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Jeremiah 23

The Righteous Branch

1 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD.
2 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD.
3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.
4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.
5 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.
7 “So then, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’
8 but they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

Lying Prophets

9 Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me; all my bones tremble. I am like a drunken man, like a strong man overcome by wine, because of the LORDand his holy words.
10 The land is full of adulterers; because of the curse[b] the land lies parched and the pastures in the wilderness are withered. The prophets follow an evil course and use their power unjustly.
11 “Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness,” declares the LORD.
12 “Therefore their path will become slippery; they will be banished to darkness and there they will fall. I will bring disaster on them in the year they are punished,” declares the LORD.
13 “Among the prophets of Samaria I saw this repulsive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray.
14 And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that not one of them turns from their wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah.”
15 Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says concerning the prophets: “I will make them eat bitter food and drink poisoned water, because from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land.”
16 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’
18 But which of them has stood in the council of the LORDto see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?
19 See, the storm of the LORDwill burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked.
20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly.
21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied.
22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.
23 “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the LORD, “and not a God far away?
24 Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.
25 “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’
26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?
27 They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their ancestors forgot my name through Baal worship.
28 Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the LORD.
29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
30 “Therefore,” declares the LORD, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me.
31 Yes,” declares the LORD, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The LORD declares.’
32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the LORD. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the LORD.

False Prophecy

33 “When these people, or a prophet or a priest, ask you, ‘What is the message from the LORD?’ say to them, ‘What message? I will forsake you, declares the LORD.’
34 If a prophet or a priest or anyone else claims, ‘This is a message from the LORD,’ I will punish them and their household.
35 This is what each of you keeps saying to your friends and other Israelites: ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What has the LORD spoken?’
36 But you must not mention ‘a message from the LORD’ again, because each one’s word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the LORD Almighty, our God.
37 This is what you keep saying to a prophet: ‘What is the LORD’s answer to you?’ or ‘What has the LORD spoken?’
38 Although you claim, ‘This is a message from the LORD,’ this is what the LORD says: You used the words, ‘This is a message from the LORD,’ even though I told you that you must not claim, ‘This is a message from the LORD.’
39 Therefore, I will surely forget you and cast you out of my presence along with the city I gave to you and your ancestors.
40 I will bring on you everlasting disgrace—everlasting shame that will not be forgotten.”

Images for Jeremiah 23

Jeremiah 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

The restoration of the Jews to their own land. (1-8) The wickedness of the priests and prophets of Judah, The people exhorted not to listen to false promises. (9-22) The pretenders to inspiration threatened. (23-32) Also the scoffers at true prophecy. (33-40)

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.

Cross References 90

  • 1. Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 12:10; Jeremiah 25:36; Ezekiel 34:1-10; Zechariah 10:2; Zechariah 11:15-17
  • 2. S Isaiah 56:11
  • 3. Psalms 100:3; S Jeremiah 13:17; Ezekiel 34:31
  • 4. John 10:8
  • 5. S Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 13:20
  • 6. Jeremiah 21:12; Ezekiel 34:8-10
  • 7. Isaiah 11:10-12; Jeremiah 32:37; Ezekiel 34:11-16
  • 8. S 1 Kings 8:48
  • 9. S Genesis 48:15; S Isaiah 31:4; Jeremiah 3:15; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:23
  • 10. Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 46:27-28
  • 11. S John 6:39
  • 12. S 2 Kings 19:26; S Isaiah 4:2; Ezekiel 17:22
  • 13. S Matthew 2:2
  • 14. Isaiah 9:7; S Matthew 1:1
  • 15. S Genesis 18:19; Isaiah 11:1; Zechariah 6:12
  • 16. S Leviticus 25:18; S Deuteronomy 32:8; Hosea 2:18
  • 17. Exodus 23:21; Jeremiah 33:16; Matthew 1:21-23
  • 18. S Ezra 9:15; S Isaiah 42:6; Romans 3:21-22; S 1 Corinthians 1:30
  • 19. Jeremiah 30:3
  • 20. S Deuteronomy 15:15; Jeremiah 16:14
  • 21. S Isaiah 14:1; S Isaiah 43:5-6; Jeremiah 30:10; Ezekiel 20:42; Ezekiel 34:13; Amos 9:14-15
  • 22. S Jeremiah 4:19
  • 23. S Job 4:14
  • 24. Jeremiah 20:8-9
  • 25. S Jeremiah 9:2
  • 26. Deuteronomy 28:23-24
  • 27. Psalms 107:34; S Jeremiah 9:10
  • 28. S Jeremiah 4:26; S Jeremiah 12:11; Hosea 4:2-3
  • 29. Jeremiah 6:13; S Jeremiah 8:10; Zephaniah 3:4
  • 30. S 2 Kings 21:4; S Jeremiah 7:10
  • 31. S Deuteronomy 32:35; S Job 3:23; Psalms 35:6; Jeremiah 13:16
  • 32. Jeremiah 11:23
  • 33. S 1 Kings 18:22; Jeremiah 2:8
  • 34. ver 32; S Isaiah 3:12; Ezekiel 13:10
  • 35. S Jeremiah 5:30; Hosea 6:10
  • 36. Jeremiah 29:23
  • 37. ver 22; Ezekiel 13:22
  • 38. S Isaiah 5:18
  • 39. S Genesis 18:20; Matthew 11:24
  • 40. Isaiah 1:9-10; Jeremiah 20:16; Amos 4:11
  • 41. S Jeremiah 8:14; Jeremiah 9:15
  • 42. S Jeremiah 8:10
  • 43. Jer 27:9-10,14; S Matthew 7:15
  • 44. S Jeremiah 14:14; Ezekiel 13:3
  • 45. Jeremiah 9:20
  • 46. ver 31
  • 47. S 1 Kings 22:8; S Jeremiah 4:10; Jeremiah 8:11
  • 48. S Jeremiah 13:10
  • 49. Jeremiah 5:12; Amos 9:10; Micah 3:11
  • 50. S 1 Kings 22:19; S Romans 11:34
  • 51. Isaiah 30:30; Jeremiah 25:32; Jeremiah 30:23
  • 52. Zechariah 7:14
  • 53. S 2 Kings 23:26
  • 54. S Jeremiah 4:28; Jeremiah 30:24
  • 55. S Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 27:15
  • 56. S 1 Kings 22:19
  • 57. S Deuteronomy 33:10
  • 58. S 2 Kings 17:13; Jeremiah 25:5; Zechariah 1:4
  • 59. ver 14; Amos 3:7
  • 60. Psalms 139:1-10
  • 61. S Genesis 3:8; S Job 11:20; Job 22:12-14; S Ecclesiastes 12:14; S Isaiah 28:15; 1 Corinthians 4:5
  • 62. S 1 Kings 8:27
  • 63. ver 16; Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 27:10
  • 64. ver 28,32; S Deuteronomy 13:1; Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 29:8
  • 65. S Isaiah 30:10; 1 Timothy 4:1-2
  • 66. Jeremiah 14:14; Ezekiel 13:2
  • 67. Deuteronomy 13:1-3; Jeremiah 29:8
  • 68. S Judges 3:7; S Judges 8:33-34
  • 69. S Jeremiah 2:23
  • 70. S ver 25
  • 71. S 1 Samuel 3:17
  • 72. S Psalms 39:3; Jeremiah 5:14; S 1 Corinthians 3:13
  • 73. Hebrews 4:12
  • 74. S Psalms 34:16
  • 75. ver 2; Deuteronomy 18:20; Jeremiah 14:15; S Jeremiah 21:13
  • 76. ver 17
  • 77. S ver 25
  • 78. S ver 13; S Jeremiah 50:6
  • 79. S Job 13:4; Ezekiel 13:3; Ezekiel 22:28
  • 80. S Jeremiah 14:14
  • 81. Jeremiah 7:8; Lamentations 2:14
  • 82. Malachi 1:1
  • 83. ver 39; S 2 Kings 21:14
  • 84. Lamentations 2:14
  • 85. Zechariah 13:3
  • 86. Jeremiah 33:3; Jeremiah 42:4
  • 87. Galatians 1:7-8; 2 Peter 3:16
  • 88. S Joshua 3:10
  • 89. S Jeremiah 7:15
  • 90. S Jeremiah 20:11; Ezekiel 5:14-15

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "up from David’s line"
  • [b]. Or "because of these things"

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains threatenings to the Jewish governors, and to their priests and prophets, on account of their manifold sins; intermixed with gracious promises to the Lord's people, and particularly with a famous promise of the Messiah. The pastors or governors of Israel are charged with scattering and driving away the Lord's flock, for which they are threatened, Jer 23:1,2; and a promise is made of the gathering of the remnant of them, and of setting up other shepherds over them, under whom they should increase, and be comfortable, Jer 23:3,4; particularly the Messiah is promised; as David's righteous Branch; as a prosperous and righteous King; as the author of righteousness to his people, under whom they should have salvation and safety, Jer 23:5,6; so that in comparison of this salvation, the deliverance out of Egypt should not be spoken of, Jer 23:7,8; and then follows a sad complaint of the priests and prophets; of their profaneness, their adultery, swearing, lying, hypocrisy, and deception of the people; for all which they are severely threatened, Jer 23:9-15; wherefore the people are exhorted not to hearken to them, promising them peace and safety; whereas, by attending to the word of God, it might easily be seen that a storm of wrath was gone forth, and was ready to break, and would fall upon the head of the wicked, to the executing of the thoughts and purposes of God's heart, Jer 23:16-20; and the Lord declares he had not sent these prophets, as might be known from their not turning the people from their evil ways, Jer 23:21,22; whose conduct and behaviour could not be hid from the sight of the Lord, nor their prophecies from his ears, which were no other than dreams, and the deceits of their own hearts; and there was as great a difference between them and the word of the Lord, as between chaff and wheat; seeing his word in his hand is of great virtue and efficacy, whereas there was none in theirs, Jer 23:23-29; wherefore the Lord declares himself to be against these prophets, for stealing his word from their neighbour; for making use of his name, when they were not sent by him; and for causing the people to err by their lies, Jer 23:30-32; and both people, priest, and prophet, are severely threatened for jeering and scoffing at the word of the Lord, calling it the burden of the Lord; which phrase they are forbid to use in a sneering way; and should they persist in it, they are told that God would forsake and forget them, and cast them out, and everlastingly punish them, Jer 23:39,40.

Jeremiah 23 Commentaries

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