Read Jeremiah 23:16-18
16 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they are deluding you. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise the word of the Lord, “It shall be well with you”; and to all who stubbornly follow their own stubborn hearts, they say, “No calamity shall come upon you.”
18 For who has stood in the council of the Lord
so as to see and to hear his word?
Who has given heed to his word so as to proclaim it? (NRSV)
It is tempting for any of us to simply say to others what others want to hear. It can be a special temptation for those who claim to speak for God. Like these false prophets mentioned in our text. They assured the people that all was well, nothing to worry about. This naturally gained them a hearing and popular support.
And it is why Jeremiah copped so much flak when he conveyed a very different message. All was not well; the people had taken a wrong turn and needed to get back on track. But no one liked such an uncomfortable message and so they heeded the false comfort of the false prophets.
We are always in danger of confusing our own sincere wishes for comfort and prosperity with God’s own purposes. It is one thing to hope and pray for such things, it is another thing to believe God has promised them to us unconditionally. It is so easy to confuse our own sincere desires with God’s will and purpose.
There will be times for us to bring a comforting message to others. There will be times for us to bring anything but comfort to others. As the old saying goes, it is the work of the Spirit to both comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable.