“As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you! But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble.” (Jeremiah 44:16–17, NKJV)
Can you image God’s people telling God’s prophet that they would not listen to him? That is exactly what this remnant of Judah said to Jeremiah. They did not love the word of God, but themselves. They interpreted their days of plenty to mean God was pleased with them; they were wrong. They said this even though their beloved city of Jerusalem had been ransacked by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar! Yet, still they clung to their idols in their self-willed defiance, even though God would bring further judgment upon them for their rebellion (Jer. 44:12). This sounds very familiar. There are still many who claim to have faith in God that behave this way. Refusing to listen to the word of Christ from His apostles does not bring divine blessings, but certain judgment (John 12:48). To have God’s approval and blessings, the sin of defiant self-will must be abandoned, and replaced with humble submission to the word of Christ (Matt. 7:21-23).
8 I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images. 9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them. (Isaiah 42:8–9, NKJV)
The true and living God inhabits eternity; He is not confined by time, since He created it (Gen. 1:1, 5). This distinguishes Him from the lifeless, powerless images carved by men’s hands and praised as if they have any power at all. The fulfillment of God’s prophetic utterances declares His glory and demand that we praise Him. When one prophesies in the name of God and it does not come to pass, that person has spoken presumptuously, and is not a true prophet of God (Deut. 18:22). Jesus said, “Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He” (Jno. 13:19). Fulfilled prophecy testifies to the accuracy and the reliability of God’s inspired word, the holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15-17). The words of God’s prophets always came true. By and by, when they fail, the words of the false prophets are shown to be false. We can trust the truthfulness of the Bible, because its prophecies are fulfilled by the very God who gave them.
37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ 38 “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, 39 whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt” (Acts 7:37–39, NKJV)
Moses, the Lawgiver to Israel and Prophet of God, foretold of another prophet like himself whom God would raise up and to whom Israel was to listen. In Acts 3:22-26, the apostle Peter identified that Prophet as Jesus. The word of God spoken to Moses and to Israel on Mt. Sinai is described as living words. God’s word is not dead, but active and powerful to free us from sin’s captivity (Rom. 1:16; Heb. 4:12). Israel set an example in the wilderness we must not follow; she “would not obey” the living oracles God gave her. Note that Israel’s disobedience is counted as rejecting God’s prophet and God’s word. Disobedience arises from a heart that turns away from God. We cannot disobey God’s word and rightfully claim to be following God’s Prophet, Jesus. Rejecting His truth through disobedience reveals a heart that has turned away from Christ to continue in sin.