I've always been of the mindset that one cannot have too many books. An avid reader all throughout my life, I've read thousands of books and have accumulated way too many for the strength of my bookshelves. It's probably time to purge. Again.
After reading the 23rd chapter of Jeremiah this morning, my thoughts about reading went in somewhat of another direction. The two words "reading" and "caution" seemed to pair up in my mind after I thoroughly studied that chapter.
Jeremiah was a prophet of God, and in that chapter God tells Jeremiah what He thinks about the other prophets in the land and what Jeremiah should say to them.
It's not a pretty conversation. In fact, God gives a scathing denouncement of those prophets. Here is how God describes those false prophets:
They follow an evil course.
They use their power unjustly
They are wicked and godless.
They prophecy by Baal.
They lead the people astray.
They commit adultery.
They live a lie.
They strengthen the hands of evildoers.
They are like Sodom and Gomorrah.
They spread ungodliness.
They fill others with false hopes.
They speak with visions of their own concocting.
They spread false peace to the heathen.
They don't hear the counsel of the Lord.
They don't see and hear His word.
They run and prophesy their own messages.
They prophesy lies and dreams in His name.
They are delusional.
They hope the people will forget God's name.
They steal false words from one another.
They wag their own tongues.
They lead His people astray.
They tell reckless lies.
They do not benefit people in the least.
Each one's word becomes his own message.
They distort the words of the Almighty God.
So what does any of this have to do with books?
May I just urge a word of caution to you, please? Tis' the season when many are Christmas shopping. Books are often the gift of choice. Buy carefully. Pray before you buy.
The Bible tells me there were prophets in Jeremiah's days that were not godly men. I am under no illusions to think that there aren't many false prophets, teachers, and speakers nowadays, too.
Our department and bookstores are full of books on the shelves that espouse the words, thinking, and visions of men and women who are not in alignment with the Word of God. Just as in Jeremiah's day, they say nice things that give us good feelings and spread hope, but nonetheless, those words are not coming from the mind of God.
There are also many seminars, conferences, and speaking events that promote and feature some of those very same authors. Beware. Just because an author is wildly popular does not mean he is a man or woman of God. So many of them have their own ideology and thinking that makes us feel good and gives us hope, yet is contrary to the words in the Bible. Their own self-promoting agendas have deluded them.
My takeaways from Jeremiah chapter 23:
1. Be careful to whom you listen!
2. Be careful what you read!
3. Be careful what you watch!
False prophets exist today, too!
P.S. If you need some meaningful and inexpensive Christmas gifts, may I suggest an idea? I still have some copies of my first four Bible Study booklets available. Each book examines one book in the Bible in depth. The reader can move through the book at his own leisure.
At $10 each (which includes tax and shipping costs) these books may be a perfect fit for somebody on your Christmas list. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested, and thank you to those of you who have enjoyed these studies over the past years.