A Lost Verse of the Bible?

It has been said that the best place to hide something is in plain sight. If those who teach the Bible were to selectively tip toe through Scripture to avoid offending current values, Lamentations 2:14 could very well be a verse hidden in plain sight. It reads:
“The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.” (NIV)
If people were to describe a sermon as being relevant and meaningful for their lives, what words would they use? I suspect that “positive, uplifting, and practical advice” would often be among the top contenders. Scripture does contain an encouraging message that fills us with hope which needs to be preached. But, how often would “expose my sin” show up in such a survey? How frequently are people appreciative and value a lesson which might legitimately step all over their toes?
If we roll the clock back to the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., we discover a drama playing out which provides a powerful lesson for today. God’s people loved to seek out a steady diet of positive and affirming messages from their religious leaders./1 Among other degenerative spiritual conditions, their hearts had become corrupt with greed as their lives were centered around the drive to acquire more and more./2 Any message which confronted their sinful state was offensive to them; the only message they wanted to hear was that positive affirmation of the status quo, “You are OK. No harm will come to you.”/3
Because God’s people failed to repent, God was left with no other choice. He had been slow in pouring out his anger; however, the time had come to end their rebellion. God crushed his own people under the ruthless shoes of the Babylonians. From the smoldering rubble left in their wake, the sorrowful lament of Jeremiah rose up:
“The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.”/4
What makes for good Bible teaching? A faithful proclamation of God’s Word. Sometimes that message will encourage us; on other occasions it will convict us. The goal is neither to be made to feel guilty nor to receive an uplifting slap on the back, but to be brought closer to the will of God. Then we will treat others and serve our awesome God acceptably. In writing to Timothy, Paul expressed similar instruction:
“Proclaim the message …. rebuke and encourage … For the time will come when they will not tolerate healthy teaching. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will accumulate around themselves teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”/5
1 Jeremiah 5:30-31
2 Jeremiah 6:13
3 Jeremiah 6:10, 13; 5:12, 31
4 Lamentations 2:14 NIV
5 2 Timothy 4:2,3

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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