22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.
In the preceding verses, God has declared the evil deeds of the false prophets, and now He states in this verse what they would be doing if they had heard from Him. The greatness of God’s wisdom and direction is sufficient for those who are called to speak His Word, but these false prophets were not sent by God and did not stand in His council. God did not speak to them, so they were not doing what a prophet would do.
A prophet who is sent by God and stands with Him would proclaim His Word despite what the people want to hear. The declaration of God’s Word would be the main focus of a true prophet. Instead, the false prophets spoke to the people and told them what they wanted to hear. They wanted to believe they would do well, despite their sinful lives. God’s message to His people at that time was to repent and turn away from sin. They were to return to Him and keep the covenant that was made with their forefathers. Destruction was coming to them due to their sin.
God’s message many times is not what His people then and His people now want to hear. Those who are living sinful lives want to continue in the darkness. Therefore they gather prophets and teachers around them to “tickle their ears” with a message of goodwill, peace, and prosperity. How many pulpits in our day have turned into places for motivational, positive, prosperity focused speeches?
Anyone who is sent by God will declare to the people of God that they are to live holy and sinless lives. A true man of God will shepherd the flock of God away from wicked ways by the Word of God. The result of that preaching will be that the people who belong to Christ will listen and will turn away from evil and sinful deeds. They will seek God and find everything they are looking for in life. True peace and true safety come from God, and those who hear His Word will live the way He expects us to live.
A test for whether a man is truly sent by God will be the preaching of the Word and a message of repentance and holy living to the people. The God of the Bible is a holy God who hates sin, and a true message from God will reflect first a holy life among the people of God. I could stand in a pulpit every Wednesday, Sunday morning and Sunday evening service and preach on one simple thing, repentance and holy living. The people of God need to hear it and need to live it each day. We are so forgetful, especially in times of temptation.