Jeremiah 23

The Evil Leaders of Judah

23 “How terrible it will be for the leaders of Judah, who are scattering and destroying my people,” says the Lord.

2 They are responsible for the people, so the Lord, the God of Israel, says to them: “You have scattered my people and forced them away and not taken care of them. So I will punish you for the evil things you have done,” says the Lord. 3 “I sent my people to other countries, but I will gather those who are left alive and bring them back to their own country. Then they will have many children and grow in number. 4 I will place new leaders over my people, who will take care of them. And my people will not be afraid or terrified again, and none of them will be lost,” says the Lord.

The Good Branch Will Come

5 “The days are coming,” says the Lord,
“when I will raise up a good branch in David’s family.
He will be a king who will rule in a wise way;
he will do what is fair and right in the land.
6 In his time Judah will be saved,
and Israel will live in safety.
This will be his name:
The Lord Does What Is Right.

7 “So the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when people will not say again: ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought Israel out of Egypt . . . ’ 8 But people will say something new: ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where he had sent them away . . . ’ Then the people of Israel will live in their own land.”

False Prophets Will Be Punished

9 A message to the prophets:

My heart is broken.
All my bones shake.
I’m like someone who is drunk,
like someone who has been overcome with wine.
This is because of the Lord
and his holy words.
10 The land of Judah is full of people who are guilty of adultery.
Because of this, the Lord cursed the land.
It has become a very sad place,
and the pastures have dried up.
The people are evil
and use their power in the wrong way.

11 “Both the prophets and the priests live as if there were no God.
I have found them doing evil things even in my own Temple,” says the Lord.
12 “So they will be in danger.
They will be forced into darkness
where they will be defeated.
I will bring disaster on them
in the year I punish them,” says the Lord.

13 “I saw the prophets of Samaria
do something wrong.
Those prophets prophesied by Baal
and led my people Israel away.
14 And I have seen the prophets of Jerusalem
do terrible things.
They are guilty of adultery
and live by lies.
They encourage evil people to keep on doing evil,
so the people don’t stop sinning.
All of those people are like the city of Sodom.
The people of Jerusalem are like the city of Gomorrah to me!”

15 So this is what the Lord All-Powerful says about the prophets:

“I will make those prophets eat bitter food
and drink poisoned water,
because the prophets of Jerusalem spread wickedness
through the whole country.”

16 This is what the Lord All-Powerful says:

“Don’t pay attention to what those prophets are saying to you.
They are trying to fool you.
They talk about visions their own minds made up,
not about visions from me.
17 They say to those who hate me:
‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’
They say to all those who are stubborn and do as they please:
‘Nothing bad will happen to you.’
18 But none of these prophets has stood in the meeting of angels
to see or hear the message of the Lord.
None of them has paid close attention to his message.
19 Look, the punishment from the Lord
will come like a storm.
His anger will be like a hurricane.
It will come swirling down on the heads of those wicked people.
20 The Lord’s anger will not stop
until he finishes what he plans to do.
When that day is over,
you will understand this clearly.
21 I did not send those prophets,
but they ran to tell their message.
I did not speak to them,
but they prophesied anyway.
22 But if they had stood in the meeting of angels,
they would have told my message to my people.
They would have turned the people from their evil ways
and from doing evil.

23 “I am a God who is near,” says the Lord.
“I am also a God who is far away.
24 No one can hide
where I cannot see him,” says the Lord.
“I fill all of heaven and earth,” says the Lord.

25 “I have heard the prophets who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I have had a dream! I have had a dream!’ 26 How long will this continue in the minds of these lying prophets? They prophesy from their own wishful thinking. 27 They are trying to make the people of Judah forget me by telling each other these dreams. In the same way, their ancestors forgot me and worshiped Baal. 28 Is straw the same thing as wheat?” says the Lord. “If a prophet wants to tell about his dreams, let him! But let the person who hears my message speak it truthfully! 29 Isn’t my message like a fire?” says the Lord. “Isn’t it like a hammer that smashes a rock?

30 “So I am against the false prophets,” says the Lord. “They keep stealing words from each other and say they are from me. 31 I am against the false prophets,” says the Lord. “They use their own words and pretend it is a message from me. 32 I am against the prophets who prophesy false dreams,” says the Lord. “They mislead my people with their lies and false teachings! I did not send them or command them to do anything for me. They can’t help the people of Judah at all,” says the Lord.

The Sad Message from the Lord

33 “Suppose the people of Judah, a prophet, or a priest asks you: ‘Jeremiah, what is the message from the Lord?’ You will answer them and say, ‘You are a heavy load to the Lord, and I will throw you down, says the Lord.’ 34 A prophet or a priest or one of the people might say, ‘This is a message from the Lord.’ That person has lied, so I will punish him and his whole family. 35 This is what you will say to each other: ‘What did the Lord answer?’ or ‘What did the Lord say?’ 36 But you will never again say, ‘The message of the Lord,’ because the only message you speak is your own words. You have changed the words of our God, the living God, the Lord All-Powerful. 37 This is how you should speak to the prophets: ‘What answer did the Lord give you?’ or ‘What did the Lord say?’ 38 But don’t say, ‘The message from the Lord.’ If you use these words, this is what the Lord says: Because you called it a ‘message from the Lord,’ though I told you not to use those words, 39 I will pick you up and throw you away from me, along with Jerusalem, which I gave to your ancestors and to you. 40 And I will make a disgrace of you forever; your shame will never be forgotten.”

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