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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 23:30-32

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, March 4, 2015

30 Therefore, declares the LORD, I am against the prophets who steal my words from my words from each other. 31 I am against the prophets, says the LORD, who use their own tongues to say: “A declaration!”

The word “declaration” is ne’um, a word that occurs 376 times in the Old Testament—almost half of these (175) are in Jeremiah. It is a word used in early Hebrew for declarations given through angels (Genesis 22:15) or through Moses (Numbers 14:27). Later it came to be used used by prophets to proclaim oracles from the Lord, such as the prophet who prophesied the downfall of Eli and his family (1 Samuel 2:30) and Nathan, the priest-prophet who served David (2 Samuel 7:11).

For someone to take over such a word and use it to cover over their own lie would be sacrilege. God does not want anyone to lie in his name (the Second Commandment) or to misrepresent what his Holy Word says (a sin against the First and Third Commandments). Remember Luther’s excellent explanation of the Third Commandment: “We should fear and love God that we do not despise preaching and his Word, but regard it as holy and gladly hear and learn it.” God’s declaration (ne’um) is the one we should be listening for, and the one we should cherish.

32 I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the LORD. I am against those who tell them to lead my people astray with their extravagant lies. But I did not send them or command them. They are no benefit for this people, says the LORD.

When God says that lying prophets are no benefit, he means that they are worse than useless. A merely useless prophet would do nothing for the people at all. He would be a crazy man on the street corner holding a sign. But the lying prophets were getting people to stop listening to the Lord and to Jeremiah, his prophet. So they were being led astray into sin. They were being led astray into a life without repentance. They were being led astray, led all the way down into hell.

Compare what you hear from whatever pastor you have with what the Bible says. The Bible is our measure of God’s truth. If a pastor claims that something is a sin, and the Bible says it’s a sin, then the pastor is right because the Bible is true. If a pastor claims that something isn’t a sin, but the Bible says that it really is sinful, then who will you trust? Shouldn’t you ask the pastor why he seems to disagree with God’s word? If he says, “You’re right—I was mistaken,” then you’ve done him and your congregation a world of good. If he tries to talk his way around the subject, then is he really speaking the ne’um, the declaration, of God? We need to compare what our pastors say and what they write with what God’s word says. That’s what the Bereans did (Acts 17:11).

We are fed by the word of God. God has given us his word to nourish us, to show us our sins, and to show us our Savior. Praise him for that, and for every one of his blessings.

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.