“behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them.” Jeremiah 5:14
What is often confusing in reading the book of Jeremiah is determining who the speaker is. Sometimes it is clear with, “Thus says the Lord,” but at other times it is far less clear.
For example, Andrew Shead writes about Jeremiah 27, “the proper description of the LORD’s words in verse 5 is Jeremiah quoting the LORD quoting Jeremiah quoting the LORD quoting himself!” What happens in these cases is that the entire text gets dumped into what can be termed divine speech or the word of the Lord. So, is it God’s words, or the prophet’s? Are the prophet’s words and God’s words the same? Is there a difference between the “word of the Lord” and the “words of the Lord”?
What is fascinating in Jeremiah is we sometime lose the prophet and all we hear is God, even though verbally the words come from Jeremiah. It is like the word of the Lord is contained within Jeremiah in such a way as that we cannot distinguish between God’s word and the prophet. He has become the word of the Lord. While certainly there are times of anguish by the prophet and we know we are hearing his voice, for most of the book, God’s voice and the prophet’s are indistinguishable.
This brings me to a startling observation. When we look through the “glass” of Jeremiah, he IS the word of the Lord! However, this is rarely the case in modern times. What do I mean? Most “prophesy,” in all honesty, is not the word or words of the Lord. They are quite frankly our words, plain and simple. Are there no servants of God like Jeremiah, who purely give us the word of God? Actually, yes there are, but they are painfully rare!
We can make all kinds of excuses, but the truth is most prophetic speech is nothing more than fluff. That may seem harsh, but in truth, it is reality. If we would raise our standards to that of Jeremiah, then we might have fewer words, but no doubt they would be truer words, and most importantly they would be God’s words. There is not always an easy answer to this, however, in my experience if you listen to someone long enough it becomes clear if they are speaking the words of God. Another point to remember is that Jeremiah, nor Christ, defended their office or their words. If we are constantly making a defense, then we are out of step with both the New and Old Testaments. One of reasons we are not hearing the voice of the prophet today is because too many people are speaking who shouldn’t be. The self-appointed and the established religious voices drown out the true voice. The true voice will be one who IS the word of the Lord. Their life will contain the word in a way like Jeremiah. This voice is pure and may not be contained within established religion.
This takes discernment, but if we would stop lowering our standards so everyone can be “awesome” and be “accepted,” then we would clearly see who really is speaking for God. Every Christian has to ability to operate in the gifts, as the Holy Spirit leads, however this is different from speaking corporately into the lives of others. The fact is some of the people doing this lack the maturity and the relationship with God required. Some of you need to sit down and be quite! Be warned though, if you actually are silent long enough to hear the true word of the Lord, it is possible you will get fire, just like Jeremiah’s audience, and God’s word may consume you.