Jeremiah 23

Chapter 23

Messianic Oracles. 1 Woe to the shepherds who lead astray and scatter the sheep of my pasture, says the Lord. 2 Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has to say in regard to the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my flock and driven them away, and you showed not the slightest concern about taking care of them. Therefore, I will not hesitate to punish you for your evil deeds, says the Lord.

3 I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their meadows where they will be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will appoint shepherds for them who will treat them kindly, so that they will no longer fear or experience terror, nor will any be discovered missing, says the Lord.

5 Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
when I will raise up a righteous branch
from the line of David.
He will reign as king and rule wisely
and ensure justice and righteousness in the land.
6 In his days Judah will live in safety,
and Israel will dwell in security.
And this is the name that will be given to him:
“The Lord Our Righteousness.”

7 Therefore, the days are coming, says the Lord, when people will no longer say, “As the Lord lives who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt,” 8 but rather, “As the Lord lives who brought forth the offspring of the house of Israel up from the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had dispersed them.” Then they will again inhabit their own land.

The False Prophets[a]

9 As for the prophets,
my heart is broken within me,
and all my bones never cease to tremble.
I have become like a drunken man,
like someone overcome with wine,
because of the Lord
and because of his holy words.
10 For the land swarms with adulterers;
because of them the country mourns
and the pastures in the desert have withered.
11 Both the prophets and the priests are godless;
even in my own house have I observed their wickedness,
says the Lord.
12 Therefore, they will find that the paths they travel
will be slippery beneath their feet;
in the darkness where they are driven,
they will fall headlong.
For I will inflict disaster upon them
in the year of their punishment,
says the Lord.
13 Among the prophets of Samaria
I beheld this repulsive deed:
they prophesied in the name of Baal
and led my people astray.
14 But among the prophets of Jerusalem
I have seen deeds that are even more shocking:
they commit adultery and persist in lying
and uphold those who are evil
so that no one turns away from wickedness.
To me they have all become like Sodom,
and its inhabitants are like Gomorrah.

15 Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts in regard to the prophets:

I intend to give them wormwood to eat
and force them to drink poisoned water.
For from the prophets of Jerusalem
ungodliness has spread throughout the land.
16 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Do not listen to the words of the prophets;
their prophecies are designed to delude you.
They concoct visions from their own minds
and not from the mouth of the Lord.
17 To those who despise the word of the Lord
they say, “Peace will be yours.”
To those who follow their own stubborn inclinations
they say, “No harm will befall you.”
18 Yet which of them has stood in the council of the Lord
to see or to hear his word?
Which of them has heeded his word and proclaimed it?
19 Behold the storm of the Lord!
His wrath bursts forth
like a frightening tempest
that whirls around the heads of the wicked.
20 The anger of the Lord will not subside
until he has fully accomplished
the purposes he has in mind.
When the time comes,
you will understand this clearly.
21 I did not send these prophets,
yet they went forth in haste.
I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied.
22 But if they had stood in my council,
they would have then proclaimed my words to my people
and caused them to turn back from their evil ways
and from the wickedness of their deeds.
23 The Lord asks:
Am I a God only when I am near at hand,
but not when I am far away?
24 Can someone hide in a secret place
so that I cannot see him?
Do I not fill heaven and earth?

25 I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. “I have had a dream,” they cry out. “I have had a dream.” 26 How much longer must we endure prophets who prophesy lies and proclaim their own delusions? 27 By means of the dreams that they relate to one another, they believe that they will make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name and replaced it with Baal. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream relate his dream, but let the one who receives my word deliver it truthfully.

What does straw have in common with wheat?
asks the Lord.
29 Is not my word like fire, says the Lord,
like a hammer shattering a rock?

30 Therefore, says the Lord, I have set myself in opposition to the prophets who steal my words from one another. 31 I am against those prophets who concoct their own prophecies and then assert, “Thus says the Lord.” 32 I am against those prophets who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord, and then recount them, thereby leading my people astray with their lies and reckless bragging. They have not received any commission from me, and so they are of no benefit to this people in any way, says the Lord.

33 And when this people or a prophet or a priest asks you, “What is the burden of the Lord?” you are to reply, “You are the burden, and I will cast you off,” says the Lord. 34 If a prophet or a priest or anyone else speaks of “the burden of the Lord,” I will punish that man and his household.

35 Therefore, when speaking to one another, you are to ask, “What answer did the Lord give?” or “What did the Lord say?” 36 But you must never again speak of “the burden of the Lord,” because each man’s word becomes his own burden, and you therefore pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God.

37 Therefore, you are to ask a prophet, “What answer has the Lord given?” or “What has the Lord said?” 38 But if you say “the burden of the Lord,” the Lord will reply, “Because you have used the words ‘the burden of the Lord’ when I forbade you to use that expression, 39 therefore, I will lift you up and cast you away from my presence, both you and the city that I gave to you and your ancestors. 40 And I will inflict upon you everlasting disgrace and eternal and unforgettable shame.”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 23:9 Jeremiah is heartsick at these professional prophets who flatter the people instead of shaking them up, and who take their dreams as the word of God or accommodate their message to the tastes of the day.

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