Don’t be Duped or Deceived by the Diviners and Dreamers

March 5, 2019 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 5 Comments
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By Jeremiah 29 the captives have become settled in Babylon. The time frame is roughly 597 B.C. There were still some people in Jerusalem, including Jeremiah himself, but there were false prophets in both places, so Jeremiah sent a letter to the people in Babylon.

Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;

Jeremiah 29:1

There was no problem sending mail, even though this occurred during a time of unrest in Babylon’s rule. The Jewish people in Babylon were “captives,” but were still being allowed to live their own lives. They were supposed to be loyal to Nebuchadnezzar, but they could meet together and worship Yahweh if they wanted. They were allowed to keep some (probably most) of their earnings. “Exiles” would be almost as accurate a description of them as “captives” would.

Jeremiah’s instructions to them are sometimes characterized as “advice,” although “prophetic command” would be more correct.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

Jeremiah 29:4-7

He told them: Settle in, build houses. If you’re married, have another kid. If your kids are old enough, arrange a marriage – tell ’em to give you some grandkids.

It did not sound like this captivity/exile was going to be a short-term thing. Conspicuously absent from God’s instruction through Jeremiah were any exhortations to, “Resist the power! Start a rebellion! Go underground! Try to escape! Be lazy in your government job! Stay mobile!” No, this was a situation more like the ancient Israelites during the Egyptian years than during the Passover.

God did not even command them to pray for the fall of Nebuchadnezzar or their own release. He told them to pray for Babylon and for peace. He told them to support the nation where they lived. Today, we here in America live in an ungodly society. Pretty soon America may be considered a non-Christian nation (if it is not already, or if it ever was), but I hope that you are not hoping for anarchy. I hope you are praying for peace and stability in our government and in our land, so that it is safe for our children, and safe for us to preach the Gospel. I hope you are trusting God to make you a “good citizen,” even though we, as Christians, are aliens in this world with our real home in Heaven.

For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.

Jeremiah 29:8

Jeremiah warned the people not to be duped by the “double Ds:” diviners and dreamers. They were trying to deceive the people by telling them not to put down roots, and by telling them they were not going to be there for long.

For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:9

God knew the false prophets were lying. He did not give them their messages, nor speak to them at all.

For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:10-11

When you read through the Book of Jeremiah, and you get to this point, it seems odd that he would, after all of his prophecies of doom, gloom, judgment, and rebuke, be proclaiming a word of hope and a promise of restoration, but he was only doing so because it was true. Look at how God’s promises are purely unmerited grace, and are not tied to anything inherently good in the recipients of that grace: “I will visit you… I will perform MY good word… I will CAUSE [not allow or permit] you to return… I know the thoughts that I think TOWARD you… to give you an EXPECTED end…”

Their outcome was expected by God because He already knows the end from the beginning. Now it should have been expected by them, too. Their future was God’s future, because He had promised it.

Jeremiah 29:11 is an important verse, and it is encouraging, and it should be cherished, but do not wrench it out of its context and slap it on a coffee mug without properly understanding it. It was originally intended as an encouragement for the captives in late 5th Century Babylon. It does have a PRINCIPLE we can apply to us today. God HAS promised, accomplished, and is working out, the ultimate salvation of those who are in Christ Jesus by HIS grace and power. It is true that the thoughts He thinks toward us are superlatively amazing – because of the blood of Christ – but this is not a promise about somebody’s heart surgery, or new job, or real estate investment, or that perfect memory-making trip to your favorite vacation destination. It is not even, strictly speaking, a promise that your family member or loved one will be saved. These are God’s thoughts. He knows them and they are GOOD, but we do not know all His thoughts. We only know the ones He has revealed.

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