In Jeremiah 5:30, the Lord said he will judge Israel for a myriad of sins and declared, “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land…” When I read “wonderful” I think of something particularly good, so it would be easy to assume the Lord is saying there is a good thing and bad thing happening in the land. Wonderful is the state of being full of wonder, and to wonder at something is to be astonished, whether good or bad. It depends on the context. “Seneca Rocks is a wonder to behold,” is marveling at the beauty of God’s creation. “It’s a wonder you are still employed with your lack of skills, attitude, and non-existent personal hygiene,” is astonishment of another sort all together. There were things going on in the land in Jeremiah’s day both astonishingly corrupt and fearfully dreadful. Verse 31 tells us, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means…”
The job qualifications of a prophet were pretty simple. They had to speak God’s Word. If the Lord didn’t give them a word to say, then they didn’t say “thus saith the Lord.” But when they did prophesy, they simply had to speak what God had spoken. The priests, the leaders in charge, ruled by their own power, wisdom, and understanding without reliance upon the Lord or His Word. The job description of the High Priest, men taken among men, for men, in the “things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins,” (Hebrews 5:1). It’s a terrible day when the man whose whole job is to speak God’s Word is lying and the man who is supposed to be for men, guiding in the things of God in worship, sacrifice, and offerings, lead according to their will, rather than the right and truthful way.
Poor Israel, under the bondage of terrible leaders. Well, not really. A third issue is in the wonderful and terrible things, “and my people love to have it so…” False prophets and bad priests didn’t take Israel captive by force. They listened and followed and loved every second on it. Yes, sometimes false preachers deceive and sometimes bad leaders carry others away. But most of the time, people get and have what they want. They loved being lied to. They loved will worship contrary to Scripture. It’s astonishing indeed when a group of people love to be lied to. Often, the majority will find someone who will tell them what they want to hear rather than what is true (2 Timothy 4:3-4). False prophets who fill stadiums don’t sell tickets by gun point. The truth is not always enjoyable. The truth often hurts because we are often wrong. The false preachers perverted truth, the craven and politically motivated false priest they made it up as they went, according to their whim – and the people loved it. Everyone got what they wanted and everyone was happy and content. Except the Almighty.