God is going to continue His rebuke through his prophet Isaiah, but this time God is turning His attention to the religious leaders and their failure to lead the people in the ways of God. Just because someone has a title does not mean that they are leading you in the right direction and we have to make sure that who we are listening to are really messengers of God so we are not led in the wrong direction.
Acts 17:10-11 The brothers[b] immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
The Teachings of the Apostle Paul and Silas were examined through scripture to make sure what they were saying was true. The word Examine is a judicial investigation but many times we do not take the time to examine or question what we are hearing from people who are considered spiritual teachers.
It was after the people examined the scriptures after listening to Paul and Silas that many of them believed in Christ because they compared the Old Testament prophecies with what Paul and Silas were saying about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This should be the habit of all of us no matter what talks or even music we are listening to as we might write down a key phrase or saying and look up what is being said. The problem is most people are happy with what they believe so they do not want to find out the truth but as we get closer to the end of time there will be more deception and more false prophets for us to look out for. (Matthew 24:24; 1 Timothy 4:1-2)
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
With that being said let’s look at some of the warnings that we can learn from Isaiah and what we can look for when seeing false prophets.
Isaiah 28:7-8 These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by[c] wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment. 8 For all tables are full of filthy vomit, with no space left.
1) False Teachers minds are confused
“They stagger with strong drink they reel in vision”
There is some debate whether they were really drunk or just confused in their thinking but the main point is that the advice they were giving was clouded and misleading just like drunk people who make poor decisions so were the priest and the prophets who were supposed to be guiding the people. Like a drunken person who thinks they are giving great advice their speech is ridiculous. If they were drinking wine, then that was forbidden for them to do according to Leviticus 10:8-10 which shows that they have given into the ways of the world and have disregarded their duties as priest.
Ezekiel 34:1-6 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; 6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
“For all the tables are full of filthy vomit with no space left” I cannot handle vomit and that is exactly what God calls their teaching and instruction of His people. The job of the shepherds was to feed the sheep and God compares those who are in ministry to shepherds with the responsibility of caring, feeding and protecting the sheep from predators. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 that man is not to live by bread alone but by the word of God, but God says that their teaching is not only worthless but disgusting and unprofitable. Just like if you showed up for dinner and there was vomit all over the table is the dramatic way that this is being said. Many people are being led astray by false shepherds today who are steering people in the wrong direction and give them what the people want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
“Stagger” Isaiah describes them as those who are unable to carry out their task that they have been assigned. They were not caring for the sheep but they were only caring for themselves and their own needs and only cared about their own popularity
28:9-10 “To whom will he teach
to whom will he explain the message?
Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? 10 For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
2) False Teachers reject the simple teaching of God.
“To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain his message?” There is some debate as to who is speaking here and if Isaiah is addressing the false Teachers or the False Teachers addressing Isaiah. Since there is no indication then I am leaning toward that Isaiah is continuing to speak. Isaiah addresses them by showing them the simple word of God by using repetition and he points out their knowledge and asks why anyone would want to listen to their message. Unfortunately, people did listen to them just like people listen to false teachers today.
Isaiah answers his own question by saying that those who are not strong in what they believe are the ones who are listening to them and those are the ones they are leading them astray. For false teachers there is always a deeper level of knowledge rather than the simple truths explained by God in His word. False Prophets will point you away from the simplicity of God’s word and point you toward sensationalism of experiences in order to convince you that you can have a deeper walk with God and this is why the Eastern religions as well as mysticism is being found in the churches today.
“Historic Gnosticism was the belief that some people retain a secret, higher knowledge of spiritual matters and are, therefore, elite in their understanding and power. … Gnosticism contradicts and undermines the Gospel truth that every man and woman can have Christ to the fullest regardless of race, color, or creed. (Defining Deception, Costi W. Hinn and Anthony G. Wood, PG. 105)
Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:21 quotes this passage from Isaiah showing the people that God does not use unknown tongues to communicate to His people and we can say the same thing about unknown sources or experiences. False teachers do not like for you to address their teaching and many people even believe that to point out false teaching only causes division in the church. They use the passage in Revelation 12:10 which calls Satan the accuser of the brethren and so they take that to mean that any rebuke or questioning is from the devil. They also use Psalm 105:15 which says do not touch my anointed is used to say that we are to do nothing to those who are called Gods anointed but that verse is referring to physical harm and not questioning their teachings.
1 Timothy 1:3-4 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship[a] from God that is by faith.
The Gospel is good news because there is bad news. When false teaching comes in it robs from the simplicity of the good news of salvation and people believe that there are certain things, they have to do to be in a right relationship with God other than accepting the free gift of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 28:11-13 For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the Lord will speak to this people,12 to whom he has said, “This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose”; yet they would not hear. 13 And the word of the Lord will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
3) False Teachers place burdens on their followers
“This is rest… yet you would not hear” The reality is they have made God into their own image and have not accepted the God who has been revealed in Scripture and because of that they find no rest
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
When anyone adds to the work that Jesus Christ has already done then they are adding a burden upon you that will cause you to not find rest. Because we believe we must earn God’s salvation people will add requirements to the gift of Jesus Christ. We are created to do good works, but those good works do not put us in a right relationship with God only Jesus can do that.
Because of their rejection of God, God will now allow them to be invaded by foreigners who will lead them where they do not want to go and many people would suffer because of the leadership of the religious teachers. Many people are still in bondage today by religious leaders because they are blamed for their problems because they do not have enough faith or because they spoke something into existence into their lives. False teachers believe “You declare your own reality” instead of relying on the sovereignty of God. Joel Osteen says, “If you are not receiving the blessings of God you might need to step it up a notch and get the Angels working for you”. When we put faith in our faith, we are putting our hope and our trust in ourselves for our healing and worse, for our salvation. Faith is not a prerequisite for healing (See John 9 and the man born blind) and Jesus did not heal everyone because the ultimate healing He brought was us being in a right relationship with God.
“Be broken, snared and taken” Unfortunately, false teachers cause people harm and brokenness and poor countries are being exploited by false teachers making promises they cannot keep and blame the people for their lack of faith for why they are not healed or wealthy. Can you imagine as a parent praying for a child and being told that they died because you did not have enough faith? This happens all the time and people walk away from God because they have been taught lies about Him.
The people would suffer because the spiritual leaders of their day were looking out for themselves and not teaching the people the truths of God’s word. They were ignoring the elementary teachings of Christ and the fact that those things should have been taught repeatedly so that people would not only follow God but would stay out of the traps of sin. Sin has consequences and when the religious leaders stop calling sin what God calls sin then it traps them into deeper cycles of that sin to the point of brokenness. When False Teachers teach things separate from the word of God then people suffer and many people have stopped seeking after God because of the lies they were taught about God.
One of the best things you can do is to take what anyone is teaching and or singing about and test it with scripture. What makes false teachers so dangerous is that the majority of what they teach is truth mixed in with a lie. I think it is best to end with Jesus own words about false teachers.
Matthew 24:4-5 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.