“I have heard what the prophets have said, who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, even the prophets of the deceit of their own heart? They intend to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they each tell his neighbor, as their fathers forgot my name because of Baal. 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 straw to the wheat?” says Yahweh. “Isn’t my word like fire?” says Yahweh; “and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
“Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says Yahweh, “who each steal my words from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets,” says Yahweh, “who use their tongues, and say, ‘He says.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams,” says Yahweh, “who tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their vain boasting; yet I didn’t send them or command them. They don’t profit this people at all,” says Yahweh.
Many books in the New Testament have warnings in them about the false teachers that were to come. The men who wrote these warnings had the writings that we are reading today from the Old Testament. It is very valuable and contemporary for us to consider what Jeremiah wrote down for us about the false prophets of his day. It allows us to recognize people like this when they try to deceive us today.
One thing that false prophets do is to use their dreams as proof of God’s direction in our lives. The problem with doing this is that God tells us clearly, here, that false prophets used dreams to spread lies about God’s direction. If I’m reading this correctly, God is telling us to not rely on the dream alone. Notice that God tells the prophets to go ahead and tell their dreams, but he also says to that those who have His word should speak His word too. God then mentions straw and wheat and that His word is like fire. Now straw cannot be eaten, but wheat can be. Somehow, a person must separate straw from wheat. I do know that God’s word is required to interpret the dreams that come from God so we can tell truthful dreams from lying ones. It could be that God is using this metaphor to explain this. Fire burns wheat and straw, but I think that a skilled farmer learns to apply fire to the straw and keep the wheat. The fact that God’s word is like a hammer, reminds me of how much more powerful propositional truth is compared to mysterious dreams. Once the clear truth is known, it crushes the foolish interpretations of a dream that don’t apply.
We need to be aware of the fact that there are those who will claim to speak the words of God that have not received a message from God at all. God tells us this right here and we must learn to critically separate the truth from a lie using the clear words we have in the Bible.