False teachers (or prophets) are a continual problem for any and all of God’s people. What makes them doubly dangerous is that many of those identified as God’s people are uninformed concerning the Lord’s many warnings; because they are uninformed they fall for the trap set and then sprung by Satan’s minions (servants). Jeremiah preached and preached, but still the people fell into the trap set by Satan. They fell for Satan’s ploy because of two primary reasons. First, they wanted to believe the Lord would not forsake them (even though they abandoned the Lord and His way). Second, they failed to see that they were guilty of any actual wrongdoing (16:10). This uninformed understanding about their circumstances was not because the Lord did not tell them, but because they did not want to hear. Third, they gained prosperity as they joined themselves to the people of the lands around them. This gave them a false security because they thought that surely their prosperity was the result of the Lord being pleased with tem and giving them bountiful blessings (cf. 17:7-11).
There is an application for us in this. Just because we have prospered financially does not mean—at all—that we have the Lord’s favor. Satan is a mighty powerful being in this world; he can deceive man into thinking any number of things, like the Lord is blessing him when it is factually not the case (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Not only does this apply to one’s financial standing, it can very much apply to a congregation’s standing also. In Revelation 2 and 3 there are five warnings concerning the various churches hearing what the Lord had to say. We need to do the same; it may be that our numerical standing in the community will not be large, but does that matter? To a great many it does, and it is easy to fall into this way of thinking because we measure our successful we are (or not) in relationship to numbers. To the Lord, however, what does matter is the faithfulness of one’s life to His way in behavior and thinking and one’s faithfulness to the Lord’s mission (Luke 19:10). It is OUR job to teach the gospel to a world lost in sin; we can do this where we live. RT