Jeremiah 23:1-40 . THE WICKED RULERS TO BE SUPERSEDED BY THE KING, WHO SHOULD REIGN OVER THE AGAIN UNITED PEOPLES, ISRAEL AND JUDAH.
21. sent . . . spoken--sent" refers to the primary call: "spoken" to the subsequent charges given to be executed. A call is required, not only external, on the part of men, but also internal from God, that one should undertake a pastor's office [CALVIN].
22. stood in . . . counsel--( Jeremiah 23:18 ).
they should have turned them from their evil way--They would have given such counsels to the people as would have turned them from their sins ( Jeremiah 25:5 , Isaiah 55:11 ), and so would have averted punishment. Their not teaching the law in which God's counsel is set forth proves they are not His prophets, though they boast of being so ( Matthew 7:15-20 ).
23. Let not the false prophets fancy that their devices ( Jeremiah 23:25 ) are unknown to Me. Are ye so ignorant as to suppose that I can only see things near Me, namely, things in heaven, and not earthly things as being too remote?
26. prophets--a different Hebrew form from the usual one, "prophesiers." "How long," cries Jeremiah, impatient of their impious audacity, "shall these prophecy-mongers go on prophesying lies?" The answer is given in Jeremiah 23:29-34 .
28. God answers the objection which might be stated, "What, then, must we do, when lies are spoken as truths, and prophets oppose prophets?" Do the same as when wheat is mixed with chaff: do not reject the wheat because of the chaff mixed with it, but discriminate between the false and the true revelations. The test is adherence to, or forgetfulness of, Me and My law ( Jeremiah 23:27 ).
that hath a dream--that pretends to have a divine communication by dream, let him tell it "faithfully," that it may be compared with "my word" ( 2 Corinthians 4:2 ). The result will be the former (both the prophets and their fictions) will soon be seen to be chaff; the latter (the true prophets and the word of God in their mouth) wheat ( Psalms 1:4 , Hosea 13:3 ).
29. As the "fire" consumes the "chaff" ( Jeremiah 23:28 ), so "My word" will consume the false prophets ( Matthew 3:12 , Hebrews 4:12 ). "My word" which is "wheat" ( Jeremiah 23:28 ), that is, food to the true prophet and his hearers, is a consuming "fire," and a crushing "hammer" ( Matthew 21:44 ) to false prophets and their followers ( 2 Corinthians 2:16 ). The Word of the false prophets may be known by its promising men peace in sin. "My word," on the contrary, burns and breaks the hard-hearted ( Jeremiah 20:9 ). The "hammer" symbolizes destructive power ( Jeremiah 50:23 , Nahum 2:1 , Margin).
31. use--rather, "take" their tongue: a second class (compare Jeremiah 23:30 ) require, in order to bring forth a revelation, nothing more than their tongues, wherewith they say, He (Jehovah) saith: they bungle in the very formula instead of the usual "Jehovah saith," being only able to say "(He) saith."
32. Third class: inventors of lies: the climax, and worst of the three.
lightness--wanton inventions ( Zephaniah 3:4 ).
not profit--that is, greatly injure.
33. What is the burden--play on the double sense of the Hebrew: an oracle and a burden. They scoffingly ask, Has he got any new burden (burdensome oracle: for all his prophecies are disasters) to announce ( Malachi 1:1 )? Jeremiah indignantly repeats their own question, Do you ask, What burden? This, then, it is, "I will forsake you." My word is burdensome in your eyes, and you long to be rid if it. You shall get your wish. There will be no more prophecy: I will forsake you, and that will be a far worse "burden" to you.
34. The burden--Whoever shall in mockery call the Lord's word "a burden," shall be visited (Margin) in wrath.
35. The result of My judgments shall be, ye shall address the prophet more reverentially hereafter, no longer calling his message a burden, but a divine response or word. "What hath the LORD answered?"
36. every man's word . . . his burden--As they mockingly call all prophecies burdens, as if calamities were the sole subject of prophecy, so it shall prove to them. God will take them at their own word.
living God--not lifeless as their dumb idols, ever living so as to be able to punish.
39. I will . . . forget you--just retribution for their forgetting Him ( Hosea 4:6 ). But God cannot possibly forget His children ( Isaiah 49:15 ). Rather for "forget" translate, "I will altogether lift you up (like a 'burden,' alluding to their mocking term for God's messages) and cast you off." God makes their wicked language fall on their own head [CALVIN]. Compare Jeremiah 23:36 : "every man's word shall be his burden."
40. not be forgotten--If we translate Jeremiah 23:39 as English Version, the antithesis is, though I forget you, your shame shall not be forgotten.