Jeremiah 23
A message of hope
The LORD said:
1You leaders of my people are like shepherds that kill and scatter the sheep. 2You were supposed to take care of my people, but instead you chased them away. So now I'll really take care of you, and believe me, you will pay for your crimes!
3I will bring the rest of my people home from the lands where I have scattered them, and they will grow into a mighty nation. 4I promise to choose leaders who will care for them like real shepherds. All my people will be there, and they will never again be frightened.
5Some day I will appoint#Jr 33.14-16.
an honest king
from the family of David,
a king who will be wise
and rule with justice.
6As long as he is king,
Israel will have peace,
and Judah will be safe.
The name of this king will be
“The LORD Gives Justice”.
7A time will come when you will again worship me. But you will no longer call me the Living God who rescued Israel from Egypt. 8Instead, you will call me the Living God who rescued you from the land in the north and from all the other countries where I had forced you to go. And you will once again live in your own land.
Jeremiah thinks about unfaithful prophets
9When I think of the prophets,
I am shocked, and I tremble#23.9 tremble: Or “become weak”.
like someone drunk,
because of the LORD
and his sacred words.
10Those unfaithful prophets
misuse their power
all over the country.
So God turned the pasture lands
into scorching deserts.#23.10 deserts: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
The LORD will punish unfaithful prophets
11The LORD told me to say:
You prophets and priests
think so little of me, the LORD,
that you even sin
in my own temple!
12Now I will punish you
with disaster,
and you will slip and fall
in the darkness.
I, the LORD, have spoken.
13The prophets in Samaria
were disgusting to me,
because they preached
in the name of Baal
and led my people astray.
14And you prophets in Jerusalem#Gn 18.20; Ez 16.49.
are even worse.
You're unfaithful in marriage#23.14 in marriage: Or “to me”.
and never tell the truth.#23.14 never tell the truth: Or “worship other gods”.
You even lead others to sin
instead of helping them
turn back to me.
You and the people of Jerusalem
are evil like Sodom
and Gomorrah.#23.14 Sodom and Gomorrah: Two cities that the LORD destroyed because their people were so evil (see Genesis 18.16—19.29).
15You prophets in Jerusalem
have spread evil everywhere.
That's why I, the LORD, promise
to give you bitter poison
to eat and drink.
The LORD gives a warning
The LORD said:
16Don't listen to the lies
of these false prophets,
you people of Judah!
The message they preach
is something they imagined;
it did not come from me,
the LORD All-Powerful.
17These prophets go to people
who refuse to respect me
and who are stubborn
and do whatever they want.
The prophets tell them,
“The LORD has promised
everything will be fine.”
18But I, the LORD, tell you
that these prophets
have never attended a meeting
of my council in heaven#23.18 a meeting of my council in heaven: Sometimes, prophets had visions of the LORD meeting with his angels (see 1 Kings 22.19-23).
or heard me speak.
19They are evil! So in my anger
I will strike them
like a violent storm.
20I won't calm down,
until I have finished
what I have decided to do.
Some day you will understand
exactly what I mean.
21I did not send these prophets
or speak to them,
but they ran to find you
and to preach their message.
22If they had been in a meeting
of my council in heaven,
they would have told
you people of Judah
to give up your sins
and come back to me.
23I am everywhere—
both near and far,
24in heaven and on earth.
There are no secret places
where you can hide from me.
25These unfaithful prophets claim that I have given them a dream or a vision, and then they tell lies in my name. 26But everything they say comes from their own twisted minds. How long can this go on? 27They tell each other their dreams and try to get my people to reject me, just as their ancestors left me and worshipped Baal. 28Their dreams and my truth are as different as straw and wheat. But when prophets speak for me, they must say only what I have told them. 29My words are a powerful fire; they are a hammer that shatters rocks.
30-32These unfaithful prophets claim I give them their dreams, but it isn't true. I didn't choose them to be my prophets, and yet they babble on and on, speaking in my name, while stealing words from each other. And when my people hear these liars, they are led astray instead of being helped. So I warn you that I am now the enemy of these prophets. I, the LORD, have spoken.
News and nuisance
The LORD said to me:
33Jeremiah, when a prophet or a priest or anyone else comes to you and asks, “Does the LORD have news for us?” tell them, “You people are a nuisance#23.33 news…nuisance: The Hebrew word for “news” in verses 33-38 is the same as “nuisance” and is related to “pick up” in verse 39. to the LORD, and he#23.33 You people are a nuisance to the LORD, and he: Two ancient translations; Hebrew “Does the LORD have news for us? He”. will get rid of you.”
34If any of you say, “Here is news from the LORD,” I will punish you and your families, even if you are a prophet or a priest. 35Instead, you must ask your friends and relatives, “What answer did the LORD give?” or “What has the LORD said?” 36It seems that you each have your own news! So if you say, “Here is news from the LORD,” you are twisting my words into a lie. Remember that I am your God, the LORD All-Powerful.
37If you go to a prophet, it's all right to ask, “What answer did the LORD give to my question?” or “What has the LORD said?” 38But if you disobey me and say, “Here is news from the LORD,” 39I will pick you up#23.39 pick you up: A few Hebrew manuscripts and three ancient translations; most Hebrew manuscripts “forget you completely”. and throw you far away. And I will abandon this city of Jerusalem that I gave to your ancestors. 40You will never be free from your shame and disgrace.