Because you have said, “Yahweh has raised us up prophets in Babylon;” Yahweh says concerning the king who sits on David’s throne, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your brothers who haven’t gone with you into captivity; Yahweh of Armies says: “Behold, I will send on them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like rotten figs that can’t be eaten, they are so bad. I will pursue after them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be tossed back and forth among all the kingdoms of the earth, to be an object of horror, an astonishment, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, because they have not listened to my words,” says Yahweh, “with which I sent to them my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but you would not hear,” says Yahweh.
Hear therefore Yahweh’s word, all you captives, whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and concerning Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who prophesy a lie to you in my name: “Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he will kill them before your eyes. A curse will be taken up about them by all the captives of Judah who are in Babylon, saying, ‘Yahweh make you like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire;’ because they have done foolish things in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken words in my name falsely, which I didn’t command them. I am he who knows, and am witness,” says Yahweh.
After considering the ministry of various prophets in the Bible, I started to notice that they appear to have a set of signs that they do repeatedly. Jeremiah has a sign that could very well be the most serious of all. When a false prophet opposed him, that prophet ended up dead. He wasn’t the first to have this sign. God did the same thing through Moses in the wilderness when He was opposed. This sign didn’t stop with Jeremiah, either. It continued into the New Testament in an even more immediate way when Peter spoke to Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. There are certain, critical times in which God chooses to remove false prophets in a public way like this. God intends to make His message clear and when a false prophet muddies the waters, it puts large groups of people at risk of not hearing the truth and being saved.
This should also be a warning to those who want to be “neutral.” God won’t allow it. Notice that the people were saying: “Yahweh has raised us up prophets in Babylon.” We read here that these prophets were speaking lies to the people at this critical time and for a while they thought it was a good thing. I believe that God destroyed the neutral approach by removing one of the options from the realm of possibility. Jeremiah predicted that after God destroyed the false prophets, the people would change and it would be evident in their curses when they say: “Yahweh make you like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire.” That’s quite a swing in public opinion don’t you think? When it comes to God’s word, there is no neutral approach. There’s no way to avoid trouble by acting neutral either. Eventually, trouble will come and force us to stop pretending.