I know that this article will be a controversial one with many people. I put it away for finishing at another time, but I realized that I was probably running from the Lord. I could not stop thinking about the topic of this piece. So, today I am writing these words in love to my brethren.
When I was saved in 1983, the couple who led me to the Lord attended a charismatic church. I knew nothing about the various churches, coming straight out of Judaism to Christianity.
But as I read the Bible, I began to have doubts about what I was witnessing each Sunday in this church. People would invariably stand up and say “The Lord gave me a vision……” or “I have a word of knowledge from Him” ……and sometimes they would say “God gave me a dream.” Each would finish with “Thus saith God.”
During those early years in the Lord, I watched other pastors on TV. One of these pastors who I came to trust was Dr. Charles Stanley. He spoke about the Bible being the whole Word of God, and that it was inerrant and complete. I believed him and I began to feel in my spirit that these people giving extra Biblical words were not speaking for God – but they were calling attention to themselves. They were speaking words which were their own, and attributing them to our Lord.
There are a few places in Scripture where God speaks clearly against false prophecy. I chose part of Jeremiah 23 as a reference for the subject of this article. I will post the chapter in parts and place my comments under each. First I will post from gotquestions.com to give the reader an overview of the book of Jeremiah.
The Book of Jeremiah
Purpose of Writing: The Book of Jeremiah records the final prophecies to Judah, warning of oncoming destruction if the nation does not repent. Jeremiah calls out for the nation to turn back to God. At the same time, Jeremiah recognizes the inevitability of Judah’s destruction due to its unrepentant idolatry and immorality.
Brief Summary: The Book of Jeremiah is primarily a message of judgment on Judah for rampant idolatry (Jeremiah 7:30-34; 16:10-13; 22:9; 32:29; 44:2-3). After the death of King Josiah, the last righteous king, the nation of Judah had almost completely abandoned God and His commandments. Jeremiah compares Judah to a prostitute (Jeremiah 2:20; 3:1-3). God had promised that He would judge idolatry most severely (Leviticus 26:31-33; Deuteronomy 28:49-68), and Jeremiah was warning Judah that God’s judgment was at hand. God had delivered Judah from destruction on countless occasions, but His mercy was at its end. Jeremiah records King Nebuchadnezzar conquering Judah and making it subject to him (Jeremiah 24:1). After further rebellion, God brought Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian armies back to destroy and desolate Judah and Jerusalem (Jeremiah chapter 52). Even in this most severe judgment, God promises the restoration of Judah back into the land God has given them (Jeremiah 29:10).
Foreshadowings: Jeremiah 23:5-6 presents a prophecy of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. The prophet describes Him as a Branch from the house of David (v. 5; Matthew 1), the King who would reign in wisdom and righteousness (v. 5, Revelation 11:15). It is Christ who will finally be recognized by Israel as her true Messiah as He provides salvation for His chosen ones (v. 6; Romans 11:26).
Practical Application: The Prophet Jeremiah had a most difficult message to deliver. Jeremiah loved Judah, but he loved God much more. As painful as it was for Jeremiah to deliver a consistent message of judgment to his own people, Jeremiah was obedient to what God told him to do and say. Jeremiah hoped and prayed for mercy from God for Judah, but also trusted that God was good, just, and righteous. We too must obey God, even when it is difficult, recognize God’s will as more important than our own desires, and trust that God, in His infinite wisdom and perfect plan, will bring about the best for His children (Romans 8:28). -source
For the purpose of this article, I will use Jeremiah 23 and begin at verse 9:
JEREMIAH 23: 9-37 (KJV)
“Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness.
For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.
For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord.”
The Lord has found wickedness in both prophets and priests. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord.
Because of the wickedness found in both prophets and priests, the Lord speaks of their ways as “Slippery ways in the darkness.” (Slippery slope syndrome)
And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.
The “false” prophecies of the false prophets have caused God’s people to err.
I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
The Lord compares the evilness of the people to that of Sodom and Gomorrah. The false prophets are living lives filled with sin.
Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.
The anger of the Lord burns against the false prophets because of the effect these men have had on His people.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.
The Lord makes it clear in this passage that these “prophets” have made the people “vain” because they speak a vision of their own heart – NOT words from the Lord God. This passage brought to mind Rick Warren, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen; and a host of other false teachers. Remember Osteen’s book “Your Best Life Now?”
They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.
Again, the vain imaginations of the false prophets speak peace to the those who are rejecting God. They speak lies! For if they truly spoke the words of God, they would be condemning the sin and rebellion of the people.
For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
The Lord makes it clear that these men have NOT been sent by Him. They do NOT speak His words.
But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.
I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.
They have “dreamed” and they tell these dreams to the people. These dreams were not from God!
How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.
God says that these false prophets are prophets of the deceit of their own heart. He goes further to say that these false prophets are under the spell of Baal.
The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
The Lord’s anger is kindled against all who steal his words and utter lies to the people.
Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
Remember those in your assemblies who say “Thus saith God” Remember the anger of our God against such people!
Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord. And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the Lord? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the Lord.
His anger is kindled against those who prophesy false dreams!
And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the Lord, I will even punish that man and his house. Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the Lord answered? and, What hath the Lord spoken? And the burden of the Lord shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the Lord of hosts our God.
God says that false prophets have perverted the words of the living God.
Brethren, the Word of God given to us in the Scriptures is His complete Word. We have been warned not to add to, or take away from His holy Word. Yet many, for financial gain and sometimes for notoriety have utter words which are not God’s. They are words from their own imaginations.
Just think for a minute about the churches who have gone the way of the Emergent church, and are “returning to Rome.” These are mostly charismatic churches where people speak in tongues with no interpreter; continually have visions and dreams which are spoken during services. This is no coincidence. This is a direct result of pushing aside the Word of God for the opinions of man.
Many are being led astray. Apostasy abounds. Finding a sound, Bible believing church is proving harder and harder by the day.
Please brethren – Everything we need to know is found in God’s Word. Do not incur His wrath upon you by speaking words which He never said, and attribute them to our King!
“All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).