Speak Smooth Things

This is a rebellious people… who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’ and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.  Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us’” (Isaiah 30:9-11).

1.  The Prophet

The duty of a prophet was to faithfully deliver to the people the message that God wanted delivered.  Micaiah, who understood this, said, “As the LORD lives, whatever the LORD says to me, that I will speak” (1 Kings 22:14).  Jeremiah cried out, “O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD!” (Jeremiah 22:29).  God warned Ezekiel, “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand” (Ezekiel 33:8).

This same duty is expressed in the New Testament.  Paul declared, “I am innocent of the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).  Paul instructed Timothy “Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:2). 

2.  The People

Judah did not want to hear God’s rebuke.  They wanted the prophets to change the message.  Homer Hailey commented, “Surely they were not so honest as to come right out and say these things; but this verse very graphically reveals their true feelings… a modern version would be, ‘Give us religion but not the truth…’, ‘Get out of the way; do not hinder us in that which we have determined to do’” (Homer Hailey, A Commentary on Isaiah, p. 253).  Frank Chesser had a different view; he commented, “Some feel that the people of Judah would not be so brash as to actually verbalize such sentiments as appear in verses 10-11.  They view these words as simply characterizations of their attitudes and feelings.  However, would people who are kindred in spirit with Sodom and Gomorrah (Isaiah 1:10), who worship idols (Isaiah 1:8), whose tongues and conduct are at war with God (Isaiah 3:8), with whom wine is a constant companion (Isaiah 5:11), and who view good as evil and evil as good (Isaiah 5:20) experience any hesitancy over literally expressing their disdain for the truth and their desire for the smooth, soothing words of error that numb their spirit and grant liberty to fleshly indulgence?” (Frank Chesser, The Heart of Isaiah, p. 96).  Literal or not – they did not want to hear God’s full message.

3.  Us

Do we want the truth?  Or do we simply want to hear a self-affirming message?

Cornelius said, “We are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” (Acts 10:33).  May this be our attitude.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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