“They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of these disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 8:11-12
Jeremiah was like a doctor delivering bad news to his patient. His diagnosis was that, unless drastic measures were taken, the patient would die. However, the false prophets gave a “second opinion.” “Don’t listen to Jeremiah,” they said; “you are going to be just fine.” Instead of radical surgery and a drastic change of lifestyle, the priests and false prophets said a light bandage was all that was needed. The following passage is found in Jeremiah 6:13–14 and repeated exactly in Jeremiah 8:10b–11:
When the priests and false prophets said, “Peace, peace,” they were denying that judgment was on the way. They were giving the people false assurances. The explicit assumption is that Jerusalem and Judah had not committed grievous sins and that God was not displeased with them. In fact, according to the false prophets, God was quite happy with His people and wanted to bless them. They promised “peace, peace!” Unfortunately, their promised peace would not come. The book of Jeremiah bears this out, and, in the end, Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon, just as God had said.
There are still false prophets and religious leaders today who issue false promises of peace when there is no peace. The message of peace and prosperity “sells.” Some preachers and teachers today say that the Christian life is all about peace and prosperity, but God does not promise that. There are others who ignore or downplay the seriousness of sin and teach that God is not concerned with their behavior. Others deny that eternal judgment awaits the unrepentant sinner, even though God has promised just the opposite. These are modern examples of false prophets promising peace when there is no peace.
“Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)