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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 23:25-29

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, March 3, 2015

25 I have heard what the prophets who prophesy lies in my name have said. They say, “I had a dream! I had a dream!” 26 How long will this be in the hearts of these lying prophets? They are the prophets of the deceit of their own heart.

The Lord had spoken to Jacob in dreams (Genesis 28:12, 31:10), and to Solomon, too (1 Kings 3:5). But more often the dreams he sent to men had to be interpreted by other men of God, as with Joseph and the prisoners of Pharaoh (Genesis 40:5-9), Pharaoh’s own dream of fat and lean cows (Genesis 41:1-6), Gideon’s neighbor and the loaf of bread (Judges 7:13-14), and the young Joseph and God’s promises of greatness (Genesis 37:5-10).

Here God warns the Jews who were about to go into exile that they should not trust men bragging about dreams from God. Those prophecies would be nothing but lies and deceptions coming out of those men’s imaginations.

27 They think they can make my people forget my name with the dreams each one tells his neighbor, the way their fathers forgot my name because of Baal. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream. But let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has chaff to do with wheat? declares the LORD. 29 Is not my word like a fire? says the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

The difference between the lies of false prophets and the truth of God’s word is the difference between chaff and wheat. The usual words for chaff, qash (Jeremiah 13:24) and matz (Job 21:18b) are not used here. This is teben, which is straw threshed and beaten so fine that it might be food for animals like donkeys or camels (Isaiah 11:7) but might as well blow away in the wind (Job 21:18a). So not only is this chaff a mere by-product, but it wasn’t even fit to be human food in the first place. So unlike the woman Jesus encountered who wanted the crumbs that fell from the Master’s table like a pet dog (Matthew 15:26-27), the people hearing the lies of the false prophets were getting nothing at all. Whether it was burned up in the fire or blown away by the wind, it was no help to the people who were listening.

The word of God is completely different. God’s word is not only unaffected by the fire that burns the useless words of false teachers, God’s word is the fire itself. It is also like a hammer, beating a rock into smaller and smaller pieces until the mighty boulder can also be blown away by the wind, just so much dust. Remember God’s word to the Israelites as Moses retold the story of the golden calf: “I took that sinful thing of yours, the calf you had made, and burned it in the fire. Then I crushed it and ground it into powder as fine as dust and threw the dust into a stream that flowed down the mountain…” (Deuteronomy 9:21).

What Moses did with a physical hammer, the word of God does as well. It is the truth that cannot be proven wrong. It is the story that shall not be twisted into something else without someone there to cry out and uphold the truth. The Gospel will prevail until the world comes to its end. And if the Lord chooses to use you or me as fire or hammer or as voices crying out, then we serve God by doing what we do.  And we do it all to the glory of God.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.