Woe be to those who are commanded to feed God’s people and pretend to do it,
but instead drag them from God, speaking messages that are the product of their own invention,
and slighting the authority of His Word.
God disowns all prophets who soothe people in their sins.
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.
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.
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.
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.
11 For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Jeremiah 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Jeremiah 23:1-12, 23-32 – Shepherds That Mislead God’s Flock
It is God’s purpose to care for His people through shepherds (pastors) who are responsible to Him. Jesus our Lord is the Branch into which we may be grafted. He is our King who saves us and clothes us with His own spotless righteousness. God finds us in Him, Philippians 3:9. Because He reigns, we are saved and dwell in safety. When we are brought into contact with false shepherds, whether the failure be in doctrine or example, let us ask for the broken heart of Jeremiah 23:9.
God is everywhere present; as the latter paragraph indicates, He is near at hand to overhear the blasphemy of those who deride religion, and to be a very present help in time of trouble. If He fills heaven and earth, can He not fill thy heart? If His Word is like fire, let it cleanse thee! If it is as a hammer, let it pulverize thy pride! Let those of us who essay to teach and preach, not steal our words from our neighbors, or utter our own, but receive them from the source of all truth. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Jeremiah 23:22—If they had stood in my counsel….
Here is the cause of so much failure in Christian work—God’s servants do not stand in God’s council. The previous words explain what is meant by not standing in God’s council: “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” Alas! these words write our own sentence. Too often we run without being sent, and prophesy because the hour has struck, rather than because the message of God has been given! We do not stand in God’s council.
“But if they had stood.”… We gather, therefore, that the stream of prophetic teaching was not limited to Jeremiah alone. There was no necessary exclusiveness in the Divine arrangements. He was chosen, and used as God’s agent and medium, because he stood in his council. And the others might have had the same privilege if they had conformed to the same conditions.
Let us claim the positive assurance of this promise. We see where we have fallen short of God’s ideal, but we can retrace our steps; we can renounce our fussy activities; refrain from the desire to be always to the front; and wait more absolutely on God for his thoughts, and words, and messages. A Christian worker once complained to George Müller that he had not time enough for the study of the Word and prayer; and the veteran saint asked in reply, whether an hour’s less work, with the soul dwelling in the full light of God, and therefore actuated by his impulses, would not be more prosperous and effective than five hours spent under the perpetual fever of our own will and way. Be right with God, and the people shall be caused to hear, and shall be turned. —Our Daily Homily