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            Throughout the Old Testament the prophets of God were the faithful men communicating to the people of God concerning the Lord’s will. Great men such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, and many others. The word of the Lord came to them, and they faithfully proclaimed that word. At times the people of God would listen to the prophets and follow their teaching, but often they would not. Not only would they not listen to the Lord’s faithful prophets, but quite often they listened to false prophets, men that came supposedly preaching the word of the Lord, but they were not.
           One time the prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter or message to some of the Jews that had been taken away in the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. In that letter Jeremiah communicated to the people of God why they were taken into captivity. “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have cause to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon” (Jeremiah 29:4). The message was clear, their captivity was the will of God. But why were they taken and what was the warning?
            The Jews were conquered and taken into Babylonian captivity because they had listened to false prophets and even in captivity were continuing to do so. “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you…for they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them says the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:8-9). The Jews were warned before and during their captivity about listing only to the faithful prophets of God that preached the sound doctrine and rejecting the false prophets that spoke in God’s name but did not speak the truth.
            Jeremiah also delivered a message relating to one of the false prophets named Shemaiah the Nehelamite. God would deal with that false prophet in a very severe manner just as he had the Jews as a people. “You shall also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite saying, Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel saying, You have sent letters in your name to all the people who are at Jerusalem…and to all the priests…” (Jeremiah 29:24-25). “Thus says the Lord concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite, Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, and I have not sent him, and he has cause you to trust in a lie, therefore thus says the Lord, Behold I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his family…because he has taught rebellion against the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:31-32). There are great lessons and principles in what Jeremiah was telling the people of God and the message to Shemaiah.
            First, just as there were false prophets among the people of God and the faithful prophets in the Old Testament there are often false teachers in the Lord’s church today, and just as the false prophets of old wreaked havoc the result is the same among the Lord’s people in the twenty first century.
            Second, the people of God, members of the Lord’s church, today can be deceived when listening to false preachers and teachers, and as the people of God departed the Lord’s way little by little so it can be with the Lord’s church.
            Third, there were faithful prophets such as Jeremiah, and although he was not often popular among the people of God continued to preach and speak the word of the Lord. The Lord’s people of the twenty first century need to be students of the word of God (Acts 17:11), and receive only the faithful proclaimers of God’s word into their midst.