Concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite you shall speak, saying, “Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says, ‘Because you have sent letters in your own name to all the people who are at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, and to all the priests, saying, “Yahweh has made you priest in the place of Jehoiada the priest, that there may be officers in Yahweh’s house, for every man who is crazy, and makes himself a prophet, that you should put him in the stocks and in shackles. Now therefore, why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth, who makes himself a prophet to you, because he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, The captivity is long. Build houses, and dwell in them. Plant gardens, and eat their fruit?” ’ ”
Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet. Then Yahweh’s word came to Jeremiah, saying, “Send to all of the captives, saying, ‘Yahweh says concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: “Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, and I didn’t send him, and he has caused you to trust in a lie;” therefore Yahweh says, “Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his offspring. He will not have a man to dwell among this people. He won’t see the good that I will do to my people,” says Yahweh, “because he has spoken rebellion against Yahweh.” ’ ”
There are many sins that people commit, but there is one sin that Jesus characterized Satan as being the father of. Murder is horrible, but the sin of lying is capable of causing us to commit every other sin quite naturally, including murder. Today, people tend to believe that God is a myth and that molecules-to-man evolution is real. Evolution is a lie and out of it comes almost every imaginable sin. When a person who clams to talk for God, speaks lies to people, it is a very, very serious crime against humanity and this passage shows us the kind of thing it causes.
In this case, Shemaiah took it upon himself to speak for God and started telling priests what they should be doing. He even told them to lock up Jeremiah. By doing that, Shemaiah told the people who would follow him, that Jeremiah was wrong. Worse than that, it made the people think that God was lying and Shemaiah was telling the truth. They were slandering a prophet of God and even suggesting that he should be killed. So you can see that lying leads to slander and murder and because this lie made the people disobey God’s voice, it could have ended up condemning all of mankind to hell. If the people were not to listen to Jeremiah and were to try to oppose Babylon instead, God would have been obligated to destroy them and since the Jews were the only ones able to bring about the Messiah, the whole world would have been lost. So, we can see what is probably Satan’s most powerful tool: the lie.
If you think that Christians are obsessed with the truth, you are right. It is the truth about Jesus that sets people free. Without the truth, real faith would not be possible. In order to save mankind, God must stop those who speak lies in His name. In this case, God made sure that Shemaiah would be removed and have no offspring in Israel. May God continue to impress upon us the importance of the truth and may we continue to share that truth so that many will be saved.