"I will send disaster upon the leaders of my people -- the shepherds of my sheep -- for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for," says the LORD.
This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: "Instead of leading my flock to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them.
But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from wherever I have driven them. I will bring them back into their own fold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number.
Then I will appoint responsible shepherds to care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one of them will be lost or missing," says the LORD.
"For the time is coming," says the LORD, "when I will place a righteous Branch on King David's throne. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
And this is his name: 'The LORD Is Our Righteousness.' a In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.
"In that day," says the LORD, "when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, 'As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.'
Instead, they will say, 'As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.' Then they will live in their own land."
My heart is broken because of the false prophets, and I tremble uncontrollably. I stagger like a drunkard, like someone overcome by wine, because of the holy words the LORD has spoken against them.
For the land is full of adultery, and it lies under a curse. The land itself is in mourning -- its pastures are dried up. For the prophets do evil and abuse their power.
"The priests are like the prophets, all ungodly, wicked men. I have seen their despicable acts right here in my own Temple," says the LORD.
"Therefore, their paths will be dark and slippery. They will be chased down dark and treacherous trails, where they will fall. For I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes. I, the LORD, have spoken!
"I saw that the prophets of Samaria were terribly evil, for they prophesied by Baal and led my people of Israel into sin.
But now I see that the prophets of Jerusalem are even worse! They commit adultery, and they love dishonesty. They encourage those who are doing evil instead of turning them away from their sins. These prophets are as wicked as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah once were."
Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty says concerning the prophets: "I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. For it is because of Jerusalem's prophets that wickedness fills this land.
This is my warning to my people," says the LORD Almighty. "Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the LORD!
They keep saying to these rebels who despise my word, 'Don't worry! The LORD says you will have peace!' And to those who stubbornly follow their own evil desires, they say, 'No harm will come your way!'
"But can you name even one of these prophets who knows the LORD well enough to hear what he is saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen?
Look! The LORD's anger bursts out like a storm, a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD will not diminish until it has finished all his plans. In the days to come, you will understand all this very clearly.
"I have not sent these prophets, yet they claim to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they prophesy.
If they had listened to me, they would have spoken my words and turned my people from their evil ways.
Am I a God who is only in one place?" asks the LORD. "Do they think I cannot see what they are doing?
Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?" asks the LORD.
"I have heard these prophets say, 'Listen to the dream I had from God last night.' And then they proceed to tell lies in my name.
How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say.
By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.
Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between chaff and wheat!
Does not my word burn like fire?" asks the LORD. "Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes rock to pieces?
"Therefore," says the LORD, "I stand against these prophets who get their messages from each other --
these smooth-tongued prophets who say, 'This prophecy is from the LORD!'
Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people," says the LORD.
"Suppose one of the people or one of the prophets or priests asks you, 'What prophecy has the LORD burdened you with now?' You must reply, 'You are the burden! b The LORD says he will abandon you!'
If any prophet, priest, or anyone else says, 'I have a prophecy from the LORD,' I will punish that person along with his entire family.
You should keep asking each other, 'What is the LORD's answer?' or 'What is the LORD saying?'
But stop using this phrase, 'prophecy from the LORD.' For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the LORD Almighty.
"This is what you should say to the prophets: 'What is the LORD's answer?' or 'What is the LORD saying?'
But suppose they respond, 'This is a prophecy from the LORD!' Then you should say, 'This is what the LORD says: Because you have used this phrase, "prophecy from the LORD," even though I warned you not to use it,
I will forget you completely. I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors.
And I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.'"
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)