32 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.
In an extended rant, Jeremiah rails against false prophets.
What is the mark of a false prophet, you might ask?
According to this section there are several:
1) fails to criticize, challenge or correct "wickedness", telling people what they want to hear versus what they need to hear;
2) speak visions, dreams and words of their own imaginings according to agendas other than that of the Lord;
3) failure to dwell in the presence and the word of the Lord;
4) reckless 'prophesies' do not profit, help or aid their hearers, instead of being built up as vibrant disciples they are isolated and made dependent.
As one tasked with proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ on a regular basis to a particular set of God's people, these prophesies always give me pause. Am I dwelling adequately in the presence and word of God? Am I preaching an agenda other than that of the Reign of God? Am I bringing adequate invitation? Challenge?
Further, this passage ought give pause to any who seek to grow in their ability to "Hear a word from the Lord and respond to it."
Are we dreaming false dreams that tell us what we want to hear; or, does the word we receive square with the larger biblical witness? Are we acting like lone-rangers; or, are we accountable to a community of faith?
I am currently on vacation. I needed this vacation badly. Worn down by routine responsibilities, I was failing to spend sufficient time dwelling in the Lord waiting upon the divine word. That needs to undergird and uphold all I do; so, not surprisingly, my work (and leisure and oikos) were suffering.
How about you? Have you heard a word from the Lord lately?
How do you tell the difference between false and genuine words?
Thank you, God of the far of and of the near. You have created all that is will purpose and panache. Thanks for meaningful (if somewhat daunting) work! Thanks for the daily, seasonal, and lifelong rhythms of rest and abiding that make it all possible.
And, Dad? Where I have failed to be faithful in hearing and sharing your true word, forgive me. Forgive me, correct me and restore me that I may serve the purpose for which you created me. Amen.