Today you should read: Jeremiah 23:9-40
Yesterday we saw a clear prophesy of the One who would claim David’s throne. “He shall reign as a king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jer 23:5). This prophecy stands in sharp contrast with today’s passage as we deal with prophets and religious leaders who do not deal wisely, who do not execute justice, and who are anything but righteous.
In verse 14, the Lord said that the prophets not only lie, but “they give encouragement to people who are doing evil, with the result that they do not stop their evildoing. I consider all of them as bad as the people of Sodom, and the citizens of Jerusalem as bad as the people of Gomorrah.” Because of this wickedness God called Jeremiah to come preach destruction. But, before the echo of his words fade, these false prophets are coming behind him to preach “false hope” (v 16), saying “It will be well with you” (v 17). As one commentator wrote, “These pseudo-seers opposed Jeremiah’s declaration of doom (cf. 6:13–14; 8:10–11; 14:14–16; 28:1–4, 10–11; 29:8–9, 20–23, 31–32) and offered in its place a promise of peace.”
The Lord rhetorically asks, “How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart?” (v 26) He concludes, “Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully…Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (v 28a, 29)
Verses 33–40 declare condemnation on these false prophets. The Lord commanded them to stop prophesying. Depending on what translation you use, you’ll see a repeated word or “burden” or “message.” This might be a bit of wordplay because the words “oracle” and “burden” are homonyms in Hebrew. The word used his is “burden” and I think the NET spells out the meaning well, such as in verse 36, “You must no longer say that the Lord’s message is burdensome. For what is ‘burdensome’ really pertains to what a person himself says. You are misrepresenting the words of our God, the living God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
After we read the description of where the religious leaders were in the days of Jeremiah, that picture of the Messiah from the first few verses of chapter 23 looks even better, right? Unfortunately, on this side of the Cross of Christ, there are many believers and religious leaders that are described by every single word in Jeremiah 23:9–40—believers and pastors who fail to call sinful things sin, people who focus so much on the “bright side” that their theology doesn’t have room for suffering, those who set aside the Word of God because the “truth” of their own hearts is more convincing. Let this not describe us.
While studying Job a while back I re-read Job 13:4–5 where Job says of his friends, “As for you, you whitewash with lies; worthless physicians are you all. Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!” This became a warning for me anytime I speak for the Lord or assume His character. If I say, “The Lord is like this,” I better be right or else I too am a “worthless physician.” God is not who I make Him to be, He is as He has revealed Himself to be—let us not declare anything more or anything less.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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