The context in which we find these verses has to do with FALSE PROPHETS. Jeremiah began to denounce them in verse 9, “My heart within me is broken because of the PROPHETS.” He goes on to say in verse 11, “For both PROPHET and priest are profane; yes, in My house I have found their wickedness,” say the LORD.” In verse 12 he describes the judgment that God would soon bring upon them because of their wicked ways and false prophecies, “’Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery ways; in the darkness they shall be driven on and fall in them; for I will bring disaster on them, the year of their punishment,’ says the LORD.”

In verses 13-15 God (through Jeremiah) compares the prophets of Samaria to the false prophets in Jerusalem: “And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: they prophesied by Baal and cause My people to err. Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they also strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah. Therefore thus says 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 profaneness has gone out into all the land.”

In verse 16 their prophecies are exposed as lies, for “they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the LORD.” In other words, their words were the product of their own wicked heart. One of their lies is seen in verse 17, “The LORD has said, ‘You shall have peace…No evil shall come upon you.’” In verses 21 the Lord assures His people that He had not sent them, “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” If God had sent them, “they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.” Their wicked life proved they and their message was NOT FROM GOD!

In verses 23-25 the ALL-SEEING GOD reveals what they had done in secret: “’Am I a God near at hand,’ says the LORD, ‘And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ says the LORD; ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the LORD. ‘I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed.’” How utterly foolish for the prophets to think they could hide their lies from God, as if He could not see or hear them!

Though God has spoken at times through dreams (see Genesis 40 and Daniel 2), the dreams of the false prophets were a figment of their heart’s wicked imagination. “How long will this be in THE HEART OF THE PROPHETS who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells their neighbor, as the fathers forgot My name for Baal” (verses 26-27). Is it any wonder that God goes on to say, “’Therefore behold, I am AGAINST THE PROPHETS, says the LORD, ‘who steal My words everyone from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets,’ says the LORD, ‘who use their tongues and say, ‘He says,’” How solemn! And how condemning, not only for the false prophets, but for the people who willingly gave ear to them and believed their lies.

Does this have a voice for us today? Sadly, it does! Listen to some of the Apostle Paul’s closing words (shortly before his death by martyrdom), “Preach the word! Be ready in season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when THEY WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, THEY WILL HEAP UP FOR THEMSELVES TEACHER; AND THEY WILL TURN THEIR EARS AWAY FROM THE TRUTH, AND BE TURNED ASIDE TO FABLES” (2nd Timothy 4:2-4). We, in this present Church Age, are experiencing the very same thing that Jeremiah experienced in his day. We see, all around us, professing Christians turning away from the truth of God’s Word and willingly giving ear to false teachers who tell them what they WANT TO HEAR (instead of listening to true, godly teachers who would tell them what they NEED TO HEAR). Why do they do this? Ah, for the same reason the children of Israel listened to the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day; so they can continue in their sins without any fear of God judging them.  (395.1)  (DO)