Day 33: Jeremiah 23:16-32
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they are deluding you. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise the word of the Lord, “It shall be well with you”; and to all who stubbornly follow their own stubborn hearts, they say, “No calamity shall come upon you.”
For who has stood in the council of the Lord
so as to see and to hear his word?
Who has given heed to his word so as to proclaim it?
Look, the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intents of his mind.
In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
I did not send the prophets,
yet they ran;
I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied.
But if they had stood in my council,
then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
and from the evil of their doings.
Am I a God near by, says the Lord, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, “I have dreamed, I have dreamed!” How long? Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back—those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? They plan to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, just as their ancestors forgot my name for Baal. Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the Lord. Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? See, therefore, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who steal my words from one another. See, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who use their own tongues and say, “Says the Lord.” See, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord, and who tell them, and who lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or appoint them; so they do not profit this people at all, says the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:16-32 (NRSV)
Creation began with the Word of God. He spoke, and worlds came into being. From the very beginning, the Word of God has been the most powerful of all creative forces. John opens his Gospel by reminding us that the Word that was with God in Creation came to us. Jesus picked up where we might have felt the creator left off, speaking words of life, healing the sick, raising the dead, and imagining new possibilities with his teachings and way of life.
This text from Jeremiah is one concerned with the integrity of the Word of God as it was being promoted to the people of Israel. The charge is brought: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they are deluding you. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise the word of the Lord, “It shall be well with you”; and to all who stubbornly follow their own stubborn hearts, they say, “No calamity shall come upon you.”
In a Christian subculture that is growing increasingly biblically illiterate, we have become very used to following teachings and visions of individuals over against the Word of God. This is an age old problem that even confronted the prophets. Paired with a neglect of the actual Word of God is a neglect of the promise of judgment that we find throughout scripture. We ought to be suspicious when someone teaches us that we and the world are fine, that we are not culpable for our actions, or that we will not reap the just desserts for our actions. Jesus, the Word of God, will return as the righteous judge. Might we resort to his Word now, that in the end, we might hear his words of life, not condemnation.
Jonathan Burkey, Pastor of Worship Arts