Prosperity Prophets (Jeremiah 23:16-18)

Jeremiah 23:16-18

16 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ ”
18 For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord
to see and to hear his word,
or who has paid attention to his word and listened?

“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” “Something good is going to happen to you today.” “Release your faith for your miracle from God today.” Over and over and over, phrases like these are spoken by men and women on “Christian” television and in “Christian” books. They promise people that health, wealth, and prosperity are just around the corner for those souls who will simply think positively and just let God bless them. We call these people prosperity theologians, and they are a dangerous lot.

In the days of Jeremiah the prophet, there were prosperity prophets. (I wonder if they too had bleached white teeth, cheesy accents, and over-priced yet not cool clothes.) These men wanted the people of God to like them, so they kept saying to the people that everything was good. When prophets like Jeremiah would tell people that God’s wrath was bearing down upon them because of their sin, these prosperity guys would tell the people that there was nothing to worry about, everything is under control.

Jeremiah points out that the false prophets were speaking comfort to men who despise the word of the Lord. Their comfort was false. For the man or woman who despises God’s word and his commands, there is not a pleasant future. Those who despise God’s word, who ignore God’s commands, who do not find their desire in God, the future is one of darkness and destruction. God has made it quite plain that those who are not his children are in dreadful and certain danger of facing his fury for their sin. Those who do not love him and his word are not his children. So, you can see that it is not good for a person to declare to a lost person or a person claiming Christ but with no fruit that prosperity and success awaits them.

People may wonder why I am always so hard on the prosperity guys. Here is a simple reason: they distort the gospel. They convince people that the gospel is about getting earthly blessings. They do not tell people that the center of the gospel is about the glory of God and that all people must be forgiven by grace through faith in Christ. Prosperity teachers act as though anyone who hears their voice can have any amount of money they want if they will just give a little money to that ministry. They don’t point out to people that they are in great danger before God if they do not repent of their sin and cry out for the mercy of Christ.

None of us would tolerate a doctor who always told us what we wanted to hear regardless of the truth of our sickness. Similarly, none of us should listen to or read a preacher who will tell us that everything is good without first taking us through the word of God to the cross of Christ. God promises us that he will be with his children, even if we go through terrible hardships in this life. God does not promise us that all those who give him a respectful nod of the head will automatically gain a bigger house. We need truth, not the false smiles of prosperity teachers.