Let’s read that interesting verse: “Then I (Jeremiah) said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Surely You have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, You shall have peace, whereas the sword reaches to the heart.” This is, on the surface, a difficult verse. Jeremiah, who was a godly man and one who was characterized by speaking the truth, SEEMS to be blaming God for “lying to His people.” Yet we know that God NEVER LIES! Numbers 23:19 declares, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” God’s very nature (of holiness and righteousness) teaches us this blessed truth: God CANNOT LIE! So whatever our verse is saying it can’t be true the God “deceived this people and Jerusalem.”

The fact is God had been predicting judgment through Jeremiah from the very beginning of Jeremiah’s call to the prophetic office. Jeremiah 1:14-16 reads, “Then the LORD said to me: ‘Out of the north calamity shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,’ says the LORD; ‘They shall come and each one set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah. I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.” This is one of many prophecies of judgment uttered by Jeremiah and he was joined by many other prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, et al.) in declaring judgment upon Israel for their sin of idolatry.

The truth is there were “false prophets” who were declaring peace. In Jeremiah 6:14 we read, “They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.” Later, in Jeremiah 14:13-14 we read, “Then I (Jeremiah) said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, the prophets say to them, You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.” And the LORD said to me, ‘The PROPHETS PROPHESY LIES IN MY NAME. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.” So, there were those declaring peace in God’s Name, but God never sent them with a message of peace; they prophesied lies in His Name. This begs the question, “How could Jeremiah forget these things and accuse God of deceiving the people? There are two possible answers that I can think of.

1) Jeremiah was complaining that God had ALLOWED FALSE PROPHETS TO PROCLAIM THEIR FALSE MESSAGE OF PEACE. It is true that God “allowed them to speak lies.” He did this because the people didn’t want to hear His truth so He gave them over to Satan’s lies. Jeremiah 5:31 says, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My PEOPLE LOVE TO HAVE IT SO.” The people wanted to “good news” at any cost, even if they were lies that deceived them! In a future day the Antichrist will also deceive the masses with “all power and signs and LYING wonders” and they will be deceived “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2nd Thessalonians 2:9-10). God will ALLOW THIS, as we see in verses 11-12, “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lies, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Again, God is not guilty of lying; He simply ALLOWS OTHERS TO LIE because the people don’t want the truth.

2) Jeremiah was having doubts because God had actually prophesied peace at one time (when He spoke of the coming of the Messiah to establish His kingdom of peace on the earth…see Isaiah 9:6-7 and 32:1, 17-18) and now He was prophesying judgment. In our verse he is expressing his “inability to reconcile God’s former promises of peace with His present threats of judgment” (William McDonald). Mr. McDonald goes on to say, “The prophet knew that God is faithful, but he was making the mistake of doubting in the darkness what he knew in the light. In times of trouble and discouragement, there is a tendency to question our certainties. A better policy for Christians is to believe our beliefs and doubt our doubts, rather than doubting our beliefs and believing our doubts.” (276.5) (DO)