Fake news is everywhere. That’s one of many things that have changed over the past decade. At least according to 247temp.com. Sure – fake news is a popular rallying cry for our current president. But that hardly makes the concept of fake news, if I may use the word – news.
To that end, here’s what 247temp.com had to say about fake news.
Start typing “fake news” in Google and almost immediately you’re going to see a suggestion — “fake news generator.” Anyone can use it, whether as a joke or with malicious intent. The concept has existed for a long time but it gained notoriety during the 2016 presidential election; “post-truth” was even selected as the word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.
OK – so The concept (of fake news) has existed for a long time. Longer than you probably think.
Fake news in biblical times?
For instance, way back in Biblical times. Yes, even then, fake news. For instance – take the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation. They were to be delivered to not only the named church, but to the other churches as well. No, it wasn’t TV. Not YouTube. Not a 24-hour cable news network. It was via the method news was distributed back then.
Rev 1:9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
Yeah – write it on a scroll and then send it, presumably on copies of the scroll, to each of the seven churches.
It did have two things in common with today’s world.
First, like Twitter, there was a character limit, of sorts. Scrolls were of a certain length. They could only hold so many words. I supposed you could get more words on by writing smaller. However, then there was the question of who could read the small writing. After all, eyeglasses weren’t invented until the 13th century.
The other thing was delivery service. Not by air. Or car or truck. Maybe kind of equivalent to today’s bicycle couriers. Except back then it was more like to be, at best, by donkey.
Seriously though, they were delivered. Somehow.
So what was the fake news?
To see that, let’s look at the letter to the church in Ephesus.
To the Church in Ephesus
Rev 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Rev 2:4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Did you see what I’m talking about? It’s this:
I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.
The fake news was generated by false apostles. Men who claimed to be followers of Jesus, but really weren’t.
it’s fascinating that this same thing happens today. Lots of people claim to be Christian. Our president, who started the modern fake news popularity, even claims to be doing great things for Christianity. The truth of that statement is debatable. See Do not be afraid. Unless I hate you? as just one example of why.
But back on topic. In the church at Ephesus, they were commended for testing those who claimed to be followers of Jesus. Furthermore, for determining that their claims to be apostles were nothing but fake news.
So there we have it. Fake news, from 2,000 years ago. And while the methodology has certainly changed, the subject maybe hasn’t changed that much at all. Claims by people to be Christian – but maybe they aren’t.
One thing that has changed though, apparently, is that we don’t really test fake news anymore. We just accept it.
In his 2nd letter to the church in Corinth, Paul wrote about this very thing.
2Co 13:1 This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.
2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection. 10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
fake news is everywhere
Yes, we should test what others say. And we should also test ourselves. Because fake news is everywhere. You may wonder, how should we test for fake news? Just remember something else Paul wrote.
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Yes – test. And not just to see if some of the right words are there. Check context. Culture. Language. And be sure to test things against what Jesus taught. That way, we won’t fall for fake news where people claim to be following Jesus, going the things He taught – but in reality they are not.
In other words – beware of fake news and people bearing fake news. Remember what Jesus said about the father of lies.
The Children of the Devil
Jn 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”