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Fake News or Good News?
by Alan Allegra
2/16/2018 / Devotionals
It seems the big news these days is the proliferation of fake news — propaganda that deliberately spreads misinformation and hoaxes to denigrate someone or some idea.
Although public reaction implies this is something new, fake news has been around since the dawn of time. Fake news is seldom harmless, and in extreme cases, can prove fatal to its victims.
In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve they should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). That wasn’t fake news, but it wasn’t good news, although it was a good and simple warning. It didn’t take long for the enemy of truth to spread the fake “good” news. A talking serpent (an appropriate vehicle) planted seeds of doubt in their minds: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Then came the fake news: “‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:1, 4-5). The fake news pattern is usually the same: 1) create doubt about the subject or source; 2) contradict the truth; 3) make benevolent promises to the listener. Our progenitors would have done well to ponder this principle: “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:4).
Abraham passed down a bad habit to his son, Isaac, when he spread fake news about his wife, Sarai (Sarah). He told Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister, hoping Pharaoh would not kill him and take her (Genesis 12). God plagued Pharaoh and his household because of Abraham’s wife, forcing him to confess his lie. Later, he pulled the same stunt with Abimelech (Genesis 20). This time, God warned Abimelech that He would have killed him because of Sarah. Isaac learned the wrong lesson from his father; instead of learning the consequences of fake news, he repeated the failed ruse with another ruler, who realized he could have borne guilt for touching Rebekah. Fake news is not harmless; it can cost anything, from a person’s reputation, to time and money wasted on defense, to harm and even death.
God’s Word warns against listening to false prophets, purveyors of fake news. When the truth hurts, people will listen to fake news that makes them feel better. The apostle Paul spoke of lovers of fake news when he said, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). “Myth” is a good synonym for fake news because it is, in the words of my seminary professor, “sucked out of their thumb.”
The prophet Micaiah’s experience in 1 Kings 22 is typical: When Ahab was asked to inquire of the Lord’s prophet, he replied, “but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil” (v. 8). He listened to the flattery of the fake news prophets and died in battle. Fake news is soon exposed.
After the rapture, people who refused to love the truth will be fed the fakest news and lose all hope of salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Jesus himself warned of fake news about false Christs heralded with, “’Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’’’ (Matthew 24:23).
Fake news is nothing new, and its effects are predictable. When it comes to your soul, make sure you heed the good news of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, not the fake news of “a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-8)!
Alan is Content Coordinator for Lifestyles Over 50 (Thrive Media) and contributor to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also an adult Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology, and being a senior citizen!
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