutely nothing to worry about -- this is the 21st Century and we're making great progress! What seems to be problem areas will be resolved soon. After all, we are the wealthiest, smartest, and most powerful nation in the world. God bless you and God bless America!"
Such "positive" statements are as beneficial as a doctor telling a patient who is in a late terminal stage of cancer to go home, take a couple of Tylenol tablets, put on formal evening clothes, go out and party all night -- everything is just fine!"
Watch out for those Hananiahs of our time -- they're everywhere! Some ways to identify them:
They will deny the reality of sin and the depths to which unregenerate persons can sink ethically, morally and spiritually.
It sometimes will be open denial and other times it will be more subtle -- but either way, there will be a denial that Jesus Christ is exclusively the way to forgiveness, peace with God, and hope for the future (both in time and eternity). His atonement on the cross for the sins of every human being is at best treated with indifference and skepticism and at worst brazenly rejected and referred to in terms such as "butcher shop" religion!
They would have us believe that we humans have all the "smarts" necessary coupled with sufficient technological resources to handle whatever problems are encountered in our country's journey in this world. Now it may take a little while, but we need to be optimistic and realize that utopia is just around the corner!
The Hananiahs of this generation are aggressive in stressing the need to be "tolerant" due to the fact that we are a diverse culture -- ere are many "points of view" -- many different "lifestyles" -- many different religious expressions of "faith" and no one has an exclusive corner on truth -- besides "truth" is relative -- what may be true today may not be so tomorrow -- so there is a need to recognize our diversity and respect each other in the midst of differences -- the best approach to achieving peace and harmony is to engage in "dialog" over coffee and sandwiches
But it must be remembered that while the Hananiahs of our time stress the need for being "tolerant" they are quick to become very intolerant and will launch into a series of very negative and very condemning rhetoric if you disagree with them -- one becomes a primary target of attack if one expresses convictions solely based on God's special revelation to us humans -- namely, the holy Scriptures! It is extremely wise to never forget a basic fundamental fact here --"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
Now -- time for a question -- how can one be discerning about these things? There are some very necessary requirements to be met. These are:
There must be repentance from all known sin and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord -- and this is followed by a commitment to be obedient to Him in all things each day in our life's journey on earth.
There must be a daily discipline of Bible reading practiced -- if one is going to identify the Hananiahs of today then it can only happen in dependence upon the Holy Spirit and His promised ministry to the follower of Jesus Christ -- review again Jesus' promises about the Holy Spirit -- "He will teach you -- guide you into the truth -- show you things to come." (Refer to chapters 14 through 16 of the Gospel of John).
There must be a daily discipline of prayer and engaging in conversation with God. Again Jesus' promises relative to prayer are to be kept in mind. For starters, look at Matthew 7.
There must be faithful worship, involvement and fellowship with other believers -- it is a very effective trick of Satan to distract us and convince us that the fellowship of other believers is not important -- note the priority given to this in Hebrews 10.
There must be an abiding conviction that one represents Jesus Christ and His eternal Kingdom in a nation and a world which are progressively sinking in the quick sand of depravity. Jesus specifically pointed out that we are to be "light" and "salt" in this world. (Matthew 5).
Do not think it strange if you find yourself on the receiving end of a modern Hananiah's derision and wrath -- remember, Jeremiah experienced it from the original -- but Jeremiah also said something that equally applies to Hananiah's counterparts of the 21st Century:
"Hear now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the LORD.'"
What are you urging people to trust -- the truth or a lie?
What are you teaching others to do -- obey God or rebel against Him?
It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way. Psalm 119:126-128 NKJV
September 1, 2003
by Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection
W. PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
For further reference on USA cultural issues see:
- Popular Deities of American Culture!
- Trashing Sacred Gifts -- 21st Century Style!
- How to Dismantle a Culture in 3 Easy Steps!
- God Bless America? Really Now, Why Should He?
- Atrocities? Well, It Depends on Your Definition of What Is or Isn't!
- United States Holocaust Gallery!
- Imploding Our Culture by Destroying the Young!
- But doctor, I feel good and people say I look great!
- A National Rage Against Violence, BUT Not Always!
- Portrayal of the U.S.A's Hidden Horrors!
- How to Become a Christian
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