25 “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ 26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? 27 They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their ancestors forgot my name through Baal worship. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. 29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
30 “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31 Yes,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ 32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.
(Jeremiah 23:25-32 NIV)
Yesterday, we saw the Lord respond to Jeremiah first (v. 15). The Lord then spoke to the people of Jerusalem, warning them not to listen to the false prophets (vv. 16-24).
In today’s text, The Lord takes the prophets to task for sharing their dreams as if the dreams were a word from the Lord. The Lord did not have an issue with the prophets having dreams, but He did have an issue with the prophets attaching His Name to the dreams as if they were fact or prophecy, i.e., an oracle from God Himself.
In today’s passage, the Lord continues to speak, switching his attention from the people of Jerusalem back to Jeremiah. While the Lord does not explicitly call out the switch in the audience, there are a few clues that help us in this understanding.
The first clue is that the address to the people of Jerusalem (vv. 16-24) is in poetic form, but today’s text (vv. 25-32) is in prose. The second clue is in verse 32, where the Lord refers to the people of Jerusalem as “they” and “these people”, both in the third person narrative.
The problem is that the prophets are treating their dreams as a message from God, which is not true. In verse 26, the Lord calls these prophets delusional and liars. They are believing their hype and dreams, rather than checking the dreams against God’s Word and seeking God’s heart to hear and speak what He has to say.
From earlier in Chapter 23, verses 16 – 17 to be exact, the Lord called out the prophets’ false messages: “peace” and “safety”. We can all wish for world peace, safety, and security, but that completely ignores the reality of the world around us.
In verse 27, the Lord called out the prophets’ real motives: they were trying to drown out the voice of God (through Jeremiah and other faithful servants of the Lord). The false prophets were hoping to distract the people so they would listen to their false promise of peace and safety rather than the reality of their separation from the Lord and the consequences thereof. The false prophets’ message was like a child not wanting to hear the truth from a parent, sticking their fingers in their ears, and singing or reciting something to drown out the truth.
In verse 28, the Lord tells the prophets to call a dream a dream, but clearly, distinguish it from a word from the Lord. Dreams only require a small amount of emotional energy, but the Word of the Lord effects change, like a consuming fire or a hammer that breaks rocks. Dreams have no weight, but God’s Word changes everything and is a force to be heard, honored, respected, and obeyed.
In verses 30 – 32, the Lord points out the problems with the dreams being passed off as His word. First, it is a lie and not the truth, and second, the lies serve no constructive purpose for the good of the nation. In fact, the lies are harmful because they make the people think everything is OK when in fact they are not. People will not deal with their sins and come back to the Lord if they believe they are in good standing with Him, according to the false prophets.
May we be careful with our words, that what we say may always be grounded in the truth of God’s character and articulated in His Word.
May we not add to or take away from God’s Word, lest we deceive ourselves and lead others astray.