For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the LORD. For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:8-11 NKJV
There is a lot of prophetic voice in our world today. Many are anxiously awaiting the fulfillment of their dreams and revelations; their words from the Lord. When the door has been swung open for any and all to receive a word, it begs the question: who/what is the filter to tell truth from a lie?
We know from Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is deceitful above all else, and desperately sick! It would therefore be safe to say that reliance on our hearts to hear a word from the Lord is dangerous. In fact, it’s altogether unbiblical!
The word “prophet” in the New Testament is the Greek word prophētēs, meaning to speak forth, speak out; and, therefore, a prophet is ‘one who speaks forth.‘
The question then becomes, one who speaks forthwhat, exactly?
I believe the answer is God’s word. The complete canon of Scripture is closed. It requires no further addition, and we are cautioned not to subtract, either. God has spoken in fullness, and anyone claiming to be prophetic today must speak forth God’s word not their own. To speak from the heart is to fall into deception. There are countless Scriptures that direct condemnation and wrath toward those speaking falsely in God’s name. Yet, how often do we hear, “The Lord told me” in today’s world?
If the Lord wants to tell you something, He will speak to you through His word:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things. – Hebrews 1:1 NKJV
Anything apart from Scripture is vanity produced from the heart and therefore cannot be trusted and should not be cited as from God.
But getting back to the text from Jeremiah, where was God going with his rebuke? Certainly, He is pointing to a hope and a future; and isn’t it interesting that this is a popularized line in Christian culture, often leading to the pursuit of a blessed life this side of eternity that too closely mirrors prosperity in the world?
In context, God is warning Jeremiah not to trust in the prophets who were saying, don’t be afraid of the Babylonians! God will deliver us. Nothing bad is coming, so just relax. Something bad was coming! Just because they didn’t want to hear it, didn’t mean it wasn’t true. God was invoking consequences for the Israelites breaking their covenant with Him, and judgement was coming in the form of Babylonian captivity. All those speaking peace and comfort were speaking lies.
The hope and future God was referring to was with regard to His covenant with Israel, as well as, ultimately His prophetic redemptive plan through Christ. Though heading into captivity, His people wouldn’t be completely forsaken. They wouldn’t be entirely destroyed. God had and still has a hope and a future for His people.
What about us today?
Recognizing Jesus is our hope and future, we are saved by grace through faith from our own global captivity to sin. Because the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)
It’s a blessed hope! It’s an eternal future in the fullness of God’s presence!
But is it a promise for glorious gain this side of eternity? Of course not!
The Bible tells us that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12), and Jesus himself says, Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake (Matthew 10:16,22)
Prosperity and pleasure aren’t gifts afforded by grace. Our blessings are found apart from the treasures of this world.
This is key in recognizing the error of those preaching words from the Lord.
Our hope and future are secure in Christ. We’ve been saved from death and destruction, escaping God’s wrath.
So then, as we live in truth, speaking forth the word of God rather than that of our hearts, receive the promise:
[May] the eyes of your hearts [be] enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. – Ephesians 1:18