2 Peter 2:1 warns us that just as there were false prophets in Israel, there would be false teachers in the church in the last days. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 also warns us of a great falling away within the church as the time of Antichrist nears.
Ancient Israel experienced a great falling away period right before God sent Babylon to take them into exile. During that great falling away, the Lord gave scathing rebukes about the overabundance of false prophets in Israel. One such rebuke is found in Jeremiah 23:11-32 where he outlines specific things false prophets were guilty of and they have distinct parallels to what we see today. Some of their characteristics include the following:
- Both the prophets and priests were profane (Jeremiah 23:11). They had no reverence for holy things and defiled them, even bringing their defilements into God’s temple. Their profaneness even included swearing and they encouraged others to do it (Jeremiah 23:10, 15). Much like some pastors do in secret today.
- They prophesied for Baal, not Jehovah, but used Jehovah’s name as they prophesied for Baal (Jeremiah 23:13). In our times, prophesying for Baal includes preachers who are Freemasons or secretly involved in other occultic practices or idolatry, including those who bow to the Vatican.
- They were adulterous liars. Their adultery was spiritual (cheating on God with other gods) and physical (cheating on their wives). The same thing happens more frequently today in churches.
- False prophets encouraged the people in their sins, prophesying prosperity and peace for the wicked (Jeremiah 23:14, 17). As they do today, back then the majority of prophets refused to call people to repentance as God expected them to (Jeremiah 23:22). Instead, they promised them they were living their best life now and that God wanted to bless them despite their unrepentant sins. Same as today.
- Israel’s false prophets were like Sodom and Gomorrah (Jeremiah 23:14). Worship of Baal included male prostitution, so they were the equivalent of today’s gay rights activists who infiltrate churches with their abominations.
- As was also pointed out by Ezekiel 16:49-50, like Sodom they were prideful, gluttonous, idle, and despised the poor. Fortunately, churches today still actively help the poor, but pride, gluttony, and idleness are far too common.
- Their made up prophecies were centered around puffing people up with self-glorification (Jeremiah 23:16).
- They used God’s name constantly, but God did not anoint, ordain, or send them (Jeremiah 23:21).
- They subtly taught things and spoke of having prophetic dreams that would draw people away from God, not to him (Jeremiah 23:27).
- False prophets even kept God’s words from the people (Jeremiah 23:30). Today we see that being done when pastors don’t even preach from the Bible or twist the meaning of it or churchgoers refuse to read it or they use fake Bibles like “The Message” that give incorrect paraphrases of the real Bible. (Oops, I know I stepped on some toes with that one.)
Therefore, as today’s Church sits by and criticizes the Jews for rebelling against God and rejecting him, we seem to be oblivious to the fact many of us in Christendom are doing exactly what Israel did–oblivious as a frog in a kettle that doesn’t realize the comfortable water is slowly being heated up to boil it to death. Nevertheless, we can be thankful God’s gift of discernment is always within reach if we desire it.