Jeremiah 23

A remnant to be gathered and given to faithful leaders
Supposing that chapters here are in chronological order and because the preceding chapter records a message about Jahoiachin's capture and the next chapter announces it, some assume the date to be 597 BC. Alternatively, considering the hopeful tone in the chapter, it is thought by Kenneth D. Mulzac to follow Jeremiah's purchase of the field. Mulzac's date is 588.
Oracle 1 of 3
 1 ¶ Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
 2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
.3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
.4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
For the literary structure of the three oracles, see notes.
  1 - Woe be ... pastors Literally "... shepherds" It is pronounced on civil and spiritual leaders. In the first eight verses, Jeremiah compares bad and good shepherds. Ezekiel wrote to those in captivity at about this same time ez34.
  1 - My pasture The leaders had forgotten who the real owner was. ps023, ps07913, jn1011, ps10003.
  2 - Scattered The sheep had no solid leadership. the leaders were also responsible for captivity into foreign lands.
  2 - Not visited them Not been attentive to their needs. The Lord would then visit the leaders.
  3 - Remnant ... bring them There was hope for the people as the city was about to fall.
  4 - Set up shepherds ... feed They needed spiritual direction ez3407, 1pe0502., re1214.
Oracle 2
.5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
.6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

  5 - Branch See on is1101, See table with Zec. 3. Compare is5302.
  5 - A king The text says simply "he." This was the Messiah but the promise was conditional and He would first preach grace in humility jn0317. He would return in glory and gather the righteous jn1401, mt2430.
  6 - Execute judgment He would punish the wicked of the earth je2112 re1917 destroying kings and false prophets re1920.
  6 - Judah ... saved ... Israel The whole kingdom would dwell safely a comforting promise for people in a city about to fall. In recent years a misconception has developed on the salvation of Israel. See on ro1126.
  6 - Called the ... A beautiful promise. When Christ the Messiah comes as king re1912, He will receive the sealed ones who are secure from the winds of evil and from divine punishment re0701. They are those who will have claimed Christ as their righteousness, walking in Him co0206. They are the new "Judah" and "Israel" which will be saved. Our security is in recognizing Him as our righteousness day by day. This concept was lost to the works-oriented religion of the Jewish people of the time of Christ.
Oracle 3
 7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
 8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
  7 - The Lord ... out of Egypt For example, je0722, jos2417. See on je1614.
  8 - Seed of the house of Israel A promise to literal Israel, which also applies to an end-time generation a new Israel ga0328, ro0228, re1217b.
.9 ¶ Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.
 10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.
  10 - For the land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land mourns, and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up. Their course is evil, and their might is not right. (RSV)
.11 For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.
  9 - Heart ... broken ... drunken The Holy Spirit has impressed prophets by more than with visual and auditory messages. Here it by feeling. Compare re1010.
  10 - Land ... of Adulterers Both physically and spiritually. See je0507.
  11 - Profane See ez2339, zp0304.
  11 - In my house As je0730. "They built altars to idols in the very temple (2Ki 23:12; Eze 8:3-16). Compare as to covetousness under the roof of the sanctuary, Mt 21:13; Joh 2:16. (JFB).
 12 Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.
 13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. 
 14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
  12 - Slippery ways ... visitation "Their way is their false doctrine which proves fatal to them (Jer 13:16; Ps 35:6; Pr 4:19). I will bring evil ... visitation--still more calamities than those already inflicted... Jer 11:23; 'visitation,' namely, in wrath." (JFB). See also ps00804, ps05905.

When commentary quotes like JFB are used, we show the verses as they show them.

.15 Therefore thus saith 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 is profaneness gone forth into all the land. 
.16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.
.17 They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.
  15 - Wormwood A poisonous plant. See on re0811.
  17 - Peace It was not true. The city was taken. This is a message we hear today. Nations are angry claiming that it is a way to peace.
.18 For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? 
.19 Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.
 20 The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.
  18 - Who hath stood? Not the false leaders. "They have not stood in the counsels of Jehovah (an image from ministers present in a standing posture at councils of Eastern kings)" JFB Commentary. Compare v22. God tells His prophets am0307, ge1817 and those who are close to Him understand jb1508, ps02514, jn1515, 1co0214.
  19 - Whirlwind Representing God's fury. From the Hebrew, sah'ar. The word Sahara comes from a similar Arabic word which means "desert."
  20 - Anger shall not return Or won't end.
.21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
.22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
 23 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?
.24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.
  21 - Yet they ran They preached without a message from God. Probably the spirit of darkness was guiding them. The imagery is from 2sa1822.
  22 - But if they had stood The loss of souls is charged to them. See the warning to Ezekiel ez0318.
  24 - Hide See ps139.
  24 - Fill heaven and earth I'm so glad He is everywhere. is6601.
 25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.
 26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;
 27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.
 28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
  28 -  What is chaff? We can learn from the verses that follow.
.29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. 
 32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
  29 - My word ... fire He can speak and expose or destroy je0514, je2009, 1co0313. But more importantly, He speaks truth is5511. The words given by inspiration to the prophets are certain compared to the dreams of the false prophets 2pe0121.
  31 - He saith Hebrew ne'um. meaning a divine utterance.
  32 - Lightness Or "bragging."
.33 ¶ And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.
 34 And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house. 
 35 Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the LORD answered? and, What hath the LORD spoken?
  33 - Burden From messa' An "utterance." The false prophets may have been mocking Jeremiah who had bad news about the destruction of the city compared to their good news.
 36 And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man's word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.
 37 Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? and, What hath the LORD spoken?
 38 But since ye say, The burden of the LORD; therefore thus saith the LORD; Because ye say this word, The burden of the LORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD;
 39 Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence:
 40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.
  36 - Lord of hosts See on je0703.
  39 - Utterly [totally] forget you Very strong words and a lesson of caution for any who claim to present the word of the Lord.
  40 - Perpetual shame The prophecy has come true.
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