#STRask: June 26, 2017

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Published on 06/26/2017

Greg’s on a timer and answers questions about dreams, a Bible discrepancy, and God’s nature.


  • If Jeremiah 23:25-26 warns against delusional dreams but Joseph dreamed of coming signs in Genesis 37:6-7, what should we make of our own dreams?
  • How are we to understand Matt. 12:40 if Jesus wasn’t interred, and does it speak to Jesus actually having descended to Hell?
  • If the Son took on human nature and body, does that mean that he has an attribute that the Father does not have?


Melinda: Hi there folks. I’m Melinda, the Enforcer, with Greg Koukl. I was just giving him a heads up to open to Jeremiah 23, because that’s where our first question starts. This is the STR Ask podcast, #strask. Use that on Twitter to write your question so we can find it. I pose it to Greg and we put him on a timer and he’s got four minutes or less to answer it.

Greg: Is that in the Old Testament?

Melinda: Let’s just face it, not everybody has the concentration, time, energy to listen to a whole hour podcast. There’s a lot of value in that and a lot of people enjoy it, but a lot of people like to get a little bite size.

Greg: I think it’s mesmerizing. I don’t understand that.

Melinda: I think it’s mesmerizing too.

Greg: Alright. Here we are, Jeremiah 23, and it is in the Old Testament. Jeremiah, prophet of the...

Melinda: Are you asking me or are you trying to remember?

Greg: You know the answer to this. You took the Bible Fast Forward off the deportation along with Ezekiel and Daniel.

Melinda: Nobody ever listened to him and that’s why we call a Jeremiad.

Greg: Yeah, the weeping prophet.

Melinda: The weeping prophet.

Greg: Yeah, poor guy.

Melinda: Nobody ever paid attention to him, but he still did what God told him to do.

Greg: He had allergies.

Melinda: Okay, first question comes from Mwat.

Greg: Well, I did get a little grin out of Brooke. Okay.

Melinda: Brooke is easy. She’s just being nice to you because you’re her boss.

Greg: Come on.

Melinda: Okay. This comes from Mwat. If Jeremiah 23:25-26 warrants against delusional dreams but Joseph dreamed of coming signs in Genesis 37, what should we make of our own dreams? Why don’t you read Jeremiah 23?

Greg: 25.

Melinda: 25 and 26 for us.

Greg: Just the two verses there? “I have heard what the prophets who said who falsely prophesy in my name saying, ’I had a dream. I had a dream.’” Maybe that’s where that line came from, Martin Luther King. Anyway, “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart who intend to make my people forget my name by their dreams, which they relate to one another just as their fathers forgot my name because of Baal?”

Okay, so Jeremiah is bugged, and he’s bugged for a very particular reason. What’s happening right now is the northern kingdom, a couple 250, 300 years ago Israel has already been dispersed by the Assyrians. That’s gone. You’ve got the southern kingdom, Judah and Benjamin that remain in the land. They are ready to be judged. God is bringing Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar against the southern kingdom to lay siege to it and eventually cart off in captivity many of those who live there in Judah and particularly in Jerusalem. There are a whole bunch of prophets that are running around, telling the people that they’re going to be okay, no worries, fight Nebuchadnezzar.

Now Jeremiah, God’s prophet, is saying cooperate with Nebuchadnezzar, go along with him. Our famous verse, Jeremiah 29:11 and following and before that, the whole chapter, deals with this particular issue. This is why it makes it particularly frustrating when people take that passage out of its context and make it mean something it doesn’t actually mean. Jeremiah is abrading the false prophets who have dreams they claim are from God that are meant to give comfort to the people instead of the direction that Jeremiah is giving them in his own prophetic ministry.

Here he is after them, and there’s a lot where he has to say in the next few chapter up to 29. In fact, Jeremiah 29:11, oh I have the plans for you, for welfare not calamity, well that’s for some but the rest of them it’s calamity and not welfare and that’s right below that passage because they listened to these false prophets. Now I don’t know what we can take away from this in terms of application to our own dreams.


God revealing things to dreams is a Biblical modality of revelation. We see this not only in the Old Testament with prophets, but we also see this in the New Testament. Joseph receives a dream actually twice regarding the disposition of Mary, first to let Joseph know that Mary is with child by the Spirit. That's when the name Jesus is provided for that child. Then after Jesus is born, there's another dream in which he is told to take Jesus and flee to Egypt. Okay, so there's a Biblical modality.

Later on in the book of Acts, we see dreams also factoring in, and sometimes they're called visions. First it's described as a dream and then a vision, but these are a way that God communicates. It doesn't mean though that every single dream that we have is a communication from God. I've never had a dream that I thought was God communicating to me, though I still think if someone were to make that claim, that itself is a more biblical modality than the so-called still, small voice that people feel the nudging from God, because that isn't what that meant at all in 1 Kings 19.

I don't encourage people to take stock of their dreams. However, it certainly could be the case that God could use a dream to communicate some revelation to an individual. My sense is that kind of dream is just going to have a different quality to it. That's all I could say. I can't speak from experience, obviously. In this particular case, these guys, I don't think they were having dreams. I think these are just plain old false prophets who are saying they have a word from God and are saying they have a dream just to commend themselves to the people, just like the prophets of Pharaoh would interpret his dreams insofar as he would tell them what they were and come up with their own things, not because they were inspired to do this but they're just trying to keep their jobs. This is why Pharaoh said at one point, "you've got to tell me the dream and the interpretation." "Well give us the dream." "No, you've got to tell me that too." This is a real test that Joseph ended up passing.

That's what I think is going on here in Jeremiah 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29. It's all in there the same kind of thing.

Melinda: Okay. Open up to Matthew 12:40. Before I give you the question, I want you to read the passage.

Greg: Is that in the New Testament? Yeah. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.

Melinda: Matthew 12.

Greg: Oh, okay Matthew 12. Got it. Okay.

Melinda: 40.

Greg: Oh, 40 alright. Jonah.

Melinda: Go ahead and read it.

Greg: Let me start in verse 38. "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him", this would be Jesus, "'Teacher, we want to see a sign from you', but he answered and said to them, 'An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to you but the sign of Jonah the prophet.'" Now verse 40. "For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

Melinda: DollmedicoA from Twitter asks, "How are we to understand Matthew 12:40 if Jesus wasn't interred and does it speak to Jesus actually having descended to hell?" I guess the belly of the fish.

Greg: Well, the descent into hell is a piece of the Apostle's Creed that actually has a very sketchy history, but that particular detail doesn't show up until the fourth or fifth century in the Apostle's Creed. I have no...Even then, it seems to be just a kind of a parallelism where it's just repeating what came before. He died, was buried, and descended into Hades. The idea there is just to reinforce the idea that he's dead and he's in the ground, not that he goes to the place of hell that is fire and people are there and he's doing something else there. There's certainly nothing about that here in Matthew.

Now, is the question that three days and three nights and it's not three days and three nights if you go from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning, is that part of the concern?

Melinda: Yeah, I guess so.

Greg: That's the calculation? Well, part of these alleged contradictions are resolved when you understand the way that people talk about things during that time. To say it was a day and a night, nowadays we usually mean something very precise. We mean well daytime and nighttime. However, to say a day and a night or three days and three nights was just a way of referring in the parlance of that time to three calendar days. Even though he is buried on the evening of Friday, Jesus was, and he rose from the dead Sunday morning, that would be two nights and two mornings. That was two nights and two mornings, or two days maybe by our reckoning but not by theirs. He was just using the standard way of referring to the calendar.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, any part of Friday was considered a day and a night in their parlance, and any part of Sunday would be considered a day and a night. Being killed towards the late afternoon, early evening of Friday before sunset and rising in the early morning of Sunday, would certainly have satisfied the requirements of this particular passage. It's something that's easy to miss because we don't talk that way nowadays.

Melinda: Right. I was just thinking, people who think the gospels were just made up and fabricated, I mean why would Matthew write that and then not try to be more consistent later on?

Greg: Right, yeah.

Melinda: He would've adjusted these things, unless of course they think he was a total idiot.

Greg: Mm-hmm. Yeah, that's a good point. There are lots of things that raise eyebrows here that you think if somebody was fabricating, they wouldn't say stuff like that unless it actually took place that way. That's a good point.

Melinda: Next question comes from a timothy_turner. If the Son took, S-O-N, if the Son took upon human nature and body, does that mean that he has an attribute that the Father does not have?

Greg: Yeah. He does, but keep in mind that the attribute he has is not a divine attribute. He is the single one, the individual member of the Trinity that added to himself a human nature. The Father didn't add to himself a human nature, the Spirit didn't either. Yes, Jesus has an attribute that the Father doesn't have. That attribute is humanity, but that's classical Christianity. That in no way undermines our understanding of the Trinity or anything like that, because what we hold with regards to the deity of Christ is that everything that is true of the nature of God is true of the second person. We also hold that everything is true of the nature of humanity is also true of the second person. This is where we get a fully God and fully man equation.

Melinda: Two natures, one person.

Greg: That's exactly right, but the person is the divine person, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. Even though it could be stated that way, like Jesus has an attribute that God doesn't have, it sounds a little bit fishy, but it's entirely true. Jesus also had the attribute of taking a nap. God doesn't sleep.

Melinda: Getting tired and hungry.

Greg: Yeah, and everything else. All those things that are characteristic of being wed in a certain sense with the human body was true of Jesus and is not true of the Father.

Melinda: Okay, great. Well, thanks Greg for all that insight. We appreciate it. That's it for this episode folks. Send us your questions on Twitter using #STRask and I'll pose them to Greg or perhaps a guest host that comes along once in a while, while Greg is away fishing.

Greg: Yeah, fishing. I can't wait.

Melinda: I'm Melinda, the Enforcer, with Greg Koukl here for Stand to Reason.