Jeremiah 23

1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says the LORD. 2 Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, says against the shepherds who feed my people: “You have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold, I will visit on you the evil of your doings,” says the LORD. 3 “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set up shepherds over them, who shall feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be lacking,” says the LORD. 5 “Behold, the days come,” says the LORD, “that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely. This is his name by which he shall be called: the LORD our righteousness. 7 “Therefore behold, the days come,” says the LORD, “that they shall no more say, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;’ 8 but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up and who led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will dwell in their own land.” 9 Concerning the prophets: My heart within me is broken. All my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the LORD, and because of his holy words. 10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of the curse the land mourns. The pastures of the wilderness are dried up. Their course is evil, and their might is not right; 11 for both prophet and priest are profane; yes, in my house have I found their wickedness,” says the LORD. 12 Therefore their way shall be to them as slippery places in the darkness. They shall be driven on, and fall therein; for I will bring evil on them, even the year of their visitation,” says the LORD. 13 “I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria. They prophesied by Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. 14 In the prophets of Jerusalem also I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one returns from his wickedness. They have all become to me as Sodom, and its inhabitants as Gomorrah.” 15 Therefore the LORD of Armies says concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall; for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.” 16 the LORD of Armies says, “Don’t listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They teach you vanity. They speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise me, ‘the LORD has said, “You shall have peace;”’ and to everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart they say, ‘No evil shall come on you.’ 18 For who has stood in the council of the LORD, that he should perceive and hear his word? Who has listened to my word, and heard it? 19 Behold, the LORD’s storm, his wrath, has gone out. Yes, a whirling storm. It shall burst on the head of the wicked. 20 the LORD’s anger shall not return, until he has executed, and until he has performed the intents of his heart. In the latter days, you will understand it perfectly. 21 I didn’t send these prophets, yet they ran. I didn’t speak to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, then they would have caused my people to hear my words, and would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. 23 “Am I a God at hand,” says the LORD, “and not a God afar off? 24 Can anyone hide himself in secret places so that I can’t see him?” says the LORD. “Don’t I fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD. 25 “I have heard what the prophets have said, who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ 26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, even the prophets of the deceit of their own heart? 27 They intend to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they each tell his neighbor, as their fathers forgot my name because of Baal. 28 The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the straw to the wheat?” says the LORD. 29 “Isn’t my word like fire?” says the LORD; “and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? 30 “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who each steal my words from his neighbor. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who use their tongues, and say, ‘He says.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams,” says the LORD, “who tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their vain boasting; yet I didn’t send them, nor command them; neither do they profit this people at all,” says the LORD. 33 “When this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask you, saying, ‘What is the message from the LORD?’ Then you shall tell them, ‘“What message? I will cast you off,” says the LORD.’ 34 As for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, who say, ‘The message from the LORD,’ I will even punish that man and his household. 35 You shall say everyone to his neighbor, and everyone to his brother, ‘What has the LORD answered?’ and, ‘What has the LORD spoken?’ 36 You shall mention the message from the LORD no more: for every man’s own word has become his message; for you have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of Armies, our God. 37 You shall say to the prophet, ‘What has the LORD answered you?’ and, ‘What has the LORD spoken?’ 38 Although you say, ‘The message from the LORD’; therefore the LORD says: ‘Because you say this word, “The message from the LORD,” and I have sent to you, telling you not to say, “The message from the LORD”; 39 therefore, behold, I will utterly forget you, and I will cast you off, and the city that I gave to you and to your fathers, away from my presence. 40 I will bring an everlasting reproach on you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.’”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1-8

Woe be to those who are set to feed God’s people, but take no concern to do them good! Here is a word of comfort to the neglected sheep. Though only a remnant of God’s flock is left, he will find them out, and they shall be brought to their former habitations. Christ is spoken of as a branch from David’s family. He is righteous himself, and through him all his people are made righteous. Christ shall break the usurped power of Satan. All the spiritual seed of believing Abraham and praying Jacob shall be protected, and shall be saved from the guilt and dominion of sin. In the days of Christ’s government in the soul, the soul dwells at ease. He is here spoken of as “the Lord our Righteousness.” He is so our Righteousness as no creature could be. His obedience unto death is the justifying righteousness of believers, and their title to heavenly happiness. And their sanctification, as the source of all their personal obedience is the effect of their union with him, and of the supply of this Spirit. By this name every true believer shall call him, and call upon him. We have nothing to plead but this, Christ has died, yea, rather is risen again; and we have taken him for our Lord. This righteousness which he has wrought out to the satisfaction of law and justice, becomes ours; being a free gift given to us, through the Spirit of God, who puts it upon us, clothes us with it, enables us to lay hold upon it, and claim an interest in it. “The Lord our Righteousness” is a sweet name to a convinced sinner; to one that has felt the guilt of sin in his conscience; seen his need of that righteousness, and the worth of it. This great salvation is far more glorious than all former deliverances of his church. May our souls be gathered to Him, and be found in him.

Verses 9-22

The false prophets of Samaria had deluded the Israelites into idolatries; yet the Lord considered the false prophets of Jerusalem as guilty of more horrible wickedness, by which the people were made bold in sin. These false teachers would be compelled to suffer the most bitter part of the Lord’s indignation. They made themselves believe that there was no harm in sin, and practised accordingly; then they made others believe so. Those who are resolved to go on in evil ways, will justly be given up to believe strong delusions. But which of them had received any revelation of God, or understood any thing of his word? There was a time coming when they would reflect on their folly and unbelief with remorse. The teaching and example of the true prophets led men to repentance, faith, and righteousness. The false prophets led men to rest in forms and notions, and to be quiet in their sins. Let us take heed that we do not follow unrighteousness.

Verses 23-32

Men cannot be hidden from God’s all-seeing eye. Will they never see what judgments they prepare for themselves? Let them consider what a vast difference there is between these prophecies and those delivered by the true prophets of the Lord. Let them not call their foolish dreams Divine oracles. The promises of peace these prophets make are no more to be compared to God’s promises than chaff to wheat. The unhumbled heart of man is like a rock; if not melted by the word of God as a fire, it will be broken to pieces by it as a hammer. How can they be long safe, or at all easy, who have a God of almighty power against them? The word of God is no smooth, lulling, deceitful message. And by its faithfulness it may certainly be distinguished from false doctrines.

Verses 33-40

Those are miserable indeed who are forsaken and forgotten of God; and men’s jesting at God’s judgments will not baffle them. God had taken Israel to be a people near to him, but they shall now be cast out of his presence. It is a mark of great and daring impiety for men to jest with the words of God. Every idle and profane word will add to the sinner’s burden in the day of judgment, when everlasting shame will be his portion.

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