Tuesday after the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 23:21-40 (NKJV)
21 “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.
23 “Am I a God near at hand,” says the LORD, “And not a God afar off? 24 Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD. 25 “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, 27 who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal. 28 The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the LORD. 29 “Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
30 “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who steal My words every one from his neighbor. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who use their tongues and say, ‘He says.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” says the LORD, “and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,” says the LORD.
33 “So when these people or the prophet or the priest ask you, saying, ‘What is the oracle of the LORD?’ you shall then say to them, ‘What oracle?’ I will even forsake you,” says the LORD. 34 “And as for the prophet and the priest and the people who say, ‘The oracle of the LORD!’ I will even punish that man and his house. 35 Thus every one of you shall say to his neighbor, and every one to his brother, ‘What has the LORD answered?’ and, ‘What has the LORD spoken?’ 36 And the oracle of the LORD you shall mention no more. For every man’s word will be his oracle, for you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God. 37 Thus you shall say to the prophet, ‘What has the LORD answered you?’ and, ‘What has the LORD spoken?’ 38 But since you say, ‘The oracle of the LORD!’ therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Because you say this word, “The oracle of the LORD!” and I have sent to you, saying, “Do not say, ‘The oracle of the LORD!'” 39 therefore behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and will cast you out of My presence. 40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.'”
“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed’!”
With judgment so clearly threatened, some seek a word of comfort. Tell frightened people that “it’s all going to be alright, nothing bad will actually happen,” and you might get quite a following! So, faced with their own sin and the consequences of sin in their lives, people in Jeremiah’s day, and in ours, find themselves sorely tempted to tell us their sweet dreams, their divine visions of “there, there now.”
The “don’t worry, be happy” prophets were false, of course. Beware of the false prophets, the ones who cater to the “customer” rather than calling on you to be conformed to Christ. It is not the Church that needs to change (so that you’ll be comfortable without changing). Rather, we need to change, to repent.
We do not find the saving message in the dreams of visionaries, but in the sure and reliable Word of God. We turn to the Scriptures to see what is sin, and we repent of that, even if it has become quite popular to mollycoddle some of our sins these days. But then we believe also what the clear Word of God tells us concerning Jesus Christ: through faith in Him, we are justified, we are forgiven, we have the approbation of God and the promise of everlasting life.