“But you made the Nazirites drink wine,
and commanded the prophets,
saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’ Amos 2:12
Amos was a prophet to Israel during a time of prosperity, but also abhorrent corruption and false worship. He prophesied to Israel approximately 50 years before the Assyrians conquered the Israelites 722 BC.
Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah. He prophesied mostly during the reign of the last four kings of Judah – a very dark time of rebellion. He prophesied about and through the Babylonian destruction and captivity of Judah (586 BC).
16Thus 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?
21 “I did not send the prophets,
yet they ran;
I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied.
22 But if they had stood in my council,
then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
and from the evil of their deeds.
26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.
In the last section vs. 1-3, when it mentions shepherds, the prophet is referring to all leaders, civic and religious alike. The whole of chapter 23 is talking about lying prophets, and it becomes clear what happens when leaders command the prophets, “Do not prophesy”. What we get when this occurs in a church or nation is deluge of false prophets and prophecy, the “sheep” are abused and scattered, and we invite God’s righteous judgment. Take a look around our nation today, we are most definitely experiencing God’s judgment.
A few months ago when I was worshipping in church, I saw a picture of a man (side view) and he had a muzzle over his mouth. This represents leadership commanding the prophets not to prophesy. But a few moments later, I saw another picture of a man, but this time he had a board or piece of wood in his mouth so that he could not speak. For a few days I thought this was one and the same picture, but I finally realized that the second picture was what God was doing. He was holding back the word, creating a very dry time. You may remember that between the Old and New Testaments that there was no word from God for about 400 years. However, we should remember that there is a very dry time right before Jesus shows up. We should be encouraged, even in dark times, that as Jeremiah tells us, God will restore and gather the flock, and again make them fruitful. So even though leadership is failing, God will restore all things in his perfect timing and through his perfect will.
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,
25 who frustrates the signs of liars
and makes fools of diviners,
who turns wise men back
and makes their knowledge foolish,
26 who confirms the word of his servant
and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’
and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built,
and I will raise up their ruins’;