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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 23:14

"Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; And they strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah.
New American Standard Version
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  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  3. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
  4. Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible
  5. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
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Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Gomorrah;   Minister, Christian;   Sodom;   Scofield Reference Index - Israel;   Thompson Chain Reference - Leaders;   Ministers;   Religious;   The Topic Concordance - Evil;   Prophecy and Prophets;   Sending and Those Sent;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Lying;   Prophecy;   Prophets, False;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Prophecy, prophet;   Sodom;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - False Prophet;   Genesis, Theology of;   Immorality, Sexual;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Gomorrah;   Sodom;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Vine;   Holman Bible Dictionary - False Prophet;   Homosexuality;   Jeremiah;   Lamentations, Book of;   Prophecy, Prophets;   Sodom and Gomorrah;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Sodom;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Gomorrah;   Sodom;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Adultery;   Horrible;   Lie;   Micaiah;   Text of the Old Testament;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Chastity;   Ethics;   Sodom;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem - That is, the prophets of Jerusalem, while professing a pure faith, have followed the ways, and become as corrupt as the prophets of Samaria.

They are all of them unto me as Sodom - Incorrigible, brutish sinners, who will as surely be destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah were.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Rather, “But in the prophets of Jerusalem” etc. Their conduct is more strongly condemned than that of the Baal-priests.

They strengthen … - First by neglecting to warn and rebuke sinners: secondly by the direct influence of their bad example.

They are all of them - They have become, “all of them,” i. e., the people of Jerusalem, and not the prophets only.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

It follows,They commit adultery, and walk in deception Expositors think that there is a change of number; but what if these words be applied to the people? as though Jeremiah had said, “When any one is an adulterer, when any one walks in deception, that is, when any one is fraudulent, they strengthen, the hands of the wicked.” And, doubtless, this sense seems here to be the most correct. Then Jeremiah shews how they surpassed other prophets in impiety, even because they dissimulated when they saw on one hand adulteries prevailing, and on the other frauds, plunders, and perjuries; and not only so, but they undertook the patronizing of the wicked, and strengthened the hands of the ungodly, and added audacity to their madness. For as fear weakens the hands, so does shame; as, then, these prophets removed shame as well as fear from the wicked and ungodly, so they strengthened their hands; that is, they gave them more confidence, so that they rushed headlong into every evil more freely and with greater liberty.

That they might not return, he says, every one from his wickedness This is added for the sake of explanation; for, as I have said, either the fear of God or shame from men might have checked their audacity; but when they were confirmed and countenanced, they broke out into all excesses, and hardened themselves in their obstinacy: That they might not return, every one from his wickedness.

In the last place he adds, They shall be to me all of them as Sodom, and its inhabitants as Gomorrah We see that the last clause is confined to the citizens of Jerusalem. Then God says, that these prophets would be like the Sodomites, and the citizens of Jerusalem like the citizens of Gomorrah. This is not to be understood only as to crimes, but also as to punishment; as though he had said, that there was no more hope of pardon for them than for the Sodomites, for they had provoked to the utmost the wrath of God, so that he could not now spare them. It then follows, —

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. Intro:
    1. Q: What is your leadership style? Listen to me, or follow me?
      1. Q: Do you push or pull? Do you Lead or Drive?
    1. ​​​​​​​Bad Shepherds (1,2)
    2. Vs.1 - Last week we discussed the last 4 kings of Judah(all bad).
      1. The Woe starts off to “these” shepherds.
        1. Zedekiah, Shallum, Jehoiakim, & Jeconiah.
    3. What the kings & his subordinates did determined the livelihood of the common citizen. Therefore, shepherd refers to the kings in the O.T. not nec. the religious leaders.
    4. Vs.2 – Instead of leading they Drove the sheep!
      1. Like shepherds today!
      2. Q: What’s your style of leadership?
    5. Good Shepherds(3,4)
    6. (eg) Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Maccabees are some of the good shepherds/leaders who will come back from the north/Babylon & feedthe sheep.
    7. Great Shepherd!(5,6)
    8. “David’s family tree may have been cut down, but a branch(shoot) would grow from the stump & become ruler of the nation.” (ww)
    9. “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUS” (Jehovah Tsidkenu)[root Tsedek]
      1. 2 reasons of importance!
      2. [1] The last king of Judah was Zedekiah(“Rt. of the Lord”). His life did not reflect his name! So, we note the “contrast”.
      3. [2] This speaks of one who would not only reflect the rt. of God; but was the rt. of God; but could also convey it to His people making it their own possession.
        1. We have been made rt. – Read Rom.3:21-26 (justify=righteous) takes notice of clean hands, not full hands. [Latin Proverb]
        2. “No judge has the right to clear the guitly or to condemn the innocent!” (Dwight Pentecost)
    10. The Greater Exodus!(7,8)
    11. There is a New & Greater Exodus a’comin!
    12. God seems to hold out the promise for “the homecoming”, to help them endure the captivity later.
    13. The kings Scattered(2); one day God’s King would Gather(8)!
    14. He obviously has more in mind then just the return from Babylon(8b).
    15. This is a repeat of 16:14,15.
    1. ​​​​​​​Vs.9 - There seems to be far more concern & heartbreak over false prophets than over brutal officials(of vs.1,2).
      1. “For w/o Justice a nation suffers; w/o Truth it Sickens!” (Kidner)
    2. Vs.11 – They were secularizing the Holy house of God.
    3. Vs.14b – They seemed to be taking the “shame” out of sin.
    4. Vs.14c - It seems the practice of both heterosexual & homosexual sins were taking place.
    5. Vs.15 They are not simply “failing to lead” – No, but “leading them to fail!”
      1. Prov.25:26 “A righteous man who falters before the wicked Is like a murky spring and a polluted well.”
    6. Vs.16 – People who lack direction, lack discernment, & will believe anything!
      1. With improper direction, pretty soon before you know it you will be barking or quaking “in the name of God”, Or shrewdly driven into lying legalism, instead of being lead to the green grass of grace!
      2. Careful folk, we must discern prophesies, visions, dreams.
      3. If they say they are speaking “for” God, you Must test it “by” the Word of God!
        1. Is.8:20 “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
      4. You want to make sure anyone giving you counsel is: a) Called by God b) Walk w/God c) Obey Gods word themselves!
    7. Vs.18 – There is one who not only stands in the counsel of the Lord, but is “eternally in the bosom of the father.”
    8. Vs.22b – They say nothing of sin & repentance – only Peace & Prosperity(17).
  4. I HAVE A DREAM! (23-29)
    1. ​​​​​​​This was one of the greatest sayings of the inescapable presence of God. {His Omnipresence}
      1. He is at the farthest stretch of the universe, & is as near as where you sit right now!
      2. A little boy was heading home from his Sunday School class when stopped by a neighboring farmer, where you been?”…The boy replied Sunday School! "M'm, a very fine way," the neighbor said, "for a boy to spend his time. If you'll tell me where God is, I'll give you a brand new dime." Quick as a flash his answer came. "I'll give you a dollar, Mister, if you'll tell me where God ain't."
      3. “God is an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” Saint Augustine of Hippo
      4. How in the presence of our Lord can anyone could go on thinking about himself?
    2. Vs.23 – Jehovah wasn’t a local Deity!
    3. Vs.24 – Jehovah wasn’t a blind God!
      1. Ps.115:5 “Eyes they have, but they do not see;”
      2. Their cleverest disguises are in full view of God!
      3. Amos 9:2 “Though they dig into hell, From there my hand shall take them; Though they climb up to heaven, From there I will bring them down; And though they hide themselves on top of Carmel, From there I will search and take them; Though they hide from My sight at the bottom of the sea, From there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them; Though they go into captivity before their enemies, From there I will command the sword, And it shall slay them. I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good.”
      4. He is there when on the grass beside still waters, & in the moonlight in Gethsamane!
      5. Did you know…that intricate detail has been sculpted on the Statue of Liberty's head(her hair and her crown). They are at an angle which for many years, no one could see(until the invention of helicopter & airplane). Yet detail was given to it by its sculpture. The same craftsmanship as the feet was the head.
        1. So we should live every part of our life, knowing Someone does see every part of our life.
    4. Vs.27 – Humans love the sensational!
      1. It distracts the mind from reality as effectively as any heresy.
    5. Vs.28 – Gain nourishment from the “Wheat of the Word”!
      1. New Devotional – “Wheaties”!
    6. Vs.29 Hammer – Tear down/build up. Break the hardest rocks. Fire – Consumes waste, purifies what it touches.
      1. Jeremiah had the wood burning in his heart(20:9), & on his lips(5:14).
    7. “No wonder false teachers are so popular! The sinful heart does not want to be burned & broken by the fire & hammer of the word!” (ww)
      1. A rabbi was asked a question by a pupil, referring to Deuteronomy 6:6-- "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart." "Why is it said this way?" the pupil asked. "Why are we not told to place them in our heart?" The rabbi answered that it is not within man's power to place the divine teachings directly in his heart. "All that we can do is place them on the surface of the heart so that when the heart breaks they will drop in."
      2. They liked “chewin chaff” thou it brings No nourishment!
        1. Like chewing wax! – {Remember those little was candies in the shape of a bottle, they had a little liquid squirt inside.}
    1. ​​​​​​​Vs.33 – Oracle(massa) = Burden.
      1. Some translations translate this (N.L.B.) “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! The LORD says he will abandon you!’”
    2. Vs.39,40 - Note the opposite of “I will never leave you nor forsake you!”
    3. Q: What do we learn from this terrible down grading of God’s word?
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Brian Bell Commentary". 2017.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Now in chapter23God speaks out against those

Pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 23:1 ).

God said, "They"re My sheep, but these pastors are scattering them and destroying them."

Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 23:2 ).

Those wicked pastors who were not really feeding the flock of God, but rather seeking only to fleece the flock of God. A true shepherd seeks to feed His flock. A hireling always seeks to fleece the flock of God.

If these evangelists are writing to you and in every letter they send to you there is a direct or insinuated appeal for funds, know that they"re not really writing unto you because they love you and care for you. Though they may say it, "Oh, I"ve been thinking about you this week. And God laid a heavy burden upon my heart for you. Is everything all right, brother? Please write and tell me what"s wrong with you so I can pray for you. And I"m going to go and I"m going to fast and I"m going to pray and I"m going to bring your requests before God. Now make sure that you send your request in to me immediately and please mark off how much you can send in at this time, you know." That"s all a bunch of goobledygook to get to the bottom line for you to send your bucks in. There"s no real concern for the flock of God. There"s no real attempt. You read the letter. There"s nothing there to feed your spirit. The whole thing is designed to fleece you. The whole purpose is to fleece the flock of God. That"s not a true shepherd and God speaks out, "Woe unto you, shepherds, not really feeding the flock. Scattering the flock. You"re destroying the flock."

Well, I"ll tell you, I don"t want to stand in their shoes when they have to stand before the Lord and give an account.

God said,

I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which will feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 23:3-4 ).

God says, "The day will come I"ll bring them back. My flock that"s been scattered, I"ll bring them back. And I"ll give them shepherds in those days who will really feed them. They"ll be fruitful. They"ll increase."

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the eaRuth ( Jeremiah 23:5 ).

There will come a day I"ll raise up from David a righteous Branch, and He will reign in righteousness, in justice and in truth.

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called [Jehovah Tsidkenu] THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS ( Jeremiah 23:6 ).

Who is that righteous Branch that God shall raise up from David? Who is that One who is coming and will reign in righteousness over the earth? None other than Jehovah Shua who will then be called Jehovah Tsidkenu. Jehovah Shua is another name for Jesus, Yashua.

This is a scripture that sort of boggles the Jehovah Witnesses, because in the context you have to realize and acknowledge that surely it is talking about Jesus Christ. But His name shall be called then that name that they use exclusively for the Father. His name shall be called Jehovah Tsidkenu. That"s one they haven"t been able to successfully explain.

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD lives, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD lives, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land ( Jeremiah 23:7-8 ).

And so God is speaking of that day of future restoration that shall come to pass when Jesus comes again. And then shall the angels be sent to the four corners of the earth to gather God"s elect, the Jews, from all of the areas to which they have been scattered and God will bring them back in that day and in that day all Israel shall be saved. For God shall bring the deliverer out of Zion who will have turned the hearts of the children to the fathers. So the glorious day of God"s redemptive work for the nation Israel when Jesus comes again, the righteous Branch out of David to establish the throne of God and His kingdom upon the earth and to fulfill God"s promise to these people.

Now God declares,

Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets ( Jeremiah 23:9 );

Actually, this is Jeremiah speaking. "My heart within me is broken." You remember he"s the weeping prophet. "My heart within me is broken because of the prophets."

all my bones shake: I am like a drunken man, I"m like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 23:9-12 ).

So God speaks of these wicked prophets and priests who have profaned their ministries and all and God said they"re on a slippery plank in the dark. Boy, I mean, that"s in a bad way. Can"t see where you"re going and you"re walking on ice. Surely they shall fall.

And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, they walk in lies: they strengthen the hands of evildoers, that none does return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants of Gomorrah ( Jeremiah 23:13-14 ).

They"re just irredeemable.

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walks after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you ( Jeremiah 23:15-17 ).

The prophets were prophesying lies. "It doesn"t matter how you live. You"re all right. God will accept you. God really doesn"t care that you live after your flesh, that you disregard His law. Doesn"t really matter. Peace. No evil is going to come upon you."

There are many churches today where there is really no strong preaching of the Word. The people go and are comforted. No matter, though they are walking after their own imagination, after their own lust, they go to church and they can come out feeling very comforted, very good, because there is no real conviction of sin. There"s no real preaching of righteousness or holiness before God. And the tragic thing is that people are being comforted in their evil ways, being lulled into a false sense of security. A lot of ministers today will tell you there is no hell. All the hell you"re ever going to get is right here on earth. All the heaven you"re ever going to get is right here on earth. There is no future judgment. And there are ministers that make fun of and scoff at the idea of hell. "Peace in this place. Surely God won"t visit you for the evil that you have done. No evil will come upon you."

For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? ( Jeremiah 23:18 )

These guys are speaking for the Lord but He said, "They never sat in My council. They don"t know the things that I have determined. Yet they"re speaking for Me, but they don"t even know what they"re talking about. They haven"t been in My council. They haven"t heard My word."

Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he has executed, and till he has performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly ( Jeremiah 23:19-20 ).

You"ll understand it completely. Hindsight is always better than foresight. When it"s happened you"ll look back and then you"ll understand that you were being deceived by those false prophets. You"ll understand that it was a lie, that they were speaking in the name of the Lord, that you were duped. God is saying the day will come. You"ll look back when the calamity is fallen, when the judgment is come, then you"ll realize these men were lying to you the whole while who said no evil is going to come to this place. It"s going to be peace and all.

For I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? ( Jeremiah 23:21-23 )

Aren"t I not right present? I"m not far off someplace where you can"t reach Me or where I don"t know what"s going on. God doesn"t dwell in some remote corner of the universe. Paul said to those Epicurean philosophers there in Athens, "This is the God I want to talk to you about, for in Him we live, we move, we have our being" ( Acts 17:28 ). It"s the God who pervades all of space. You can"t escape His presence.

Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? ( Jeremiah 23:24 )

There is no secret sin. There is no hidden sin. God sees everything we do. You think you"re hiding yourself from God or your actions from God. You"re only deceiving yourself.

Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD. I have heard what the prophets said, that are prophesying lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal ( Jeremiah 23:24-27 ).

So these men are telling their fancy dreams and turning people away from God.

The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 23:28 ).

There is a certain danger in our seeking after spiritual phenomena today whereby God might speak through a, say through, a man that is calling himself a prophet. And that you go to him and he lays his hand upon your head and begins to prophesy over you. Revealing to you things of your past. Revealing to you the things that nobody else knows until your heart is really confirmed. "Wow, this guy must really know what he"s talking about."

There is in this area a few years back a lady who was doing just such a thing. She had a very uncanny ability to prophesy over people. And in her prophecy reveal secrets of their past. And many people were attracted to her and drawn to her because one of the large charismatic churches in the county featured her as the Sunday school teacher for a time. I had a young man, a minister, who had tremendous potential. I had worked with him in several summer camping programs. We had spent a lot of time together in the Word, in prayer. This young man was searching after God, seeking after God. And so he went and he heard this woman and he was attracted to her uncanny ability to be able to prophesy and to say so many things. And so he made an appointment and he went over to her house. And there she began to reveal to him all kinds of things about his past, about his beautiful, godly mother. And as she was relating these things to him he was captivated by her ability to be able to see so clearly and she began to prophesy directions and guidance for his life. She began to direct him into the contacting his mother through séances and into spiritism. And this young man who had such a tremendous potential and was used in such a glorious way by God in ministering to young people is today totally out of it. Led astray. He wouldn"t listen to the counsel from the Word. This woman had really bewitched him by her gift that she possessed. But the gift really wasn"t from God.

There is a danger in seeking to the supernatural phenomena for guidance or for direction rather than to God and to the Word of God. A person comes up and says, "Oh, I"ve had a dream. I want to tell you my dream. What does my dream mean?" Oh, I don"t know. "He that has a dream let him tell his dream." To someone else. "But he that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully." And yet there are those that talk about revelations from angels. Angels that visit them and sit on their beds and direct them. And people get all excited. "Oh, have you read Angels on Assignment? My!"

"He that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord." We have the Word of God. Nothing can be added to it or should be taken away from it. This is the wheat. This will produce spiritual growth. This will cause you to be strong in the Lord. This will build up your spiritual man. You may be running around looking for spiritual excitement. It"s always a dangerous thing, looking for spiritual phenomena, because it"s easy to be led astray. The Word of God will keep you on the path. You cannot grow by supernatural phenomena.

Now, don"t misunderstand me. I am not opposed to the gifts and the working of the Holy Spirit. The true manifestation of the works of the Spirit are marvelous and I seek them. But all that comes must be measured and judged by the Word of God. We cannot allow experiences to become the basis for doctrinal truth. We cannot establish doctrine upon experiences. We can only establish doctrine on the sound Word of God and not upon any kind of supernatural phenomena.

A while back we had this plague of "demon, demon, who"s got the demons?" And the groups were gathering together all over the United States to deliver one another from the burps or the lethargy or gluttonous demons. Tragic. Sad. People guiding each other by experiences and not by the Word of God.

But I read some of the books, and this one pastor who was heavy into this deliverance ministry was teaching the doctrine of demonology. And in the book, in the doctrine of demonology that he was teaching, he was teaching that we have the power to bind the demons and cast them into hell, into the pit. And that we should always bind the demons and cast them into the pit. Now how did he know we had that power? Because when he was exorcising a demon, the demon told him, "Don"t cast me into the pit." And he said, "Oh, do I have that power?" The demon said, "Yes, you have that power to cast me in the pit. Please don"t do it." So you have a doctrine that is based upon the word of a demon. Now Satan is a liar and the father of all lies. Surely the demons are liars, too. How can you base a doctrine upon what is said by a demon whose basic character is that of lying? But you see how easily you can be swayed to look to something else for the truth. "What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord."

Is not my word like a fire? saith the LORD and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD. And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house. Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbor, and every one to his brother, What hath the LORD answered? and, What hath the LORD spoken? And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man"s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God. Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? and, What hath the LORD spoken? ( Jeremiah 23:29-37 )

Rather than saying, "What"s the burden of the Lord, brother?" Just say, "What"s the Lord answered you or what hath the Lord spoken?" Because this thing of the burden of the Lord, they were all the false prophets were using that.

But since ye say, The burden of the LORD therefore thus saith the LORD Because ye say this word, The burden of the LORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD ( Jeremiah 23:38 );

A lot of people going around today saying, "Oh, the Lord lays such a heavy burden on me, man. I don"t know if I"m going to be able to make it. God laid this heavy burden on me." Are you sure? Jesus said, "My yoke is easy, My burden is light" ( Matthew 11:30 ). I think the people can lay heavy burdens on us. Many times the church lays heavy burdens on people. Many times we take heavy burdens on ourselves. Now let"s not blame the Lord for it. God"s not going to lay such a burden on you that it"s going to drive you to a nervous breakdown. God"s not going to lay such a burden on you that you can"t really function with your family because you"re so upset and so nervous and so uptight over this pressure that is on you. "But if I don"t do it, you know, they"re going to be calling me. And oh, I don"t know what I"m going to do. This burden of the Lord, the burden of the Lord." No, no, no, it"s not the burden of the Lord. It"s something that man has laid on you, the church has laid on you. You take it on yourself, but God didn"t lay it on you because Jesus said, "My burden is light, My yoke is easy."

Some people say to me, "I don"t know how you can pastor a church with that many people." I say, "Well, I don"t either." But it"s really not difficult. It"s not a heavy burden. I don"t go around just, you know, pressed down and just groaning and just, "Hope I can make it another day." I don"t feel it. His yoke is easy, His burden is light. There"s no big pressure. There is no big deal because His yoke is easy, His burden is light. I"ve oftentimes told people it was much harder to pastor a little church of twenty-five people in Prescott than it is to pastor Calvary Chapel. I had many heavier burdens there than I have here. This is a piece of cake.

But God says, "Forget that burden of the Lord stuff. I"m tired of hearing that. I don"t want to hear it anymore. Just say, "What did the Lord say?" Or, "How has the Lord answered you?" But don"t, don"t, don"t use that burden of the Lord bit."

Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence ( Jeremiah 23:39 ):

If you use this term any more.

And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten ( Jeremiah 23:40 ).

So that"s one phrase I"d sure stay away from if I were you.


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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

1-4. A remnant shall return.

1. The pastors] i.e. the rulers of Judah.

4. Shepherds] e.g. Ezra, Nehemiah, etc.

5-8. Promise of the Messiah.

5. Branch] rather, 'sprout,' 'shoot,' that which is immediately connected with the root, and contains, as it were, the springs of life. So in Jeremiah 33:15, and in later time Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12. On the other hand, the word in Isaiah 11:1 denotes 'branch,' properly so called. The v. predicts the coming of an ideal descendant of David, a king who shall reign in righteousness over the people. We see the fulfilment of the prophecy in the spiritual conquests of Christ. And prosper] RV 'and deal wisely,'as David did (1 Samuel 18:5-14).

6. The Lord our righteousness] RV 'The Lord is our righteousness.' The coming king shall be a righteous ruler, whose reign shall be marked by absolute justice; He shall be called Jehovah-Tsidkenu ('The Lord is our righteousness'); and His name shall be the sign that God will make His people righteous: cp. Jeremiah 33:16. Cp. also 'Immanuel' ('God with us'), Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:10.

7, 8. See on Jeremiah 16:14.; The deliverance after the captivity will be even more wonderful than that from Egypt.

9-40. Rebuke of false prophets and priests. Their disgrace is foretold.

10. Swearing] RM 'the curse' (of God).

Pleasant places] RV 'pastures.' Course] manner of life. Force] exercise of power.

13, Samaria] the northern kingdom. In Baal] i.e. the name of Baal.

14. The representatives of God encourage evil doers by their own misdeeds.

17. These false prophets promised deliverance from Babylon.

18. For who hath stood, etc.] meaning that at any rate these false prophets had not done so.

20. Consider] RV 'understand.'

21. Yet they ran] as if appointed.

23. Think you that My knowledge is subject to human limitations? These men do not deceive Me as they do the people.

25. I have dreamed] By repeating this formula they caught the ear of the crowd.

28. The contrast between true and false prophecy. God's word contains nourishment and life. Other words are but as chaff, or, rather, straw.

29. Fire] which consumes the dross. 30, 31. The false prophets steal the phrases of the true, e.g. 'He saith.'

32. Lightness] RV 'vain boasting.'

33. They ask jestingly of Jeremiah, What is thy latest message for us? what is the burdensome oracle of the Lord? 'Burden' was often used in this sense: cp. Nahum 1:1; Habakkuk 1:1; Zechariah 9. What.. burden] LXX 'ye are the burden.'

34, 35. The misused phrase 'the burden of the Lord 'is to be used no more. Some other expression is to take its place.

36. Every man's burden shall be his use of the word. For he who has jokingly enquired after the 'burden of the Lord' shall find that those lightly spoken words of his are in very deed a load upon him. Perverted] used jestingly.

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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Prophecies about false prophets23:9-40

Having given a true prophecy about the future, Jeremiah proceeded to announce God"s judgment on the false prophets who were misleading His people with false prophecies (cf. Jeremiah 23:1). [Note: See Leon Wood, The Prophets ..., ch7: "False Prophecy in Israel," for a good discussion of this subject, or Edward J. Young, My Servants the Prophets, ch. VII: "Prophets False and True."] This section consists of six different messages that Jeremiah delivered at various times, which the writer placed together in the text because of their common subject ( Jeremiah 23:9-40).

The first pericope is a general indictment of the false prophets ( Jeremiah 23:9-12).

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Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

But the prophets of Jerusalem, the capital of the Southern Kingdom, had been even more unfaithful since they prophesied falsely in Yahweh"s name. They also committed spiritual (and physical) adultery, lived lies, and encouraged evildoers. Consequently, the Judahites had not repented of their wickedness but had become as wicked as the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah-who espoused departure from God"s will openly ( Genesis 18:22 to Genesis 19:29; Ezekiel 16). Jerusalem could expect severe judgment since the Lord had judged these pagan cities severely.

"Along with easy views of sin go rosy views of judgment ..." [Note: Kidner, p91.]

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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(14) They commit adultery, and walk in lies . . .—The union of the claim to prophesy in the name of Jehovah with these flagrant breaches of His law was more hateful in the prophet’s eyes even than the open recognition of Baal. In the terrible language of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:10), prophets and people had become like the dwellers in the cities of the plain. Here, also, the language of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 29:23; Deuteronomy 32:32) probably influenced that of the prophet.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

The Lord Our Righteousness

Jeremiah 23:6

I. You must have some righteousness, or you will not be saved. The Bible says plainly, "The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God"; "The righteous hath hope in his death"; "Thy people,"says Isaiah, "shall be all righteous". Many often say they know they are not what they should be, but "God is merciful ". Their religion goes no further; this is the first and last of all their Christianity. This will not stand before the Bible. God is a God of perfect holiness, and "without holiness no man shall see the Lord"; God is a God of perfect justice, Whose laws may not be broken without punishment ( Deuteronomy 32:4; St. Matthew 5:17-18). God"s mercy and justice must be reconciled. God is indeed all love: He willeth not the death of a sinner, but "the wages of sin is death," and God will have His demands paid in full. By some means, then, you must have righteousness or you cannot be saved. But—

II. You have no righteousness of your own of any sort, and therefore by yourself you cannot be saved. Look at the law of God, and measure its requirements. Does it not ask of every man a perfect, unsinning obedience from first to last, in thought, word, and deed; and who can say "All this have I performed"?

a. Some tell us that repentance and amendment will enable us to stand in the great day, and no doubt without them none will enter the kingdom of heaven above. But they cannot put away your sins; they cannot blot out a single page of that book in which your iniquities are written. John the Baptist preached repentance, but he never told his hearers it alone would save them.

b. Some put their trust in well-spent lives: they have always done their best, and so hope they shall be accounted righteous. This is miserable trifling. Let them mention a single day in which they have not broken the spiritual law laid down in the Sermon on the Mount. What! never an unkind thought, an unchaste look, no covetous feelings?—nothing left undone which was in their power to do?

c. Some say they hope sincerity will carry them through: they have always meant well. St. Paul, before his conversion, was zealous towards God; he thought he ought to do many things contrary to Jesus of Nazareth. Here was sincerity and earnestness; yet we find him, when his eyes were opened, saying, "I was a blasphemer—the chief of sinners".

d. Some build their claim to righteousness on religious forms and ordinances alone. The Jews had ceremonies and observances in abundance. Men may pay attention to these, and yet be abominable in the sight of God ( ).

III. "But what are we to do?" "You seem to have shut us up without hope." "You said we must have some righteousness; and now you say that we have none of our own; what are we to do?" Beloved, God can be a just God, and yet show mercy and justify the most ungodly. "The Lord" Isaiah, and must be, "our righteousness." Here is a mystery of wisdom and love. The Lord Jesus has done and suffered what we ought to have done and suffered. He has taken our place, and become our Substitute, both in life and death. Is not His Name then rightly called "The Lord our Righteousness?"

References.—XXIII:6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii. No395. "Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. vii. p261. Henry Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. ii. p214. S. R. Driver, Sermons on Subjects Connected With the Old Testament, p204. Bishop Hampden, Sermons at Oxford, p109. Bishop Andrewes, Sermons, vol. v. p104. Philip Henry in Matthew Henry"s Works, Appendix, p24. Whitefield"s "Sermons," Works, vol. v. p216. Wesley"s "Sermons," Works, vol. v. p234. Simeon, Works, vol. ix. p166. Bishop Heber, Parish Sermons, vol. ii. p437. Lord Arthur Hervey, Sermons, vol. ii. p345. Dean Alford, ibid. vol. ii. p214. Bishop Bickersteth (the late), Clerical World, vol. i. p117. Saphir, "Jehovah Tsidkenu," Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii. p104; and see Geikie"s Hours With the Bible, vol. vi. p63 (note). XXIII:7, 8.—H. Scott Holland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxv1904, p204; see also Church Times, vol. li1904, p50. XXIII:8.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. ii. p9. G. W. Herbert, Notes of Sermons, p202. XXIII:24.—R. F. Horton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxii1907, p97. P. McAdam Muir, Modern Substitutes for Christianity, p65. XXIII:28.—J. Guinness Rogers, ibid. vol. xliv1903, p392. G. Lorimer, ibid. vol. lix1901, p253. J. Tolefree Parr, ibid. vol. lix1901, p267. XXIII:28, 29.—C. Holland, Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, p71. XXIII:29.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlii. No2460. XXIV:6, 7.—C. Holland, Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, p264. XXIV:7.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx. No1206. XXV:8, 9.—Newton H. Marshall, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxii1907, p33. XXVI:8.—A. Ramsay, Studies in Jeremiah, p115. XXVI:11.—J. B. Mozley, Sermons Parochial and Occasional, p233. XXVIII:10, 11.—A. Ramsay, Studies in Jeremiah, p199. XXVIII:13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii. No1032. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah and Jeremiah, p322. XXVIII:16.—T. De Witt Talmage, Sermons, p309. XXIX:7.—"Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. i. p236. XXIX:11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiii. No1965. XXIX:13.—R. E. Hutton, The Crown of Christ, vol. i. p144. Lieut-Col. J. Barnsley, A Book of Lay Sermons, p207. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No1313; vol. xxv. No1457. XXX:1-22.—Ibid. vol. xlv. No2654. XXX:7.—Ibid. vol. xlv. No2645. XXX:17.—Ibid. vol. xxxix. No1753. XXX:21.—Ibid. vol. xxviii. No1673. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. ii. p15. J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (9th Series), p219.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary


Jeremiah 23:1-12; Jeremiah 23:1-40; Jeremiah 24:1-10; Jeremiah 25:1-38; Jeremiah 26:1-24; Jeremiah 27:1-22; Jeremiah 28:1-17; Jeremiah 29:1-32; Jeremiah 30:1-24; Jeremiah 31:1-40; Jeremiah 32:1-44

It is God’s purpose to care for His people through shepherds (pastors) who are responsible to Him. Jesus our Lord is the Branch into which we may be grafted. He is our King who saves us and clothes us with His own spotless righteousness. God finds us in Him, Philippians 3:9. Because He reigns, we are saved and dwell in safety. When we are brought into contact with false shepherds, whether the failure be in doctrine or example, let us ask for the broken heart of Jeremiah 23:9.

God is everywhere present; as the latter paragraph indicates, He is near at hand to overhear the blasphemy of those who deride religion, and to be a very present help in time of trouble. If He fills heaven and earth, can He not fill thy heart? If His Word is like fire, let it cleanse thee! If it is as a hammer, let it pulverize thy pride! Let those of us who essay to teach and preach, not steal our words from our neighbors, or utter our own, but receive them from the source of all truth.

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

CHAPTER 23:9-40

Condemnation of the False Prophets

1. Jeremiah’s lament on account of the false prophets (Jeremiah 23:9-14)

2. The condemnation of these prophets (Jeremiah 23:15-32)

3. Forgotten and forsaken (Jeremiah 23:33-40)

Jeremiah 23:9-14. The prophet is overwhelmed because of the wicked prophets, because in the LORD’s house wickedness was found. The false prophets of Samaria had led the people into idolatry and the prophets of Judah were guilty of all kinds of immoralities. Like priests, like people; they all became unto the Lord as Sodom, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem like Gomorrah.

Jeremiah 23:15-32. They will be fed with wormwood and will have to drink gall. On account of their false message of peace (Jeremiah 23:17-18), the whirlwind of divine judgment will fall upon them and upon the head of the wicked. They prophesied lies in the name of Jehovah; they were prophets of the deceit of their own heart. They tried to make the people forget the Name of Jehovah. Such is today still the work of apostate teachers, who speak out of the deceit of their hearts, who prophesy lies and who aim at the Name which is above every Name. How different is the word of the Lord, from the idle dreams of these false prophets. “Is not My word like as a fire? saith the LORD and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29). Three times the Lord declares He is against these prophets (Jeremiah 23:30-32) .

Jeremiah 23:33-40. If they ask the question, “What is the burden of the LORD?” the answer is to be, “I will cast you off.” The burden, or word of the Lord is not to be mentioned again to them. They will be utterly forgotten and forsaken, with everlasting reproach and perpetual shame upon them.

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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

Having thus passed in review the predecessors of Zedekiah on the throne of Judah, the prophet proceeded to deal with those who had been responsible for the failure of the people, the false kings and prophets. This first section has to do with the kings.

In the divine economy the king has always been a shepherd, but the men who had held the kingly office had destroyed and scattered the sheep. This is the charge of Jehovah against them, and the prophet declared that Jehovah would visit on them the evil of their doings. Moreover, he announced the purpose of God to gather the remnant of His flock and set up over them shepherds who would feed them. In this connection his vision grew clearer, and he announced the coming of One of David's line, who would "reign as King and deal wisely," and through whom the restoration of the ancient people would be accomplished.

He then turned to the prophets. Of these he spoke out of a broken heart as he contemplated the condition of the land. He ascribed this terrible state of things to the profanation of prophet and priest. The judgment of the prophets was consequent on the falseness of the messages they had delivered. In the very presence of judgment they had spoken the lie of peace, declaring to the people that no evil would come upon them. Moreover, they had spoken without divine authority. They had dreamed their own dreams, rather than delivered the messages of Jehovah. Finally, he uttered the tremendous word of the divine judgment, beginning, "I am against the prophets, saith Jehovah." The consequence of false prophesying is unutterable confusion, and ultimately the loss of the word of authority, so that "every man's word shall be his own burden."

This section clearly reveals the prophet's accurate understanding of the process of the nation's corruption. False kings and prophets had led the people into courses of evil resulting from degraded conceptions of God. In their turn the people had willingly followed and listened, refusing the true messages of God, such as had been spoken by Jeremiah and other of the divinely appointed messengers.

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing,.... Or "but", or "so have I seen", &c. as before observed; even in the prophets of Jerusalem, where the temple was, and where the pure worship of God was professed to be observed, and that now, at the present time; as he had formerly seen and observed what was foolish, ridiculous, and impious, in the prophets of the ten tribes, and had punished them for it; so now at this instant he sees that in the prophets of Judea which was enough to make a man's hair stand an end, as the wordF21שערורה a שער, "pilus". signifies; or, as it may be derived from another root, what was "filthy"F23"Turpitudinem", Munster, Montanus. and obscene; as follows:

they commit adultery; or, "in committing adultery"F24נאוף "adulterando", Junius & Tremellius, Schmidt. ; with their neighbours' wives; for this rather than idolatry or spiritual adultery seems to be meant:

and walk in lies; or, "walking in lies"F25והלך בשקר "et eundo in mendacio", Schmidt; "et ambulando in falsitate", Junius & Tremellius. ; constantly speaking lies in their common talk and conversation; so that they were not to be believed in anything they said; which was monstrous; and delivering out false doctrines in the name of the Lord, pretending they received them from him; which was worse than prophesying in the name of Baal:

they strengthen also the hands of evil doers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they hardened them in sin; partly by their false doctrines, extenuating their sins, putting a false gloss upon them, and promising them peace, though they lived in sin; and partly by their own wicked examples; the people concluding that what the prophets did they might do also; so that they never thought of repentance for their sins, or amendment of their lives; but went on in sin without remorse or reformation; not thinking anything about it, and not seeing any need of it; see Ezekiel 13:22;

they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah; the prophets were all of them in God's account as the men of Sodom; who were exceeding great sinners before the Lord, daring and impudent in sinning; and the people, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that were led by them into the same wicked sentiments and practices, were like unto Gomorrah; and as they were like to them in sinning, So they would be in punishment; or a like punishment would be inflicted upon the prophets and people of Jerusalem as were upon Sodom and Gomorrah; see Isaiah 1:9.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Jeremiah 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 23:1Scripture Reference- Note a similar verse:

Ezekiel 34:2, "Son of Prayer of Manasseh, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?"

Comments- Jeremiah 23:24-25 reveals one aspect of God's divine character as being omnipresent, that Isaiah, He is present everywhere. Jeremiah 2:25 reveals another aspect of God's character as being omniscient, or all-knowing.

Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

Jeremiah 23:29Scripture References- Note:

Matthew 21:44, "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."

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Geneva Study Bible

I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem k an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them l to me as Sodom, and the inhabitants of it as Gomorrah.

(k) They who should have profited by my rods against Samaria, are become worse than they.

(l) Though to the world they seem holy fathers, yet I detest them as I did these abominable cities.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Jerusalem. These were far worse, as they pretended to be inspired by God, whereas those of Samaria publicly adhered to Baal; so that the people must have been foolish to have been deceived by them. (Calmet)

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Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

"Ye have scattered My flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:1-2).

It is a pitiable thing when the leaders of the people of GOD cause the simple to err; when those who are set to guide and protect the flock lead them into by-paths and expose them to danger.

Solemn will be the accounting when the Lord shall visit for these things. By referring to the 34th chapter of Ezekiel the reader will get a fuller description of the course of these evil shepherds. See especially Ezekiel 34:1-6.

Both there and here there are sweet assurances that human pastors having so wretchedly failed, the Lord Himself will gather the remnant of His flock from all countries whither He has driven them, and will bring them again to their folds, where they shall be fruitful and increase (Jeremiah 23:3).

This has no reference to a conversion of Jews to Christianity. But this promise speaks of a still future and literal return of the Jews to their land after the present dispensation has closed, and the Church is removed to heaven. When thus restored to the home of their fathers, and to their King whom they once rejected, saying:

"We have no king but Caesar", (John 19:15) He shall then "set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:4).

Twelve of these shepherds we know, for our Lord said to the apostles:

"Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28).

Judas, by transgression, forfeited his place, but Matthias was given the bishopric thus made vacant. Through the promised Messiah are these covenanted mercies of David to be fulfilled. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and justice in the earth" (Jeremiah 23:5).

This Branch of the Lord's planting is frequently referred to in the prophets.

Isaiah tells of His beauty and glory when "the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel, . . . and the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion" (Isaiah 4:2-4). The entire passage is depicting a Millennial scene.

In Zechariah 3:8 the Lord says, "Behold, I will bring forth My servant the BRANCH," and He will then "remove the iniquity of that land in one day."

Also in Zechariah 6:12-13 of the same book, we read: "Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the Man whose name is The BRANCH and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord; even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both."

When vacillating Pilate set JESUS before the multitude, and, unconsciously uttering the words of the prophet, cried, "Behold the Man!" (John 19:5) he was directing the gaze of Israel to the Branch of the Lord in whom, though they knew it not, all their hopes were centered.

"In His days . . . Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name whereby He shall be called, [JEHOVAH TSIDKENU] - THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:6). Having no title to blessing in themselves, they shall find it all in their once rejected Messiah.

Like that great pattern Jew, Saul of Tarsus (1 Timothy 1:16), they will ''be found in Him, not having their own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:9). Unto them, as unto us now, He shall be made their wisdom: even righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).

"Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land" (Jeremiah 23:7-8).

Some would seek to make the partial return in the days of Cyrus to be the fulfilment of this promise. It is manifestly an erroneous interpretation.

- In the first place, there was no such universal restoration then, as this verse warrants us to expect; and

- In the second, Israel did not dwell in the land, but were soon scattered again, and are to-day dispersed among all nations.

Isaiah plainly tells us that "it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, . . . and assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth" (Isaiah 11:11-12). It is to this second and final deliverance that Jeremiah refers.

We are next introduced to another of the contrasts so frequent in this book.

After having, for a brief moment, dwelt upon the glories of Messiah's reign, he gives utterance to his lamentation over the state of his people; so different from what it shall be in that day of Millennial blessing.

"My heart within me is broken," he says, "because of the prophets; all my bones shake: I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of His holiness" (Jeremiah 23:9).

No unworthy jealousy of others in the prophetic office affected him thus, but his soul was deeply moved as the lying seers were but leading their disciples farther from GOD, causing them to be at peace in their wretched condition. The whole land mourned by reason of the adulteries and profaneness of the nation, and both prophet and priest were the leaders in the iniquities so commonly practiced. Therefore "their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness," and perish at the visitation of the Lord (Jeremiah 23:10-12).

Not only in Judah was this the state of things, but in Samaria, from whence the ten tribes of the northern kingdom had been carried into Assyria long before: prophets had arisen who "prophesied in Baal," and caused the remnant that were left in the land to err (Jeremiah 23:13). But it was in Jerusalem that the evil was most manifest. There the prophets themselves, licentious and untruthful, strengthened the hands of the evil doers, keeping them back from repentance, until the city had become as Sodom and Gomorrah for vileness. For this they (the prophets) should be fed with the wormwood of His wrath and be made to drink the water of gall of His judgment (Jeremiah 23:14-15).

The people are pleaded with not to hearken unto them; they were but made vain through their false prophets, speaking a vision of their own heart, having received nothing from the Lord. To those despising Him, they declared, "The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace;" and they assured every one walking after the imagination of his own heart that no evil should come upon him (Jeremiah 23:16-17).

As a result, a whirlwind of the Lord had gone forth in fury, for He would execute the thoughts of His heart against prophet and people alike; and His counsel and word should stand. In the latter days they should consider it, and understand that they were being so dealt with in chastisement for their departure from Himself (vers. 18-20). These self-appointed prophets, unsent by GOD and with no word from Him, could not cause the people to turn from their evil ways; they but encouraged them in their sin. Alas! that they have had many successors, both in Judaism and in Christendom, must be patent to every thoughtful person. Do not such teachers and preachers abound? And the blind multitude, "having itching ears, depart from the truth" (2 Timothy 4:3-4) to follow after their self-chosen deceivers. But the eye of the Lord, who is "not a God afar off," is over all, and none can "hide in secret places from Him who fills heaven and earth" (Jeremiah 23:23-24).

He heard the lies of the prophets, who spoke out of the deceit of their own hearts, in the dark days we have been considering; and He is taking note of all the empty vapourings of to-day.

Instead of His sure and faithful Word, mere idle dreams were being given out as the Word of GOD. "The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My word, let him speak My Word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:25-28).

All men's brightest thoughts and loftiest imaginings are but as worthless chaff compared with the pure, unadulterated Word of GOD. We "have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but, by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Corinthians 4:2), is the utterance of the true minister. How different to Satan's wretched counterfeit!

"Is not My Word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29)

There is a power in the simple truth of GOD such as no merely human fancies or philosophies can ever have. It alone can break the heart of stone.

But these prophets, giving out their dreams and speculations for the people's acceptance, were actually stealing the Lord's words from them. He was therefore against them; and they would be of no profit to the people (Jeremiah 23:29-32).

On the other hand, when either priest, prophet, or any of the people, should come to Jeremiah in perplexity and fear, asking, "What is the burden of the Lord?" he is to answer, according to their folly, "What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the Lord;" (Jeremiah 23:33) while all who shall profess to have another "burden" shall be punished, and "the burden of the Lord" shall be mentioned no more, "for every man's word shall be his burden" (Jeremiah 23:36) - that is, they shall have no word from GOD, but shall be given up to their own thoughts, because they had perverted the words of the living GOD. They must therefore bear their judgment, and know the truth of that which had been penned by Solomon, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18). They shall be "an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten" (Jeremiah 23:33-40).




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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

“Jerusalem” and Judah were even worse than “Samaria” and the ten tribes; the greater were the privileges of the former, the greater was their guilt. They had the temple in their midst, which the ten tribes had not; yet in the temple itself they practiced idolatry.

strengthen  …  hands of evildoers — (Ezekiel 13:22).

as Sodom — (Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 1:10).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem. "Jerusalem" and Judah were even worse than "Samaria" and the ten tribes: the greater were the privileges of the former the greater was their guilt. They had the temple in their midst, which the ten tribes had not; yet in the temple itself they practiced idolatry.

They strengthen also the hands of evil-doers - (Ezekiel 13:22).

As Sodom - (Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 1:10).

Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

The Coming One

Jeremiah 22, Jeremiah 23

The particular reference is to Josiah, on the occasion of whose death Jeremiah had composed a grand and pathetic dirge. It is supposed from 2 Chronicles 35:25 that this dirge was repeated annually in memory of Josiah"s death. The injunction of the text puts an end to this annual commemoration. The weeping is forbidden in the case of Josiah, but it is ordered to continue in the case of Jehoahaz (Jehovah sustains.) Jehoahaz was probably a name assumed by Shallum on his accession to the throne. It would seem that the word Shallum had a peculiar significance attached to it from the fact that the name had been borne by one of the later kings of Israel, whose reign lasted only one month. The point which is immediately before us is that men may often be weeping for the wrong object, and neglecting to shed tears over men and memories that deserve nothing but lamentation. The prophet says: Weep not for Josiah, but lor Jehoahaz. So we may often say: Weep not for the dead, but for the living; weep not for the afflicted, but for the evil-hearted; weep not for those who pass away out of sight into the immortal state, but weep for those who linger here, and whose day is turned into night by hopelessness. Men will always persist in weeping for the wrong thing, or weeping at the wrong point. Who does not cry over death? whereas, the probability Isaiah, if we understood the economy of nature better, it would be wiser to weep over birth. It is certain that birth introduces us into a sphere of trial, difficulty, where we have to absorb much that is bitter, and undergo much that is distressing; whereas it is possible that death may introduce us into immortal and ineffable blessedness. Jesus Christ said to the woman who followed him to the cross, "Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children." Misspent tears exhaust or pervert the very emotion which they express. We are not to weep for the consequences of sin so much as for sin itself. If we were great enough in the realisation of our ideals and our aspirations, we should not so much weep that men are sent to perdition as that God"s holiness is dishonoured, and God"s law disobeyed, and the music of his creation thrown into discord by iniquity.

"Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem" ( ).

The description of Jehoiakim really begins in the thirteenth verse. Jehoiakim had revived forced labour, such as was known in the days of Solomon—a labour which pressed not only on strangers, but on the Israelites themselves. Jehoiakim went on building palaces when his kingdom was threatened with ruin, and when his subjects were overborne by burdens which it was impossible to sustain. In the thirteenth verse the prophet begins a description of a man without naming him; a man who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by ruin; a man who useth his neighbour"s services without wages, and giveth him not for his work; a man who yields to the impulses of a foolish ambition, saying, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and who gratifies himself by cutting out windows, and deling his chambers with cedars, and painting his retreats with vermilion. It is not until we come to the eighteenth verse that the prophet specially indicates the man against whom this accusation is levelled. Jehoiakim was king, and yet not one word of thanks do we find, nor one word of love, nor one word of regret, expressed concerning his fate. We should learn from this how possible it is to pass through the world without leaving behind us one sacred or loving memory. He that seeketh his life shall lose it. A man that sacrifices daily to his own ambition, and never sets before himself a higher ideal than his own gratification, may appear to have much whilst he actually has nothing, may even appear to be winning great victories when he is really undergoing disastrous defeats. What is a grand house if there be not in it a loving heart? What are walls but for the pictures that adorn them? What is life but for the trust which knits it into sympathetic unity? What is the night but for the stars that glitter in its darkness? Jehoiakim had only a magnificent mausoleum; his palaces were mortuaries; his pretensions were nightmares. Jehoiakim was dragged in chains with the other captives who were carried off to Babylon. The disappointed and mortified king died on the journey. See to what we may come after all the whirl of our excitement, all the mad dance and tumult of our ambition. It is better to begin at the other end of life, so that we may realise the proverb which speaks of men being born mud and dying marble. We all know men who are born marble but who die mud. There is an awful process of retrogression continually operating in life. Experienced men will tell us that the issue of life is one of two things: either advancement, or deterioration; continual improvement, or continual depreciation: we cannot remain just where we are, adding nothing, subtracting nothing, but realising a permanence of estate and faculty. The powers we do not use will fall into desuetude, and the abilities which might have made life easy may be so neglected as to become burdens too heavy to be carried. It lies within a man"s power so to live that he may be buried with the burial of an ass: no mourners may surround his grave; no beneficiaries may recall his charities; no hidden hearts may conceal the tender story of his sympathy and helpfulness. A bitter sarcasm this, that a man should be buried like an ass! What may be honourable to the ass is an infinite dishonour to the man. We often do the animal creation injustice by comparison of wicked or foolish men with its creatures. We sometimes speak of a man as being "as drunk as a beast," a phrase in which we dishonour the beasts that perish. How mighty men may become, how noble, how helpful to his brother-men! How much of beauty and tenderness, purity and gentleness, may be brought within the limited scope of threescore years and ten; every year may be a gathering of jewels, every moment may glitter like a diamond. Happy he who sits down to calculate how much good he can do, and how much of honest labour and genuine helpfulness he can crowd into the little space which he calls his life.

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth" ( Jeremiah 23:5).

Still in these solemn pages we hear as it were the footfall of the Coming One. History never tells us in these ancient pages that the true man has descended to the earth, that the ideal man has breathed the common air, but still prophets and historians look forward and say, There is One coming whose right it is to reign; there is a sign upon the horizon of a Man who shall represent all other men, and in men shall glorify humanity. The words of the text point to an undefined future; yet they speak with certainty of the realisation of that distant age. It is thus we are drawn on from century to century: always the greater man is coming; always the greater discovery is to be made; always are we within sight of the horizon which is the threshold of heaven. That we never reach it is a joy rather than a regret, because our hope is never turned to despair, but always increased to an intenser brightness, so that whilst we are disappointed on the one hand we are elevated on the other, and the aching that is occasioned in our hearts by the literal non-fulfilment of promises is more than compensated for by the assurance that what is yet to come is worth waiting for, and that when it does come we shall forget all regrets and disappointments in its infinite satisfaction. We are told that there is to be raised unto David "a righteous Branch." The word literally means a sprout or scion, springing from the root of the tree after the tree itself has been cut down, and is not a branch which grows out of the mere trunk of the tree—beautiful indeed, but in a sense accidental; it is rather a growth that belongs to the root, that is so to say part and parcel of the tree itself: so when this Coming One shall have come, he will not belong to the trunk, he will not be a branch or part of a branch in any sense in which he can be amputated; he will express the idea that is hidden in the root; in other words, he shall represent the purpose of God concerning humanity and time. Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, is not one of ourselves; he has not come up from the root of Adam; he has rather come up from the root of Being, from the very fount and origin of Eternity, so that he will not be classed with ourselves or judged as we are; he will belong to us, and yet stand apart from us: we shall not be fellow-branches of the same tree; we shall be branches which grow out of him, for he is the root and the offspring of David.

"Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord" ( ).

All these questions depend, as to their effect upon the reader, upon the moral condition of the reader or hearer himself. Let the bad man hear these questions, and they will smite him as swords, sharp and heavy; let the good man hear these same inquiries, and he will receive them as so many assurances of protection and security. God is nigh at hand for judgment: the period of judgment, therefore, need not be postponed until a remote age; every man can now bring himself within sight of the great white throne, and can determine his destiny by his spirit and by his action. God is nigh at hand for protection: he is nearer to us than we can ever be to ourselves: though the chariots of the enemy are pressing hard upon us, there is an inner circle, made up of angels and ministering spirits, guarding us with infinite defences against the attacks of the foe. God is near us for inspiration: if any man lack Wisdom of Solomon, let him ask of God: what time we are in doubt or perplexity as to the course we should take, let us whisper our weakness into the ear of the condescending and ever-accessible Father, and by the ministry of his Spirit he will tell us what we ought to do. It is an infinite mistake to suppose that God is enthroned far beyond the stars, in any sense which separates him from immediate contact with ourselves. If our heart be humble, it is God"s temple; if our spirit be contrite, it is an altar whereat we may meet the Father day by day. This is the essential glory of God, and the mystery of his being, that he is far away, yet near at hand; near at hand, yet losing nothing through familiarity; far away, yet able to come at a moment"s notice to guide, inspire, and sanctify his trustful children. We must never lose anything of the divine majesty: there is a purpose of the highest kind in a proper realisation of divine majesty, dignity, glory; but we shall be mere idolaters if we recognise these attributes or distinctions alone, and do not balance and chasten them with conceptions of sympathy, tenderness, nearness, such as our hearts delight in. Our religion should not be merely a sublime theology; it should be an actual friendship, an affectionate companionship with God.

"The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord" ( Jeremiah 23:28).

This is the grand characteristic of the Bible, that it fears no competition; that whilst it is not weak enough to be defiant, it is always strong enough to be competitive. The Bible would not merely silence false prophets by force or by arbitrary arrangement of any kind; it would not expel heresy by overwhelming majorities; it would not oppose opinion by mere numerical strength: the Bible says, If you have a message to deliver, let us hear what it is; if it is only a dream, tell us every line and syllable of it, that we may estimate its value; if it is only a theory or an imagination, submit it to the practical test of life; it is a poor faith that cannot bear the rude blasts of common intercourse, the criticism of the market-place, the testing of the sick-chamber, the pressure of life"s daily need. The Bible would thus expel heresy by trying it; would thus condemn the spirits that are not of God by calling upon them to do godly work. In this way should all heresy be treated; in this way should all theories be momentarily entertained, as if they were duly qualified and well-accredited guests, worthy at least of temporary courtesy: let us give them house-room; let us ask them questions; let us create for them opportunities of self-revelation. Our confidence is expressed in the inquiry, "What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord." Men know the difference between the one and the other; if in some mood of mere intellectual ambition or hilarity they pretend that one is as good as the other, they will soon by tragical experience be brought to distinguish values, to see exactly what is what, what is valuable and what is worthless, what is strong and what is weak. We should allow time to work out its mystery upon all propositions, hypotheses, and speculations. If we cannot intellectually try the spirits whether they are of God, we can practically submit them to the most infallible tests.

"Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the Lord answered thee? and, What hath the Lord spoken? But since ye say, The burden of the Lord; therefore thus saith the Lord; Because ye say this word, The burden of the Lord, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the Lord; therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence: and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten" ( ).

This passage has justly been regarded as a protest against every form of pious cant. In these verses the prophet is denouncing the use of solemn words when they do not express really unaffected and solemn meanings. It is as if the prophet had heard men speak great swelling words of vanity, and had punctured them with the edge of a spear. He heard men talking as if they were great, as if they were the favourites of Heaven, as if they had been entrusted with a special vocabulary, arranged and dictated by Almighty God himself; and now the prophet challenges such speakers to reduce their words to action, he calls upon them to submit their lofty terms to the trial of actual life. The Lord sets himself against all hypocrisy. The Litany is an offence to him if it carry not with it the praise and trust of the heart. On the other hand, where the heart is right towards God the very simplest words will be accepted as if they were the most majestic tributes of thought and expression. The supreme consideration with God relates to the state of the heart. When men say to Christ, "Lord, Lord, have we not cast out devils in thy name?" he cares nothing for the miracle, but inquires into the state of the spirit. So today we may be performing miracles in Christ"s name, even miracles of beneficence, in which we do but modify our own ambition: the Lord will look not at the great pile of gold and stones which we erect, he will look to the spirit which has inspired and assisted the industry of our hands; then though the pile be built of the poorest material, yet if it were the best material we could obtain it would be accepted as gold and silver, yea, and precious stones. Let us beware of the affectation of great words; let us beware of the impiety of religious polysyllables. Christianity has not been revealed to us, or has not been felt by us, in all its quality and divine dignity, if we do not realise its simplicity, its condescension, its self-sacrifice. Praise the Bible for its nobleness; recognise the spirit of challenge, yea, even of occasional defiance, which fills its immortal pages. "What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord." "With what likeness will ye compare me? saith the Lord"; and as for the idols, he scorns them, yea, he sets his feet upon them, and defies them to rise again. All this spirit of triumph and conscious supremacy, which is represented in the noblest rhetorical imagery, ought to find its counterpart and moral realisation in the behaviour of Christians; they are not to be as other men; Jesus Christ says when Christians do certain pious works, "Do not even the publicans the same?" He also says, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." As the Bible is distinct from all other books, so Christian character should be distinct from all other behaviour. It is not enough to compare surfaces or external relations; there should be a solemn and exhaustive judgment of motive and purpose. The vital criticism should be conducted within the sanctuary of the heart. It is in vain that we compete with other men who have no God, if we cannot show that every action we do springs from a true conception of human nature and divine requirement All action is ultimately determinable as to its value and utility by the motive which inspires it.

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Jeremiah 23:1. Woe be to the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep. Princes are often called pastors, as Cyrus, Isaiah 44:28, because they enforce the laws and protect the people. Shallum, and the last kings of Judah, were the worst of shepherds, who scattered all the sheep. The degenerate priests and the false prophets flattered those princes in all their errors.

Jeremiah 23:5. I will raise to David a righteous branch. The Messiah, as the Chaldaic reads. See Isaiah 4:2. The Hebrew word צמח tzamach, a shoot or branch, here used as a title of the Messiah, is by the LXX rendered by the Greek word ανατολη anatole, which signifies not only a branch or shoot, but also the springing or rising of the day. Hence the variation in the quotation of this passage by Zacharias: “through the tender mercy of our God, the dayspring from on high hath visited us.” Luke 1:78. The word ανατολη was applied to the Messiah by the Greek Jews, long before our Saviour’s time; and hence he was, by the Latin Jews, called Oriens.

Jeremiah 23:6. In his days Judah shall be saved. The Chaldaic and LXX read, “In the days of the Messiah.”

And this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. וזה שׁמו אשׁר יקראו יהוה צידקנו vezeh shemo asher yikreoo Jehovah tzidkenoo. “And this is his name by which he shall be called, [or they, or people, or Zion, or every one, shall call him] Jehovah our Just One,” or Hebraically, “the Lord our Righteousness.” This text is repeated, chap. 33:16, with a variation. “And this is his name by which SHE shall call him, the Lord our righteousness;” that is, Zion or the church shall glory to call him her JUST ONE, or her Righteousness. This is done in conformity to the analogy of faith. “Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” “Their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 45:24. So St. Paul, “Christ is made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30. When Jeremiah says that she, or the church, mostly put in the feminine, shall call him “JEHOVAH our righteousness,” the high and holy name which designates the Divine Essence, as existing of itself, and by consequence, incommunicable to any creature, the prophet completely supersedes the Socinian gloss, that “Jehovah shall call him our righteousness.” The LXX, so reading the text, are no authority against the undisputed words of the inspired prophet, who calls the Messiah, Jehovah our Just One, or righteousness. So also is the gloss of the rabbins on Daniel 7:13.

Professor Dahler, in his new version of Jeremiah, reads this text exactly as our Poole in his Synopsis.

Et voici le nom dont on l’ appellera; L’ Eternel, Auteur de notre felicitè.

Which literally is, And behold the name by which they shall call him, The ETERNAL, the author of our felicity. In all versions of the French bible, L’ Eternel is the constant word for Jehovah, which designates the preëxistence and eternity of Christ, “the author and finisher of our faith.” Dr. Blaney, whose version and notes, now before me, sufficiently demonstrate that he was a Socinian, follows the LXX, whose only fault was ignorance of the glorious person of Christ. He reads, “And this is his name by which Jehovah shall call him, our righteousness.” If we adopt Dr. Blaney’s reading, then all the Nicene fathers, so ably defended by bishop Bull, were in error, and must be repudiated. The Hebrew text, which stands undisputed, must give way to the pride of socinian philosophy, which aims at the destruction of the Bible, as Dr. Priestley little less than avows. Such a word was formerly written differently, such a letter is lost, or such a word is wanting in the text! Thus

They sport with scriptures at their ease, And make them speak just what they please.”

We ask in defence of truth, Is it possible to separate the Messiah’s name from his character? If he be our righteousness, the Just—the Holy One of Israel—he must be Jehovah. If he be the righteous branch, to save Judah, and cause Israel to dwell safely, his incommunicable title must be correct. “In Jehovah (alone) shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.”

Isaiah 45:25. No man can be the righteousness of a nation, except Jehovah. Therefore Paul is correct, “Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.”

Professor Cocceius, on this text, quotes Theodoret, who on Jeremiah 32:16, cites the LXX, ο κυριος δικαιοσυνη ημων, which he regards as an infraction, and that the LXX have not understood the words of Jeremiah. The Chaldaic paraphrase reads. לנא זכון מן קדם יי ביומוחי יתעבדן Efficientur nobis merita in diebus hujus. In his days he shall efficiently merit for us the pardon of our sins. The comment of rabbi Solomoh is, “The Lord shall make us righteous in his days.” Cocceius next superadds his own comment. “These words contain,

(1) The renunciation of our own righteousness.

(2) The righteousness of God by which sinners in his sight are justified, against all accusing tongues.

(3) They define the righteousness of God to be the righteousness which the people have in Jehovah; that is, the righteousness by which they are made just, or are justified before God.

(4) They declare the open confession of the people in the days of David’s righteous BRANCH which designates the righteousness of the germ, or Son of David, to be the righteousness of Jehovah.”

This, continues our learned professor, “is the mystery which the stupid people of Israel could not perceive, though everywhere inculcated by the prophets.”—Reader, this is virgin honey from the ancient hive.

Our righteousness. After the council of Trent had decreed in favour of works of supererogation, a warm controversy arose among protestant divines concerning the word RIGHTEOUSNESS. In the warmth of opposition to the popish doctrine of justification by human merit, they had made it in almost every place of the old testament to mean the righteousness of Christ. This offended many of the more sober divines, and contradicted the received glosses which antiquity had given of those texts. See Psalms 89:10, Psalm 48:18. Isaiah 54:17. On this latter text, “their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord,” Mr. Poole gives us five glosses which may serve as a key to other correspondent passages. Their righteousness is to me—of me— or with me. That is, (1) The reward of righteousness.

(2) The benefit or blessings of their righteousness, as Psalms 24:5.

(3) Their right is of me, which imports that the Lord would openly maintain their right, account them innocent, and in open day.

(4) Their righteousness, that is their justification and applause, as Calvin asserts.

(5) Their defence is of me, which is peculiarly the work of my righteousness. This last gloss is from Piscator, and it seems the most natural and striking. Thus Israel could say, surely in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. In hating idols, and in worshipping the only true God, I shall be justified and saved in the eyes of the heathen.

Such is the obvious connection of the text, as Poole fully allows. See Isaiah 44:24. Hence, in this text of Jeremiah, so glorious a pillar in the support of truth, we find the Messiah called JEHOVAH as in a multitude of correspondent texts. See Isaiah 40:10; Isaiah 45:24-25; Isaiah 48:17. Hosea 1:7. Zechariah 2:10-11. Malachi 3:1. He is as to his humanity, David’s righteous branch, Israel’s judge and king, and he is Judah’s safety and defence. He shall be called, or rather, they shall call him throughout all future ages, the Lord our Just One, as the Vulgate and Pagninus read, taking the word indefinitely. But Montanus, following the Syriac, reads, The Lord our righteousness. The former reading is however preferred by my worthy friend, the late Rev. John Crosse, vicar of Bradford. “And he who shall be called to it [the great work of restoring peace and prosperity to the church] is the Lord our Just One.”—We must however associate this text, and all others of like import, with texts in the new testament, which affirm that Jesus Christ is made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that God hath made him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Hence when God is said to be our righteousness, he is, according to Poole, Auctorem Justitiæ nostræ; the Author of our righteousness, whether of justification, of sanctification, or of the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, peace, righteousness.

Jeremiah 23:7. Therefore the days come, saith the Lord, after the return from Babylon, quoting the words of Isaiah, Isaiah 65:16-17, that they shall not talk of the emancipation from Egypt, or from Babylon, in comparison of the new heavens and the new earth, which the Lord shall renovate in righteousness, with glories and with beauties which eye hath not seen nor ear heard.

Jeremiah 23:9. My heart within me is broken, to hear the false prophets blaspheme, Jeremiah 23:11, and to see the people applaud their lies and falsehood. I shake and tremble at the horrible wickedness in high places. The land is full of adulterers, vociferating amens in the temple, and singing songs to Venus on the hills.

Jeremiah 23:19. A whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury. The blasts of invasion. Job 38:1. Psalms 48:7.

Jeremiah 23:21. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. The king’s servants must hold their commission of the king. The love of God shed abroad in the heart must be the flame of evangelical preaching; the motives must be pure; not money, not a genteel profession, but the glory of God and the salvation of souls: all other motives disgrace the sacred profession. The dreams of those prophets, Jeremiah 23:27-28, compared with the pure word of the Lord, are but as the chaff to the wheat.

Jeremiah 23:29. Is not my word like as a fire—and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? The agents here are double, and the effects are double. The hammer breaks the rock. We sometimes hear a piercing cry from culprits, when the judge pronounces their sentence. Sermons of terror are best adapted to hardened men; but it is love, the fire of love, that melts and hallows the heart. Fusion is essential to mental purity, and to give a celestial form to reformation.


Our tender-hearted prophet, having cast many a tearful eye on the state of his country, and looked a thousand ways to do them good, traced the causes of Israel’s calamities to the latent wickedness of the heart, and to the open profligacy of pastors who scattered the flock. Such were the degenerate princes, priests and prophets of the age, who are charged with the loss of souls; nor did the Lord long delay to inflict the woe, and visit their doings.

The age in which the prophet lived being totally corrupt, he fled to a future age for comfort. He was consoled by the idea, that a new race of ministers should fill the church; even apostles, evangelists, and prophets. He saw the Messiah, a root of Jesse, or righteous branch, flourishing as the tree of life in the garden of God. He saw him raised to the throne of power, and called by his people, The Lord our Just One. Yea, the Holy One of God. Under his almighty wings, the converted jews and gentiles, now the true Israel, should dwell safely.

He not only saw this Israel justified and protected by the Lord, but he heard Zion speak a language of grace. They no more said, the Lord liveth which brought up Israel out of Egypt; but the Lord liveth that brought back his Israel from all the countries whither he had driven them. This new language, converts of all ages may adopt; but when a remnant of the Hebrews shall be gathered home, they will not, comparatively, talk of Egypt, but join the gentile church in singing, Unto him that hath loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests to God. Behold he cometh with clouds.

This blooming vision of the righteous branch, reconciled the prophet to the sentence of desolation pronounced against his country; for he saw the whole mass of the people entirely corrupt, from the prince to the wretch who grovelled in the street; and he saw the balm of Gilead totally fail of a cure. Yea, he saw the whole land mourning because of swearing, and groaning beneath a weight of wickedness little less than that of Sodom. In answer to those groans he saw the invading army, as the whirlwind of the Lord, haste to purify it by the breath of vengeance. To what awful issues do apostasy and crimes lead a people!

In those evil times we have a striking contrast between the ministry of the true and of the false prophets. The prophets of the profane altars, whose hearts were fixed on worldly good, prophesied of Elysian delights, of harvests, of vintages, of alliances, and national repose. Their eloquence charmed the ear; and the subject so beguiled the heart, that a fatal slumber fell upon the whole. But when the true prophets opened their mouths for God, it was with burning zeal; and the strokes of their thunder, like those on the anvil, sent the sparks to the most distant part of the crowd. Yea, the most obdurate of the rebels, if not melted by the flame, felt their heart give way to the omnipotence of truth, as the flinty rock yields to the repeated strokes of the hammer. Christian ministers may here learn, that the character of our ministry is far too mild and accommodating. The wickedness and profligacy of our age require an efficient remedy; and smooth things do but amuse the unregenerate crowd in the road to ruin.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 23:14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

Ver. 14. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing.] (a) Heb., Fedity, or fetidity; filthiness or stench, such as the devil himself, they say, leaveth behind him going out of a room. It must needs be a horrible thing when doctors turn devils, teaching such impieties, acsi ipse teterrimus Satan eas ore suo docuisset, as if the devil himself, with his own mouth, had taught the same. I would shun a heretic, saith one, as I would do a devil, for he is sent on his errand. Seducers certainly act the part of that horrid fiend, and, together with him, shall be "cast alive into the burning lake." [Revelation 19:20]

They commit adultery.] As did Eli’s sons, and those two stinking goats, Jeremiah 29:23.

And walk in lies.] Make a trade of it. It was not for nothing that Chrysostom (b) said of those of his time, Non arbitror inter sacerdotes, multos esse qui salvi fient.

They strengthen also the hands of evildoers.] Roborant manus malignatium; while knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but, both by their false doctrine and loose living, they countenance those that do them. [Romans 1:32]

They are all become to me as Sodom,] i.e., Paucissimis exceptis, omnes conscelerati et inemendabiles; they are all stark naught.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Against the False Prophets. - Next to the kings, the pseudo-prophets, who flattered the people's carnal longings, have done most to contribute to the fall of the realm. Therefore Jeremiah passes directly from his discourse against the wicked kings to rebuking the false prophets; and if we may presume from the main substance, the latter discourse belongs to the same time as the former. It begins

Jeremiah 23:9-11

With a description of the pernicious practices of these persons. - Jeremiah 23:9 . "Concerning the prophets. Broken is mine heart within me; all my bones totter. I am become like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of Jahveh and because of His holy words. Jeremiah 23:10. For of adulterers the land is full, for because of the curse the land withereth, the pastures of the wilderness dry up; and their course is become evil, and their strength not right. Jeremiah 23:11. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in mine house found I their wickedness, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:12. Therefore their way shall be to them as slippery places in darkness, they shall be thrown down and fall therein; for I bring evil upon them, the year of their visitation, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:13. In the prophets of Samaria saw I folly; they prophesied in the name of Baal, and led my people Israel astray. Jeremiah 23:14. But in the prophets of Jerusalem saw I an horrible thing, committing adultery and walking in falsehood, and they strengthen the hands of the wicked, that none returneth from his wickedness. They are all become to me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Jeremiah 23:15. Therefore thus saith Jahveh of hosts concerning the prophets: Behold, I feed them with wormwood, and give them to drink water of bitterness; for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth over all the land."

"Concerning the prophets" is the heading, as in Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 49:1, Jeremiah 49:7, Jeremiah 49:23, Jeremiah 49:28; and corresponds to the woe uttered against the wicked shepherds, Jeremiah 23:1. It refers to the entire portion vv. 9-40, which is thus distinguished from the oracles concerning the kings, Jeremiah 21:1-14 and 22. It might indeed be joined, according to the accents, with what follows: because of the prophets is my heart broken; but as the cause of Jeremiah's deep agitation is given at the end of the second half-verse: because of Jahveh, etc., it is not likely the seer would in one sentence have given two different and quite separate reasons. The brokenness of his heart denotes the profoundest inward emotion yet not despondency by reason of sin and misery, like "a broken heart" in Psalms 34:19; Psalms 51:19, etc., but because of God's wrath at the impious lives of the pseudo-prophets. This has overcome him, and this he must publish. This wrath had broken his heart and seized on all his bones, so that they nervelessly tremble, and he resembles a drunken man who can no longer stand firm on his feet. He feels himself inwardly quite downcast; he not only feels the horrors of the judgment that is to befall the false prophets and corrupt priests who lead the people astray, but knows well the dreadful sufferings the people too will have to endure. The verb רחף occurs only twice in the Piel besides in the present passage; in Genesis 1:2, of the Spirit of God that in the beginning of creation brooded over the waters of the earth, and Deuteronomy 32:11, of the eagle that flutters over her young - in Arabic rchf, to be soft. The root meaning of the word is doubtless: to be flaccid; here accordingly, to totter, to sway to and fro. "Because of Jahveh" is more fully explained by "because of the words of His holiness," i.e., the words which God as holy has made known to him regarding the unholy ongoings of the pseudo-prophets. - From Jeremiah 23:10 onwards come the sayings of God which have so terribly agitated the prophet. The land is full of adulterers. Adultery in the literal sense is mentioned by way of example, as a reckless transgression of God's commands, then much in vogue, whereby the moral foundations of the kingdom were broken up. In Jeremiah 23:14 the prophets are said to commit adultery and walk in lying, cf. Jeremiah 29:23 and Jeremiah 5:7. By reason of this vice a curse lies on the land, under which it is withering away. The clause "for because of the curse," etc., is not to be taken as parenthesis (Näg.), but as co-ordinate with the previous clause, giving the second, or rather the chief ground, why Jeremiah is so deeply distressed. The reason of this is not so much the prevailing moral corruption, as the curse lying on the land because of the moral corruption of its inhabitants. אלה is not perjury (Chald., Rashi, Kimchi), but the curse wherewith God punishes the transgression of His covenant laws, cf. Jeremiah 11:3, Jeremiah 11:8, Deuteronomy 28:15., Jeremiah 29:19. The words are modelled after Isaiah 24:4.; and הארץ is not the population, but the land itself, which suffers under God's curse, and which is visited with drought; cf. Jeremiah 12:4. The next words point to drought. נאות מדבּר as in Jeremiah 9:9. By ותּהי the further description of the people's depravity is attached to the first clause of the verse. Their course is become evil; their running or racing, i.e., the aim and endeavour of the ungodly. The suffix on this word מרוּצתם refers not to "adulterers," but ad sensum to the inhabitants of the land. Their strength is not-right, i.e., they are strong, valiant in wrong; cf. Jeremiah 9:2. For - so goes Jeremiah 23:11 - both prophets and priests, who should lead the people in the right way, are profane, and desecrate by their wickedness even the house of God, presumably by idolatry; cf. Jeremiah 32:34. There is no reason for thinking here, as Hitz. does, of adultery practised in the temple.

Jeremiah 23:12

For this the Lord will punish them. Their way shall be to them as slippery places in darkness. This threatening is after the manner of Psalms 35:6, where חשׁך are joined, changed by Jeremiah to the words in the text. The passage cited shows that we may not separate בּאפלה from חלקלקּות, as Ew. does, to join it to the following ידּחוּ . Their way shall resemble slippery places in the dark, when one may readily slip and fall. Besides, they are to be thrust, pushed, so that they must fall on the slippery path ( ידּחוּ from דּחח = דּחה, Psalms 35:5; "therein" to be referred to "their way"). The clause: "for I bring evil," etc., is formed after Jeremiah 11:23.

Jeremiah 23:13-15

To display the vileness of the prophets, these are parallelized with the prophets of Samaria. The latter did foolishly ( תּפלה, prop. of that which is unsalted, insipid, Job 6:6, hence irrational, insulsum ), since they prophesied, being inspired by Baal the no-god, and by such prophesying led the people into error; cf. 1 Kings 18:19. Much more horrible is the conduct of the prophets of Jerusalem, who commit adultery, walk in lying, and strengthen the wicked in their wickedness, not merely by their delusive pretences (cf. Jeremiah 23:17, Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 14:13), but also by their immoral lives, so that no one turns from his wickedness, cf. Ezekiel 13:22. לבלתּי is here and in Jeremiah 27:18, as in ex. 20:20, construed, contrary to the usage everywhere else, not with the infin ., but with the verb. fin . As the prophets, instead of converting the wicked, only confirmed them in their sins, therefore all the inhabitants of Judah or Jerusalem are become as corrupt as Sodom and Gomorrah. "They all" are not the prophets, but the inhabitants of Judah or Jerusalem; and "the inhabitants thereof" are those of the capital, cf. Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 1:10. On the seducers the Lord will therefore inflict punishment, because impiousness has gone forth from them over the whole land. With the punishment threatened in Jeremiah 23:15, cf. Jeremiah 9:14.

Jeremiah 23:16-20

Warning against the lying prophecies of the prophets. - Jeremiah 23:16. "Thus saith Jahveh of hosts: Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you! They deceive you; a vision of their heart they speak, not out of the mouth of Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:17. They say still unto my despisers: 'Jahveh hath spoken: Peace shall ye have;' and unto every one that walketh in the stubbornness of his heart they say: 'There shall no evil come upon you.' Jeremiah 23:18. For who hath stood in Jahveh's counsel, that he might have seen and heard His word? who hath marked my word and heard it? Jeremiah 23:19. Behold a tempest from Jahveh, fury goeth forth, and eddying whirlwind shall hurl itself upon the head of the wicked. Jeremiah 23:20. The anger of God shall not turn till He have done and till He have performed the thoughts of His heart. At the end of the days shall ye be well aware of this. Jeremiah 23:21. I have not sent the prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. Jeremiah 23:22. But if they had stood in my counsel, they would publish my words to my people and bring them back from their evil way and from the evil of their doings."

The warning against these prophets is founded in Jeremiah 23:16 on the fact that they give out the thoughts of their own hearts to be divine revelation, and promise peace and prosperity to all stiff-necked sinners. מהבּלים, lit., they make you vain, i.e., make you to yield yourselves to vain delusion, seduce you to false confidence. This they do by their speaking visions, i.e., revelations of their heart, not what God has spoken, revealed to them. As an illustration of this, Jeremiah 23:17 tells that they prophesy continued peace or well-being to the despisers of God. The infin. abs . אמור after the verb. fin . intimates the duration or repetition of the thing. דּבּר יהוה are words of the false prophets, with which they give out that their prophesyings are God's word. Since we nowhere else find sayings of Jahveh introduced by דּבּר יהוה, but usually by ' כּה אמר י, the lxx have taken offence at that formula, and, reading דבר, join the words with למנאצי : τοῖς ἀπωθουμένοις τὸν λόγον κυρίου . To this reading Hitz. and Gr. give the preference over the Masoretic; but they have not noticed that they thus get an unsuitable sense. For דבר יהוה in prophetic language never denotes the Mosaic law or the "moral law" (Hitz.), but the word of God published by the prophets. By their view of "word of Jahveh" they would here obtain the self-inconsistent thought: to the despisers of divine revelation they proclaim as revelation. The Masoretic reading is clearly right; and Jeremiah chose the unusual introductory formula to distinguish the language of the pseudo-prophets from that of the true prophets of the Lord. וכל־הלך ב ' is prefixed absolutely: and as concerning every one that walks...they say, for: and to every one...they say. On the "stubbornness of their heart," see on Jeremiah 3:17. With the speech of the false prophets, cf. Jeremiah 14:13 and Jeremiah 6:14. - In Jeremiah 23:18 a more comprehensive reason is given to show that these prophets are not publishing God's decrees. The question: Who hath stood? has negative force = None hath stood. By this Jeremiah does not deny the possibility of this universally, but only of the false prophets (Hitz.). This limitation of the words is suggested by the context. To the true prophets the Lord reveals His סוד, Amos 3:7. ויראוישׁמע are not to be taken jussively: let him see and hear (Hitz.), for the foregoing interrogation is not a conditional clause introducing a command. The imperfects with ו are clauses of consequence or design, and after a preceding perfect should be rendered in English by the conditional of the pluperfect. Seeing the word of God refers to prophetic vision. The second question is appended without at all conveying any inference from what precedes; and in it the second verb (with ו consec .) is simply a strengthening of the first: who hath hearkened to my word and heard it? The Masoretes have quite unnecessarily changed the Chet . דּברי .teh C into דּברו . In the graphic representation of the prophets, the transition to the direct speech of God, and conversely, is no unusual thing. The change of ויּשׁמע into ישׁמע, unnecessary and even improper as it is, is preferred by Graf and Näg., inasmuch as they take the interrogative מי in both clauses in the sense of quisquis and understand the verse thus: He who has but stood in the counsel of the Lord, let him see and hear His word (i.e., he must see and hear His word); and he that hath marked my word, let him publish it (i.e., he must publish it). This exposition becomes only then necessary, if we leave the context out of view and regard the question as being to the effect that no one has stood in God's counsel - which Jeremiah could not mean. Not to speak of the change of the text necessary for carrying it through, this view does not even give a suitable sense. If the clause: He that has stood in the counsel of the Lord, he must proclaim His word, is to be regarded as having a demonstrative force, then the principal idea must be supplied, thus namely: "and it is impossible that it should be favourable to those who despise it." In Jeremiah 23:19 Jeremiah publishes a real word of the Lord, which sounds very differently from the words of the false prophets. A tempest from Jahveh will burst over the heads of the evil-doers, and the wrath of God will not cease until it has accomplished the divine decree. "A tempest from Jahveh" is defined by "fury" in apposition as being a manifestation of God's wrath; and the whole first clause is further expanded in the second part of the verse. The tempest from Jahveh goes forth, i.e., breaks out, and as whirling tornado or eddying whirlwind bursts over the head of the wicked. יחוּל is to be taken in accordance with מתחולל : twist, whirl, cf. 2 Samuel 3:29. "The thoughts of His heart" must not be limited to what God has decreed de interitu populi (Calv.); it comprehends God's whole redemptive plan in His people's regard-not merely the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, but also the purification of the people by means of judgments and the final glorification of His kingdom. To this future the next clause points: at the end of the days ye shall have clear knowledge of this. "The end of the days" is not merely the completion of the period in which we now are (Hitz., Gr. Näg., etc.), but, as universally, the end of the times, i.e., the Messianic future, the last period of the world's history which opens at the close of the present aeon; see on Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14, etc. התבּונן is strengthened by בּינה yb dene : attain to insight, come to clearer knowledge.

Jeremiah 23:21-22

From the word of the Lord proclaimed in Jeremiah 23:19. it appears that the prophets who prophesy peace or well-being to the despisers of God are not sent and inspired by God. If they had stood in the counsel of God, and so had truly learnt God's word, they must have published it and turned the people from its evil way. This completely proves the statement of Jeremiah 23:16, that the preachers of peace deceive the people. Then follows -

Jeremiah 23:23-29

Jeremiah 23:23-32, in continuation, an intimation that God knows and will punish the lying practices of these prophets. - Jeremiah 23:23. "Am I then a God near at hand, saith Jahveh, and not a God afar off? Jeremiah 23:24. Or can any hide himself in secret, that I cannot see him? saith Jahveh. Do not I will the heaven and the earth? saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:25. I have heard what the prophets say, that prophesy falsehood in my name, saying: I have dreamed, I have dreamed. Jeremiah 23:26. How long? Have they it in their mind, the prophets of the deceit of their heart, Jeremiah 23:27. Do they think to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they tell one to the other, as their fathers forgot my name by Baal? Jeremiah 23:28. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word in truth. What is the straw to the corn? saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:29. Is not thus my word - as fire, saith Jahveh, and as a hammer that dasheth the rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:30. Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets that steal my words one from the other. Jeremiah 23:31. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith Jahveh, that take their tongues and say: God's word. Jeremiah 23:32. Behold, I am against the prophets that prophesy lying dreams, saith Jahve, and tell them, and lead my people astray with their lies and their boasting, whom yet I have not sent nor commanded them, and they bring no good to this people, saith Jahveh."

The force of the question: Am I a God at hand, not afar off? is seen from what follows. Far and near are here in their local, not their temporal signification. A god near at hand is one whose domain and whose knowledge do not extend far; a God afar off, one who sees and works into the far distance. The question, which has an affirmative force, is explained by the statement of Jeremiah 23:24 : I fill heaven and earth. Hitz. insists on understanding "near at hand" of temporal nearness, after Deuteronomy 32:17 : a God who is not far hence, a newly appeared God; and he supposes that, since in the east, from of old, knowledge is that which is known by experience, therefore the greatness of one's knowledge depends on one's advancement in years (Job 15:7, Job 15:10; Job 12:12, etc.); and God, he says, is the Ancient of days, Daniel 7:9. But this line of thought is wholly foreign to the present passage. It is not wealth of knowledge as the result of long life or old age that God claims for Himself in Jeremiah 23:24, but the power of seeing into that which is hidden so that none can conceal himself from Him, or omniscience. The design with which God here dwells on His omniscience and omnipresence too (cf. 1 Kings 8:27; Isaiah 66:1) is shown in Jeremiah 23:25. The false prophets went so far with their lying predictions, that it might appear as if God did not hear or see their words and deeds. The Lord exposes this delusion by calling His omniscience to mind in the words: I have heard how they prophesy falsehood in my name and say, I have dreamed, i.e., a dream sent by God, have had a revelation in dreams, whereas according to Jeremiah 23:26 the dream was the deceit of their heart - "spun out of their own heart" (Hitz.). Jeremiah 23:26 is variously interpreted. Hitz. supposes that the interrogative ה (in הישׁ ) is made subordinate in the clause, and that the question is expressed with a double interrogative. He translates: How long still is there anything left in the heart of the prophets? as much as to say: how long have they materials for this? But there is a total want of illustrations in point for this subordination and doubling of the interrogative; and the force given to the ישׁ is quite arbitrary, since we should have had some intimation of what it was that was present in their hearts. Even the repetition of the interrogative particles is unexplained, and the connecting of ישׁ with a participle, instead of with the infinitive with ל, cannot be defended by means of passages where החל is joined with an adjective and the idea "to be" has to be supplied. L. de Dieu, followed by Seb. Schmidt, Chr. B. Mich., Ros., Maur., Umbr., Graf, was right in taking "How long" by itself as an aposiopesis: how long, sc. shall this go on? and in beginning a new question with הישׁ, a question continued and completed by the further question: "Do they think," etc., Jeremiah 23:27. Is it in the heart of the prophets, i.e., have the prophets a mind to prophesy falsehood? do they mean to make men forget my name? Against holding Jeremiah 23:27 as a resumption of the question there is no well-founded objection. Näg. affirms that after החשׁבים we must in that case have here הם as recapitulation of the subject; but that is rendered unnecessary by the subject's being contained in the immediately preceding words. The conjecture propounded by Näg., to change הישׁ into האשׁ : how long still is the fire in the heart of the prophets? needs no refutation. To make to forget the name of the Lord is: so to banish the Lord, as seen in His government and works, from the people's heart, that He is no longer feared and honoured. By their dreams which they relate one to the other, i.e., not one prophet to the other, but the prophet to his fellow-man amongst the people. בּבּעל, because of the Baal, whom their fathers made their god, cf. Judges 3:7; 1 Samuel 12:9. - These lies the prophets ought to cease. Jeremiah 23:28. Each is to speak what he has, what is given him. He that has a dream is to tell the dream, and he that has God's word should tell it. Dream as opposed to word of the Lord is an ordinary dream, the fiction of one's own heart; not a dream-revelation given by God, which the pseudo-prophets represented their dreams to be. These dreams are as different from God's word as straw is from corn. This clause is supported, Jeremiah 23:29, by a statement of the nature of God's word. It is thus ( כּה ), namely, as fire and as a hammer that smashes the rocks. The sense of these words is not this: the word of God is strong enough by itself, needs no human addition, or: it will burn as fire the straw of the man's word mixed with it. There is here no question of the mixing of God's word with man's word. The false prophets did not mingle the two, but gave out their man's word for God's. Nor, by laying stress on the indwelling power of the word of God, does Jeremiah merely give his hearers a characteristic by which they may distinguish genuine prophecy; he seeks besides to make them know that the word of the Lord which he proclaims will make an end of the lying prophets' work. Thus understood, Jeremiah 23:29 forms a stepping-stone to the threatenings uttered in Jeremiah 23:30-32 against the lying prophets. The comparison to fire does not refer to the reflex influence which the word exerts on the speaker, so as that we should with Rashi and Ros. cf. Jeremiah 20:9; the fire comes before us as that which consumes all man's work that will not stand the test; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12. The comparison to a hammer which smashes the rock shows the power of God, which overcomes all that is earthly, even what is firmest and hardest; cf. Hebrews 4:12. Its effect and accomplishment nothing can hinder.

Jeremiah 23:30-32

Threatening of punishment. לכן does not connect with Jeremiah 23:29, but with the main idea of the previous verses, the conduct of the false prophets there exposed. הנני על, behold, I will be against them, will come upon them as an enemy; cf. Ezekiel 5:8. The practice of these prophets is characterized in three ways, yet without marking out three classes of unworthy men. One habit of theirs is that of stealing the word of God one from another. Not inspired of God themselves, they tried to appropriate words of God from other prophets in order to give their own utterances the character of divine oracles. Another is: they take their tongues and say, God's word, i.e., they use their tongues to speak pretended words from God. The verb ינאמוּ occurs only here; elsewhere only the participle נאם, and that almost always joined with יהוה in the sig. effatum Domini ; here without it, but in the same sense. The root meaning of נאם is disputed. Connected etymologically with נהם, המה, it doubtlessly denotes originally, that which is whispered, Jahveh's secret confidential communication; but it is constantly used, not for the word of God as silently inspired by God, but as softly uttered by the prophet. The meaning is not: their prophesying is "mere wagging of the tongue, talk according to their own caprice" (Graf); but: they give out their sayings for God's, whereas God speaks neither to nor by them. Finally, their third way of doing consists in feigning revelations by means of dreams, which are but deceptive dreams. At this point the discourse falls back on the description in Jeremiah 23:26. The words "and lead my people astray" refer to all their three ways of acting before characterized. פּחזוּת is their boasting of revelations from God. Then comes

Jeremiah 23:33-37

A rebuke of their mockery at Jeremiah's threatening predictions. - Jeremiah 23:33. "And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest ask thee, saying: What is the burden of Jahveh? then say to them: What the burden is - now I will cast you off, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 23:34. And the prophet, the priest, and the people that shall say: burden of Jahveh, on that man will I visit it and on his house. Jeremiah 23:35. Thus shall ye say each to the other, and each to his brother: What hath Jahveh answered, and what hath Jahveh spoken? Jeremiah 23:36. But burden of Jahveh shall ye mention no more, for a burden to every one shall his own word be; and ye wrest the words of the living God Jahveh of hosts, our God. Jeremiah 23:37. Thus shalt thou say to the prophet: What hath Jahveh answered thee, and what hath He spoken? Jeremiah 23:38. But if ye say: burden of Jahveh, therefore thus saith Jahveh: Because ye say this word: burden of Jahveh, and yet I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say: burden of Jahveh; Jeremiah 23:39. Therefore, behold, I will utterly forget you, and cast away from my face you and this city that I gave you and your fathers, Jeremiah 23:40. And will lay upon you everlasting reproach, and everlasting, never-to-be-forgotten disgrace."

The word משּׂא, from נשׂא, lift up, bear, sig. burden, and, like the phrase: lift up the voice, means a saying of weighty or dread import. The word has the latter sig. in the headings to the prophecies of threatening character; see on Nahum 1:1, where this meaning of the word in the headings is asserted, and the widespread opinion that it means effatum is refuted. Jeremiah's adversaries - as appears from these verses - used the word "burden" of his prophetic sayings by way of mockery, meaning burdensome prophecies, in order to throw ridicule on the prophet's speeches, by them regarded as offensive. Thus if the people, or a prophet, or a priest ask: What is the burden of Jahveh, i.e., how runs it, or what does it contain? he is to answer: The Lord saith: I will cast you off, i.e., disburden myself of you, as it were - the idea of "burden" being kept up in the answer to the question. The article on the word prophet is used to show that the word is used generally of the class of prophets at large. The את in the answering clause is nota accus ., the following phrase being designedly repeated from the question; and hence the unusual combination את־מה . The sense is: as regards the question what the burden is, I will cast you away. There is no reason to alter the text to fit the lxx translation: ὑμεῖς ἐστὲ τὸ λῆμμα, or Vulg.: vos estis onus , as Cappell., J. D. Mich., Hitz., Gr., etc., do. The lxx rendering is based, not on another reading, but on another division of the words, viz., אתם המשׂא . - In Jeremiah 23:34 the meaning of this answer is more fully explained. On every one that uses the word "burden" in this sneering way God will avenge the sneer, and not only on his person, but on his house, his family as well. In Jeremiah 23:35 they are told how they are to speak of prophecy. Jeremiah 23:36. They are no longer to make use of the phrase "burden of Jahveh," "for the burden shall his word be to each one," i.e., the word "burden" will be to each who uses it a burden that crushes him down. "And ye wrest," etc., is part of the reason for what is said: and ye have = for ye have wrested the words of the living God. The clause is properly a corollary which tells what happens when they use the forbidden word.

Jeremiah 23:38-40

In case they, in spite of the prohibition, persist in the use of the forbidden word, i.e., to not cease their mockery of God's word, then the punishment set forth in Jeremiah 23:33 is certainly to come on them. In the threat אתכם נשׁיתי there is a manifestly designed word-play on משּׂא . lxx, Vulg., Syr. have therefore rendered as if from נשׂיתי נשׂא (or נשׂאתי ) instead: ἐγὼ λαμβάνω, ego tollam vos portans . One cod. gives נשׂא, and Ew., Hitz., Graf, Näg., etc., hold this reading to be right; but hardly with justice. The Chald. has expressed the reading of the text in its ארטושׁ יתכון מרטשׁ, et relinquam vos relinquendo . And the form נשׁיתי is explained only by reading נשׁא ( נשׁה ); not by נשׂא, for this verb keeps its א everywhere, save with the one exception of נשׂוּי, Psalms 32:1, formed after the parallel כסוּי . The assertion that the reading in the text gives no good sense is unfounded. I will utterly forget you is much more in keeping than: I will utterly lift you up, carry you forth. - With Jeremiah 23:40, cf. Jeremiah 20:11.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". 1854-1889.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

False Prophecy in Samaria and Jerusalem

Among the prophets of Samaria, the capital of the ten tribes realm, the LORD has seen "an offensive thing", a thing that is not fitting for a prophet (Jer 23:13). There are prophets there who prophesy on behalf of the Baal and thus deceive God's people. The LORD still calls Israel "My people" here. Beginning with Jeroboam, the ten tribes realm strayed further and further from the LORD and gave itself over to idols, to Jeroboam's self-conceived religion (1Kgs 12:25-33).

What Samaria has done is bad, but what Jerusalem is doing is even worse (Jer 23:14). There the LORD did not 'merely' see an offensive thing as in Samaria, but He has seen there "a horrible thing". Israel openly committed idolatry, but Judah prophesied in the Name of the LORD while committing the most reprehensible sins.

The first evil mentioned is again adultery, with in its wake the lie. Those who commit adultery live in lies. It is a gross lie to justify sins in the Name of the LORD. This is what happens in our day when it is said that love is from God and that a homosexual relationship is 'therefore' in accordance with God's will and can even be blessed in the church. Instead of calling for condemnation and repentance of evil, they are so utterly depraved that they encourage others to continue in evil doing. The result is hardening and not repentance from wickedness. The LORD cannot judge them any differently than He did Sodom and Gomorrah, because they act like Sodom and Gomorrah.

The anger of the LORD is on those prophets (Jer 23:15). In His omnipotence as "the LORD of hosts" He says what He will do to these prophets. He is going to feed them wormwood and make them drink poisonous water. They themselves have given the people bitter and poisoned food and drink. Therefore, they will now get to eat and drink it themselves. The taste will be horrible. They will have to take this because "from the prophets of Jerusalem pollution has gone forth into all the land". Their corrupting influence has permeated the whole land with pollution, so that nothing is holy anymore. Sin has permeated everything.

This is the situation also today in Christianity. Nothing is holy anymore, everything that belongs to and for God and His honor is trampled upon and that by using His Word. How great is the sacrilege committed under the cover of God's Word! We can think of the annual Christ-degrading and blasphemous spectacle 'The Passion' of the tasteless Evangelical Broadcasting Company [in the Netherlands]. In it the story of Christ's suffering is played out in a contemporary way by 'Dutch Celebrities', many of whom have no relationship whatsoever with the Christ of the Scriptures.

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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Jeremiah 23:14". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Against the False Prophets

v. 9. Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets, the inscription of this entire section being "Concerning the Prophets," all my bones shake, in deep agitation and horror; I am like a drunken man and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord and because of the words of His holiness, namely, because he feels in advance the terrors of the judgment which would come upon his countrymen on account of the wickedness of the false prophets.

v. 10. For the land is full of adulterers, this crime being unusually prevalent at that time, as a natural consequence of the shameless rites introduced in connection with the idolatry practiced by the false prophets; for because of swearing the land mourneth, that is, on account of the curse following such a grave transgression the land was fading away like a wilting flower, the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, the very pastures of the steppes no longer yielding sufficient food for the herds of cattle which usually dotted their slopes; and their course, that of both prophets and people, in practicing adultery, is evil, their thought and endeavor in general, their entire behavior, being wicked and guilty, and their force is not right, they excel in wrong and wickedness.

v. 11. For both prophet and priest are profane, void of all true consecration; yea, in My house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord, most likely in their shameless idolatry, which they did not hesitate to practice in the very courts of the Lord's Temple.

v. 12. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness, their false doctrine and their sinful life proving their downfall; they shall be driven on and fall therein, that is, they would be pushed and thus brought to fall in their own transgressions; for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord, so that His calamity would strike them at the appointed time, at the time of Jehovah's punishment. In order to emphasize the wickedness of the prophets, they are now compared with the prophets of Samaria, the religion of which was a strange mixture of Jehovah cult and heathen abominations.

v. 13. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria, perversity and absurdity, the teaching of insipid doctrines; they prophesied in Baal, insisting that they were inspired by this idol, and caused My people Israel to err. Cf 1Ki_18:19 ff. But the behavior of the prophets of Judah is still more terrible.

v. 14. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing, an abomination which filled him with loathing: they commit adultery and walk in lies, in an utterly immoral and hypocritical life; they strengthen also the hands of evil-doers, instead of reproving and converting them, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto Me as Sodom and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah, the essence of all putrid wickedness.

v. 16. Therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets, the leaders in wickedness, the seducers of the people, Behold, I will feed them with wormwood and make them drink the water of gall, poison water, Cf. Jer_9:14; for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land, so that profligacy was practiced everywhere; the Holy Land was desecrated and the Word of the Lord blasphemed, even as it is today in consequence of similar behavior on the part of men who call themselves ministers of the Word.

v. 16. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, in warning the true believers against the deception of the false prophets. Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you; they make you vain, deceiving them, seducing them to the vanity of idolatry; they speak a vision of their own heart, revelations of their own imagination, and not out of the mouth of the Lord, their so-called messages to the people being made without authorization of Jehovah.

v. 17. They say still unto them that despise Me, to the outspoken enemies of the Lord, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace, be safe from harm; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, in the stubbornness of a willful disobedience to the Lord's will. No evil shall come upon you, thus proclaiming a security which the Lord had expressly denied them.

v. 18. For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, when He made His plans concerning the punishment of the wicked, and hath perceived and heard His Word? The answer implied is an emphatic no, so far as the false prophets are concerned. Who hath marked His Word and heard it? The prophet again denies that any of these false, self-appointed prophets can be mouthpieces of Jehovah. Jeremiah, on the contrary, now proclaims a word of the Lord which is entirely different in content from the inventions of the false prophets.

v. 19. Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind! or, "Behold a storm from Jehovah! Fury goes forth and a whirling storm"; it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked, falling upon the ungodly, hurled upon them to their utter destruction.

v. 20. The anger of the Lord shall not return, not cease from carrying out His judgment, until He have executed and till He have performed the thoughts of His heart, everything that He had planned with regard to the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. In the latter days, at the time when His judgment would strike the people, ye shall consider it perfectly, becoming fully aware of the truth of His threats. At the same time the Lord denies that He has in any way authorized the deceivers of His people.

v. 21. I have not sent these prophets, they had not been commissioned as His messengers, yet they ran, unnaturally eager to carry out their self-imposed task; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied, insisting that they possessed the prophetic spirit of the true God.

v. 22. But if they had stood in My counsel and had caused My people to hear My words, proclaiming them as they were truly revealed, then they should have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings, in other words, they would preach repentance from idolatry instead of confirming the people in their false security, which has ever been a trick of such as falsely proclaimed themselves messengers of the Lord. To give weight to these reproofs, the Lord now shows why it is that He is familiar with the hypocritical conduct of the false prophets.

v. 23. Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, one whose power is limited to a small circle, and not a God afar off? whose power and understanding is unlimited.

v. 24. Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. It was a foolish idea to think that the all-knowing God would not know his whereabouts. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord, nothing being hidden from His omniscient gaze, from His omnipresence. With these attributes at His disposal, the Lord is naturally familiar with the acts and thoughts of all men everywhere.

v. 25. I have heard what the prophets said that prophesy lies in My name saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed, offering the dross of their own imagination instead of the gold of God's Word.

v. 26. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, with which they lead men astray,

v. 27. which think to cause My people to forget My name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, since they substituted them for the truth revealed in the Word of the Lord, as their fathers have forgotten My name for Baal. Cf Jdg_3:7; Jdg_8:33-34. The Lord now sets forth the principle which is to guide those who claim for themselves the authority of His messengers.

v. 28. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream, frankly relating it as such, without indulging in extravagant assertions; and he that hath My Word, being entrusted with its proclamation, let him speak My Word faithfully, in sincerity and truth. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. The dreams of the false prophets are chaff, empty straw; God's Word. alone is the grain, the real substance. And still more the Lord asserts in characterizing His Word, the only message that has the right to be proclaimed as the eternal truth.

v. 29. Is not My Word like as a fire? saith the Lord, devouring and destroying all the philosophy of men which will not stand the test of His eternal truth, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? its power overcoming even the hardest and the strongest fabric of men's imagination. Cf Heb_4:12.

v. 30. Therefore, because the false prophets were practicing deceit and seducing the people, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal My words, every one from his neighbor. They appropriated the inspired sayings of the true prophets in order to give their own oracles a show of right.

v. 31. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues and say, He saith, literally, "that take their own tongues and utter a divine oracle," asserting that they were proclaiming messages from the true God, when they were setting forth nothing but their own inventions.

v. 32. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, insisting that the fabric of their own thoughts was to be accepted as God's revelation, and do tell them, and cause My people, as the Lord still calls them for the sake of the true believers in their midst, to err by their lies and by their lightness, by their boastful and wanton inventions; yet I sent them not nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord, a most emphatic statement that their activity would result in nothing but injury to the people.

v. 33. And when this people or the prophet or a priest, either the common people or one of their spiritual leaders, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the Lord? according to a custom by which the prophet was asked concerning some probable new revelations, which they purposely designated as an unpleasant burden, thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? or, "Thou shalt tell them what the burden of Jehovah is," namely, I will even forsake you, saith the Lord, an unloading of the burden, a rejecting of the people.

v. 34. And as for the prophet and the priest and the people that shall say, The burden of the Lord, in blasphemous mockery of His solemn announcement, I will even punish that man and his house, all the members of a man's family who are guilty with him.

v. 35. Thus shall ye say, every one to his neighbor and every one to his brother, What hath the Lord answered? and, What hath the Lord spoken? thus showing the proper respect for the prophecy of Jehovah.

v. 36. And the burden of the Lord shall ye mention no more, no more toss this expression about in mockery; for every man's word shall be his burden, that is, this expression, if used in such a jeering sense, would become a burden to such a scorner, heavy enough to bear him down to the ground; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the Lord of hosts, our God, whose majesty is here emphatically declared, to give added weight to His proclamation.

v. 37. Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the Lord answered thee? and, What hath the Lord spoken? That alone was the proper way of speaking to Jehovah's messenger.

v. 38. But since ye say, The burden of the Lord, persisting in their meanness in spite of the Lord's express command, therefore, thus saith the Lord, Because ye say this word, The burden of the Lord, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the Lord,

v. 39. therefore, behold, I, even I, spoken with great solemnity and impressiveness, will utterly forget you, rather, "I will altogether lift you up and burden you," and I will forsake you, thrusting them with great force, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of My presence;

v. 40. and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you and a perpetual shame, namely, on the part of all her enemies and all the witnesses of her downfall, which shall not be forgotten. A similar fate awaits those who in our days purposely follow the lead of the false prophets and join them in jeering and mocking those who confess the truth of God's Word.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             2. Against the False Prophets ( Jeremiah 23:9-40.)

a. The Blind Leaders of the Blind

Jeremiah 23:9-15

9 Against the Prophets:—

Broken is my heart in my breast, all my bones quake,[FN10]

I am become like a drunken Prayer of Manasseh, and a man whom wine has overcome.

Because of Jehovah and because of his holy words.

10 For the land is full of adulterers.

(For on account of the curse[FN11] the land mourns,

The pastures of the desert are dried up:)

And their course is become evil and their might not right.

11 For both prophet and priest are profane,

Even in my house have I found their wickedness, saith Jehovah.

12 Therefore their way shall be to them as slippery places in the dark;

They shall be driven[FN12] that they fall therein;

For I shall bring calamity upon them in the year of their visitation,

Saith Jehovah.

13 Also in the prophets of Samaria have I seen perversity.[FN13]

They prophesied[FN14] by Baal and led my people Israel astray.

14 But in the prophets of Jerusalem I saw what is horrible;

Adultery and dealing in falsehood,—

They strengthened the hands of the evil-doers,

That they did not turn[FN15] every one from his wickedness.

They are all become to me like Sodom,

And their inhabitants like Gomorrah.

15 Therefore saith Jehovah Zebaoth thus concerning the prophets:

Behold, I feed them with absinthe [wormwood],

And give them poison-water to drink,

For from the prophets of Jerusalem profanation has gone out over the whole land.


The prophet begins by describing his feelings at the reception of this revelation. His sensations were those of a man of broken heart, or of a drunken man ( Jeremiah 23:9). By this introduction we obtain a standard, by which to measure the importance of the following passage. First the moral condition of the people is described as very bad, especially from the prevalence of adultery. (Punishment of this the prevalent drought) ( Jeremiah 23:10). How could it be otherwise when the spiritual leaders of the people, prophets and priests were themselves profane men, who even desecrated the sanctuary with their crimes? ( Jeremiah 23:11). Therefore in the corresponding period punishment must come upon them also ( Jeremiah 23:12). Even the prophets in Samaria had led the people of Israel astray by their scandalous behaviour ( Jeremiah 23:13). The prophets of Jerusalem, however, had in the point of popular seduction, accomplished something truly horrible. Not only had they gone before with their example of wickedness, but had actually strengthened the evil-doers in their wickedness and restrained them from conversion, so that the nation had become to the Lord like Sodom and Gomorrah ( Jeremiah 23:14). Therefore, as the profaners of the land, they must be given poison to drink and be fed with bitterness ( Jeremiah 23:15).

Jeremiah 23:9. Against the prophets … holy words. To connect, as indicated by the accents, broken with against the prophets, is not grammatically impossible (comp. ex. gr. Jeremiah 31:20), but not altogether appropriate in meaning. For a broken heart does not signify anger or indignation (which is the only state of mind Jeremiah could be supposed to be in towards the false prophets), but humiliation, anxiety, care. Comp. Psalm 34:19; 51:19; 60:21; Isaiah 61:1. But it becomes perfectly clear that we have here a superscription before us, when we observe that evidently the whole section, Jeremiah 23:9-40, as relating to the prophets, is opposed to the preceding as relating to the kings, that the title consequently states the main purport, not only of the next verses, but of the whole following discourse. Such superscriptions are moreover common in the book of this prophet: Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 49:1; Jeremiah 49:7; Jeremiah 49:23; Jeremiah 49:28.—By holy words are meant the revelation contained in what follows. What shocked the prophet to such an unusual degree was doubtless a glance granted him into the depths of human depravity and on the other hand of the divine wrath. Comp. Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 8:18 sqq.

Jeremiah 23:10-12. For the land is full … visitation, saith Jehovah.—For is causal. But since the reason of the prophet’s great shock is not expressed in the next sentence only, but in the whole of what follows also, For is to be referred to the entire following discourse.—Adulterers.

That this crime prevailed most extensively is evident from Jeremiah 5:7-8; Jeremiah 9:1; Jeremiah 29:23. Where, however, אֱמוּנָה in this respect is not discovered, it is difficult to find it in other respects, and especially in relation to God. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 5:1.—For on account, etc. This sentence to dried up is to be regarded as a parenthesis. From the general calamity of drought may be argued the presence of a general guiltiness. Moreover, both the indication of the drought, which looks like a demonstratio ad oculos and the leading back to the false prophets ( Jeremiah 23:11), reminds us very strongly of Jeremiah 14:2; Jeremiah 14:13-18.—And their course is connected with “full of adulterers.” Their thought and endeavor generally (their walking and running, comp. Jeremiah 8:6; Proverbs 1:16; Isaiah 59:7; Romans 9:16) is directed to evil, therefore itself evil; they are strong only for that which is not right. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 8:6.—For both prophet, etc. This sentence states the reason why the moral corruption is so general: it cannot be otherwise, since the teachers and leaders of the people are not only themselves profane and godless, but practise their ungodliness even in the sanctuary, the most influential centre of theocratic life. Therefore the prophet says directly in Jeremiah 23:15, From the prophets of Jerusalem is gone forth profanation over the whole land. Evidently profanation is there used with reference to profane here. On the subject comp. Jeremiah 32:34; Ezekiel 8:3 sqq. The priests are moreover mentioned only incidentally; in the whole subsequent part of the discourse Jeremiah speaks only of the prophets. Perhaps the juxtaposition of the two is only a reminiscence from Jeremiah 14:18, where alone the expression occurs.—In the dark. Comp. Psalm 35:6 [Thomson, The Land and the Book, I, p106].—Year of visitation. Comp. Jeremiah 11:23. It is apparent from this expression that the visitation is still in the indefinite future.

Jeremiah 23:13-15. Also in the prophets of Samaria … over the whole land. In these verses it is more particularly shown how the corruption extended from the prophets over the whole country. At the same time its merited punishment is announced to them.—The ו here (Also) and at the beginning of Jeremiah 23:14 (But) correspond, but the whole sentences are not parallel, for it could not be said: Both in the prophets of Samaria I see perversity, and in the prophets of Jerusalem what is horrible, the latter clause containing a climax. The expression is founded on a mingling of two ways of speaking, “both in the prophets of Samaria I see what is bad, and in the prophets of Jerusalem,” and “in the prophets of Samaria I see תפלה, but in the prophets of Jerusalem evenשׁערורה.” Both are confounded in the sentence: both in the prophets of Samaria I see what is bad, and in the prophets of Jerusalem what is horrible.—We cannot well render these modes of expression word for word. Comp. the parallel, equally unfavorable for Judah, in Jeremiah 3:6-10.—By Baal. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 2:8.—Led astray. In this leading astray by moans of prophecy in the name of idols is the point of connection between Jeremiah 23:10-11.—Horrible. Comp. Jeremiah 5:30.—Strengthened, etc. They thus not only seduced the people into wickedness by their example, but sustained them therein by the authority of their example and detained them from repentance.—The subject of are become is the prophets, while their must refer to Jerusalem—The comparison with Sodom and Gomorrah is here as in Zephaniah 2:9, yet with this difference, that they are here the emblem of moral corruption, there of outward desolation.—Poison-water. Comp. Jeremiah 8:14; Jeremiah 9:14.—Profanation. Comp. Jeremiah 3:9. In this last causal sentence (for from the prophets of Jerusalem has profanation gone out), the fundamental though! of the strophe again comes out clearly.


1. On Jeremiah 21:2. “King Zedekiah sends word to Jeremiah, that the Lord is to do according to all His miracles, that Nebuchadnezzar may withdraw. A demand rather cavalierly made in such evil circumstances. But the noble are so unfortunate! It is indeed as though it only depended on them to arrange matters with God; as if He were only waiting for them, as if it were a point of honor not to be over-hasty, but first to await a little extremity …. It is a very necessary observance for a servant of the Lord, that he try his superiors, whether there is any trace remaining in them of having been once baptized, well brought up and instructed in the fear of the Lord. If he observe anything of this kind, he must insist upon it and especially not allow them to deal too familiarly with the Judge of all the earth, but plainly demonstrate to them their insufficiency and nothingness, if they measure themselves by Him. Though Zedekiah had spoken so superficially, Jeremiah answered him without hesitation, definitely and positively, and accustomed him to a different manner of dealing with the Lord.” Zinzendorf. “When the ungodly desire God’s help, they commonly appeal not to His saving power to heal them, but to His miraculous power to save them, while they persist in their impenitence.” Starke.

2. On Jeremiah 21:8. “It is pure grace on the part of God, when He leaves to man the choice between the good and the evil; not that it is permitted him to choose the evil, but that he may choose freely the good, which he is under obligation to do, Deuteronomy 30:19.” Starke. “God lays before us the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is however always contrary to human reason, and that on which it sees merely death and shame. … If thou wilt save thyself thou must leave the false Jerusalem, fallen under the judgment, and seek thy life where there seems to be only death. He who would save his life must lose it, and he who devotes it for the sake of the truth will save it.” Diedrich.

3. On Jeremiah 21:11-14. “To be such a king is to be an abomination to the Lord, and severe judgment will follow. God appoints magistrates for His service and for the use of men; he who only seeks his own enjoyment in office, is lost. Jerusalem, situated on rocks in the midst of a plain, looks secure; but against God neither rocks avail nor aught else. The fire will break out even in them, and consume all around, together with the forest of cedar-houses in the city. The corruption is seated within, and therefore proceeds from within outwards, so that nothing of the former stock can remain. What shall a government do which no longer bears the sword of justice? What shall a church do which is no longer founded on God’s truth as its only power?” Diedrich. Comp. moreover on the whole of Jeremiah 24. the extended moral reflections of Cyrillus Alex. περὶ τῆς ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθ. προσκυνήσεως. Lib. I.

4. On Jeremiah 22:1. “Jeremiah is to deliver a sermon at court, in which he reminds the king of his office of magistrate, in which he is to administer justice to every man.” Cramer.

It was no easy task for Jeremiah to go into the lions’ den and deliver such an uncourtly message to him. We are reminded of the prophet Jonah. But Jeremiah did not flee as he did.

5. On [“But we ought the more carefully to notice this passage, that we may learn to strengthen ourselves against bad examples, lest the impiety of men should overturn our faith; when we see in God’s church things in such disorder, that those who glory in the name of God are become like robbers, we must beware lest we become on this account alienated from true religion. We must, indeed, desert such monsters, but we must take care lest God’s word, through men’s wickedness, should lose its value in our esteem. We ought then to remember the admonition of Christ, to hear the Scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses’ seat ( Matthew 23:2).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

6. On [“Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. And so dismal perhaps the prospect of the times may be, that tears even for a Josiah, even for a Jesus, must be restrained, that they may be reserved for ourselves and our children ( Luke 23:28).” Henry.—S. R. A.]

Nequaquam gentilis plangendus est atque Judæus, qui in ecclesia non fuerunt et simul mortui sunt, de quibus Salvator dicit: dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos ( Matthew 8:22). Sed eos plange, qui per scelera atque peccata egrediuntur de ecclesia et nolunt ultra reverti ad earn damnatione vitiorum.” Hieron. Epist. 46 ad Rusticam. “Nolite flere mortuum, sed plorate raptorem avarum, pecuniæ sitientem et inexplebilem auri cupidinem. Cur mortuos inutiliter ploramus? Eos ploremus, qui in melius mutari possunt.” Basilius Seleucensis. Comp. Basil, Magn. Homil. 4de Gratiarum actione post dimid.—Ghislerus.

7. On Jeremiah 22:6-9. “God does not spare even the authorities. For though He has said that they are gods, when they do not rightly administer their office they must die like men ( Psalm 82:6) … No cedars are too high for God, no splendor too mighty; He can destroy all at once, and overturn, and overturn, and overturn. Ezekiel 21:27,” Cramer.

Another passage from which it is seen how perverse and unjustifiable is the illusion that God’s election is a surety against His anger, and a permit to any wilfulness. The individual representatives of the objects of divine election should never forget that God can march over their carcases, and the ruins of their glory, to the fulfilment of His promise, and that He can rebuild on a higher stage, what He has destroyed on a lower. Comp. remarks on Jeremiah 22:24.

8. On Jeremiah 22:13-19. It is blasphemy to imagine that God will be frère et compagnon to all princes as such, and that He has a predilection for them as of His own kind. Does He not say to his majesty the king of Judah, with whom, in respect of the eminence of his dynasty and throne no other prince of earth could compare, that he should be buried like an ass, dragged and cast out before the gates of Jerusalem? This Jehoiakim was however an aristocrat, a heartless, selfish tyrant, who for his own pleasure trampled divine and human rights under foot. If such things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

“He who builds his house with other people’s property, collects stones for his grave.” Cramer.

9. On [“It was a proof of luxury when men began to indulge in superfluities. In old times the windows were small; for use only was regarded by frugal men; but afterwards a sort of madness possessed the minds of many, so that they sought to be suspended as it were in the air. And hence they began to have wider windows. The thing in itself, as I have said, is not what God condemns; but we must ever remember, that men never go to excesses in external things, except when their hearts are infected with pride, so that they do not regard what is useful, what is becoming, but are carried away by fondness for excess.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

10. On Jeremiah 22:15. “God may grant the great lords a preference in eating and drinking and the splendor of royal courts, but it is not His will that these be regarded as the main things, but that true religion, right and justice must have the precedence;—this is the Lord’s work. But cursed is he who does the Lord’s work remissly. Jeremiah 48:10.” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 22:17. “Description of haughty, proud, magnificent, merciless and tyrannical lords and rulers, who are accomplices of thieves.” Cramer.

12. On [“God would have burial a proof to distinguish us from brute animals even after death, as we in life excel them, and as our condition is much nobler than that of the brute creation. Burial is also a pledge as it were of immortality; for when man’s body is laid hid in the earth, it is as it were a mirror of a future life. Since then burial is an evidence of God’s grace and favor towards mankind, it is on the other hand a sign of a curse, when burial is denied.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

13. On Jeremiah 22:24. “Great lords often imagine that they not only sit in the bosom of God, but that they are a pearl in His crown; or as the prophet says here, God’s signet-ring. Therefore, it is impossible that they should not succeed in their designs. But God looks not on the person of the princes, and knows the magnificent no more than the poor. Job 34:19.” Cramer.

14. On [“What is idolized will, first or last, be despised and broken, what is unjustly honored will be justly contemned, and rivals with God will be the scorn of man. Whatever we idolize we shall be disappointed in, and then shall despise.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

“The compliment is a very poor one for a king, who thinks somewhat of himself, and to whom it in a certain measure pertains that he be honored….But here it is the word of the Lord, and in consideration of these words it is declared in 2 Chronicles 36:12, to be evil on the part of Zedekiah, that he did not humble himself before Jeremiah. Teachers must be much on their guard against assuming such purely prophetic, that Isaiah, extraordinary acts. It cost the servants of the Lord many a death, who were obliged thus to employ themselves, and when it is easy for one to ape it without a divine calling he thus betrays his frivolity and incompetence, if not his pride and delusion.” Zinzendorf.

15. On Jeremiah 22:28-30. Irenæus (Adv. Hær. 3:30) uses this passage to prove that the Lord could not have been Joseph’s natural Song of Solomon, for otherwise he would have fallen under the curse of this passage, and appear as one not entitled to dominion (“qui eum dicunt ex Joseph generatum et in eo habere spem, abdicatos se faciunt a regno, sub maledictione et increpatione decidentes, quæ erga Jechoniam et in semen ejus est”). Basil the Great (Epist. ad Amphilochium) endeavors to show that this passage, with its declaration that none of Jeconiah’s descendants should sit on David’s throne, is not in contradiction to the prophecy of Jacob ( Genesis 49:10), that a ruler should not be lacking from Judah, till He came for whom the nations were hoping. Basil distinguishes in this relation between dominion and royal dignity.—The former continued, the latter ceased, and this period of, so to speak, latent royalty, was the bridge to the present, in which Christ rules in an invisible manner, but yet in real power and glory as royal priest, and at the same time represents Himself as the fulfilment of the hope of the nations. In like manner John of Damascus concludes that according to this passage there could be no prospect of the fulfilment of the promise in Genesis 49:10, if Mary had not virgineo modo borne the scion of David, who however was not to occupy the visible throne of David. (Orat. II. in Nativ. B. Mariæ p. med.)—Ambrose finally (Comment. in Ev. Luc. L. III. cap. ult.) raises the question how Jeremiah could say, that ex semine Jechoniæ neminem regnaturum esse, since Christ was of the seed of Jeconiah and reigned? He answers: “Illic ( Jeremiah 22:30) futuros ex semine Jechoniæ posteros non negatur et ideo de semine ejus est Christus (comp. Matthew 1:11), et quod regnavit Christus, non contra prophetiam Esther, non enim seculari honore regnavit, nee in Jechoniæ sedibus sedit, sed regnavit in sede David.” Ghislerus.

16. On Jeremiah 23:2. “Nonnulli præsmles gregis quosdam pro peccato a communione ceiciunt, ut pæniteant, sed quali sorte vivere debeant ad melius exhortando non visitant. Quibus congrue increpans sermo divinus comminatur: pastores, qui pascunt populum meum, vos dispersistis gregem meum, ejecistis et non visitastis eum.” Isidor. Hisp. de summo bono she LL. sentt. Cap. 46. Ghislerus.

17. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. Eusebius (Dem. Ev. VII:9) remarks that Christ among all the descendants of David is the only one, who rules over the whole earth, and everywhere not only preaches justice and righteousness by His doctrine but is Himself also the author of the rising [of the Sun] of righteousness for all, according to Psalm 72:7 : ἀνατελεῖ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ δικαιοσύνη, καὶ πλῆθος εἰρήνης ἕως οὗ ἀνταναιρεθῇ σελήνη (LXX.) Cyril of Alex. (Glaphyr. in Gen. I. p133) explains Ἰωσεδέκ as justitia Dei, in so far as we are made righteous in Him, not for the sake of the works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His great mercy. Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5.

18. On [“If we regard God in Himself, He is indeed righteous, but not our righteousness. If we desire to have God as our righteousness, we must seek Christ; for this cannot be found except in Him. … Paul says that He has been given or made to us righteousness,—for what end? that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. ( 1 Corinthians 1:30). Since, then, Christ is made our righteousness, and we are counted the righteousness of God in Him, we hence learn how properly and fitly it has been said that He would be Jehovah, not only that the power of His divinity might defend us, but also that we might become righteous in Him, for He is not only righteous for Himself, but He is our righteousness.” Calvin. See also a long note in Wordsworth, to show that Jehovah our Righteousness refers to Christ;—S. R. A.]

“The character of a true church is when the Lytrum, the ransom-money of Jesus Christ, is known and valued by all, and when they have written this secret, foolish and absolutely inscrutable to reason, in the heart with the finger of the living God: that Jesus by His blood has taken away the sins of the world. ‘O let it ne’er escape my thought, at what a price my soul was bought.’ This is the evening and morning prayer of every church, which is a true sister from above.” Zinzendorf.

19. On Jeremiah 23:5-8. “The return under Ezra was also a fulfilment of this promise, but inferior and preliminary: not all came, and those who did come brought their sins back with them. They were still under the Law and had to wait for Righteousness; still in their return they had a pledge that the Messiah was yet to come and prepare the true city of peace. Now, however, all has been long fulfilled and we can enjoy it perfectly, if we have the mind for it. We have now a country of which no tyrant can rob us; our walk and citizenship is in heaven. We have been delivered from all our suffering, when we sit down at the feet of Jesus to hear His word. Then there is a power of resurrection within us, So that we can fly with our souls beyond the world and laugh at all our foes. For Christ has made us righteous by His daily forgiveness, so that we may also bring ourselves daily into heaven. Yea verily, the kingdom of heaven is come very nigh unto us! Jeremiah then longed to see and hear this more nearly, and now we can have it.” Diedrich.

20. On Jeremiah 23:9. “Great love renders God’s servant so ardent, that he deals powerful blows on the seducers. He does not think that he has struck a wasp’s nest and embittered his life here forever, for he has a higher life and gives the lower one willingly for love. Yet all the world will hold him for an incorrigible and mad enthusiast, who spares no one. He says himself that he is as it were drunk with God and His word, when he on the other hand contemplates the country.” Diedrich.

21. On Jeremiah 23:11. “They are rogues. They know how to find subterfuges, and I would like to see him who accuses a false and unfaithful teacher, and manages his own case so that he does not himself come into the dilemma.” Zinzendorf.

22. On Jeremiah 23:13-14. “In the prophets of Samaria I see folly. This is the character which the Lord gives to error, false religion, heterodoxy. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I find abomination. This is the description of the or thodox, when they apply their doctrine, so that either the wicked are strengthened or no one is converted.” Zinzendorf.

23. On Jeremiah 23:15. “From the prophets of Jerusalem hypocrisy goes forth into all the land. This is the natural consequence of the superiority, which the consistories, academies, ministers, etc, have and in due measure ought to have, that when they become corrupt they communicate their corruption to the whole region, and it is apparent in the whole land what sort of theologians sit at the helm.” Zinzendorf.

24. On Jeremiah 23:16. Listen not to the words of the prophets, they deceive you. Luther says (Altenb. Tom. II. p330): “But a Christian has so much power that he may and ought to come forward even among Christians and teach, where he sees that the teacher himself is wanting,” etc.; and “The hearers altogether have the right to judge and decide concerning all doctrine. Therefore the priests and liveried Christians have snatched this office to themselves; because, if this office remained in the church, the aforesaid could retain nothing for their own.” (Altenb. Tom. II. p508).—The exercise of this right on the part of members of the church has its difficulties. May not misunderstanding, ignorance, even wickedness cause this to be a heavy and unjust pressure on the ministers of the word, and thus mediately tend to the injury of the church? Certainly. Still it is better for the church to exercise this right than not to do so. The former is a sign of spiritual life, the latter of spiritual death. It will be easier to find a corrective for some extravagances than to save a church become religiously indifferent from the fate of Laodicea ( Revelation 3:16).

25. On [“But here a question may be raised, How can the common people understand that some speak from God’s mouth, and that others propound their own glosses? I answer, That the doctrine of the Law was then sufficient to guide the minds of the people, provided they closed not their eyes; and if the Law was sufficient at that time, God does now most surely give us a clearer light by His prophets, and especially by His Gospel.” Calvin—S. R. A.]

26. On Jeremiah 23:17. “The pastors, who are welcome and gladly seen at a rich man’s table, wish him in fact long life, good health, and all prosperity. What they wish they prophesy. This is not unnatural; but he who is softened by it is ill-advised.” Zinzendorf.

27. On [“There is a twofold call; one is internal, the other belongs to order, and may therefore be called external or ecclesiastical. But the external call is never legitimate, except it be preceded by the internal; for it does not belong to us to create prophets, or apostles, or pastors, as this is the special work of the Holy Spirit. … But it often happens that the call of God is sufficient, especially for a time. For when there is no church, there is no remedy for the evil, except God raise up extraordinary teachers.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

28. On Jeremiah 23:22. “If I knew that my teacher was a most abominable miscreant, personally, and in heart the worst enemy of God in his parish; so long as, for any reason, he preaches, expounds, develops, inculcates the word of God; even though he should betray here and there in his expressions, that this word was not dwelling in him; if only he does not ex professo at one time throw down what at another time he teaches of good and true quasi aliud agendo: I assure you before the Lord that I should fear to censure his preaching.” Zinzendorf.

29. On Jeremiah 23:23. “ God’s essential attribute is Omnipresence. For He is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? Longer than the earth and broader than the sea ( Job 4:8). And He is not far from every one of us ( Acts 17:27).” Cramer.—“We often think God is quite far from us, when He is yet near to us, has us in His arms, presses us to His heart and kisses us.” Luther.—“ When we think the Sun of righteousness, Jesus, is not risen, and is still behind the mountain, and will not come to us, He is yet nearest to us. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. ( Psalm 34:19) ”—“Deus et omni et nullo loco “—” Cuncta Deus replens molem se fundit in omnem.” MS. notes to my copy of Cramer’s Bibel.—“ Si vis peccare, O homo, quære tibi locum, ubi Deus non videat.” Augustine.

30. On [“When any one rejects the wheat because it is covered with chaff, and who will pity him who says that he has indeed wheat on his floor, but that it is mixed with chaff, and therefore not fit for food? … If we be negligent, and think that it is a sufficient excuse for despising the Word of God, because Satan brings in his fallacies, we shall perish in our sloth like him who neglects to cleanse his wheat that he might turn it to bread.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

He who cannot restrain his mouth or his ink let him expectorate. But let him say openly and honestly that they are his own dreams, which he preaches. The false prophets certainly know that mere falsehood is empty straw. They therefore always mingle some of the genuine word of God amongst it. An unavailing mixture! It is in this mingling that Satan’s highest art is displayed, so that he at the same time furthers his own work and testifies against himself. Comp. Genesis 3

31. On Jeremiah 23:29. God’s word is the highest reality, life and power, while the dreams of the false prophets are pretence, death and weakness. God’s word is therefore compared to a fire which burns, warms, and enlightens, so that it burns up the hardest flint, melts the thickest ice, illuminates the deepest obscurities. It is compared further to a hammer which crushes the hardest rocks into sand.—He who mingles God’s wheat among his straw, will find that the wheat will become fire and burn up the straw ( 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). He Who handles the word of the Lord purely, let him not despair if he sees before him hearts of adamant ( Zechariah 7:12). He who seeks peace is not ashamed to bow beneath the hammer of the word. For the destructive power of the word applies to that in us which is opposed to God, while the God-related elements are loosed and set free by those very crushing blows.— Hebrews, however, to whom the peace of God is an object of derision, may feed on the straw of this world. But how will it be when finally the day comes that God will come upon him with fire and hammer? What then remains to him as the result of his straw-diet, which is in a condition to withstand the blows of the hammer and the fire?

Help, Lord, against Thy scornful foes,

Who seek our souls to lead astray;

Whose mockeries at mortal woes

Will end in terrible dismay!

Grant that Thy holy word may root

Deep in our hearts, and richer fruit

May ever bear to endless day.

“God’s word converts, all other doctrine befools.” Luther.

32. On Jeremiah 23:29. “God’s word in general is like a fire: the more it is urged the more widely and brightly it extends. God has caused His word to be proclaimed to the world as a matter, which they can dispense with as little as fire. Fire often smoulders long in secret before it breaks out, thus the power of the divine word operates in its time. God’s word can make people as warm as if glowing coals lay upon them; it shines as brightly upon them, as if a lamp were held under their eyes; it tells every one the truth and purifies from all vices. He who deals evilly with God’s word burns himself by it, he who opposes it is consumed by it. But the word of God is as little to blame as a lamp or a fire when an unskilful person is burned by it. Yet it happens that often it will not be suffered in the world, then there is fire in all the streets. That is the unhappy fire of persecution, which is kindled incidentally in the world by the preaching of the Gospel.” Jos. Conr. Schaller, Pastor at Cautendorf, Sermons on the Gospels, 1742.

33. On Jeremiah 23:30. “Teachers and preachers are not to steal their sermons from other books, but take them from the Bible, and testify that which they speak from their inward experience ( John 3:11). False teachers steal God’s word, inventing a foreign meaning for it, and using this for the palliation of their errors.” Starke—“Hinc illi ζῆλοι at auctions, who can obtain this or that good book, this or that manuscript? Here they are thus declared to be plagiarios; and they are necessarily so because they are not taught of God. But I would rather they would steal from true men of God than from each other.”—Zinzendorf.

34. On Jeremiah 23:33-40. “ When the word of God becomes intolerable to men, then men in their turn become intolerable to our Lord God; yea, they are no more than inutile pondus terræ, which the land can no more bear, therefore they must be winnowed out, Jeremiah 15:17.” Cramer.

35. On Jeremiah 24:5-7. “ He who willingly and readily resigns himself to the will of God even to the cross, may escape misfortune. But he who opposes himself to the hand of God cannot escape.” Cramer.—“The captives are dearest to God. By the first greater affliction He prepares their souls for repentance and radical conversion, so that He has in them again His people and inheritance. O the gracious God, that He allows even those who on account of sin must be so deeply degraded and rendered slaves, even in such humiliation to be His people! The captives are forgiven their opposition to God; they are separated from the number of nations existing in the world, politically they are dead and banished to the interior. Now, God will show them what His love can do; they shall return, and in true nearness to God be His true Israel.” Diedrich.

36. On [“Since He affirms that He would give them a heart to understand, we hence learn that men are by nature blind, and also that when they are blinded by the devil they cannot return to the right way, and that they cannot be otherwise capable of light than by having God to illuminate them by His Spirit. … This passage also shows, that we cannot really turn to God until we acknowledge Him to be the Judge; for until the sinner sets himself before God’s tribunal he will never be touched with the feeling of true repentance. … Though God rules the whole world. He yet declares that He is the God of the Church; and the faithful whom He has adopted He favors with this high distinction, that they are His people; and He does this that they may be persuaded that there is safety in Him, according to what is said by Habakkuk, ‘Thou art our God, we shall not die’ ( Habakkuk 1:12). And of this sentence Christ Himself is the best interpreter, when He says, that He is not the God of the dead, but of the living ( Luke 20:38).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]


1. On Jeremiah 21:8. This text may be used on all occasions when an important decision is to be made or on the entrance on a new section of life, as, e. g., at synods, diets, New Years, beginning of the church-year, at confirmations, weddings, installations, etc. What the present day demands and promises: I. It demands from us an important choice. II. It promises us, according as we choose, life or death.

2. On Jeremiah 22:2-9. In how far the divine election is conditional and unconditional. I. It is conditional with respect to individual elected men, places, things. For1, these become partakers of the salvation promised by the election only by behaviour well-pleasing to God; 2, if they behave in a manner displeasing to God, the election does not protect them from destruction. II. The election is unconditional with respect to the eternal ideas lying at the foundation of the single appearances, and their absolute realizations.

3. On [Payson:—“The punishment of the impenitent inevitable and justifiable. I. To mention some awful instances in which God has verified this declaration: (a), the apostate angels; (b) our first parents; (c) destruction of mankind by the flood; (d) the children of Israel; (e) Moses, David, the disobedient prophet, Christ. II. Some of the reasons for such a declaration. Not a disposition to give pain or desire for revenge. It is the nature and tendency of sin to produce misery.”—S. R. A.]

4. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. The Son of David. What the prophet declares of Him is fourfold: 1. He will Himself be righteous; 2. He will rule well as king and execute judgment and righteousness; 3. He will be our righteousness; 4. Under Him shall Judah be helped and Israel dwell safely.

5. On [Lathrop: “The horrible guilt of those who strengthen the hands of the wicked1. All sin is horrible in its nature2. This is to oppose the government of the Almighty3. It directly tends to the misery of mankind4. It supports the cause of the Evil Spirit5. It is to become partakers of their sins6. It is horrible as directly contrary to the command of God, and marked with His peculiar abhorrence.”—S. R. A.]

6. On Jeremiah 23:23-24. The Omnipresence of God. 1. What it means. God is everywhere present, (a). He fills heaven and earth; (b) there is no removal from Him in space; (c) nothing is hidden from Him2. There is in this for us (a) a glorious consolation, (b) an earnest admonition. [Charnock, Jortin, and Wesley have sermons on this text, all of very similar outline. The following are Jortin’s practical conclusions; “ This doctrine1. Should lead us to seek to resemble God’s perfections2. Should deter us from sin3. Should teach us humility4. Should encourage us to reliance and contentment, to faith and hope.”—S. R. A.]

7. On Jeremiah 23:29-30. God’s Word and man’s word. 1. The former is life and power (wheat, fire, hammer). The latter pretence and weakness (dream, straw). 2. The two are not to be mixed with each other. [Cecil: This shows1. The vanity of all human imaginations in religion, (a). What do they afford to man? (b). How much do they hinder? 2. The energy of spiritual truth. Let us entreat God that our estimate may be practical.—S. R. A.]

8. On Jeremiah 24:1-10. The good and bad figs an emblem of humanity well-pleasing and displeasing to God. 1. The prisoners and broken-hearted are, like the good figs, well-pleasing to God. For (a) they know the Lord and turn to Him; (b) He is their God and they are His people2. Those who dwell proudly and securely are displeasing to God, like the bad figs. For (a) they live on in foolish blindness; (b) they challenge the judgment of God.


FN#10 - Jeremiah 23:9.—רחפו. kal here only. Elsewhere Piel only occurs; Genesis 1:2; Deuteronomy 32:11. The radical meaning seems to be flaccidus, debilis, mollis fuit. Comp. the Arabic rachapha=mollis, tenuis fuit, and רחם.

FN#11 - Jeremiah 23:10.—The LXX, Syriac, and Arab. read אֵלָה instead of אָלָה. So also Hitzig and Meier. אלָה, however, merely designates the effect as indirect, occasioned by the curse, with reference to Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Deuteronomy 29:19-28.

FN#12 - Jeremiah 23:12.—יִדִּהוּ from דָּחַה, comp. Olshausen, § 265 e.

FN#13 - Jeremiah 23:13.—תִפְלָה, insulsum, insipidum [unsavoriness]. Besides only in Job 1:22; Job 24:12.

FN#14 - Jeremiah 23:13.—הנבאו. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 23, Anm. 9; Ezekiel 37:10.

FN#15 - Jeremiah 23:14.—לבלתי שׁבו. This construction is found besides only in Jeremiah 27:18; Ezekiel 13:3. In Ezekiel 13:22, where these words are quoted, we read לְבִלְתִּי־שׁוּבּ, but we are not therefore to assume an error here. The finite verb is admissible, because a condition, which actually existed, is to be designated.

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Guilt of False Prophets. B. C. 600.

9 Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets all my bones shake I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness. 10 For the land is full of adulterers for because of swearing the land mourneth the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. 11 For both prophet and priest are profane yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD. 12 Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD. 13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. 14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. 15 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. 16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. 18 For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? 19 Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. 20 The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. 21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. 23 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD. 25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. 26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart 27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. 28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. 29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. 32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

Here is a long lesson for the false prophets. As none were more bitter and spiteful against God's true prophets than they, so there were none on whom the true prophets were more severe, and justly. The prophet had complained to God of those false prophets (Jeremiah 14:13), and had often foretold that they should be involved in the common ruin but here they have woes of their own.

I. He expresses the deep concern that he was under upon this account, and what a trouble it was to him to see men who pretended to a divine commission and inspiration ruining themselves, and the people among whom they dwelt, by their falsehood and treachery (Jeremiah 23:9): My heart within me is broken I am like a drunken man. His head was in confusion with wonder and astonishment his heart was under oppression with grief and vexation. Jeremiah was a man that laid things much to heart, and what was any way threatening to his country made a deep impression upon his spirits. He is here in trouble, 1. Because of the prophets and their sin, the false doctrine they preached, the wicked lives they lived especially it filled him with horror to hear them making use of God's name and pretending to have their instruction from him. Never was the Lord so abused, and the words of his holiness, as by these men. Note, The dishonour done to God's name, and the profanation of his holy word, are the greatest grief imaginable to a gracious soul. 2. "Because of the Lord, and his judgments, which by this means are brought in upon us like a deluge." He trembled to think of the ruin and desolation which were coming from the face of the Lord (so the word is) and from the face of the word of his holiness, which will be inflicted by the power of God's wrath, according to the threatenings of his word, confirmed by his holiness. Note, Even those that have God for them cannot but tremble to think of the misery of those that have God against them.

II. He laments the abounding abominable wickedness of the land and the present tokens of God's displeasure they were under for it (Jeremiah 23:10): The land is full of adulterers it is full both of spiritual and corporal whoredom. They go a whoring from God, and, having cast off the fear of him, no marvel that they abandon themselves to all manner of lewdness and, having dishonoured themselves and their own bodies, they dishonour God and his name by rash and false swearing, because of which the land mourns. Both perjury and common swearing are sins for which a land must mourn in true repentance or it will be made to mourn under the judgments of God. Their land mourned now under the judgment of famine the pleasant places, or rather the pastures, or (as some read it) the habitations of the wilderness, are dried up for want of rain, and yet we see no signs of repentance. They answer not the end of the correction. The tenour and tendency of men's conversations are sinful, their course continues evil, as bad as ever, and they will not be diverted from it. They have a great deal of resolution, but it is turned the wrong way they are zealously affected, but not in a good thing: Their force is not right their heart is fully set in them to do evil, and they are not valiant for the truth, have not courage enough to break off their evil courses, though they see God thus contending with them.

III. He charges it all upon the prophets and priests, especially the prophets. They are both profane (Jeremiah 23:11) the priests profane the ordinances of God they pretend to administer the prophets profane the word of God they pretend to deliver their converse and all their conversation are profane, and then it is not strange that the people are so debauched. They both play the hypocrite (so some read it) under sacred pretensions they carry on the vilest designs yea, not only in their own houses, and the bad houses they frequent, but in my house have I found their wickedness in the temple, where the priests ministered, where the prophets prophesied, there were they guilty both of idolatry and immorality. See a woeful instance in Hophni and Phinehas, 1 Samuel 2:22. God searches his house, and what wickedness is there he will find it out and the nearer it is to him the more offensive it is. Two things are charged upon them:-- 1. That they taught people to sin by their examples. He compares them with the prophets of Samaria, the head city of the kingdom of the ten tribes, which had been long since laid waste. It was the folly of the prophets of Samaria that they prophesied in Baal, in Baal's name so Ahab's prophets did, and so they caused my people Israel to err, to forsake the service of the true God and to worship Baal, Jeremiah 23:13. Now the prophets of Jerusalem did not do so they prophesied in the name of the true God, and valued themselves upon that, that they were not like the prophets of Samaria, who prophesied in Baal but what the better, when they debauched the nation as much by their immoralities as the other had done by their idolatries? It is a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem that they make use of the name of the holy God, and yet wallow in all manner of impurity they make nothing of committing adultery. They make use of the name of the God of truth, and yet walk in lies they not only prophesy lies, but in their common conversation one cannot believe a word they say. It is all either jest and banter or fraud and design. Thus they encourage sinners to go on in their wicked ways for every one will say, "Surely we may do as the prophets do who can expect that we should be better than our teachers?" By this means it is that none returns from his wickedness but they all say that they shall have peace, though they go on, for their prophets tell them so. By this means Judah and Jerusalem have become as Sodom and Gomorrah, that were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly and God looked upon them accordingly as fit for nothing but to be destroyed, as they were, with fire and brimstone. 2. That they encouraged people in sin by their false prophecies. They made themselves believe that there was no harm, no danger in sin, and practiced accordingly and then no marvel that they made others believe so too (Jeremiah 23:16): They speak a vision of their own heart it is the product of their own invention, and agrees with their own inclination, but it is not out of the mouth of the Lord he never dictated it to them, nor did it agree either with the law of Moses or with what God has spoken by other prophets. They tell sinners that it shall be well with them though they persist in their sins, Jeremiah 23:17. See here who those are that they encourage--those that despise God, that slight his authority, and have low and mean thoughts of his institutions, and those that walk after the imagination of their own heart, that are worshippers of idols and slaves to their own lusts those that are devoted to their pleasures put contempt upon their God. Yet see how these prophets caressed and flattered them: they should have been still saying, There is no peace to those that go on in their evil ways--Those that despise God shall be lightly esteemed--Woe, and a thousand woes, to them but they still said, You shall have peace no evil shall come upon you. And, which was worst of all, they told them, God has said so, so making him to patronize sin, and to contradict himself. Note, Those that are resolved to go on in their evil ways will justly be given up to believe the strong delusions of those who tell them that they shall have peace though they go on.

IV. God disowns all that these false prophets said to sooth people up in their sins (Jeremiah 23:21): I have not sent these prophets they never had any mission from God. They were not only not sent by him on this errand, but they were never sent by him on any errand he never had employed them in any service or business for him and, as to this matter, whereas they pretended to have instructions from him to assure this people of peace, he declares that he never gave them any such instructions. Yet they were very forward--they ran they were very bold--they prophesied without any of that difficulty with which the true prophets sometimes struggled. They said to sinners, You shall have peace. But (Jeremiah 23:18): "Who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord? Who of you has, that are so confident of this? You deliver this message with a great deal of assurance but have you consulted God about it? No you never considered whether it be agreeable to the discoveries God has made of himself, whether it will consist with the honour of his holiness and justice, to let sinners go unpunished. You have not perceived and heard his word, nor marked that you have not compared this with the scripture if you had taken notice of that, and of the constant tenour of it, you would never have delivered such a message." The prophets themselves must try the spirits by the touchstone of the law and of the testimony, as well as those to whom they prophesy but which of those did so that prophesied of peace? That they did not stand in God's counsel nor hear his word is proved afterwards, Jeremiah 23:22. If they had stood in my counsel, as they pretend, 1. They would have made the scriptures their standard: They would have caused my people to hear my words, and would have conscientiously kept closely to them. But, not speaking according to that rule, it is a plain evidence that there is no light in them. 2. They would have made the conversion of souls their business, and would have aimed at that in all their preaching. They would have done all they could to turn people from their evil way in general and from all the particular evil of their doings. They would have encouraged and assisted the reformation of manners, would have made this their scope in all their preaching, to part between men and their sins but it appeared that this was a thing they never aimed at, but, on the contrary, to encourage sinners in their sins. 3. They would have had some seals of their ministry. This sense our translation gives it: If they had stood in my counsel, and the words they had preached had been my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way a divine power should have gone along with the word for the conviction of sinners. God will bless his own institutions. Yet this is no certain rule Jeremiah himself, though God sent him, prevailed with but few to turn from their evil way.

V. God threatens to punish these prophets for their wickedness. They promised the people peace and to show them the folly of that God tells them that they should have no peace themselves. They were very unfit to warrant the people, and pass their word to them that no evil shall come upon them, when all evil is coming upon themselves and they are not aware of it, Jeremiah 23:12. Because the prophets and priests are profane, therefore their ways shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness. Those that undertake to lead others, because they mislead them, and know they do so, shall themselves have no comfort in their way. 1. They pretend to show others the way, but they shall themselves be in the dark, or in a mist their light or sight shall fail, so that they shall not be able to look before them, shall have no forecast for themselves. 2. They pretend to give assurances to others, but they themselves shall find no firm footing: Their ways shall be to them as slippery ways, in which they shall not go with any steadiness, safety, or satisfaction. 3. They pretend to make the people easy with their flatteries, but they shall themselves be uneasy: They shall be driven, forced forward as captives, or making their escape as those that are pursued, and they shall fall in the way by which they hoped to escape, and so fall into the enemies' hands. 4. They pretend to prevent the evil that threatens others, but God will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, the time fixed for calling them to an account such a time is fixed concerning all that do not judge themselves, and it will be an evil time. The year of visitation is the year of recompenses. It is further threatened (Jeremiah 23:15), I will feed them with wormwood, or poison, with that which is not only nauseous, but noxious, and make them drink waters of gall, or (as some read it) juice of hemlock see Jeremiah 9:15. Justly is the cup of trembling put into their hand first, for from the prophets of Jerusalem, who should have been patterns of piety and every thing that is praiseworthy, even from them has profaneness gone forth into all the lands. Nothing more effectually debauches a nation than the debauchery of ministers.

VI. The people are here warned not to give any credit to these false prophets for, though they flattered them with hopes of impunity, the judgments of God would certainly break out against them, unless they repented (Jeremiah 23:16): "Take notice of what God says, and hearken not to the words of these prophets for you will find, in the issue, that God's word shall stand, and not theirs. God's word will make you serious, but they make you vain, feed you with vain hopes, which will fail you at last. They tell you, No evil shall come upon you but hear what God says (Jeremiah 23:19), Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord has gone forth in fury. They tell you, All shall be calm and serene but God tells you, There is a storm coming, a whirlwind of the Lord, of his sending, and therefore there is no standing before it. It is a whirlwind raised by divine wrath it has gone forth in fury, a wind that is brought forth out of the treasuries of divine vengeance and therefore it is a grievous whirlwind, and shall light heavily, with rain and hail, upon the head of the wicked, which they cannot avoid nor find any shelter from." It shall fall upon the wicked prophets themselves who deceived the people, and the wicked people who suffered themselves to be deceived. A horrible tempest shall be the portion of their cup, Psalm 11:6. This sentence is bound on as irreversible (Jeremiah 23:20): The anger of the Lord shall not return, for the decree has gone forth. God will not alter his mind, nor suffer his anger to be turned away, till he have executed the sentence and performed the thoughts of his heart. God's whirlwind, when it comes down from heaven, returns not thither, but accomplishes that for which he sent it, Isaiah 55:11. This they will not consider now but in the latter days you shall consider it perfectly, consider it with understanding (so the word is) or with consideration. Note, Those that will not fear the threatenings shall feel the execution of them, and will then perfectly understand what they will not now admit the evidence of, what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of a just and jealous God. Those that will not consider in time will be made to consider when it is too late. Son, remember.

VII. Several things are here offered to the consideration of these false prophets for their conviction, that, if possible, they might be brought to recant their error and acknowledge the cheat they had put upon God's people.

1. Let them consider that though they may impose upon men God is too wise to be imposed upon. Men cannot see through their fallacies, but God can and does. Here,

(1.) God asserts his own omnipresence and omniscience in general, Jeremiah 23:23,24. When they told the people that no evil should befall them though they went on in their evil ways they went upon atheistical principles, that the Lord doth not see their sin, that he cannot judge through the dark cloud, that he will not require it and therefore they must be taught the first principles of their religion, and confronted with the most incontestable self-evident truths. [1.] That though God's throne is prepared in the heavens, and this earth seems to be at a distance from him, yet he is a God here in this lower world, which seems to be afar off, as well as in the upper world, which seems to be at hand, Jeremiah 23:23. The eye of God is the same on earth that it is in heaven. Here it runs to and fro as well as there (2 Chronicles 16:9) and what is in the minds of men, whose spirits are veiled in flesh, is as clearly seen by him as what is in the mind of angels, those unveiled spirits above that surround his throne. The power of God is the same on earth among its inhabitants that it is in heaven among its armies. With us nearness and distance make a great difference both in our observations and in our operations, but it is not so with God to him darkness and light, at hand and afar off, are both alike. [2.] That, how ingenious and industrious soever men are to disguise themselves and their own characters and counsels, they cannot possibly be concealed from God's all-seeing eye (Jeremiah 23:24): "Can any hide himself in the secret places of the earth, that I shall not see him? Can any hide his projects and intentions in the secret places of the heart, that I shall not see them?" No arts of concealment can hide men from the eye of God, nor deceive his judgment of them. [3.] That he is every where present he does not only rule heaven and earth, and uphold both by his universal providence, but he fills heaven and earth by his essential presence, Psalm 139:7,8, &c. No place can either include him or exclude him.

(2.) He applies this to these prophets, who had a notable art of disguising themselves (Jeremiah 23:25,26): I have heard what the prophets said that prophesy lies in my name. They thought that he was so wholly taken up with the other world that he had no leisure to take cognizance of what passed in this. But God will make them know that he knows all their impostures, all the shams they have put upon the world, under colour of divine revelation. What they intended to humour the people with they pretended to have had from God in a dream, when there was no such thing. This they could not discover. If a man tell me that he dreamed so and so, I cannot contradict him he knows I cannot. But God discovered the fraud. Perhaps the false prophets whispered what they had to say in the ears of such as were their confidants, saying, So and so I have dreamed but God overheard them. The heart-searching eye of God traced them in all the methods they took to deceive the people, and he cries out, How long? Shall I always bear with them? Is it in the hearts of those prophets (so some read it) to be ever prophesying lies and prophesying the deceits of their own hearts? Will they never see what an affront they put upon God, what an abuse they put upon the people, and what judgments they are preparing for themselves?

2. Let them consider that their palming upon people counterfeit revelations, and fathering their own fancies upon divine inspiration, was the ready way to bring all religion into contempt and make men turn atheists and infidels and this was the thing they really intended, though they frequently made mention of the name of God, and prefaced all they said with, Thus saith the Lord. Yet, says God, They think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams. They designed to draw people off from the worship of God, from all regard to God's laws and ordinances and the true prophets, as their fathers forgot God's name for Baal. Note, The great thing Satan aims at is to make people forget God, and all that whereby he has made himself known and he has many subtle methods to bring them to this. Sometimes he does it by setting up false gods (bring men in love with Baal, and they soon forget the name of God), sometimes by misrepresenting the true God, as if he were altogether such a one as ourselves. Pretenses to new revelation may prove as dangerous to religion as the denying of all revelation and false prophets in God's name may perhaps do more mischief to the power of godliness than false prophets in Baal's name, as being less guarded against.

3. Let them consider what a vast difference there was between their prophecies and those that were delivered by the true prophets of the Lord (Jeremiah 23:28): The prophet that has a dream, which was the way of inspiration that the false prophets most pretended to, if he has a dream, let him tell it as a dream so Mr. Gataker reads it. "Let him lay no more stress upon it than men do upon their dreams, nor expect any more regard to be had to it. Let them not say that it is from God, nor call their foolish dreams divine oracles. But let the true prophet, that has my word, speak my word faithfully, speak it as a truth" (so some read it): "let him keep closely to his instructions, and you will soon perceive a vast difference between the dreams that the false prophets tell and the divine dictates which the true prophets deliver. He that pretends to have a message from God, whether by dream or voice, let him declare it, and it will easily appear which is of God and which is not. Those that have spiritual senses exercised will be able to distinguish for what is the chaff to the wheat? The promises of peace which these prophets make to you are no more to be compared to God's promises than chaff to wheat." Men's fancies are light, and vain, and worthless, as the chaff which the wind drives away. But the word of God has substance in it it is of value, is food for the soul, the bread of life. Wheat was the staple commodity of Canaan, that valley of vision, Deuteronomy 8:8; Ezekiel 27:17. There is as much difference between the vain fancies of men and the pure word of God as between the chaff and the wheat. It follows (Jeremiah 23:29), Is not my word like a fire, saith the Lord? Is their word so? Has it the power and efficacy that the word of God has? No nothing like it there is no more comparison than between painted fire and real fire. Theirs is like an ignis fatuus--a deceiving meteor, leading men into by-paths and dangerous precipices. Note, The word of God is like fire. The law was a fiery law (Deuteronomy 33:2), and of the gospel Christ says, I have come to send fire on the earth, Luke 12:49. Fire has different effects, according as the matter is on which it works it hardens clay, but softens wax it consumes the dross, but purifies the gold. So the word of God is to some a savour of life unto life, to others of death unto death. God appeals here to the consciences of those to whom the word was sent: "Is not my word like fire? Has it not been so to you? Zechariah 1:6. Speak as you have found." It is compared likewise to a hammer breaking the rock in pieces. The unhumbled heart of man is like a rock if it will not be melted by the word of God as the fire, it will be broken to pieces by it as the hammer. Whatever opposition is given to the word, it will be borne down and broken to pieces.

4. Let them consider that while they went on in this course God was against them. Three times they are told this, Jeremiah 23:30,31,32. Behold, I am against the prophets. They pretended to be for God, and made use of his name, but were really against him he looks upon them as they were really, and is against them. How can they be long safe, or at all easy, that have a God of almighty power against them? While these prophets were promising peace to the people God was proclaiming war against them. They stand indicted here, (1.) For robbery: They steal my word every one from his neighbour. Some understand it of that word of God which the good prophets preached they stole their sermons, their expressions, and mingled them with their own, as hucksters mingle bad wares with some that are good, to make them vendible. Those that were strangers to the spirit of the true prophets mimicked their language, picked up some good sayings of theirs, and delivered them to the people as if they had been their own, but with an ill grace they were not of a piece with the rest of their discourses. The legs of the lame are not equal, so is a parable in the mouth of fools, Proverbs 26:7. Others understand it of the word of God as it was received and entertained by some of the people they stole it out of their hearts, as the wicked one in the parable is said to steal the good seed of the word, Matthew 13:19. By their insinuations they diminished the authority, and so weakened the efficacy, of the word of God upon the minds of those that seemed to be under convictions by it. (2.) They stand indicted for counterfeiting the broad seal. Therefore God is against them (Jeremiah 23:31), because they use their tongues at their pleasure in their discourses to the people they say what they themselves think fit, and then father it upon God, pretend they had it from him, and say, He saith it. Some read it, They smooth their tongues they are very complaisant to the people, and say nothing but what is pleasing and plausible they never reprove them nor threaten them, but their words are smoother than butter. Thus they ingratiate themselves with them, and get money by them and they have the impudence and impiety to make God the patron of their lies they say, "He saith so." What greater indignity can be done to the God of truth than to lay the brats of the father of lies at his door? (3.) They stand indicted as common cheats (Jeremiah 23:32): I am against them, for they prophesy false dreams, pretending that to be a divine inspiration which is but an invention of their own. This is a horrid fraud nor will it excuse them to say, Caveat emptor--Let the buyer take care of himself, and Si populus vult decipi, decipiatur--If people will be deceived, let them. No it is the people's fault that they err, that they take things upon trust, and do not try the spirits but it is much more the prophets' fault that they cause God's people to err by their lies and by their lightness, by the flatteries of their preaching soothing them up in their sins, and by the looseness and lewdness of their conversation encouraging them to persist in them. [1.] God disowns their having any commission from him: I sent them not, nor commanded them they are not God's messengers, nor is what they say his message. [2.] He therefore justly denies his blessing with them: Therefore they shall not profit this people at all. All the profit they aim at is to make them easy but they shall not so much as do that, for God's providences will at the same time be making them uneasy. They do not profit this people (so some read it) and more is implied than is expressed they not only do them no good, but do them a great deal of hurt. Note, Those that corrupt the word of God, while they pretend to preach it, are so far from edifying the church that they do it the greatest mischief imaginable.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

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.

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Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

An horrible thing; the word signifies

filthiness, stench, or an abominable thing, things every whit as bad, in some kind worse, than what I saw in the prophets of the ten tribes.

They commit adultery; they commit not spiritual adultery only, but carnal adultery, they are whoremongers.

And walk in lies; and they make it their business to instil falsehoods into people, and entitle me to them; and this is their trade, not a single act, but their ordinary practice.

They strengthen also the hands of evil-doers, that none doth return from his wickedness: this is the great aggravation of the sin of those that occupy the place of spiritual guides, that they encourage profane men, either by their false doctrine, extenuating sin, and putting a fair gloss upon them; or at least by their mealy mouths fearing or forbearing to tell sinners of their wicked courses; or by their wicked examples, the most of people thinking they may do what their teachers do, by which means sinners, instead of being brought to a sense of their sins, and a repentance for them, are hardened in their wicked courses. By this means all of them, either of their prophets and priests, or all of the people, (the first seemeth chiefly here intended,) are become to me as contemptible and abominable as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah: though they were the sons of Aaron, and of the priestly order, yet living lewd lives, and acting quite contrary to the end of their holy calling, God declares himself to value them no more than as the vilest of men, such were the Sodomites. Or by those words God threatens that he would destroy them with as notorious a destruction as he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus the comparison is used Isaiah 1:9, and consonant to this are the words in the next verse.

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Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Jeremiah’s Diatribe Against The Prophets, Headed As ‘Concerning The Prophets’ (Jeremiah 23:9-40).

Having set right the vision of the future, Jeremiah now turns on those who had been distorting that vision in one way or another, the prophetic guild. Like the current ‘sons of David’ they too were inadequate. These were men who claimed to speak ‘the word of YHWH’ in the Name of YHWH in His very house (the Temple), but spoke all manner of falsehood and ungodliness in that Name. It was not that they did not conceive of themselves as genuine. Indeed we will soon learn of at least two who were prepared to die horrible deaths at the hands of Nebuchadrezzar because of their prophecies of his coming downfall (Jeremiah 29:21-22), but we also learn at the same time learn that they spoke lies and their lives were dishonourable (Jeremiah 29:23).

It is immediately made apparent how difficult Jeremiah is finding his task to be (Jeremiah 23:9). In order partly to understand that we have to appreciate two things, and the first is the ‘holiness’ seen as connected with ‘prophets’. In spite of the boldness of various prophets through the ages in the face of arrogant kings of Israel/Judah the number who were actually killed by the authorities were comparatively few. We see them coming boldly into the presence of the most of evil kings and walking away unscathed (it was not Ahab who sought to kill Elijah, but Jezebel, who was not rooted in Yahwism). And the reason why this was so was because they were seen as relatively sacrosanct as ‘the prophets of YHWH’. It was considered that to attack them would be to directly attack YHWH. Like the vessels in the sanctuary they were ‘holy, set apart to YHWH’ and therefore untouchable except by those appointed by YHWH.

In our own day we see Jeremiah’s opponents as ‘false prophets’, but we must remember that to the people of Jeremiah’s day they were ‘the prophets of YHWH’ to whom they went for ‘a word from YHWH’, and it was Jeremiah who was questionable.. The other prophets were seen as YHWH’s mouthpiece and totally untouchable. They were ‘holy’, that is they directly represented YHWH, and therefore to attack them was to attack YHWH. Even kings walked warily when they dealt with such men. Thus when Jeremiah took them on he knew that he was taking his whole life and reputation in his hands with this spirited attack upon them. And that is why he saw his words spoken against the prophets as especially ‘holy’. To deal with such ‘holy’ men required special holiness.

His invective can be divided up into four subsections in which there is an intermingling of Jeremiah’s prophetic words with the actual words of YHWH:

1. Jeremiah 23:9-12 in which Jeremiah explains how difficult he is finding it to proclaim YHWH’s holy words against the prophets, even to the point of shivering and quaking. But he then outlines what the consequences of their prophesying will be on the land (Jeremiah 23:10). YHWH Himself then steps in and declares what the consequences will be on the prophets themselves (Jeremiah 23:12). Note the twofold emphasis on the sure and certain ‘word of YHWH’ (neum YHWH).

2. Jeremiah 23:13-20 in which YHWH calumniates the prophets (Jeremiah 23:13-15) and questions what they teach (Jeremiah 23:16-18), explaining again what the results of their prophesying will be (Jeremiah 23:19-20) and emphasising that they were not sent or enlightened by Himself (Jeremiah 23:16). They had not stood in the Council of YHWH (Jeremiah 23:18; Jeremiah 23:22).

3. je r23:21-32 in which YHWH rejects the testimony of the false prophets and reveals Himself as the all-knowing One (Jeremiah 23:23-24), condemning the Temple prophets as false dreamers who cause the people to err in contrast with those who have the true word of YHWH which is like a fire and a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces (Jeremiah 23:25-32).

4. Jeremiah 23:33-40 in which YHWH tells Jeremiah that he himself must no longer have a burden for the people (Jeremiah 23:33) and then forbids the false prophets, on pain of severe punishment, from falsely claiming that they have a similar burden from Him, (the kind of burden that the genuine prophets had had in the past - Isaiah 13:1 and often; Nahum 1:1; Habakkuk 1:1), .

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Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

2). YHWH Calumniates The False Prophets And Questions What They Teach, Explaining What The Results Of Their Prophesying Will Be, And Emphasising That They Were Not Sent Or Enlightened By Him (Jeremiah 23:13-22).

Jeremiah now compares the prophets of Judah with the prophets who had brought doom on Israel, people who had no doubt become a byword in Judah as evidence of prophets who could go astray. And he sees little to choose between them. They walk in the same evil ways, and encourage others to do so as well, with the result that instead of converting the people from wickedness they make them worse. Indeed they were making them like the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, the two cities which were destroyed by YHWH for their extreme wickedness in the time of Abraham (Genesis 18-19), and were now synonymous with evil.

As a result YHWH will feed them with a bitter diet, because that is precisely the consequence of the type of teaching that they provide, a teaching which certainly does not come from Him but is simply a vision from their own hearts. They proclaim ‘peace and wellbeing’, and promise to those who are stubborn in heart that ‘no evil will come on them’. But they can only do this because, whatever they may profess, they have not stood in the council of YHWH. Had they done so they would have known that a tempest was coming forth which would burst on their heads, as a result of the anger of YHWH, a tempest which would not cease until all that He purposes has been brought about. They may not at present understand this, but eventually they will understand it perfectly because it will have happened to them. And that is why if they had genuinely stood in His council they would rather be seeking to turn the people to YHWH’s word and away from evil, because they would have known.

Jeremiah 23:13-14

“And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria,

They prophesied by Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.

In the prophets of Jerusalem also I have seen a horrible thing,

They commit adultery, and walk in lies,

And they strengthen the hands of evildoers,

So that none returns from his wickedness,

They are all of them become to me as Sodom,

And their inhabitants as Gomorrah.”

All agreed that there had been folly in the prophets of Samaria. Those prophets had supported the folly of their priests who had set up images in their temples, and they had had their own priesthood, and their own feasts, and had indulged in a syncretistic Yahwism which included consorting with Baal and Asherah and other gods and goddesses. Thus it had come as no surprise to Judah that YHWH should brand them as fools and punish them. Their view would be that they had deserved it for having forsaken Temple worship and having deserted the son of David. But, they would have thought, surely it was different in Judah. There they had the one Temple, and the legitimate priesthood, and regularly celebrated the feasts established by Moses, and while it was certainly necessary for them to admit that they had modernised it a little by the introduction of novelties such as nature gods in order to satisfy everyone, all in all they were confident that they gave YHWH what they thought He wanted, daily sacrifices, offerings of incense, and priestly recognition. What more could any God want?

But Jeremiah soon disillusions them. That was precisely Jeremiah’s point, that he had seen ‘a horrible thing’ in Jerusalem, the place which should especially have been kept free from all taint. While it may be that the folly of their prophets was not outwardly like that of Israel, it was just as real underneath. It was revealed in their spiritual and physical adultery, their willingness to countenance the worship of ‘Baal (Lord) YHWH’ and Asherah, the way that they deceived the people with lies under the guise of prophecy, and the way in which they prophesied in support of influential and powerful men, in order that they might achieve their ends, ‘strengthening the hands of evildoers’. And the result was that none returned from their wickedness because instead of making them feel guilty and repentant, the false prophets were encouraging them in their sins. Thus no one was returning from his wickedness to YHWH. And the consequence was that He saw them as being as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah, which was not on the whole a good thing if one thought of what had happened to them.

Indeed as we have seen earlier, YHWH considered that they were doubly guilty because they had failed to take notice of the warning given as a result of what had happened to their northern cousins (Jeremiah 3:6-10).

Jeremiah 23:15

‘Therefore thus says YHWH of hosts concerning the prophets:

“Behold, I will feed them with wormwood,

And make them drink the water of gall,

For from the prophets of Jerusalem,

Ungodliness is gone forth into all the land.

And it was because from these ‘prophets of Jerusalem’ (as contrasted and compared with the ‘prophets of Samaria’) had gone forward ungodliness into all the land, that YHWH of the hosts of Heaven and earth had decreed concerning these prophets that they should feed on wormwood and drink of gall (compare Jeremiah 9:15), in other words would experience bitter things.

Both wormwood and gall had the same characteristic, that they were very bitter, and even poisonous, and both regularly symbolised awful judgment (see for the wormwood varieties of plant Amos 5:7; Amos 6:12; Proverbs 5:4; Lamentation Jeremiah 3:15. For the gall plant see Jeremiah 8:14; Hosea 10:14; Deuteronomy 29:18; Amos 6:12; Lamentations 3:19). Drinking gall probably has in mind an extract from the colocynth gourd fruit.

Jeremiah 23:16

‘Thus says YHWH of hosts,

“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you,

They teach you what is vain,

They speak a vision of their own heart,

And not out of the mouth of YHWH.”

So through Jeremiah YHWH now called on His people to turn their backs on these false prophets and not to listen to them, because their preaching was empty and was useless, and because their visions came from their own hearts and not out of the mouth of YHWH. But He would have known that He was talking to a brick wall because the people were smug in what they saw as their perfect acceptability. And meanwhile Jeremiah must have been feeling it very deeply, especially when the people attacked him for being unfair to the false prophets.

Note the characteristics of a false prophet:

1. He teaches what is empty and useless (although very pleasing to the ear). Jeremiah 23:16.

2. He does not receive his message from God (Jeremiah 23:16; Jeremiah 23:18; Jeremiah 23:21).

3. He makes false promises to those who treat God lightly (Jeremiah 23:17).

4. He ignores it when men are being stubborn in their opposition to God’s ways (Jeremiah 23:17).

5. He fails to turn the people from their evil ways leaving them self-satisfied (Jeremiah 23:14; Jeremiah 23:22).

Jeremiah 23:17

“They say continually to those who despise me,

‘YHWH has said, You will have peace,’

And to every one who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart,

They say, ‘No evil will come upon you’.”

And these prophets were continually proclaiming to the very people who demonstrated by their injustice and oppression that they despised YHWH, that they would have peace and well-being. And to those who stubbornly refused to obey YHWH’s covenant they were giving the assurance that ‘No evil will come on you’. How foolish they were. For had they really seen into YHWH’s mind they would have known that the very opposite was true. However, the people enjoyed their message for it coincided with their own thinking that they were perfectly satisfactory to God and could carry on doing just what they wanted.

There is an interesting hint in the verb ‘they say’ of the difference in their activity from that of genuine prophets. It is a different word from that used of when YHWH’s prophets speak, perhaps suggesting that these prophets speak glibly on their own initiative. They speak from their own wisdom and not from the wisdom of YHWH.

Jeremiah 23:18

“For who has stood in the council of YHWH,

That he should perceive and hear his word?

Who has marked my word,

And heard it?”

YHWH now lays down His challenge. Which of them had stood in the Heavenly Council as His ways were being unveiled? Which of them had really perceived and heard His word? Which of them had taken note of His word and heard it? And the answer was none of them (apart of course from Jeremiah), for had they done so they would have seen things very differently.

The ‘Heavenly council’ in Hebrew thought consisted of YHWH’s court in the heavenlies where He was surrounded by holy beings. It was a council from which only true prophets could obtain the facts without distortion. See 1 Kings 22:19; Job 1-2; Job 15:8; Psalms 82:1; Psalms 89:6-7; Isaiah 6:1-8; Amos 3:7.

Jeremiah 23:19

“Behold, the tempest of YHWH,

Wrath, is gone forth,

Yes, a whirling tempest,

It will burst on the head of the wicked.”

And what had been the verdict of this Heavenly Council? It had been that the wrath of YHWH would come forth like a great tempest (a tempest of YHWH), yes like a whirling tempest, and it would burst on the all the heads of the wicked. Thus the Heavenly Council had come to a very different decision from that propounded by the false prophets. It had seen a picture of the world being turned upside down because of what was coming on it.

Jeremiah 23:20

“The anger of YHWH will not return,

Until he has executed,

And until he has performed the intents of his heart,

In the latter days you will understand it perfectly.”

And when that tempest began it would not cease until it had run its course. The anger of YHWH would go forth and not return until He had performed the intents of His heart, that is until what He had purposed had been fulfilled. And in later days they would understand it perfectly for they would have experienced it for themselves, and they would have begun to think through the truth of what he was saying (which was why Jeremiah’s prophecies were preserved). ‘The latter days’ simply means ‘later days’, the latter days of their own experience when all that had been warned about had actually happened and they were in exile. In other words their theological graduation would be as a result of having experienced God’s judgment, not from listening to the prophets.

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Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

. The Prophets.—Jeremiah is overcome by the stern message given him to deliver. The evil of the land is encouraged by prophet and priest (Jeremiah 6:13), even the Temple being dishonoured (2 Kings 21:5); for this they shall be thrust down a dark and slippery way (Jeremiah 23:9-12). The immorality of the southern prophets is worse than was the false religion of the northern (Jeremiah 23:13). Hence their punishment (Jeremiah 23:15; cf. Jeremiah 9:15). They inspire baseless hopes ("teach you vanity", Jeremiah 23:16), which are without Divine warrant (Jeremiah 14:14) and prophesy well-being (Jeremiah 23:17, as mg.). They have had no entrance into Yahweh's heavenly council (Jeremiah 23:18; cf. Jeremiah 23:22, Job 15:8 mg.; whereas true prophets have, Amos 3:7). Jeremiah 23:19 f., describing the ultimate judgment, appears to be an interpolation from Jeremiah 30:23 f. The teaching of the true prophet can be known from its moral quality (Jeremiah 23:22). But Yahweh is omnipresent and omniscient (Jeremiah 23:23 f.) and knows the falsity of the appeal made by these prophets to their dreams as revelation (cf. Job 4:13 ff.). Let the dream be put forward for no more than it is; the (direct) word of Yahweh shall be known by its powerful effects (i.e. its appeal to the sanctions of history, Jeremiah 23:29). Yahweh is against this imitative, second-hand prophecy (Jeremiah 23:30), which is without inner confirmation (Jeremiah 23:31, and see on Jeremiah 20:9), and Divine commission (Jeremiah 23:32). This passage is important for the study of the prophetic consciousness, especially of the distinction of true from false prophecy (cf. Jeremiah 14:13 ff., Ezekiel 13:1-16). The implied marks of false prophecy are superficial optimism (Jeremiah 23:17), immoral teaching (Jeremiah 23:22), futility of result (Jeremiah 23:29), lack of originality and inner conviction (Jeremiah 23:30).—There follows (Jeremiah 23:33-40) a rather obscure denunciation of the term "burden", as used of an oracle, i.e. of something "taken up" on the prophet's lips. When men scornfully ask about Yahweh's "burden", the answer, playing on the term, shall be "Ye are the burden" (Jeremiah 23:33 mg.). Men make their own words into Yahweh's "burden" (Jeremiah 23:36 mg.). If men persist in using this term "burden" of Yahweh's oracles, he will "take them up" (Jeremiah 23:39 mg., again with play on the word) and fling them away.

Jeremiah 23:9. shake: "be soft," i.e. strengthless.

Jeremiah 23:10. Read mg.; "for because . . . dried up" interrupts the connexion.

Jeremiah 23:13. folly: lit. "unsavouriness", Job 6:6.

Jeremiah 23:23. at hand: must be taken to mean "locally limited", in view of context. Jeremiah 23:26. The verse is corrupt: Driver suggests "how long? is (my word) in the heart, etc.".

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES.—1. Chronology of the Chapter.—The chapter is an epilogue to the denunciations of the three kings in chap. 22. It must have been written and proclaimed about the beginning of Zedekiah's reign, for a warning to him, from the examples of his predecessors, of the consequences of unrighteousness. Cf. notes on chap. Jer .

2. Contemporary Scriptures.—2Ki ; 2Ch 36:10-12. Comp. Jer 52:1-3.

For 3. National Affairs, and 4. Contemporaneous History. See notes on chap. Jer .

5. Geographical References.—Jer . "Samaria:" here alluded to as the territory of the ten tribes of Israel, in contrast with "Jerusalem" (Jer 23:14), the territory of Ephraim and Judah. Jer 23:14. "Sodom and Gomorrah:" two cities "of the plain," standing close together, in or near the vale of Siddim (Gen 10:19; Gen 13:10); overthrown B.C. 2064, for their atrocious wickedness (Gen 18:20; Rom 9:29). Their doom is held up as a warning to the children of Israel (Deu 29:23), and forms a standing illustration of abandoned iniquity (Deu 32:32; Isa 1:9-10;) and in this verse. Josephus states that the Dead Sea now fills the valley in which these "cities of the plain" stood (Ant. i. 9), but elsewhere affirms (War, iv. 8, 4) that the site of Sodom was not submerged, but remains a burnt and charred scene. Pilgrims to Palestine formerly saw, or thought they saw, ruins of towns at the bottom of the Dead Sea, not far from the shore.

6. Personal Allusions.—Jer . "David." Comp. Homily on Jer 23:24 of chap. 22 for the lineal royal connection with David.

7. Natural History.—Jer . "Branch." This word Tsemach occurs also in chap. Jer 33:15; Zec 3:8; Zec 4:12, and denotes a springing or budding plant—"a sprout." Dr. Payne Smith remarks: "A tree has many branches, and these can be pruned away without killing the tree, but the sprout is that in which the root springs up and grows, and which, if it be destroyed, makes the root perish also. For its use, see Gen 19:25; Isa 61:11, in both which places it springs directly out of the ground; also Eze 16:7; Eze 17:9; Hos 8:7, where it is translated either bud or spring."

Jer . "Wormwood and gall:" cf. notes on chaps. Jer 9:15, and Jer 8:14.

Jer . "Chaff and wheat:" cf. Homily on verse infra.

8. Manners and Customs.—Jer . "I have dreamed, I have dreamed:" Professional "dreamers" early appeared (see Deu 18:1), for superstitious people in all ages have given ready credulity to these false visionists.

9. Literary Criticisms.—Jer . "A King shall reign and prosper." Rather, "He shall reign as king and prosper;" as contrasted with chap. Jer 23:30.

Jer . "His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." "He shall be called" is more properly "he shall call him:" i.e., either "God shall," &c., or "he shall"—each shall. Several MSS., however, read, יִקְרְאוּ plural, "they shall call him," instead of יִקְרְאוֹ singular. "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS:" Jehovah Tsidkenu. Criticism has attempted to make "Jehovah" the nominative of "shall call,"—"Jehovah shall call him, "our Righteousness:" thus destroying the compound name, and depriving the Messiah of the title of Deity: but Henderson affirms, and in this is sustained by the consensus and weight of modern scholarship, that "to make יְהֹוָה the nominative of the verb (shall call) is to contradict all Hebrew usage, according to which the name given, and not the person who gives the name, immediately follows the verb.

Jer . "Profaneness gone forth"—profanation, desecration.

Jer . "Imagination"—stubbornness.

Jer . "Behold, a whirlwind," &c. The verse should read, Behold, a tempest (storm wind) of Jehovah! Fury is gone forth (or, even hot anger is gone forth); and a whirlwind ( סַעַר מִתחוֹלֵל a tornado, whirling storm) shall be hurled (or burst) upon the head of the wicked.

Jer . "Is not My word like as a fire?" The presence of the word כה, thus, in this sentence gives rise to the suggestion that formerly it was כח, strength or power. The Targum reads: "Are not all My words strong like fire?" Probably this suggested the word in Heb 4:12, "quick and powerful."

Jer . "That use their tongues and say, He saith." Not נְאֻם יהֹוָה, saith Jehovah, but only נְאֻס "saith."

Jer . "What burden?" The LXX. divide the words אֶת־מה־משּׂא, What burden? into only two sections, thus, אתם המּשּׂא, Ye are the burden; and with this reading, which is more rational, the following words accord: "Ye are the burden, and I will cast you away, saith the Lord." "Forsaken you," should be, refused you, thrown you off.



Jer .

Judah's restoration under Jehovah Tsidkenu.


Jer .

False prophets and national levity denounced.


Through the dark clouds gathering over Jerusalem there broke occasionally gleams of sunshine. The judgments which the prophet foretold were so terrible, and the ruin awaiting Judah so overwhelming, that Jeremiah and the small remnant of the true Israel remaining might have abandoned all hope.

But God relieved their despondency by the promise that, notwithstanding the judgments and calamities, He would again visit and redeem His people.

I. The prediction assumes that all the calamities which the prophet foretold would overtake Judah. These calamities threatened the kingdom, and also the very house of David: for the expression, "I will raise unto David a righteous Branch," conveys the idea of a tender sprout springing from the root of a tree cut down or seemingly dead.

II. Yet the prediction assured them that the promise would certainly be fulfilled. The positive fulfilment of the threatening would encourage the hope in the sure realisation of the promise, and give them encouragement amid the calamities.

III. There is here an obvious contrast between this promised King and all who ever held David's throne. He was to be righteous, to reign, to act wisely. How different from all kings before Him! Their impiety and folly had entailed ruin upon the people.

IV. The description of their future King could not fail to astonish them. It began by comparing Him to a bud, or tender shoot, from a tree cut down, and ended by ascribing to Him the great and fearful name of JEHOVAH! It must have awakened their admiration, reverence, confidence: for—

1. His being the offspring of David assured them of His tenderest sympathy in the well-being of Israel and Judah; and—

2. His being Jehovah gave still stronger assurance that nothing was too difficult to accomplish, and nothing would be left undone. And—

3. They were assured that His righteousness, power, and wisdom would be made available for securing the peace and prosperity of His people, as He was to be their Righteousness.

V. This promise has been fulfilled, and its hidden meaning unfolded. To God's ancient people obscurity must have hidden the true character of their king. The prophets themselves diligently sought a "private interpretation" of their own predictions. The Church at large was in mystery. But to us the mystery is all revealed.

VI. The great principle on which the whole scheme of redemption rests is here stated. "Righteousness."

1. It is only on the ground of perfect righteousness that God can accept and approve an intelligent creature.

2. Yet a sinner's restoration to righteousness was impracticable by and of himself. He fell under the power as well as condemnation of sin.

3. The two conditions of man's deliverance were, punishment due to sin already committed must be borne, and perfect compliance with the demand of the law must be rendered. Man was wholly incompetent.

4. The manifold wisdom of God is seen in His provision of what seemed impossible—perfect righteousness. "He shall be called Jehovah our righteousness."—Robert Gordon, D.D., F.R.S.C.—"Christ as made known to the Ancient Church."

Here is—

I. A word of terror to the negligent shepherds (Jer ). The day is at hand when God would reckon with them concerning the trust committed to them.

1. They were not owners of the sheep. God calls them "the sheep of My pasture."

2. They had neglected the sheep. "Scattered the flock," &c.

3. They would be visited with vengeance. They would not "visit" the sheep; God would "visit" upon them the evil of their doings. See Addenda: NEGLIGENT PASTORS.

II. A word of comfort to the neglected sheep.

1. The dispersed people should be gathered happily into their own land, and under good government (Jer ).

2. Messiah, the good Shepherd of the sheep, would be raised up to bless and be the glory of His people Israel (Jer ).

3. This great salvation should far outshine Israel's deliverance from Egypt (Jer ).

III. An illustrious description of the promised Messiah.

1. Christ is here spoken of as the Branch from David. Mean in appearance; His beginnings small; His rise seemingly out of the earth, but growing to be green, to be great, and to be loaded with fruits.

2. He is here spoken of as the Church's King. He shall reign on the throne of His father David, and he shall prosper, and not, as the degenerate kings had done, go back in their affairs. He shall set up a kingdom in the world, which shall be victorious over all opposition. And in these days of Christ's government, "Judah shall be saved," &c. When He reigns uppermost in the soul, the soul dwells at ease.

3. He is here spoken of as The Lord our Righteousness. (1.) Who and what He is. As God, "Jehovah;" denoting His eternity and self-existence. As Mediator, "our Righteousness." All our righteousness has its being from Him; and we are made the righteousness of God in Him. (2.) The profession and declaration of this. "This is the name by which," &c. Not only shall He be so, but He shall be known to be so. God shall call Him by this name: and Israel shall so call Him: and every true believer shall know and call upon Him by that name.—Matthew Henry.


Jeremiah's deep distress under the necessity of declaring the dreadful woes which God bade him utter (Jer ).

I. Delusive prophesyings.

1. Criminal teachers (Jer ). Their wicked teachings had led to apostasy in Samaria, and effrontery in Jerusalem.

2. Deluded hearers (Jer ). They "hearkened" readily; were rendered "vain;" grew to "despise" God; and still expected "peace."

3. A demoralised nation (Jer ). Abandoned to vileness of conduct; to profanity of speech; perversity of life ("course evil"); and resolute defiance ("their force is not right").

4. God's revulsion at such scenes (Jer ). The conduct of the Baal-priests in Samaria stirred God's contempt; but the vile corruptions of the Jerusalem priests aroused His loathing and wrath.

5. God's remonstrance with the nation (Jer ). Though men mislead, God interposes with earnest appeals and honest counsels.

6. God's charge against the prophets (Jer ; Jer 23:21-22). They had neglected "the counsel of the Lord"; had spoken without a commission; and therefore misled God's people.

7. Sin's cruel seductions (Jer ). God gives them over to strong delusions; to inherit the miseries of their perversity.

8. Fierce anger against transgressors (Jer ). Mighty forces of destruction; working furious disaster upon the wrong-doers; allowing of no escape.

9. Bitter woes against the prophets (Jer ). Inward bitterness: enforced bitterness: God would fill them with the pangs of woe.


i. False teachers will taste the full "bitterness" of their wicked delusions.

ii. Wilful sinners shall be "driven on" in the slippery ways they prefer.

iii. No teachings which lead men to sin can have the sanction of God.

II. Frivolous dreamers.

1. False pretenders to Divine communications (Jer ). These dreamy surmisings are (1.) Traced to their origin ("the deceit of their own heart"); and (2.) Their baneful purpose is exposed ("they think to cause My people to forget My name," &c.).

2. A bold distinction between God's messages and such deceits (Jer ). The "dream" beguiles to delusions; the "word" burns all conceits and breaks all false confidences.

3. An all-observing Eye (Jer ). Deceivers are watched. Men cannot see through their fallacies, but God can. None deceive Him.

4. Stern denunciations of lying prophets, (1.) Their sinful practices; they "steal God's words" from true prophets and pervert or misapply them; they simulate a Divine authority for their false words, saying "He saith;" and they lead God's people "to err by their lightness." (2.) God's severe remonstrance; "I am against the prophets," and the "dreamers;" He would requite them for their deceptions and for the consequent errors of the people.


i. Promises of peace from men who lead us astray from God are mere "chaff" which the wind shall drive away.

ii. The "faithfulness" of God's Word distinguishes it from the delusions of human teachings.

III. Profane jesting. This charge is thrown upon the whole nation (Jer ). They so treated the messages of God's true prophet.

1. Retorting with banter and levity. Taking up Jeremiah's solemn words with derision, and tossing them about as if it all were a jest.

2. Trifling with messages from God (Jer ). Chaffing one another with being bearers of God's "burden;" and "perverting" Jehovah's "words."

3. Rejected by Jehovah with contempt (Jer ). God had forbidden this levity (Jer 23:38); and now would "cast off" the nation as a grievous and loathsome burden (Jer 23:39), and leave them to the "lasting shame" they so richly deserved (Jer 23:40).


i. Jesting with God's Word indicates the most daring impiety.

ii. Such lightness and profanity will prove a woful burden to the sinner and his everlasting reproach.



I. Woful neglect of the flock of God.

1. On whom God charges this faithlessness. These "pastors" were the secular rulers, the unrighteous kings, mentioned in chap. 22, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jeconiah. Note, the responsibility of civil rulers to God; for "By Me kings reign," &c. Hence argue: the obligations of all in power, whether that power be royal, civil, ecclesiastical, or pastoral, to rule and work for the highest good and the spiritual advantage of the people.

2. For what God threatens these shepherds. The flock was "destroyed;" i.e., it was no longer "the flock of God," for the nation was a wilful and wicked herd of goats; its pastoral simplicity had been ruined. And the flock was "scattered;" driven away from fidelity to God; equally from His nutritious pasturage; and literally from the fold they should have occupied, the land they should have continued to inhabit (Jer ). Negligent Shepherds harm the people temporally and spiritually; despoil them of the choicest blessings of this life—their spiritual comforts and heavenly hopes.

3. With what judgments God would visit such faithlessness. "Woe be to the pastors." "I will visit upon you the evil of your doings." With what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. The ruin of the flock would be requited by the ruin of the shepherds. (See Ezekiel 33.)

II. Benignant promise of faithful pastors.

Note that the words "pastors" and "shepherds" are different translations of the same Hebrew word (rim).

1. To that nation this was fulfilled in the raising up of religious and righteous rulers, Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Maccabees, who were not hereditary kings of the seed of David, but men raised up by God to govern His flock.

2. To the spiritual Israel this was fulfilled in the orders and ordinances of the Christian Church. No more have we the tyranny of secular kings within the Church; but Christ Himself is King. No longer have we the impiety of priests and Pharisees within the Church (as in the Jewish Synagogue); for the apostles of Christ began a line of earnest teachers and preachers who minister within the sanctuary: faithful pastors who love and tend "the flock of God over which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers."

3. To every soul within the Saviour's fold these assurances are now verified: "they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord" (Jer ): for believers in Christ have Him for Shepherd (Psalms 24); and He both guards His fold from harm, and nourishes the souls of His flock.

"Fear no more:" it pledges a sense of security. Such is the luxury of Christian restfulness within the fold of and under the rule of Jesus our Lord. Safe in Christ.

"Nor be dismayed:" it guarantees protection from such neglect and exposure as a flock, faithlessly shepherded, would suffer. Saved by Christ.

"Neither shall they be lacking:" this means, not one sheep shall be missing. This is therefore a prophecy of Judah's restoration from Babylon; yet its fulness of significance can only be realised in the final restoration of both "Judah" and "Israel" (comp. Jer ) out of all countries—a prophecy never yet accomplished. While spiritually it foreshadows the gathering together of all Christ's redeemed, under the One Shepherd of the sheep.



The prophetic writings are replete with appropriate and sublime descriptions of the personal appearing, redeeming works, and mediatorial offices of the promised Messiah. The text describes the Redeemer's character, as assuming human nature and establishing His kingdom of grace; and directs our attention to the following important truths:

I. The person of the Messiah.

"Behold the days come," &c. In these words we may observe three things relative to the coming Messiah:—

1. His human incarnation. "A Branch." This term is often used by the prophets to represent Christ's assumption of our nature as "the seed of the woman," according to the Divine promise (Gen ). To accomplish this and similar promises, the Lord declares in the text, "Behold the days come that I will raise unto David a righteous branch." The Father loved the world, promised, and actually "sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, that we might live through Him." Thus, the Lord "raised" in the royal house and lineage of David "a Branch;" as it is written, "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of His roots." The scheme of redemption rendered it necessary for Christ to "take on Him the seed of Abraham," that He might suffer and die for our sins (Heb 2:10; Heb 2:17).

2. His personal perfection. "A righteous branch." In His essential nature as God, Jesus Christ was infinitely pure, holy, just, and good. And in His human nature as man He was perfectly righteous and sinless. Had not Christ been sinless, He could not have atoned for our sins.

3. His sovereign character. "A King shall reign." The Jews were taught to expect their Messiah as an illustrious Prince and prosperous monarch. But, in general, they mistook the precise meaning of the prophets, and expected Him as a temporal, and not as a spiritual, sovereign. He possessed every qualification requisite for the dignity of His character. He is infinite in wisdom, righteousness, power, and goodness. He is not only a Prophet to instruct, a Priest to atone, but also a King to rule and save His people.

II. The nature of His kingdom.

"A King shall reign and prosper," &c. The empire of Christ is of a complex character, and comprehends His vast dominion over all things, as the Creator and Preserver of mankind, and as the Redeemer and Saviour of them that believe. In this extended view the Messiah possesses:—

1. A universal kingdom. His presence fills all space, and His power is unlimited. He reigns in His providence over all His creatures, and is "the King of kings, and Lord of lords." He is the sovereign proprietor of all things, and sways His sceptre both in heaven and in earth. All things are dependent on His power, and subject to His control, "who is over all, God blessed for ever."

2. A mediatorial kingdom. This refers to Christ's official character, as the "mediator between God and man." When Christ engaged in the cause of our redemption. He founded a kingdom of mediation for the redemption of mankind. The Saviour reigns as the conqueror of all our enemies as "the Prince of Peace and the King of Zion," in His redeeming and mediatorial character (Php ).

3. A spiritual kingdom. The kingdom which Christ established in the work of redemption is designed in its personal influence to destroy sin, that "grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life." Our Lord declares the kingdom of God is within you. It is an eternal empire of grace, producing righteousness, peace, and "joy in the Holy Ghost."

4. A celestial kingdom. Heaven is often denominated a kingdom, and is the promised inheritance of the Lord's faithful people (Luk ). The kingdom of grace here prepares and leads to the kingdom of glory hereafter. Christ waits to receive and welcome His followers into His everlasting kingdom, that they may participate His glory, dwell in His presence, and reign with Him for ever.

III. The character of His reign. "A king shall reign and prosper," &c.

1. Christ's reign is legitimate. He is no impostor. He reigns by rational and eternal right as Sovereign of the universe; and as mediator He reigns in the kingdom of grace by Divine appointment, authority, and sanction. The kingdom of Christ is founded on principles of sound reason, and therefore all rational beings ought to submit to His government.

2. Christ's reign is righteous. He is a merciful and gracious Sovereign, and though He "executes judgment and justice in the earth," it is in mercy and love to mankind.

3. Christ's reign is prosperous. Whatever opposition His kingdom meets with, "He shall prosper." All the schemes He adopts, and the means He employs, are devised by infinite wisdom and accompanied by omnipotent energy; and therefore His reign must succeed. His perfections, declarations, promises, gospel, and Spirit, secure the prosperity of His cause (Heb ; Dan 2:44; Joh 16:8).

4. Christ's reign is everlasting. All other kings are mortal, and therefore die and leave their dignities to their successors. All temporal kingdoms rise and fall, and will ultimately perish in the wreck of worlds; but Christ is the "King eternal and immortal, and His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation."

To improve the subject, consider: The dignity of Christ's person and character, the folly and misery of His enemies, and the duty and happiness of His subjects.—Sketches of Sermons.


Christ is described in His distinct and dissimilar parts of His character by Jeremiah: "A branch," to denote His human nature and origin: "the righteous branch," to denote His essential righteousness in Himself, and the source of righteousness to believers: and their "King," to direct attention to His spiritual dominion.

I. The character of Christ. There are three things we look for in a king:

1. Supreme power (Eph ; Rom 9:5).

2. Legislative authority. Christ's right to legislate, as being proprietor of all (Joh ; Col 1:16) and redeemer of all; for He "bought us with a price."

3. Righteous administration. There must be wisdom, or the monarch's reign would be one of folly; justice, or tolerate licentiousness; mercy, or be despotic (Mat ).

II. The nature of Christ's reign.

1. Spiritual. Seat of His government is in the human spirit (Luk ; Rom 14:17).

2. Equitable. Prohibits all evil, enjoins all good (Heb ).

3. Benevolent. Alexanders and Csars were "warriors with confused noise and garments rolled in blood;" but Christ (Isa ).

4. Perpetual. Earthly kingdoms may rise and fall (Isa ; Heb 1:8).

III. The prosperity with which His reign shall be attended. To prosper as king, implies:

1. To have an increase of willing subjects.

2. To have adequate provision for supply of all their wants.

3. To secure their real happiness (Psa ).

4. To subjugate or destroy His enemies (Isa ).


1. If Christ shall reign and prosper, how great is the folly of being His adversaries!

2. This subject should inspire the Christian with joy and gratitude (Act ; Rev 19:6-7).

3. We should do our utmost to extend the Redeemer's triumphs.—From

Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.

Jer . Theme: A BRIGHT ERA FOR MANKIND. "In His days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely."

Eagerly we scan those prophecies which open a gracious future for humanity. Especially when our Lord Jesus is predicted as being the author of that blissful change. For it is so desirable both for human good and the Saviour's glory.

(a.) The present prevailing irreligion, with all the force of a dark contrast, makes the outlook alluring to contemplate.

(b.) The slow progress of evangelisation gives zest to the anticipation of the grand success which shall come "in those days" through the direct interposition of Heaven.

HAS THIS PROPHECY BEEN FULFILLED? Does it allude to the spiritual salvation of the spiritual Judah as the result of gospel preaching in this Christian era? Or, to the final gathering together of Jews into their own land? Or, to the millennial day when the spiritual Israel will be made triumphant over all the forces of evil, and reign in peace and safety on the earth?

I. An age anticipated which shall belong to Christ. Called "His days."

1. Have those days been realised in the Christian era? Certainly Christianity in some sense has fulfilled this prediction. It is an era when, not Moses, but Christ gives the impress to, and dwells supreme in, the dispensation. Jesus is now "the Lord our Righteousness." And if we may interpret "Judah and Israel" spiritually, then He has "saved us."

But the ancient people of God are here literally meant. And they have not as yet come to call Jesus "the Lord our Righteousness;" they do not "dwell safely," for they are wanderers upon the earth. The promise in Jer has not yet been fulfilled even in a spiritual sense: Israel has not been all won to Christ.

2. Those days have yet to dawn. For when they come Israel shall acknowledge Christ.

(a.) There may be an actual fulfilment of this promise for the tribes of Judah and Israel. And who would not welcome it? for they have been a sad people long afflicted. Yet even more because of the promises which attend the time of their restoration (Rom ; Rom 11:15; Rom 11:25-26).

(b.) But the allusion may be to the millennial age: when (Jer ) the "King shall reign." We cannot say these are the days of Christ; for the devil rules a wider dominion! But "the kingdom of this world shall become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ." For this grand future pray, work, and hope.

II. The days of Christ's ascendancy shall be distinguished by the enjoyments of salvation.

(a.) Oppression and destruction marked the days of despotic monarchies—the Pharaohs, Nebuchadnezzar, Frederick the Great, Bonaparte.

(b.) Safety has not hitherto been the experience of the Jewish nation. Every age finds them a wronged and outraged people. But when Messiah comes they will be molested no more.

(c.) Neither has Israel, spiritually considered, dwelt safely. The souls of Christ's people are always imperilled and assailed by the forces of evil.

1. What do "safety and salvation" here mean?—If the Hebrew interpretation be correct, it means deliverance from the nations, and possession of their own country, where they would dwell in peace. If the spiritual interpretation be correct, it means, Christ's followers ransomed from the enemy, piety victorious over sin, earth won for Christ. Then the foe disturbs our peace no more, threatens our safety no more, either by insinuating doubt, planning temptation, or chilling love. What days those! when all will be blessed in Jesus; when all shall know the Lord, &c., and the Church shall be happy in Jesus' favour, free from the dread of ills!

2. In the individual believer these promises are already fulfilled. He is "saved," and "dwells safely" in Christ. But that personal bliss is the possession of few now. "Christ's days" shall spread it far and wide—to Jew and Gentile.

III. For the coming of Christ's days we may well with eagerness yearn.

1. They are desirable. What a joyous outlook! Ended our "sowing precious seed with tears," our grief over the desolations of sin, our shame for the scorn and rejection of Christ, our struggles with evil around.

2. We live amid danger now. Therefore anxiety and watchfulness: therefore peace is disturbed and joy marred. Then shall we realise rest and delight. "How long, O Lord, how long?" Not long, if we speed the time by diligent work—for the conversion of the heathen and the salvation of those who are near. Not long, if we speed the time by earnest prayer. "Thy kingdom come." Let us "give Him no rest till He arise and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth."

Jer . Theme: "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." We may view this as—

I. An announcement of an important truth.

1. The Lord is our righteousness inasmuch as the purpose and plan of justifying sinners originated with Him.

2. Inasmuch as He Himself has alone procured righteousness for us.

3. Inasmuch as it is through His grace and by His free donation that we receive righteousness.

II. An utterance of personal belief and confidence.

The language of faith, hope, joy, gratitude.

III. A directory to the spiritual inquirer.

Anxious sinners wish to know the way of acceptance with God. The text is a brief but satisfactory answer.—Dr. W. Lindsay-Alexander (of Edinburgh), "The Hive."


Redemption by a crucified Redeemer is the capital theme of Divine revelation. It is completely interwoven with the golden network of the prophetic page—for to Him give all the prophets witness—whilst the evangelists echo and re-echo the exhaustless theme.

The Gospel is not known as a system of promises simply, though these are exceedingly great and precious; not as a system of morals, though its morality is of the highest kind; nor as a system of legislation simply, though it contains the code of God's moral government; but it is pre-eminently known as a system of reconciliation.

This doctrine forms the key to the Christian system. To this one work all dispensations point. This all sacrifices illustrate. This all promises embody. This all Providence is bowed to subserve. This all heaven stoops to witness. This all hell resists and opposes. This all bad men revile or neglect. This all good men venerate and love. Surely shall one say, In the Lord Jehovah have I righteousness and strength. "This is the name by which He shall be called," etc.

It is common with the prophets to console the Jews under their calamities with the prospect of Messiah's approach, as a proof that if the Church was to be preserved till His coming, it should not be destroyed in its present exigency. Here the transit is easy from the corrupt pastors that destroyed Israel to the true Shepherd who should redeem it. He was to be the descendant of their shepherd-king.

1. Exhibit the delightful character under which Christ is portrayed.

2. Specify some of the circumstances that put an emphasis and value upon the redemption He has achieved.

I. Exhibit the delightful character under which Christ is here presented. The Lord is our righteousness.

Every title which Christ bears opens a source of consolation to His people. They are so many beautiful notices of Himself, and shadow forth blessings.

i. In His essential dignity. "The Lord." Jehovah. Incommunicableness.

We are thus led up before the springs of Time. "His goings forth have been of old from everlasting." Before the dayspring knew its place. All things were derived from Him; He was before all things were; He shall be when they cease to exist. The message to the seven churches begins with, "Grace, mercy, peace, from Him THAT IS, and WAS, and is to COME, the Almighty:" and He who there speaks says, "I am Alpha and Omega." The JEHOVAH of the Old Testament is the LORD of the New: the seed of David: over all God.

All the evidence concurs in this, that the Redeemer of the world was to be Divine as well as human. This was necessary that He might transact our salvation on equal terms, and that the virtue of His offering might be available and efficacious on our behalf. Take away His humanity, and He would have no sacrifice to offer: take away His divinity, and His sacrifice would have no inherent merit. The doctrines of Christ's merit and of Christ's Divinity are inseparable, for if the one be removed, the other must fall, of course; and with them the whole fabric of our redemption.

ii. His mediatorial office. "Our righteousness." So important is this that our Lord takes His name from it. It is the title by which He loves to be distinguished, and all who would speak to His honour must make mention of His righteousness. It was no unusual thing for the warriors, princes, and great men of antiquity to take their names from the countries conquered, or the exploits they had achieved. As Scipio from his conquest of Africa, and Coriolanus from his over the Corioli. So Christ from redemption. In the name of Jesus the whole Gospel lies hid.

The necessity for this scheme of substitution arose out of human depravity, and the inflexible rectitude of the Divine government. It was necessary that as we had lost our righteousness it should be restored in Christ. "Die He, or justice must." To fulfil the high condition Jesus interposed. Here was glory for our meanness, suffering for our ransom. It was exacted.

Here we see the grand reality to which all the shadows of the Jewish law pointed. "It became Him," etc.

iii. In the spiritual relation in which He stands to His people—intended in the term "our righteousness."

A spiritual union is presupposed between us and Him, of which faith is the connecting link—in consequence of which the penalty we incurred is borne by Him, and the righteousness He wrought out on Calvary is applied to us. The inheritance was to be redeemed by the GOEL or near kinsman. "Both He that sanctifieth," etc.

Rest not till you can rest in Christ, as made of God to you wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. It is the personal experience and the personal application of Christ's benefits which we need. "I know whom I have believed." "I know my Redeemer."

II. Specify some considerations which put an emphasis and value upon redemption, and heighten our sense of its importance.

i. The work of redemption has ennobled our nature and shed a lustre over the annals of our world. He took not on Him the nature of angels—laid not hold on them. Those first-born sons of immortality were left in their sins. No "mighty to save" appeared for them. No ark in their deluge: no refuge city in their land: no brazen serpent in their camp: no star of Bethlehem in their sky!

Christ ennobles all with which He comes in contact. The very place is memorable. "Thou Bethlehem Ephrata." The times are memorable. Jesus fills an era of His own. "In HIS DAYS Judah saved." We date from His death—we memorialise His death—"show forth the Lord's death."

ii. It eclipses and throws into the shade the greatest of the Divine works. "No more say the Lord liveth, who brought Israel from Egypt." Babylon was to eclipse the deliverance from Egypt—and Calvary that of Babylon.

iii. It enhances the value of temporal blessings following in its train. "Judah shall be saved"—when God is known as her righteousness.

iv. It forms a permanent bond of union among subjects of grace. "Judah and Israel."

Finally, judge of the grandeur of the work by the doom denounced against those who despise and reject it. "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish." "Of how much sorer punishment," &c.—S. Thodey, A.D. 1838.


The ancient fathers agreed that this prophecy was not fulfilled on the return of the Jews under Zerubbabel, but is accomplished by the restoration of all true Israelites in Christ.

I. The manhood of the Messiah is here declared. "I will raise unto David a righteous branch" (comp. Isa ).

II. Christ's royal majesty and judicial authority are prophetically announced. "And a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth."

III. His saving power and love as our Redeemer are also affirmed. "In His days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely."

IV. Here is a clear assertion that He who has been pre-announced as Very Man of the seed of David, and as an Eternal King and Righteous Judge, and as a mighty Saviour and Deliverer, is also the LORD, JEHOVAH, Very God, and, being Very God as well as Very Man, is OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.—Bishop Wordsworth.


To speak of a person as "THE LORD OUR RIGHTNEOUSNESS," and to say that His name was to be called JEHOVAH, would be very dangerous unless His name really was Jehovah.

I. According to the whole teaching of the Christian Scripture, it cannot be predicated of Jehovah, regarded as a name of God the Father, that He is "our righteousness." On the contrary, the Father is our righteous Lawgiver and Judge, and we are liable to Him for the punishment of our sins.

II. We may safely predicate "our righteousness" of Christ, who is here called "the Lord our righteousness."

For the Apostle has expressly taught us that "Christ is made unto us righteousness" (1Co ). As Man He was able to suffer for us: as God He is able to reconcile the Father to us.

Not only, therefore, may Christ "our righteousness" be called JEHOVAH, but by being also called "OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" he is thereby distinguished from God the Father, and becomes our Jehovah and our righteousness: the God-Man consecrated to man's redemption.—Comp. Bishop Pearson on this text, Art. ii. p. 148.


This name is compounded of these three words—all of them essential: and it makes a "threefold cord which cannot be broken;" which, except it be entire, and have all three, it loseth the virtue, it worketh nothing.

i. "JEHOVA." Why that must be a part of this name. David shows (Psa ), because only His righteousness is worth remembering; and no other is fit to be mentioned. For our own "righteousness" is odious (Isa 64:6, and Php 4:8).

ii. JUSTITIA. Why "righteousness" rather than "salvation" or "peace"? Because salvation and peace are the fruits which grow on "Righteousness" as the "Branch" (Isa ).

iii. JEHOVA JUSTITIA. Why is "Jehovah" here associated with "righteousness" rather than with some other attribute, as of "power" or "mercy"? Because it is "God with us" (Isa ), chiefly in this property of righteousness as above all other Divine properties.

David calls Him Jehova misericordia (Psa ), and true it is that mercy is ours. But justice is against us; and except "justice" also be made "ours," all is not as it should be. But if justice—that in God which only is against us—might be made for us, then are we safe. Therefore, all our thought is how we may get "mercy to triumph over justice" (Jas 2:13), or how we may get them to meet and be friends (Psa 85:10). Hence, therefore, neither Jehova potentia nor Jehova misericordia are enough, but it must be Jehova justitia.

iv. NOSTRA. Without this "Jehovah" alone doth not concern us, while "Jehovah justitia" is wholly against us. But if He be not alone "righteousness," but ours too, we have our desires. Verily this possessive word of application is all in all.—Bishop Andrewes (Works, vol. v. Sermon 5). See further Noticeable Topics.

Jer . Repeated from chap. Jer 16:14-15. See Homily in loc. But see Noticeable Topics below: "THE LOST TEN TRIBES."

Jer . Theme: HORROR OVER FAITHLESS PROPHETS. The Prophet seems "beside himself for God" as Paul was; a mad enthusiast; "like a man whom wine hath overcome." He had sufficient cause.

I. Intense grief over false teachers. "Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets." 1. Their wickedness in teaching delusions. This incensed his pious soul. 2. Their ruinous misleading of the nation. This disturbed his patriotic spirit.

II. Profound terror over approaching disasters. "All my bones shake, I am like a drunken man." For, 1. He himself clearly knew the disasters which false prophets sought to obscure and hide. 2. He vividly apprehended the agonies into which his nation would speedily be plunged. See Addenda: NEGLIGENT PASTORS.

III. Deepest awe over God's terribleness. "Because of the Lord and the words of His holiness." 1. He knew with whom these prophets were trifling. "And knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men." 2. He realised the compulsion of God's holy words. God never threatened willingly; but when necessity led Him to pronounce doom, it was appalling to think of what it meant.

Jer . Theme: GOD'S WRATH OVER NATIONAL VICES. Here is a catalogue of criminalities, together with their penalties.

I. Outrages by man against God. Sin has manifold names and shapes, all offensive. Here is a specification of some especially odious.

1. Immorality. "Land full of adulterers." Literal: for fornication was the common attendant of idolatry. And this by "prophets," and by the people throughout the land, who were encouraged thereto by the example of their leaders. Spiritual adultery also; Israel had forsaken her Husband for idols (Jer ; Jer 3:20).

2. Foul speech, "swearing." Margin, cursing. [This interpretation can only be given by licence, for the text most probably means, because of the curse (of God) the land mourneth]. Yet Hosea (Jer ) warrants the use of the text as it stands in the E.V. God hears and hates blasphemous language.

3. Persistent wrongdoing. "Their course is evil, and their force is not right." 1. The current of their life is bad. Low public tastes and manners. 2. The intention of their life is dishonourable; they use their personal powers ("force") and civil powers and ecclesiastical powers, not for rectitude, but deceit and oppression and impiety.

4. Sacrilege. 1. Religious officers were themselves "profane" (Jer ). 2. Holy scenes were degraded by "wickedness."

II. Disasters from God upon man.

Sin has manifold penalties and punishments; here is an enumeration of some especially disastrous.

1. Pleasures all desolated. "Pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up" (Jer ). For it should be recognised that men occupy a "wilderness." Earth is not naturally fruitful of luxury and pleasure. All its "pleasant places" are God's gifts, specially provided for us. Therefore He can easily turn its pleasures into drought, and He will do so if we abuse His grace. Then life becomes a blank waste, and the heart is left without comfort.

2. False ways made fatal. God will allow them to pursue "their way" (Jer ); give them up to their heart's desire; not arresting them, simply let them alone to become befooled, besotted, benighted. "In the darkness" they should not be shown their peril so as to become alarmed, and certainly should not find escape, but slide down into the blackness of darkness for ever.

3. Forces of evil should seize them. Sin when indulged in the heart and habits assumes a tyrannical despotism, and "drives on" the sinner (Jer ). Once sin merely pleaded and decoyed, now it forces and masters the soul; and the sinner shall "fall"—where? "Therein," i.e., into the depths of woe, which end the "slippery ways of darkness."

4. God Himself will visit sinners with evil (Jer ). Though God delays the judgment, yet, (1.) There comes a time of judgment, "even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord." (2.) Then God will Himself bring evil upon them. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." "Turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die?"—Comp. Homily on chap. Jer 11:15.

Jer . Theme: COMPARATIVE SINFULNESS. "Folly in the prophets of Samaria, … in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing."

I. Sins are not regarded by God as of equal magnitude.

1. Some evils are mistakes. "Folly," and "they cause to err."

2. Others are malignant. "Horrible thing," "wickedness."

II. Sins take their colour and degree from circumstances.

1. The location of our life affects the moral qualities of conduct. The same acts done "in Samaria" had less wrong in them than when done "in Jerusalem," because there was more religious light in Jerusalem.

2. Guilt is guiltiest when done in the face of God. It was stupidity when done "in Baal," in connection with Baal. It was absolutely "horrible" when done in the Temple in Jerusalem, the seat of God's Holy Throne and Shekinah glory. Thus "exalted unto heaven," they should be "thrust down to hell."

III. Sins involve all wrong-doers in pitiable distress.

1. Though proportioned to the degree of guiltiness, yet the lightest punishment of sin must be appalling. The "few stripes" involve banishment from God and heaven, for "the unclean shall not dwell therein."

2. The heaviest woes of sin are terrifying to contemplate. "They are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah." Overwhelmed with ruin, and destroyed with "fire and brimstone."

Jer . Theme: STRENGTHENING THE HANDS OF THE WICKED. "I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing. They strengthen the hands of evil-doers, that none doth return from his wickedness."

I. All sin is horrible in its nature. It is contrary to the character and will of an Infinite Being—a Being of glorious purity, supreme authority, and almighty power; a Being who cannot be tempted with evil, nor even look on iniquity, &c.

II. To strengthen the hands and hinder the repentance of sinners is to oppose the great plan of the Divine government.

III. It tends to the misery of mankind, and is the reverse of that bene volence which ought to govern us in all our conduct.

IV. It is to operate with that evil spirit who works in the children of disobedience.

V. It is a horrible thing, because we thus become partakers of their sins.

VI. It is directly contrary to God's commands, and marked with His peculiar abhorrence.


To teachers of religion; to Christians in general; to heads of families; to the young. It is also horrible to be strengthened in evil-doing.—Dr. Lathrop.


I. False preaching may be discovered.

1. It is here described. "A vision of their own heart," &c.; entertain with fanciful theories.

2. It may be detected. "They make you vain;" deceive with false hopes. In Jer their preaching is further described.

(a.) To despisers of God peace is promised.

(b.) To wilful sinners immunity is assured.

II. Hearers must refuse wrong teaching. The Church, and not her ministers, is the pillar and ground of the truth.

1. The exercise of the right of "trying the spirits whether they be of God" has its perils and difficulties. Ignorant, misguided, and narrow-minded men may make a preacher "an offender for a word." Timid souls may take quick alarm. Impatient listeners may judge in haste and without ample reasons.

2. Yet the non-exercise of this right is a grave misdemeanour on the part of the Church. God commands hearers to "take heed how they hear," and to "try the spirits," &c. Not to do so indicates spiritual inertia, intellectual indifference, and neglect of highest trusts. It exposes the Church to the grossest misleading, and leaves the pulpit to reckless adventurers.

III. God's truth is perceivable by the common people. Rome and arrogant priests would have us believe that hearers are to receive what is taught them, being incapable of judging their teachers.

1. The doctrine of the Law was sufficient to guide Judah concerning the teachings of prophets. "He who ran might read," if he sought to know.

2. Certainly, therefore, the doctrines of the Gospel are plain to men's understanding. "God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit."


1. Seek to know God's truth by personal study.

2. Suffer no authority to usurp your own judgment.

3. Challenge any teacher who speaks not according to God's Word.

4. Take alarm at the preacher's messages which continually quiet the conscience and lull the heart.

5. Encourage and strengthen the earnest and outspoken preacher who may seem to "become men's enemy because he tells them the truth."

6. Make no truce with the sins which an honest preacher must denounce.


I. Because sinners will not duly consider their wickedness, therefore they misunderstand God's displeasure.

1. God sees our sin in its most awful aspects. "This abominable thing that I hate."

2. Sin blinds the judgment of sinners to its heinousness.

3. Divine anger is rightly fierce towards conduct which would ruin the order and happiness of the whole intelligent and moral world.

4. Men not understanding what sin is, and what it would despoil, think God harsh in His denunciations, and its penalties unduly severe.

II. Because sinners defy the forewarning of God's anger, therefore it will overwhelm them at the last.

1. God may defer the infliction, yet it cannot be delayed for ever.

2. Men may defy the threatenings, yet cannot thwart the thoughts of the Lord.

3. The full purposes of God upon wrong-doers will be ultimately "performed."

4. When God begins with punishment, His anger will not stay till it execute fullest vengeance.

III. When sinners feel the final woes their sins deserve, they will then awake to their just deserts.

1. With this nation it was so; Jerusalem was destroyed, and the exiles, taught by the sore adversity of captivity, saw then how their sin brought woes on themselves and ruin on their country.

2. Even in this world God makes sinners realise that their guilt is the cause of their misery of heart and life. As in perilous illness, or sudden calamity.

3. But it is in the future that the ungodly will learn their full iniquity, and justify the ways of God with them.

Jer . Theme: THE SECRET OF A SUCCESSFUL MINISTRY. The true prophet will be characterised by no indecent haste (Jer 23:21) in assuming his office; but when commissioned, will faithfully perform its duties.

I. God's messenger—whence he gains his message. "Stood in My counsel." The Hebrew word "counsel" (sôd) means a confidential meeting of private friends. In Psa it is rendered the secret, i.e., confidential fellowship.

1. The preacher in private converse with God.

2. Coming from that hidden fellowship with a message to men.

3. Solemnity and grandeur of the office.

4. The majestic force of conviction thus sustaining the preacher while delivering his message.

II. God's messenger—what he preaches to men. "Caused My people to hear My words."

1. Divine truths gained from God's mouth (Jer ).

2. Messages which foster no delusions (Jer ).

3. Human theories ("visions," Jer ) kept in abeyance that only God's "words" may gain heed.

4. God's utterances preached with the fervour which "causes" the "people to hear."

III. God's messenger—what effects crown a true ministry.

1. What is the Divine preacher's supreme aim? "To turn men from their evil way," &c.

2. What are the Divine teacher's best credentials? That his preaching does accomplish this result. "Then they should have turned them," &c.

3. What are the Divine preacher's richest rewards? Not worldly favour or power, but sinners turned from the error of their ways; souls won for Christ, his "crown of rejoicing."


Sinners, amid iniquitous doings, often resort to atheistical subterfuges. "God seeth us not." Needful, therefore, that they be confronted with the very first principles of religion—God's omnipresence and omniscience. National religion affirms these attributes of Deity. Revelation confirms and enlarges the doctrine. God everywhere: seeing all, near all.

I. All space is pervaded by God Himself. "He is at hand:" but equally He is "afar off." Near us on earth, as He is near those in heaven.

1. Near us in personal presence. God "stands before the door." "Compasses our path," &c.

2. Near us in minute perception. "His eyes behold," &c. "Run to and fro."

3. Near us in mighty power. "Doing according to His will among the inhabitants of the earth," as well as amid the "armies of heaven." "No place can either include Him or exclude Him." (Henry.)

II. All actions are performed in God's full gaze.

1. The thought of secrecy is a delusion. We live, move, think, act in the full blaze of the searching light of omniscience.

2. The deeds of human life are Divinely scanned. He reads them through and through—motive and method, all keenly and completely discerned.

3. The judgments of God are based upon perfect knowledge of facts. This is consolatory to the righteous—who are often misrepresented and maligned. This is admonitory to the irreligious—who will be destitute of all hope of excuse or covert in the day of decision.

4. Such universal knowledge, from personal supervision of the universe, throughout all time, is both necessary to a proper idea of a God—the world's Ruler, Sustainer, and Judge; and it is a guarantee of rectitude in the administration of Divine providence now and of Divine rewards and punishment hereafter. He will depend on no secondary source of knowledge of us—not even on the reports of angel ministers: "all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."

III. All scenes are equally favourable to revelations of God.

1. In heaven, where He seems locally "near," pure and redeemed souls may look upon Him, and glory in His cloudless presence.

2. On earth, though clouds and darkness hide Him, and we think of God as "afar off," He can yet make Himself known to our souls.

3. Even in hell, the scene of banishment from Him, God may—certainly He can—show Himself to outcast souls whose desire it will be to "hide themselves from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb."—See Addenda: GOD'S OMNIPRESENCE.


Always present and everywhere present. Three interrogations are here submitted: but not to imply a question or doubt as to the facts interrogated, but to emphasise the truths brought thereby upon attention.

i. The sublime fact of God's omnipresence is affirmed (Jer ); God is near at hand, and is present afar off.

ii. The co-ordinate truth of God's omniscience (Jer ). There are no secret places to God.

iii. The spirituality of God—His immaterial essence is likewise affirmed:—for He fills the universe, "heaven and earth;" the Great Spirit present everywhere.

I. Verily this omnipresent Spiritual Being is worthy of human worship. If we had to search out whom to adore and obey, who can compare with God.

1. Such attributes constrain our homage.

2. Such greatness impresses on us the thought that it is well that we be reconciled to One so majestic and mighty.

3. Such a God, everywhere near, it is easy to worship and wise to trust. He can know all things on our behalf and do all we need.

II. Equally clear it is that any lower object of worship is an error.

1. Idolatry is reprehensible. It elevates inferiors (even if idols had any real existence) into ascendancy. It wrongs God; it gives His glory to another; and it angers Him.

2. Divided affections are inconsistent with true homage. We can have but one God. He will not be placed on a level with another object of regard. "Beside Me is none else."

III. The loftiest reverence and truest loyalty become us in relation to a God so glorious.

1. What thoughts and feelings can be too elevated as we think of Him.

2. What devotion can exceed His claims.

3. What a privilege to be permitted to hide our life in such a God! "Hid with Christ in God."

IV. Security and peace are assured to the godly soul in the fact of the Divine omnipresence.

1. God will guard him from the lurking forces and subtleties of sin. "Can any hide," &c. God sees His saints in all scenes and circumstances, and will keep them safely.

2. God will be ever near him; his solace and sufficiency. He is at hand to cherish, to guide—in life and death; till the redeemed soul reaches Him in heaven.


"He that hath My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord."

No order is more influential on society than ministers. The old prophets, if faithful to their God, diffused incalculable blessings through the land; if false, hardened the people in their wickedness. Ministers to-day produce like effects.

I. A solemn injunction to all who bear the office of the ministry.

The Word of God is put into our hands, and a dispensation is committed to us to preach it. This office we must execute "faithfully;" we must speak the Word—

1. Unreservedly, without concealment (Act ; Act 20:27). Our object must be (Pro 11:30) our manner (2Co 4:2); and our motto (2Co 2:17).

2. Impartially, without respect of persons. All idea of pleasing men must be abandoned (Gal ). We must follow the fidelity of Paul (1Th 2:3-6), using "great plainness of speech" (2Co 3:12-13).

3. Boldly, without fear. The prophets were so enjoined to speak (Jer ; Jer 1:17; Eze 2:6-7). We must expect hatred (Joh 3:19-20): but our answer to opponents must be (Act 4:19-20): and we must account suffering in this work our glory (Act 5:41; Philip. Jer 2:17-18).

This injunction is further enforced by—

II. A solemn appeal to the whole world.

1. To our judgment. "What is the chaff?" &c. Of what use were the assertions of false prophets? They only deceived the people to their ruin. Contrast with this the labours of Moses, David, Elijah, Paul. So the true minister (1Ti ; Jas 5:20). God declares the good effect of faithful teaching (see Jer 23:23).

2. To our experience. God's Word, if faithfully declared, is "quick and powerful" (Heb ). Let any who has observed its effects say whether it is not "like fire," which dissolves the hardest metal, and "like a hammer," &c. Illustrate by Nineveh (Jon 3:4-10), and the scene at Pentecost (Act 2:37, &c.) Verily, "it is mighty through God" (2Co 10:4-5).

There are cogent reasons for ministerial fidelity. False doctrines save no man; but a simple preaching of "Christ crucified is the power of God unto salvation" (1Co ; Rom 1:16). Many are thereby "turned to God from idols," &c. (1Th 1:5; 1Th 1:9-10).

i. Let me now discharge my duty to you. To me is committed the Word of God for you, and woe is unto me if I preach it not with all fidelity (1Co ; Eze 33:6-8).

ii. Let me call on you to make a due improvement of my testimony. Pray; seek God's blessing on the word preached, that it may prove to you "a savour of life unto life," and not of "death unto death." It is He who can make the "fire" burn, and the "hammer" so mighty that no rock can withstand its force.—C. Simeon.


"What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord."

We may regard this question as suggestive of the superiority of the real to the superficial, and of the substance to the shadow, &c.

I. There are those who make more of the ritual and ceremonial in religion than they do of the spirit and power. But, "What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord."

II. There are those who make more of the speculative, theoretical, mysterious, and mystical in religion, than of the plain, practical, experimental, and useful. But, "What is the chaff?" &c.

III. There are those who make more of the name, profession, and show of godliness than they do of godliness itself. But, "What is the chaff?" &c.

IV. There are those who attach more importance to words, style, manner, appearance, and persons in preaching, than they do to the truth of Scripture. But, "What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord."—Lay Preacher.


"What is the chaff to the wheat?"

Jehovah had contrasted the godless inventions of false teachers with the truth of His own assertions, and having desired that each message might be stated as each deserved (Jer ), proceeds to compare the lying communications of men with the true sayings of God.

In the corrupt heart within us there exists and labours so perverse and destructive a tendency to prefer the chaff to the wheat, as to incur the peril of choosing the false rather than the true. Therefore the attempt is here made to expose some of these misapprehensions.

I. What are worldly maxims compared with the Word of God, but as the chaff to the wheat? The whole world lieth under the power of the "father of lies."

1. Regard the conduct of men of the world, and by what maxim are they governed? to what authority do they bow? Of Him who created, sustains, redeemed them, or of him who deceived our first parents, and has ever since been spreading snares for their posterity?

2. What lessons does the world teach its disciples? To be lovers of pleasure more than the lovers of God; to worship the creature more than the Creator; to spend the precious season of mercy in laying up deceitful treasure for self; to say to the ensnared soul, "Soul, take thine ease," &c.; or, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." Does not the world stigmatise all true religion, the privileges of Christian life, &c., as dreams of enthusiasm and inventions of hypocrisy; and a zealous pursuit of "the one thing needful" as the miserable error of "being righteous overmuch?"

"But what is the chaff to the wheat?"—the authority of the world compared with that of the Supreme Lord and King; the ridicule of the world with the indignation of God; the present judgment of men with the decisions of the Book which shall be opened at the last day; the world's standard of morality with Christ's requirement of a new birth?

There are vain dreamers (Jer ). Suffer them not to mislead you from an atoning Saviour, &c. "Love not the world," &c.: but heed the faithful teachings of the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever.

II. What is the value of that legal righteousness in which carnal man delights, compared with the righteousness of Christ Jesus, as a ground of justification with God? "The carnal man is at enmity with God." He may deem himself, "as touching the righteousness of the law, blameless," and ask, "What lack I yet?" But this delusion results from ignorance of the spirituality of the Divine law. Let the Spirit's illumination come to him, and he will see himself no longer "rich, increased with goods, and in need of nothing; but wretched, miserable," &c.

The terrors of the law will sweep away all refuges of lies in which the sinner has sheltered himself, and drive him to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Repentance for sin will not form that wedding garment which fits for a seat at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Nor is it by "works of righteousness which we have done" that we are accepted with God. Christ alone is "made unto us wisdom, righteousness," &c. "In Him must all the seed of Israel be justified."

"What is the chaff to the wheat?" Who that knows himself to be a sinner, who knows anything of the self-sufficient salvation of Jesus, would hesitate a moment between leaning on the broken reed of his own goodness, and coming in faith to Christ Jesus?

III. What is the happiness of the worldling compared with that of a child of God, but as chaff to the wheat? "There be many which say, Who will show us any good," &c.

1. An eager desire after happiness is implanted in us all.

2. Men pursue phantoms of enjoyment as children might attempt to grasp a rainbow which has allured them.

3. But while all creature-joys elude, "godliness is profitable," &c. The believer has a "joy which no man taketh from him." "Say ye to the righteous that it shall be well with him."

IV. What are the present pleasures of sin compared with the glories of heaven?

1. This glad prospect sinners have forfeited for the mocking indulgences of life. "Thou hast had thy good things."

2. Christ Himself will effectually forbid heaven's joys to Christless souls. "His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge," &c.

Has a deceived heart turned you aside? Oh, seek the Spirit's illumination that ye may escape the delusion of earthly vanities and find rest in the Divine love now, and a part in the inheritance with the saints in light.—Partly taken from an old and nameless MS.



I. In its own essential properties God's Word is thus manifold.

1. A vital and vitalising substance: "Wheat." (a.) Life inheres in it. (b.) It nourishes life in the eater.

2. A refining and devouring element: "Fire." (a.) It imparts warmth. (b.) It purges from impurities, from dross. (c.) It consumes rubbish.

3. A subduing and destroying force: "Hammer." (a.) Beating down all resistance in the regenerate heart. (b.) Crushing and destroying the hard and defiant life.

II. In its changeful aspects and revelations God's Word assumes these diversities. It comes in various forms to mankind.

1. Corn covered with husk. The Divine truth covered with the human exterior. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." Also the God-given message and doctrine mingled with the "chaff" of human theories and interpretations.

2. Fire in its various forms and degrees. Attractive, as the domestic fire which draws us around its genial glow. Beneficial, as the warmth to a chilled traveller, &c. Terrible, as the fiery furnace to those it would consume.

3. A Hammer applied to different uses and with different force. Fastening "a nail in a sure place," i.e., enforcing Divine truth upon the conscience. "Breaking in pieces the rocky vessel," i.e., crushing the alien and antagonistic heart.

II. In the ministries it effects, God's Word needs to be thus diverse.

1. Men, to whom God's Word is addressed, are in such utterly dissimilar conditions. (a.) Some need "wheat"—nourishment; food to sustain the Divine life within them. Men are as soils of various conditions, into which the wheat-grain is cast by the sower. (b.) Others are as metal—"gold and silver," which need refining; or as "wood, hay, stuble," only fit to be burned. (c.) Others are as the rock—either requiring the stroke of affliction to disclose their hidden treasures and graces; or as destined to the stroke of destruction, being valueless for any good end.

2. Men, to whom God's Word is addressed, must respond to its manifold purposes. For God's Word is to be utilised in all its various forms—"wheat, fire, hammer." (a.) Cleanse the corn of the chaff, and eat the precious wheat. (b.) Welcome its purifying mission, and live in its warm glow. (c.) Submit to its strokes, and become compliant to its powerful appeals.


i. God's Word can be refused as "wheat," but cannot be evaded as "fire," nor resisted as "a hammer."

ii. If we receive not the life it can bring as food, we must feel its consuming and destroying force.


i. The former is life and power (wheat, fire, hammer); the latter pretence and weakness (dream, straw).

ii. The two are not to be mixed with each other. Why (add) the chaff to the wheat? This rendering is admissible.—Lange.

This shows,

i. The vanity of all human imaginations in religion. (a.) What do they afford to man? (b.) How much do they hinder!

ii. The energy of spiritual truth. Let us entreat God that our estimate may be practical.—Cecil.

Jer . Theme: GOD THE ANTAGONIST OF FALSE TEACHERS. "Behold" stands in front of each of the three declarations: it commands notice; the subject is serious.

"I am against:" God in opposition to their wicked work, to their baneful influence, and to their very persons.

I. God repudiates stolen teachings. They were plagiarists (Jer ). (1.) They stole the words they uttered from God's true prophets: (2.) They stole away the Divine meaning from those words by their perverse rendering: and (3.) They stole one another's fictitious messages, thus reiterating and propagating lies.

II. God denounces spurious messages. Having no message from God, the second class used the solemn formula by which Jehovah confirmed the validity of His messages through His own prophets; but in using it they misused it: only employing the form "Saith," instead of "Jehovah saith." (1.) Yet this gave emphasis to their delusive inventions: and hypocrites glibly revel in such free use of solemn asseverations. (2.) They thereby deceived their hearers into the belief that God said what they uttered. So with all who preach human fancies and theories instead of the Divine Word.

III. God contemns lying frivolities. (1.) They acted a solemn part with shameful levity. (2.) They caused the people to err by their spurious teachings.

Notice here:

i. What is a teacher's qualification for his work. That God should "send" and "command" him.

ii. What is the test by which to try all preaching. If it "profit not," it has no Divine origin or authority.


"Burden" (Massa) means hear oracle, prophetic discourse, and there is a play on this double sense of the Hebrew.

I. Men's scoffing inquiry, "What is the burden of the Lord?" (Jer ).

1. How they estimated God's message. Another "burden"—oppressive oracle. So are all God's messages and demands to those "who stumble at the Word, being disobedient." And so will always be God's prohibitions and threatenings to those who love their sins and rebel against reproof.

2. How they reviled God's messenger. A mere burden-bearer. Not a messenger of good tidings—not even an ambassador from God—not greeted with respect as one who authoritatively taught them their duty. No! he only brought them troublesome words, tidings of disaster: and they taunted him therewith (comp. chap. Jer ; see also Mal 1:1).

II. God's derisive answers. You ask, "What burden?" "Ye are the burden" (see Lit. Crit. supra on Jer ). And for you the burden shall be this:

1. God will cast you of as being a "burden" to Him. Or, since My word is burdensome in your eyes, you shall have no more of it, and that will be a far worse "burden" to you—deserted by God and denied His prophetic word!

2. God will deal seriously with those triflers (Jer ). They used God's word in derision, but it would prove dreadfully literal in its fulfilment. Whosoever shall in mockery call the Lord's word a "burden," shall be visited in wrath.

3. God will turn His messages which were intended to prove blessings into burdens, which shall press heavily on every man.

On Jer comp. chap. Jer 20:11.



Christians believe these words fulfilled in Jesus; Jews look for One to come. All acknowledge they refer to the Messiah: and we may form a judgment from this description as to what religious system they are suited best, that of the Jew, the Unitarian, or the Christian.

i. The Christ, or Messiah, of THE JEW. They believe a man of admirable wisdom will be born, descended from Royal family of David, shall go round the world to where Israelites are now in banishment, and persuade or compel Gentile rulers to let His people return to their native land. There, having rebuilt Temple, and re-established ancient worship, they will be exposed to envy of nations, who will invade and make war upon their country; but, at last, delivered from all their troubles under the anointed Prince, all the world shall become Jews like themselves, and send every year gifts and sacrifices to Temple of Jerusalem.

ii. The Messiah of the UNITARIANS. Already come; Jesus of Nazareth the Saviour, foretold by ancient prophecy. But, when Christ came, He was nothing more than a man; born (so many argue), not of a virgin, but of Joseph and Mary his wife; sent by God to preach to mankind a holy life, and that all men hereafter should be raised from the dead, and be rewarded according to their works.

iii. The Messiah of CHRISTIANS. Jesus; formed as man, but God Himself, eternally one with Father; came from heaven, preached righteousness and resurrection, but these only subordinate ends; by His obedience, merits, and atonement by blood to take off from the world that curse under which, since Adam, it had been.

Examine meaning of language in text.

I. This prophecy is fulfilled to the Jews, who expect in their Christ an earthly monarch, and to Christians, who believe that Christ is a Divine and heavenly monarch. Jews suppose Christ will be man like ourselves, prophet like Moses, but also a mighty conqueror and king. Christians believe that Christ from all eternity has been, together with the Father and Holy Ghost, the Creator and Governor of the world; that He now sitteth in human form at right hand of Father's glory; will be Judge of world at last. But to Unitarians, with whom Christ was a mere prophet, having no power to rule world, no privilege of doing good to His Church, how can this prophecy be fulfilled in Christ? On earth, and in human nature, He was very unlike a "king;" and if He were nothing beyond man, these words are inapplicable to Him.

II. This prophecy points out the salvation Christ would effect. "In His days, saith the Lord, Judah shall be saved." Jews and Christians have reasons, though different, for applying prophecy to Messiah. They suppose He will save them from worldly troubles; we believe that He saves all who trust in Him from burthen of sins and wrath of God. But with what salvation do Unitarians accredit Christ? They answer: By bringing a more perfect moral law, He taught us to avoid sin, and thus saved us from sin; that by teaching resurrection and rising Himself, He saved us from fear of death; that by abolishing law of Moses, He saved us from burdensome ceremonies. In answer: Morality was equally enforced under Old Testament; resurrection believed in; and Christ did not destroy and abolish the law.

III. This prophecy gives a Divine title to the Messiah: "The Lord our Righteousness." Both Jews and Unitarians must be perplexed, since neither allow the Saviour foretold was to be other than mortal man. But the word "Lord" is in Hebrew JEHOVAH. Accordingly, we accept this as proof that the Messiah must not only be man but God. This is not refuted by the attempt to show from Jer, that it is not the Saviour who should bear this awful name, but Judah: for that text should read, "He, who calleth Jerusalem, is the Lord our righteousness;" and also, in this present verse, both Judah and Israel are united in blessing by Messiah; so that, if Judah be meant by this title, Israel must also; and the word should be, not "He shall be called," but "they shall be." Turn it as we may, this passage remains unconquerable by those who deny Jesus to be GOD and LORD for it is allowed He is Messiah, and Messiah is no other than JEHOVAH.

IV. This prophecy further gives to Christ the title of "Our righteousness." Jews and heretics cannot explain this away; they deny that the blood of Christ is a sacrifice, or satisfaction, for the sins of the world; that we are justified by His death. Yet here, the Man, Messiah, is not only JEHOVAH, but in His own Person He is "our righteousness." But how can man or God become the righteousness of sinful creatures, unless He suffer in their stead the punishment of their sin, and in their stead obey and fulfil the law? How can He make another being righteous, except by proving him innocent of faults, or obeying the laws on behalf of the offender, bearing the faults on Himself, and suffering his punishment? Hence it is by the imputed merits, obedience, and death of Christ that we are cleansed from sin and made righteous in the sight of God.

We are herein called to acknowledge in Christ a mighty God and most merciful Saviour: Advocate, pleading on our behalf His own merits; High Priest, who offered up His own life for us; Lamb, whose blood washed us clean. Let us by every action and affection show our faith, love, and thankfulness. Remember that Christ is our righteousness alone; no merit in us; and in Him is the sinner's hope.—Condensed and arranged from BISHOP REGINALD HEBER, A.D. 1838.


Israel, or the Ten Lost Tribes, were carried captive into Assyria in 725 B.C. Their captivity was complete in number and time—to this day they have not returned. The captivity of Judah in 588 was partial in number and time; they returned and remained until finally scattered about the year 70 A.D. Now they are all in exile, but they are to return again to their own land. And as surely as the Jews now say, "The Lord liveth which brought up His people out of Egypt," so will they by and by say, "The Lord liveth which brought up His people out of the North country, and from all the countries whither He had driven them."

I. This is, and has been, the expectation of the Church for ages. From earliest centuries this has been a prevailing idea. Six years after the destruction of Jerusalem, as foretold by the prophets and the Saviour, a child was born who in his life was to confront this idea in prophecy. Hadrian, the Roman Emperor, born in 76 A.D., died in 138. He hated, with a deadly hatred, the Jews and the Christians. What of the city of Jerusalem was standing in his day he destroyed, and built a new city on the old site and called it after himself, Elia Capitolina. Then he forbade Jew or Christian, under penalty of death, to enter the same, declaring that he would show them the weakness of their hope and falsity of their prophets.

Again, there was born in Constantinople another child, Nov. 17, A.D. 331, who died June 26, A.D. 363, named Flavius Claudius Julinus, surnamed Julian the Apostate. He said that he would make God a liar and prophecy false, for he would gather the Jews and build the Temple. Some of the Jews he did gather, and he began to build the Temple, but God was against him by earthquake and by balls of fire out of the ground, so he ceased to fight against God. Even England has sought to bring back Israel before the time. Three successive times she has conquered Palestine, and given it over to the Turks for keeping. Nay, for a time the whole Christian world sought to force Providence in this matter. You have read of the wonderful crusades; no less than eight of them, from 1095 to 1272; the time was not yet, but it will come.

II. Let us remember there is a God—a God who has a purpose and design both for His people and this land of Palestine. Hear Him speak: "The land shall not be sold for ever, for the land is Mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me" (Lev ).

1. Men write, talk, and speculate, but they leave out the Divine quantity in their calculations. It is this that has confused the nations and the press. The science of algebra has been passed by, or this quantity could have been found. There is in nature a force, or something, which science names Catalysis. It is the name for the presence of some force or power that acts on other things, rendering precision in the chemical laboratory many times impossible. How much this catalytic power is in any compound or combination it is difficult to tell. It is a Divine quantity. It is present in the analysis, but not in the synthesis. The physiologist meets it everywhere, but the anatomist nowhere. Science can pull to pieces, but cannot put things together the same, for this catalytic power escapes.

2. Nations, kings, rulers, and governments forget that the earth is the Lord's. They think they can part it as they like, but they cannot. This Divine force or quantity enters and vitiates their conclusion. Listen to Jehovah: "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations; ask thy father and he will show thee; thy elders and they will tell thee. When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel" (Deu ; comp. also Isa 44:7, and Act 17:26).

III. But when will Israel and Judah return, and how? That they have to return some time, surely all will agree. The time of the end we believe to be near—

1st. By the general expectation.

2d. By the grand revelations and teaching of the Great Pyramid, this pillar and witness spoken of by Isa . In this remarkable structure the year 1882 is very significantly denoted. Many great facts in Israel's history have been incorporated in this building and have come to pass; so for Israel something is in reserve for 1882—perhaps it is the great deliverance spoken of in the text. This year is also the wonderful prophetic year. The "time and times and dividing of time" makes 1260 years, which, added to the first year of Mahomet, is equal to our 622, which added makes 1882.

3d. By the Church witness. For the Gospel was to be preached as a witness unto all nations before Israel are gathered. This sign is now complete. But how will this great deliverance be brought about—in God's own way, as from the Egyptians? The overthrow and destruction of Turkey may be the preparatory cause. The Jews now feel specially moved, for at their late council in New York they had letters missive from Berlin, Paris, London, on how best to promote the return of those Jews who desire to return to Palestine.—Joseph Wild, D.D., Brooklyn, A.D. 1878.



"Probably many who are called Gospel ministers are more chargeable with concealing truths than affirming direct error; with not properly building the house than wilfully pulling it down."—Dr. Witherspoon.

"Unfaithfulness is to undo our own souls as well as our people's."—Bridges.

"But the unfaithful priest, what tongue

Enough shall execrate!.…

By solemn, awful ceremony, he

Was set apart to speak the truth entire,

By action and by word; and round him stood

The people, from his lips expecting knowledge.

They stood, for he had sworn, in face of God

And man, to deal sincerely with their souls;

To preach the Gospel for the Gospel's sake.

Most guilty, villainous, dishonest man!

Wolf in the clothing of the gentle lamb!

Dark traitor in Messiah's holy camp!

Leper in saintly garb! assassin masked

In virtue's robe! Vile hypocrite, accursed!

I strive in vain to set his evil forth."



During the American war a British officer, walking out at sunrising, observed an old man with his arm upraised as if in adoration. The officer interfered with rude disregard, and demanded what he was about. The old native replied, "I am worshipping the Great Spirit." The officer asked derisively, "Where is He?" To which taunt the old man replied, "Soldier, where is He not?"

The question was once asked of a little boy, "How many gods are there?" "One," be replied. "How do you know there is only one?" He answered, "Because there is no room for any more; for the One God fills heaven and earth."

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

The Prophet is here representing the horrible state of false prophets, and the awful termination of such conduct. A portion suited not only to the days of Jeremiah but to all ages of the Church. Lord! give grace to all concerned to attend to it.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Jeremiah 23:13-14. I have seen — Rather, I saw, namely, formerly, before I cast them out of their own land; folly — Hebrew, תפלה, stupidity, infatuation. The LXX. render it, ανομηματα, iniquities, or unlawful actions, and the Vulgate, fatuitatem, sottishness; in the prophets of Samaria — That is, in those that belonged to the ten tribes, whose chief city was Samaria. They prophesied in Baal — Pretending they had their relations from Baal, they caused the people of that kingdom to err — That is, they seduced them from the worship and service of the true God to idolatry. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem a horrible thing — Hebrew, שׁערורה, a thing to be detested, an abomination. He compares the sins of the prophets of Samaria with those of the prophets of Jerusalem, and pronounces the sins of the latter to be more enormous, because they pronounced their false prophecies in the name of the true God, and pretended that he was the author of all their impostures: the wickedness of their lives also reflected great dishonour upon his name and religion. Compare Jeremiah 3:11. They commit adultery — See Jeremiah 29:23. And walk in lies — Utter what they themselves have feigned, and call their inventions divine visions, and use all manner of deceit and fraud. They strengthen also the hands of evil-doers — They confirm men in their evil ways, both by their own bad example, and by promising them peace and security, notwithstanding their wicked conduct and ungodly deeds. See Jeremiah 23:17; and Ezekiel 13:22. They are all of them unto me as Sodom — See Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 1:10; Ezekiel 16:46-48.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Jeremiah 23:1. Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.

What a dreadful woe this is upon all false shepherds, — those who profess to be sent of God to instruct the people, but who are not sent of God at all, whose labours only result in the scattering of the sheep, and destroying them, instead of gathering them to Christ for their salvation!

Jeremiah 23:2-4. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold, I will visit upon you, the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds, and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.

If the under-shepherds do not feed the flock, God himself will do it, for his own redeemed flock shall not be torn of wolves, nor left to perish in the lands whither they are driven. That great Shepherd of the sheep will do what others fail to do; but this does not take away from them their responsibility, and it must be the most solemn responsibility that rests on mortal man to profess to be a shepherd of souls, yet not to be sent of God.

Jeremiah 23:5. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

We are looking for that glorious King. Oh, that he would soon come! He is the great Monarch who shall absorb all other monarchies, for “he shall reign for ever and ever.”

Jeremiah 23:6. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

What a glorious name for our King, who is made of God unto us “righteousness.” We may well rejoice to think that all the perfect righteousness of our great King and Lord shall belong to us, for this shall be his very name, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Jeremiah 23:7-8. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, the LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

There are better times for Israel than Israel has ever known as yet. The glories of Egypt and of the Red Sea are yet to be eclipsed. And there are better times in store for the Church of God than she has seen as yet.

Jeremiah 23:9. Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets;

In Jeremiah’s day there was a set of men who pretended to be prophets, yet who contradicted the Lord’s servant at every point.

Jeremiah 23:9. All my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.

Jeremiah had really received the Word of the Lord, and it seemed to overpower him; as that Word was full of terror, he felt like one who was overcome with wine.

Jeremiah 23:10-11. For the land is full of adulterers, for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.

It is an awful thing when wickedness abounds even in the house of God; and it is to be feared that, in many places, the church of the present day is not clear in this matter.

Jeremiah 23:12. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness:

What an awful description of the doom of the profane prophets and priests! Slippery ways are bad enough in the light, but “their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness.”

Jeremiah 23:12-14. They shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing:

It was bad enough for Samaria to go astray. There was a mixed race there, so it was no wonder that their prophets were foolish; but oh! that in Jerusalem, the city of the great King, there should be false prophets, that was worst of all. This was the style of these prophets: —

Jeremiah 23:14-15. They commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets, Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.

When preachers are bad, who wonders that people are worse? If the prophets go astray, how shall those who follow them find the right road?

Jeremiah 23:16. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain:

That is one mark of a false prophet, he makes you feel that you are a fine fellow, that there is something good in you: “They make you vain.”

Jeremiah 23:16. They speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.

That is another of the marks of a false prophet. Such a man as that is a great thinker; he has thought out his theology himself, he has imagined and invented it himself: “They speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.”

Jeremiah 23:17. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.

This is yet another mark of the false prophet. He always tries to smooth down the consequences of sin. “In the future state,” he says, “sin may occasion some temporary inconvenience, but all things will come right sooner or later.” That is a man sent of the devil, he is no servant of the living God. By these three tests you may prove who are the false prophets, they make you vain, they speak out of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of God, and they try to make it easy for you to sin by denying the greatness of the penalty attached to it.

Jeremiah 23:18-19. For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.

This is God’s Word; he does not prophesy smooth things to the wicked, he does not promise slight consequences of sin, but “a whirlwind” and “a grievous whirlwind.”

Jeremiah 23:20-22. The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

False prophets are futile and vain, no good result comes of all their teaching; but oh! if they had known the Word of the Lord, if they had really been sent of God, what a difference there would have been! God grant that none of us may pretend to teach others what we have never learned, or to speak for God if God has never spoken to us!

Jeremiah 23:23-26. Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophecy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;

They profess to be prophets of their own heart, but “they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart,” for that which comes out of man’s heart is like the heart itself, and man’s heart “is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”

Jeremiah 23:27-28. Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream;

Let him tell it as a dream, for it is nothing more than that. If he has dreamt it, let him say, “This is a dream that I have dreamed, but it is only a dream.”

Jeremiah 23:28. And he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully.

Let him speak it as the Word of the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:28. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.

Man’s thoughts, man’s conceptions, at their very best, are but as chaff; only the Word of the Lord is the true wheat.

Jeremiah 23:29-30. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

Borrowed sermons — pages of other people’s experience — fragments pulled from old or new divines — nothing of their own, nothing that God ever said to them, nothing that ever thrilled their hearts or swayed their souls, — God will not own such teaching as this.

Jeremiah 23:31. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.

They have not any hearts; they only use their tongues. They say, “He saith,” as if God had said to them something which he has never said.

Jeremiah 23:32. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

See how heavily God deals with the false prophets of Jeremiah’s time; and he will deal with equal severity with any who preach or teach anything other than the gospel of his blessed Son, — the pure revelation which is written in this Book. God grant that none of us may be deceived by them, for his dear Son’s sake! Amen.

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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

The Biblical Illustrator

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Jeremiah 23:14". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Jeremiah 23:14

They strengthen also the hands of evil-doers.

Strengthening the hands of the wicked

1. All sin is horrible in its nature, as being contrary to the character and will of God.

2. To strengthen the hands and hinder the repentance of sinners is to oppose the great plan of the Divine government.

3. It tends to the misery of mankind, and is the reverse of that benevolence which ought to govern us in all our conduct.

4. It is to operate with that evil spirit who works in the children of disobedience.

5. It is a horrible thing, because we thus become partakers of their sins.

6. It is directly contrary to God’s commands, and marked with His peculiar abhorrence. (J. Lathrop, D. D.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Jeremiah 23:14". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 23:13-14. I have seen folly Jeremiah draws a contrast between the sins of the prophets of Samaria, and of Jerusalem, and pronounces those of the latter to be more enormous, because the former seduced the people by prophesying in the name of Baal; whereas the prophets of Israel pronounced their false prophesies in the name of the true God, and pretended that he was the author of all their impostures. The wickedness of their lives also reflected a dishonour upon God and his religion. See Calmet and Lowth.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Expositor's Bible Commentary



Jeremiah 23:1-40, Jeremiah 24:1-10

"Woe unto the shepherds that destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!"- Jeremiah 23:1

"Of what avail is straw instead of Grain?is not My word like fire, like a hammer that shattereth the rocks?"- Jeremiah 23:28-29

THE captivity of Jehoiachin and the deportation of the flower of the people marked the opening of the last scene in the tragedy of Judah and of a new period in the ministry of Jeremiah. These events, together with the accession of Zedekiah as Nebuchadnezzar’s nominee, very largely altered the state of affairs in Jerusalem. And yet the two main features of the situation were unchanged-the people and the government persistently disregarded Jeremiah’s exhortations. "Neither Zedekiah, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of Jehovah which He spake by the prophet Jeremiah." [Jeremiah 37:2] They would not obey the will of Jehovah as to their life and worship; and they would not submit to Nebuchadnezzar. "Zedekiah did evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that Jehoiakim had done; and Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon." [2 Kings 24:18-20]

It is remarkable that though Jeremiah consistently urged submission to Babylon, the various arrangements made by Nebuchadnezzar did very little to improve the prophet’s position or increase his influence. The Chaldean king may have seemed ungrateful only because he was ignorant of the services rendered to him-Jeremiah would not enter into direct and personal cooperation with the enemy of his country, even with him whom Jehovah had appointed to be the scourge of His disobedient people-but the Chaldean policy served Nebuchadnezzar as little as it profited Jeremiah. Jehoiakim, in spite of his forced submission, remained the able and determined foe of his suzerain, and Zedekiah, to the best of his very limited ability, followed his predecessor’s example.

Zedekiah was uncle of Jehoiachin, half-brother of Jehoiakim, and own brother to Jehoahaz. Possibly the two brothers owed their bias against Jeremiah and his teaching to their mother, Josiah’s wife Hamutal, the daughter of another Jeremiah, the Libnite. Ezekiel thus describes the appointment of the new king: "The king of Babylon took one of the seed royal, and made a covenant with him; he also put him under an oath, and took away the mighty of the land: that the kingdom might be base, that it might not lift itself up, but that by keeping of his covenant it might stand." [Ezekiel 17:13-14] Apparently Nebuchadnezzar was careful to choose a feeble prince for his "base kingdom"; all that we read of Zedekiah suggests that he was weak and incapable. Henceforth the sovereign counted for little in the internal struggles of the tottering state. Josiah had firmly maintained the religious policy of Jeremiah, and Jehoiakim, as firmly, the opposite policy; but Zedekiah had neither the strength nor the firmness to enforce a consistent policy and to make one party permanently dominant. Jeremiah and his enemies were left to fight it out amongst themselves, so that now their antagonism grew more bitter and pronounced than during any other reign.

But whatever advantage the prophet might derive from the weakness of the sovereign was more than counterbalanced by the recent deportation. In selecting the captives Nebuchadnezzar had sought merely to weaken Judah by carrying away every one who would have been an element of strength to the "base kingdom." Perhaps he rightly believed that neither the prudence of the wise nor the honour of the virtuous would overcome their patriotic hatred of subjection; weakness alone would guarantee the obedience of Judah. He forgot that even weakness is apt to be foolhardy when there is no immediate prospect of penalty.

One result of his policy was that the enemies and friends of Jeremiah were carried away indiscriminately; there was no attempt to leave behind those who might have counselled submission to Babylon as the acceptance of a Divine judgment, and thus have helped to keep Judah loyal to its foreign master. On the contrary Jeremiah’s disciples were chiefly thoughtful and honourable men, and Nebuchadnezzar’s policy in taking away "the mighty of the land" bereft the prophet of many friends and supporters, amongst them his disciple Ezekiel and doubtless a large class of whom Daniel and his three friends might be taken as types. When Jeremiah characterises the captives as "good figs," and those left behind as "bad figs," (chapter 24) and the judgment is confirmed and amplified by Ezekiel, (chapters 7-11) we may be sure that most of the prophet’s adherents were in exile.

We have already had occasion to compare the changes in the religious policy of the Jewish government to the alternations of Protestant and Romanist sovereigns among the Tudors; but no Tudor was as feeble as Zedekiah. He may rather be compared to Charles IX of France, helpless between the Huguenots and the League. Only the Jewish factions were less numerous, less evenly balanced; and by the speedy advance of Nebuchadnezzar civil dissensions were merged in national ruin.

The opening years of the new reign passed in nominal allegiance to Babylon. Jeremiah’s influence would be used to induce the vassal king to observe the covenant he had entered into and to be faithful to his oath to Nebuchadnezzar. On the other hand a crowd of "patriotic" prophets urged Zedekiah to set up once more the standard of national independence, to "come to the help of the Lord against the mighty." Let us then briefly consider Jeremiah’s polemic against the princes, prophets, and priests of his people. While Ezekiel in a celebrated chapter (chapter 8) denounces the idolatry of the princes, priests, and women of Judah, their worship of creeping things and abominable beasts, their weeping for Tammuz, their adoration of the sun, Jeremiah is chiefly concerned with the perverse policy of the government and the support it receives from priests and prophets, who profess to speak in the name of Jehovah. Jeremiah does not utter against Zedekiah any formal judgment like those on his three predecessors. Perhaps the prophet did not regard this impotent sovereign as the responsible representative of the state, and when the long-expected catastrophe at last befell the doomed people, neither Zedekiah nor his doings distracted men’s attention from their own personal sufferings and patriotic regrets. At the point where a paragraph on Zedekiah would naturally have followed that on Jehoiachin, we have by way of summary and conclusion to the previous sections a brief denunciation of the shepherds of Israel.

"Woe unto die shepherds that destroy and scatter the sheep of My Pasture!

Ye have scattered My flock, and driven them away, and have not cared for them; behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings."

These "shepherds" are primarily the kings, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin, who have been condemned by name in the previous chapter, together with the unhappy Zedekiah, who is too insignificant to be mentioned. But the term shepherds will also include the ruling and influential classes of which the king was the leading representative.

The image is a familiar one in the Old Testament and is found in the oldest literature of Israel, [Genesis 49:24] J. from older source. [Micah 5:5] but the denunciation of the rulers of Judah as unfaithful shepherds is characteristic of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and one of the prophecies appended to the Book of Zechariah. (Chapters 9-11, Zechariah 13:7-9.) Ezekiel 34:1-31 expands this figure and enforces its lessons:-

"Woe unto the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the sheep? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool. Ye kill the fatlings: but ye feed not the sheep. The diseased have ye not strengthened, Neither have ye healed the sick, Neither have ye bound up the bruised, Neither have ye brought back again that which was driven away, Neither have ye sought for that which was lost, But your rule over them has been harsh and violent, And for want of a shepherd they were scattered, And became food for every beast of the field." [Ezekiel 34:2-3]

So in Zechariah 9:1-17, etc., Jehovah’s anger is kindled against the shepherds, because they do not pity His flock. [Zechariah 10:3; Zechariah 11:5] Elsewhere [Jeremiah 25:34-38] Jeremiah speaks of the kings of all nations as shepherds, and pronounces against them also a like doom. All these passages illustrate the concern of the prophets for good government. They were neither Pharisees nor formalists; their religious ideals were broad and wholesome. Doubtless the elect remnant will endure through all conditions of society; but the Kingdom of God was not meant to be a pure Church in a rotten state. This present evil world is no manure heap to fatten the growth of holiness: it is rather a mass for the saints to leaven.

Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel turn from the unfaithful shepherds whose "hungry sheep look up and are not fed" to the true King of Israel, the "Shepherd of Israel that led Joseph like a flock, and dwelt between the Cherubim." In the days of the Restoration He will raise up faithful shepherds, and over them a righteous Branch, the real Jehovah Zidqenu, instead of the sapless twig who disgraced the name "Zedekiah." Similarly Ezekiel promises that God will set up one shepherd over His people, "even My servant David." The pastoral care of Jehovah for His people is most tenderly and beautifully set forth in the twenty-third Psalm. Our Lord, the root and the offspring of David, claims to be the fulfilment of ancient prophecy when He calls Himself "the Good Shepherd." The words of Christ and of the Psalmist receive new force and fuller meaning when we contrast their pictures of the true Shepherd with the portraits of the Jewish kings drawn by the prophets. Moreover the history of this metaphor warns us against ignoring the organic life of the Christian society, the Church, in our concern for the spiritual life of the individual. As Sir Thomas More said, in applying this figure to Henry VIII, "Of the multitude of sheep cometh the name of a shepherd." A shepherd implies not merely a sheep, but a flock; His relation to each member is tender and personal, but He bestows blessings and requires service in fellowship with the Family of God.

By a natural sequence the denunciation of the unfaithful shepherds is followed by a similar utterance "concerning the prophets." It is true that the prophets are not spoken of as shepherds; and Milton’s use of the figure in "Lycidas" suggests the New Testament rather than the Old. Yet the prophets had a large share in guiding the destinies of Israel in politics as well as in religion, and having passed sentence on the shepherds-the kings and princes-Jeremiah turns to the ecclesiastics, chiefly, as the heading implies, to the prophets. The priests indeed do not escape, but Jeremiah seems to feel that they are adequately dealt with in two or three casual references. We use the term "ecclesiastics" advisedly; the prophets were now a large professional class, more important and even more clerical than the priests. The prophets and priests together were the clergy of Israel. They claimed to be devoted servants of Jehovah, and for the most part the claim was made in all sincerity; but they misunderstood His character, and mistook for Divine inspiration the suggestions of their own prejudice and self-will.

Jeremiah’s indictment against them has various counts. He accuses them of speaking without authority, and also of time serving, plagiarism, and cant.

First, then, as to their unauthorised utterances: Jeremiah finds them guilty of an unholy license in prophesying, a distorted caricature of that "liberty of prophesying" which is the prerogative of God’s accredited ambassadors.

"Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you.

They make fools of you:

The visions which they declare are from their own hearts,

And not from the mouth of Jehovah.

Who hath stood in the council of Jehovah,

To perceive and hear His word?

Who hath marked His word and heard it?

I sent not the prophets-yet they ran;

I spake not unto them-yet they prophesied."

The evils which Jeremiah describes are such as will always be found in any large professional class. To use modern terms-in the Church, as in every profession, there will be men who are not qualified for the vocation which they follow. They are indeed not called to their vocation; they "follow," but do not overtake it. They are not sent of God, yet they run; they have no Divine message, yet they preach. They have never stood in the council of Jehovah; they might perhaps have gathered up scraps of the King’s purposes from His true councillors; but when they had opportunity they neither "marked nor heard"; and yet they discourse concerning heavenly things with much importance and assurance. But their inspiration, at its best, has no deeper or richer source than their own shallow selves; their visions are the mere product of their own imaginations. Strangers to the true fellowship, their spirit is not "a well of water springing up unto eternal life," but a stagnant pool. And, unless the judgment and mercy of God intervene, that pool will in the end be fed from a fountain whose bitter waters are earthly, sensual, devilish.

We are always reluctant to speak of ancient prophecy or modern preaching as a "profession." We may gladly dispense with the word, if we do not thereby ignore the truth which it inaccurately expresses. Men lived by prophecy, as, with Apostolic sanction, men live by "the gospel." They were expected, as ministers are now, though in a less degree, to justify their claims to an income and an official status, by discharging religious functions so as to secure the approval of the people or the authorities. Then, as now, the prophet’s reputation, influence, and social standing, probably even his income, depended upon the amount of visible success that he could achieve.

In view of such facts, it is futile to ask men of the world not to speak of the clerical life as a profession. They discern no ethical difference between a curate’s dreams of a bishopric and the aspirations of a junior barrister to the woolsack. Probably a refusal to recognise the element common to the ministry with law, medicine, and other professions, injures both the Church and its servants. One peculiar difficulty and most insidious temptation of the Christian ministry consists in its mingled resemblances to and differences from the other professions. The minister has to work under similar worldly conditions, and yet to control those conditions by the indwelling power of the Spirit. He has to "run," it may be twice or even three times a week, whether he be sent or no: how can he always preach only that which God has taught him? He is consciously dependent upon the exercise of his memory, his intellect, his fancy: how can he avoid speaking "the visions of his own heart"? The Church can never allow its ministers to regard themselves as mere professional teachers and lecturers, and yet if they claim to be more, must they not often fall under Jeremiah’s condemnation?

It is one of those practical dilemmas which delight casuists and distress honest and earnest servants of God. In the early Christian centuries similar difficulties peopled the Egyptian and Syrian deserts with ascetics, who had given up the world as a hopeless riddle. A full discussion of the problem would lead us too far away from the exposition of Jeremiah and we will only venture to make two suggestions.

The necessity, which most ministers are under, of "living by the gospel," may promote their own spiritual life and add to their usefulness. It corrects and reduces spiritual pride, and helps them to understand and sympathise with their lay brethren, most of whom are subject to a similar trial.

Secondly, as a minister feels the ceaseless pressure of strong temptation to speak from and live for himself-his lower, egotistic self-he will be correspondingly driven to a more entire and persistent surrender to God. The infinite fulness and variety of Revelation is expressed by the manifold gifts and experience of the prophets. If only the prophet be surrendered to the Spirit, then what is most characteristic of himself may become the most forcible expression of his message. His constant prayer will be that he may have the child’s heart and may never resist the Holy Ghost, that no personal interest or prejudice, no bias of training or tradition or current opinion, may dull his hearing when he stands in the council of the Lord, or betray him into uttering for Christ’s gospel the suggestions of his own self-will or the mere watchwords of his ecclesiastical faction.

But to return to the ecclesiastics who had stirred Jeremiah’s wrath. The professional prophets naturally adapted their words to the itching ears of their clients. They were not only officious, but also time serving. Had they been true prophets, they would have dealt faithfully with Judah; they would have sought to convince the people of sin, and to lead them to repentance; they would thus have given them yet another opportunity of salvation.

"If they had stood in My council,

They would have caused My people to hear My words;

They would have turned them from their evil way,

And from the evil of their doings."

But now:-

"They walk in lies and strengthen the hands of evildoers,

That no one may turn away from his sin.

They say continually unto them that despise the word of Jehovah,

Ye shall have peace;

And unto every one that walketh in the stubbornness of his heart they say,

No evil shall come upon you."

Unfortunately, when prophecy becomes professional in the lowest sense of the word, it is governed by commercial principles. A sufficiently imperious demand calls forth an abundant supply. A sovereign can "tune the pulpits"; and a ruling race can obtain from its clergy formal ecclesiastical sanction for such "domestic institutions" as slavery. When evildoers grow numerous and powerful, there will always be prophets to strengthen their hands and encourage them not to turn away from their sin. But to give the lie to these false prophets God sends Jeremiahs, who are often branded as heretics and schismatics, turbulent fellows who turn the world upside down.

The self-important, self-seeking spirit leads further to the sin of plagiarism:-

"Therefore I am against the prophets, is the utterance of Jehovah,

Who steal My word from one another."

The sin of plagiarism is impossible to the true prophet, partly because there are no rights of private property in the word of Jehovah. The Old Testament writers make free use of the works of their predecessors. For instance, Isaiah 2:2-4 is almost identical with Micah 4:1-3; yet neither author acknowledges his indebtedness to the other or to any third prophet. Uriah ben Shemaiah prophesied acording to all the words of Jeremiah, [Jeremiah 26:20] who himself owes much to Hosea, whom he never mentions. Yet he was not conscious of stealing from his predecessor, and he would have brought no such charge against Isaiah or Micah or Uriah. In the New Testament 2 Peter and Jude have so much in common that one must have used the other without acknowledgment. Yet the Church has not, on that ground, excluded either Epistle from the Canon. In the goodly fellowship of the prophets and the glorious company of the apostles no man says that the things which he utters are his own. But the mere hireling has no part in the spiritual communism wherein each may possess all things because he claims nothing. When a prophet ceases to be the messenger of God, and sinks into the mercenary purveyor of his own clever sayings and brilliant fancies, then he is tempted to become a clerical Autolycus, "a snapper up of unconsidered trifles." Modern ideas furnish a curious parallel to Jeremiah’s indifference to the borrowings of the true prophet, and his scorn of the literary pilferings of the false. We hear only too often of stolen sermons, but no one complains of plagiarism in prayers. Doubtless among these false prophets charges of plagiarism were bandied to and fro with much personal acrimony. But it is interesting to notice that Jeremiah is not denouncing an injury done to himself; he does not accuse them of thieving from him, but from one another. Probably assurance and lust of praise and power would have overcome any awe they felt for Jeremiah. He was only free from their depredations, because-from their point of view-his words were not worth stealing. There was nothing to be gained by repeating his stern denunciations, and even his promises were not exactly suited to the popular taste.

These prophets were prepared to cater for the average religious appetite in the most approved fashion-in other words, they were masters of cant. Their office had been consecrated by the work of true men of God like Elijah and Isaiah. They themselves claimed to stand in the genuine prophetic succession, and to inherit the reverence felt for their great predecessors, quoting their inspired utterances and adopting their weighty phrases. As Jeremiah’s contemporaries listened to one of their favourite orators, they were soothed by his assurances of Divine favour and protection, and their confidence in the speaker was confirmed by the frequent sound of familiar formulae in his unctuous sentences. These had the true ring; they were redolent of sound doctrine, of what popular tradition regarded as orthodox.

The solemn attestation NE’UM YAHWE, "It is the utterance of Jehovah," is continually appended to prophecies, almost as if it were the sign manual of the Almighty. Isaiah and other prophets frequently use the term MASSA (A.V., R.V., "burden") as a title, especially for prophecies concerning neighbouring nations. The ancient records loved to tell how Jehovah revealed Himself to the patriarchs in dreams. Jeremiah’s rivals included dreams in their clerical apparatus:-

"Behold, I am against them that prophesy lying dreams-Ne’um Yahwe-

And tell them, and lead astray My people

By their lies and their rodomontade;

It was not I who sent or commanded them,

Neither shall they profit this people at all, Ne’um Yahwe."

These prophets "thought to cause the Lord’s people to forget His name, as their fathers forgot His name for Baal, by their dreams which they told one another."

Moreover they could glibly repeat the sacred phrases as part of their professional jargon:-

"Behold, I am against the prophets,

It is the utterance of Jehovah,

That use their tongues

To utter utterances"

"To utter utterances"-the prophets uttered them, not Jehovah. These sham oracles were due to no Diviner source than the imagination of foolish hearts. But for Jeremiah’s grim earnestness, the last clause would be almost blasphemous. It is virtually a caricature of the most solemn formula of ancient Hebrew religion. But this was really degraded when it was used to obtain credence for the lies which men prophesied out of the deceit of their own heart. Jeremiah’s seeming irreverence was the most forcible way of bringing this home to his hearers. There are profanations of the most sacred things which can scarcely be spoken of without an apparent breach of the Third Commandment. The most awful taking in vain of the name of the Lord God is not heard among the publicans and sinners, but in pulpits and on the platforms of religious meetings.

But these prophets and their clients had a special fondness for the phrase "The burden of Jehovah," and their unctuous use of it most especially provoked Jeremiah’s indignation:-

"When this people priest, or prophet shall ask thee,

What is the burden of Jehovah?

Then say unto them, Ye are the burden.

But I will cast you off, Neum Yahwe.

If priest or prophet or people shall say,

The burden of Jehovah, I will punish that man and his house."

"And ye shall say to one another,

What hath Jehovah answered? and,

What hath Jehovah spoken?

And ye shall no more make mention of the burden of Jehovah:

For (if ye do) men’s words shall become a burden to themselves.

Thus shall ye inquire of a prophet,

What hath Jehovah answered thee?

What hath Jehovah spoken unto thee?

But if ye say, The burden of Jehovah,

Thus saith Jehovah: Because ye say this word, The burden of Jehovah.

When I have sent unto you the command,

Ye shall not say, The burden of Jehovah,

Therefore I will assuredly take you up,

And will cast away from before Me both you

And the city which I gave to you and to your fathers.

I will bring upon you everlasting reproach

And everlasting shame, that shall not be forgotten."

Jeremiah’s insistence and vehemence speak for themselves. Their moral is obvious, though for the most part unheeded. The most solemn formulae, hallowed by ancient and sacred associations, used by inspired teachers as the vehicle of revealed truths, may be debased till they become the very legend of Antichrist, blazoned on the Vexilla Regis Inferni. They are like a motto of one of Charles’ Paladins flaunted by his unworthy descendants to give distinction to cruelty and vice. The Church’s line of march is strewn with such dishonoured relics of her noblest champions. Even our Lord’s own words have not escaped. There is a fashion of discoursing upon "the gospel" which almost tempts reverent Christians to wish they might never hear that word again. Neither is this debasing of the moral currency confined to religious phrases; almost every political and social watchword has been similarly abused. One of the vilest tyrannies the world has ever seen-the Reign of Terror-claimed to be an incarnation of "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity."

Yet the Bible, with that marvellous catholicity which lifts it so high above the level of all other religious literature, not only records Jeremiah’s prohibition to use the term "Burden," but also tells us that centuries later Malachi could still speak of "the burden of the word of Jehovah." A great phrase that has been discredited by misuse may yet recover itself; the tarnished and dishonoured sword of faith may be baptised and burnished anew, and flame in the forefront of the holy war.

Jeremiah does not stand alone in his unfavourable estimate of the professional prophets of Judah; a similar depreciation seems to be implied by the words of Amos: "I am neither a prophet nor of the sons of prophets." One of the unknown authors whose writings have been included in the Book of Zechariah takes up the teaching of Amos and Jeremiah and carries it a stage further:-

"In that day (it is the utterance of Jehovah Sabaoth) I will cut off the names of the idols from the land,

They shall not be remembered any more;

Also the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness

Will I expel from the land.

When any shall yet prophesy, His father and mother that begat him shall say unto him,

Thou shalt not live, for thou speakest lies in the name of Jehovah":

"And his father and mother that begat him shall

Thrust him through when he prophesieth.

In that day every prophet when he prophesieth

Shall be ashamed of his vision;

Neither shall any wear a hairy mantle to deceive:

He shall say, I am no prophet;

I am a tiller of the ground,

I was sold for a slave in my youth."

No man with any self-respect would allow his fellows to dub him prophet; slave was a less humiliating name. No family would endure the disgrace of having a member who belonged to this despised caste; parents would rather put their son to death than see him a prophet. To such extremities may the spirit of time serving and cant reduce a national clergy. We are reminded of Latimer’s words in his famous sermon to Convocation in 1536:

"All good men in all places accuse your avarice, your exactions, your tyranny. I commanded you that ye should feed my sheep, and ye earnestly feed yourselves from day to day, wallowing in delights and idleness. I commanded you to teach my law; you teach your own traditions, and seek your own glory."

Over against their fluent and unctuous cant Jeremiah sets the terrible reality of his Divine message. Compared to this, their sayings are like chaff to the wheat; nay, this is too tame a figure-Jehovah’s word is like fire, like a hammer that shatters rocks. He says of himself:-

"My heart within me is broken; all my bones shake:

I am like a drunken man, like a man whom wine hath overcome,

Because of Jehovah and His holy words."

Thus we have in chapter 23, a full and formal statement of the controversy between Jeremiah and his brother prophets. On the one hand, self-seeking and self-assurance winning popularity by orthodox phrases, traditional doctrine, and the prophesying of smooth things; on the other hand, a man to whom the word of the Lord was like a fire in his bones, who had surrendered prejudice and predilection that he might himself become a hammer to shatter the Lord’s enemies, a man through whom God wrought so mightily that he himself reeled and staggered with the blows of which he was the instrument.

The relation of the two parties was not unlike that of St. Paul and his Corinthian adversaries: the prophet, like the Apostle, spoke "in demonstration of the Spirit of power"; he considered "not the word of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." In our next chapter we shall see the practical working of this antagonism which we have here set forth.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Expositor's Bible Commentary".

The Pulpit Commentaries


The first eight verses form the necessary conclusion of the group of discourses summarized in Jeremiah 21:1-14; Jeremiah 22:1-30. Like Isaiah, our prophet follows up denunciation with consolation, and will have the mind rest on the sure promises of God for the Messianic future. A part of the people has been already scattered abroad. In Jeremiah 24:8, "those who dwell in the land of Egypt" are a section no less important than "those who remain in this land;" and the Babylonian Captivity is an event only too certain to take place (comp. Jeremiah 24:8). Unhappy Judah! for though not free from responsibility, it is the kings who are the prime authors of the calamity. Yet happy Judah! for "the days come" that an ideal king shall arise, even the promised Messiah. (Comp. Ezekiel 34:1-31, which seems like a development of this section.) Some have represented the promises of this chapter as fulfilled in the return from Babylon, with perhaps the Maccabean glories in addition. The fulfillment would in this case correspond but ill to the prediction; the context, too, is equally opposed to it. For, as Hengstenberg points out, the "gathering" and "bringing back" of Israel is in Jeremiah 24:4 closely connected with the raising up of good shepherds; and, according to Jeremiah 24:5, that promise is to find at any rate its culminating fulfillment in David's "righteous Branch," the Messiah. The mistake has been partly caused by a reluctance to increase the number of prophecies still awaiting their fulfillment, and partly by the false supposition that the events described must take place simultaneously (against this view, see Jeremiah 24:7, Jeremiah 24:8). Hengstenberg himself thinks that the fulfillment lies in the conversion of Israel to the gospel. "Canaan had such a high value for Israel, not because it was its fatherland in the lower sense, but because it was the land of God, the place where his glory dwelt." To be in Christ is to be in the true Canaan.

Jeremiah 23:1

Woe be unto the pastors, etc.! This "woe" is a pendant to the" woe" upon Jehoiakim in Jeremiah 22:13. The original form of the verse shows the strong feeling with which the prophet both wrote and spoke: "Woe I shepherds who destroy," etc. By "shepherds" Jeremiah means rather the civil than the spiritual authorities, especially the kings— ποιμένες λαῶν, as Homer calls them. This is, in fact, the general Old Testament application of the term (see on Jeremiah 2:8). That destroy; if it is true of all sin that no one can calculate its issues, this is specially true of the sins of rulers. Delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi; or, as an inspired teacher puts it, "The leaders of this people became false guides, and those whom they led were lost men" (Isaiah 9:16). How these evil shepherds "destroyed" the people we are not here told; but from Jeremiah 22:3, Jeremiah 22:13, it is clear that sins of injustice, ranging from oppressive exaction to murder, are specially intended. Scatter; the captivities of the Jews being directly owing to the want of good government and teaching. How could the prophets stem the tide of popular corruption, when the ruling classes opposed their efforts? The sheep of my pasture; or, the sheep of my pasturing—the "pastors" are Jehovah's under shepherds. The figure is a favorite one, especially with the psalmists of the school of Asaph (see Psalms 74:1; Psalms 77:20; Psalms 78:52 (comp. Psalms 78:70-72); Psalms 79:13; Psalms 80:1).

Jeremiah 23:2

The Lord God of Israel; strictly, Jehovah the God of Israel. This national title of Jehovah suggests, in such a connection, that the crime of the kings is nothing short of sacrilege. Ye have scattered, etc.; i.e. been the cause of their scattering, Have not visited them. "To visit" often, by a natural association of ideas, means "to give attention to." By an equally natural association, it means "to fall upon, to punish." Hence, in the next clause, I will visit upon you. We have the same combination of meanings in Zechariah 10:3.

Jeremiah 23:3

Parallel passage, Ezekiel 34:12-15. I will gather the remnant;. For the ill usage of foreign oppressors has supplemented that of home tyrants, so that only a "remnant" is left. And they shall be fruitful and increase. The fertility of the Jewish race in modern times has been a frequent subject of observation, and supplies the best comment upon Jeremiah s prophecy.

Jeremiah 23:4

And I will set up shepherds; e.g. rulers, not necessarily kings (see on next verse). Which shall feed them. For the evil shepherds "fed themselves, and fed not my flock" (Ezekiel 34:8). And they shall fear no more. Ezekiel again contributes an essential feature to the description. The neglect of the shepherds left the flock exposed to the ravages of wild beasts (Ezekiel 34:8). Neither shall they be lacking. A speaking phrase. Too many of the sheep had fallen down precipices or been carried off by lions. Yet the context rather favors a slight and palaeographically natural emendation of Hitzig, "Neither shall they be terrified." The Septuagint omits the word altogether, which favors the supposition that they read as Hitzig would read, for they are apt to condense by omitting synonyms.

Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah 23:6

(Comp. the parallel passage, Jeremiah 33:15, Jeremiah 33:16.)

Jeremiah 23:5

Behold, the days come. The use of the analogous phrase, "And it shall come to pass in that day," would lead us to suppose that this verse describes a fresh stage in the progress of events, as if the faithful shepherds (Jeremiah 23:4) were to precede the "righteous Branch" (Jeremiah 23:5). Such a view, however, is not very plausible, for the Messtab, according to prophecy, is to appear in the darkest of times. The prophet simply means to impress upon us the greatness of the revelation which he is about to communicate. I will raise unto David. The promised Messiah, then, is certainly to be of the family of David (comp. Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:1; Micah 5:2). A righteous Branch; rather, a righteous Plant: the root means "to bud, or sprout." This is the first time in which the title the Plant is unmistakably applied to the Messianic King (possibly, but less probably, to the Messianic kings). It indicates that this great personage stands in connection with the divinely ordained and ancient royal family, but that he is in some way unique, and far surpasses his human ancestors. He "springs forth;" therefore he is not a sort of meteoric appearance, without any natural home among men, but rather the blossom of the Jewish nation, the embodiment of its highest qualities. And yet there is something extraordinary about him, for it is needful that Jehovah himself should "raise" this Plant from the almost worn-out stock of David. Note that the word rendered here in the Authorized Version "Branch" is not the same as that in the parallel passage in Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1). It is, however, the word employed in Isaiah 4:2, which is taken by many, especially the elder interpreters (but with very doubtful justice), to be a prophecy of the Messiah. It is also the word used by Zechariah (Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12), as a proper name of the Messiah, which is one strong reason for rejecting the view mentioned above that the word rendered "the Branch," or "the Plant," is to be taken collectively as equivalent to "branches," or rather "plants" (the article is not expressed in the Hebrew). In short, this passage and the prophecies referred to in Jeremiah are exceptions to the general Old Testament usage of the Hebrew word (cemakh), which is elsewhere a collective term equivalent to "plantation." It is true that in verse 4 "shepherds," in the plural, are spoken of, but there is no reason why this title should be confined to kings—it may as fairly be extended to the chief rulers under a king as the term "king" itself (see on Jeremiah 17:20); and true, further, that ill Jeremiah 33:17 a continuous succession is promised of Davidic heirs to the throne, but this is not decisive in favor of the collective meaning, any more than Isaiah's later prophecy that "the [reigning Davidic] king shall reign in righteousness" disproves the strictly Messianic reference of his earlier promise in Isaiah 11:1. All prophecy is conditional; there may have been moral reasons why a continuance of the Davidic dynasty was held out by Jeremiah at one time as a possible prospect. (It is, however, extremely probable that Jeremiah 33:14-26 is the work of some other inspired writer; see ad loc.) The thirty-fourth chapter of Ezekiel, which is so closely parallel to this section, appears to interpret the prophecy of a single Messianic king (Ezekiel 34:23). And a King shall reign; rather, and he shall reign as king; i.e. he shall be the realized ideal of an Israelitish king—a second David. And prosper; or, and deal wisely. There is the same doubt as to the rendering of the verb in Isaiah 52:13 a. The radical idea is that of wisdom, and the analogy of Isaiah 11:2 favors the alternative rendering here. Shall execute judgment; in contrast to the neglectful conduct of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 22:3).

Jeremiah 23:6

Israel shall dwell safely. In the parallel passage (Jeremiah 33:16) we read "Jerusalem," and there can hardly be a doubt that "Jerusalem" ought to be restored here. This is not the-only instance in which, by mistake, the scribe has written "Israel" instead of "Jerusalem" (see Jeremiah 32:30, Jeremiah 32:32; Jeremiah 51:49; Zephaniah 3:14; Zechariah 12:1). In Zechariah 1:19 the scribe discovered his mistake, and wrote the right word, "Jerusalem," after the wrong one, "Israel," but without canceling the latter. And this is his name whereby he shall be called. There is a various reading, which may be rendered either, whereby they shall call (him, or her), or, which they shall proclaim, supported by the Peshito, Targum, Vulgate, and a few manuscripts (St. Jerome, too, mentions this reading). There is also a more important difference among the commentators as to the person who was to bear the name. The older Christian interpreters contended with all their might for the view that the name belonged to the Messiah, partly on real philological grounds, partly with the illegitimate theological object of obtaining a proof-text for the orthodox doctrine of the person of the Messiah and (in the case of Protestant writers) of justification. It is much to the credit of Hengstenberg that he sets this object aside, and while maintaining the Messianic reference of the pronoun interprets the name with a single eye to the requirements of the context, "He by whom and under whom Jehovah will be our righteousness." The objection is that in the parallel passage (Jeremiah 33:16) Jeremiah assigns the name "Jehovah-Tsidkenu," not to the Messiah, but to Jerusalem. The prophet must be allowed to be his best interpreter, so that we must, it would seem, at any rate, reject the Messianic reference. But then how are we to explain the pronoun? It is right to refer the parallel pronoun in Jeremiah 33:16 to "Jerusalem," because the pronoun there is feminine, and evidently refers to a city, but it is not natural in our passage to explain "his name" of "Israel," seeing that the subject of the noun in the parallel line is, not Israel, but the Messiah. is the text here correct? A comparison of the parallel psalms 14. and lift; and of the corresponding chapters in Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, will show how easily errors made their way into duplicate copies of the same passage. Granting that we have such duplicate copies of this prophecy in Jeremiah, there can be no doubt which is the more original; the form of Jeremiah 23:6 has a difficulty from which Jeremiah 33:16 is free—a difficulty of interpretation and a difficulty also of grammar. For, as Ewald has already pointed out, the contracted suffix is very rarely attached to the simple imperfect, and the clear style in which this section is written justifies us in regarding any unusual form with suspicion. "Israel" thus was probably written by mistake for "Jerusalem," and this error soon led to others—first, the omission of "her," and then the prefixing of "his name" for clearness, and (on the part of the authors of the points) the mispointing of the verb (so as to include in the form the pronoun "him"). It is some confirmation of this view that there are several other passages in which the words "Israel" and "Jerusalem" appear to have been confounded (see preceding note). Read, therefore, as in Jeremiah 33:16, And this is the name wherewith she shall be called. THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS; Hebrew, Yahveh (Jehovah) Tsidkenu. The name is formed on the analogy of other symbolic names, such as El-elohe-Israel (Genesis 33:20), Jehovah-Nisei (Exodus 17:15 ), and especially Jehovah-Shammah (Ezekiel 48:35), also a name of Jerusalem. These names are, in fact, sentences; Jehovah-Shammah, for instance, means "The Lord (is) there;" and the name in the present verse, "The Lord (is) our Righteousness" (Hengstenberg's view mentioned above seems less natural). It is singular that Zedekiah's name should come so near to that announced by the prophet. But there is still a difference between them. Zedekiah must mean "The Lord (is) righteousness," i.e. is ever faithful to his revealed principles of action. But Jehovah-Tsidkenu may be correctly paraphrased, "The Lord is the author of our prosperity," or, more strictly, "of the justification of our claims in the sight of our enemies" (comp. Isaiah 45:24; Isaiah 50:8; Isaiah 54:17; Isaiah 58:8; Isaiah 62:1,Isaiah 62:2). Similar applications of forensic language are familiar, e.g. "When they speak with their enemies in the gate" (Psalms 127:5).

Jeremiah 23:7, Jeremiah 23:8

This is another of Jeremiah's repetitions (see Jeremiah 16:14, Jeremiah 16:15). Either the Septuagint translator or the copyist of the Hebrew manuscript which he used appears to have thought that the passage might, therefore, be dispensed with. In the Septuagint it is placed at the end of the chapter (being possibly supplied from another Hebrew manuscript), and the form given in this version to the close of verse 6 ( ἰωσεδὲκ ἐν τοῖς προφηταῖς, combining the opening words of verse 9) shows that verse 9 followed immediately upon verse 6 in the Hebrew manuscript.

Jeremiah 23:9-40

These verses form a complete prophecy, the title of which Jeremiah himself supplies in the words, "Concerning the (false) prophets" (see below); comp. Jeremiah 46:2; Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 49:1, Jeremiah 49:7, Jeremiah 49:23, Jeremiah 49:28. It is true the rendering of the Authorized Version (Jeremiah 49:9), Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets, is not purely arbitrary; it is favored by the exegetical tradition represented by the Hebrew accents. But it is not probable that two entirely different causes should be given for the prophet's deep emotion (see the latter part of the verse). Besides, "breaking of the heart" is nowhere a sign of anger (as Authorized Version would suggest), but either of grief (see on Jeremiah 8:20, or, as the context implies here, physical disturbance at the solemn message of Jehovah (comp. Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 20:9). All my bones shake. It is a very uncommon verb, occurring only twice elsewhere (Genesis 1:2; Deuteronomy 32:11, in Piel). The words of his holiness; co, his words of holiness; i.e. his holy words, the words of the Holy One on the unholy doings of the false prophets.

Jeremiah 23:10

The land is full of adulterers. The false prophets connive at flagrant immoralities, one of which is mentioned as a typical sin. As to the nature of the adultery, see note on Jeremiah 5:7. Because of swearing; rather, because of the curse; the curse, namely, with which God punishes the guilty earth (comp. Zechariah 5:3; Daniel 9:11; and especially Isaiah 24:6, where in the original there is a paronomasia very similar to that here). The land mourneth; a figurative expression, suggested partly by the assonance of the word for "curse." Drought is what is meant (comp. Jeremiah 12:4; Jeremiah 14:1, Jeremiah 14:2). The pleasant places of the wilderness; rather, the pastures of the prairie-land ("wilderness" suggests ideas very alien to the context). Their course; literally, their running (comp. Jeremiah 8:6). The subject is "the inhabitants of the land." Their force is not right; rather, their might (or, heroism) is untruth. They are "mighty men" only in telling untruths (comp. Jeremiah 9:3; Isaiah 5:22).

Jeremiah 23:11

Both prophet and priest are profane; i.e. are unholy, disobeying the Divine commands (see on Jeremiah 5:7). The same two important classes specified as in Jeremiah 6:13. Yea, in my house, etc. Evidently some sin specially incongruous with its locality is referred to, either idolatry (comp. Jeremiah 7:30) or the totemistic worship of figures of animals (Ezekiel 8:10, Ezekiel 8:11). Comp. note on Jeremiah 5:7.

Jeremiah 23:12

Their way shall be unto them as slippery ways, etc.; rather, slippery places. The passage has a manifest affinity with Psalms 35:6 (in one of the Jeremiahizing psalms; see on Jeremiah 18:19, Jeremiah 18:20). They shall be driven on; or, as Ewald, taking over the last word of the preceding clause, they shall be thrust into the darkness. This involves a reminiscence, probable enough, of Isaiah 8:22 b. It is against the accentual tradition, but improves the rhythmical derision of the verse. If we ask who "thrusts" them, Psalms 35:5 supplies the answer—it is not merely external circumstances, but "the Angel of Jehovah," i.e. Jehovah himself. As Bishop Hall says, "God wounds us by many instruments, but with one hand." I will bring evil upon them, etc. Favorite expressions of Jeremiah (comp. Jeremiah 11:23).

Jeremiah 23:13, Jeremiah 23:14

The prophets of Samaria were no doubt guilty enough, but their offences dwindled by the side of the "horrible" transgressions of those of the southern kingdom. The prophet apparently means, not only that the former, having fewer spiritual advantages, were less responsible than the latter, but also that they had not violated the moral code so conspicuously.

Jeremiah 23:13

I have seen folly; rather, absurdity or unseemliness; literally, that which is unsavory (comp. Job 6:6). The word occurs with a similar reference to Jehovah in Job 1:22; Job 24:12. To "prophesy by Baal" was "absurd," "unseemly," because Baal was a "non-entity" (Isaiah's word for an idol). In Baal; rather, by, or by means of, Baal (see on Jeremiah 2:8).

Jeremiah 23:14

I have seen also, etc.; rather, But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen. Horrible; as in Jeremiah 5:30. They commit adultery, etc.; literally, the committing adultery and the walking in lies—a much more forcible way of putting it. They are all of them; rather, They have become all of them; vie. either the prophets or the people in general. The inhabitants thereof; viz. of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 23:15

On the punishment hero threatened, see note on Jeremiah 9:15.

Jeremiah 23:16-22

A warning addressed to the people against the false prophecies (comp. Ezekiel 13:1-23.).

Jeremiah 23:16

They make you vain; i.e. fill you with vain imaginations. A similar phrase occurs in Jeremiah 2:5, on which see note. A vision of their own heart; the heart being the center of the intellectual as well as of the moral life, according to the Hebrew conception.

Jeremiah 23:17

Unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said. The Septuagint and the Syriac render the same text (the consonants are alone the text) with different vowels, thus: "Unto those who despise the word of the Lord." In favor of this it may be urged that the phrase, "The Lord hath said," is nowhere else used in this abrupt way to introduce a real or supposed revelation, and Hitzig and Graf accordingly accept it. Ye shall have peace; as Jeremiah 6:14. After the imagination; rather, in the stubbornness (see on Jeremiah 3:17).

Jeremiah 23:18

For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord; rather, in the council. This verse is connected with Jeremiah 23:16; it gives the reason why the false prophets were not to be listened to. None of them had been admitted to the secret council of the Lord; the interrogation is here a form of denial. "To stand in the council" is not the same as "to sit" (Psalms 1:1); the latter phrase implies taking an active part in the consultations. It is specially applicable to the true prophets, according to Jeremiah 23:22, and this, as we gather from other passages, m a twofold sense. Sometimes the prophets had visions, in which their inner eye was granted a sight of Jehovah in consultation with his trusted servants (Isaiah 6:1, comp. Isaiah 6:8; 1 Kings 22:19); and the words of Eliphaz, "Weft thou listening in the council of God?" (Job 15:8), appear to be descriptive of a similar experience. But the phrase may also be used in a wider sense of entirely unecstatic revelations. Amos says (Amos 3:7), "Surely the Lord Jehovah will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret counsel unto his servants the prophets; ' and a psalmist extends the term "secret counsel" to the communion which God grants to the pious in general (Psalms 25:14; comp. Proverbs 3:32). Thus there is no hard and-fast line between the experiences of the prophets and those of humbler believers. In so far as the latter are "disciples of Jehovah" (Isaiah 54:13), they too may be truly said to "stand," at least in the doorway, "in the council of Jehovah;" just as a well-known collect inherited from the Latin Church beseeches that "by God's holy inspiration we may think those things that he good." Who hath marked his word? A Jewish tradition, represented by the marginal notes in the Hebrew Bible, has taken offence at this variation in the expression, and would correct the reading to "my word." But such changes of person are of frequent occurrence, and we know that the prophets were thoroughly assured that the word which they spoke was not theirs, but that of him who sent them.

Jeremiah 23:19, Jeremiah 23:20

These two verses seem to be connected with Jeremiah 23:17. The false prophets say, "Ye shall have peace." How different the message of the true! (A duplicate of these verses occurs in Jeremiah 30:23, Jeremiah 30:24.)

Jeremiah 23:19

A whirlwind of the Lord, etc.; rather, A storm of the Lord, even fury, is gone forth, and a whirling storm—upon the head of the wicked shall it whirl. The hurricane has already broken out; it will soon reach Jerusalem. This seems to be the force of Jeremiah's expressive figure.

Jeremiah 23:20

The anger of the Lord. The prophet's interpretation of the image. It is the judicial anger of Jehovah, personified as Divine manifestations so often are (hence "shall not return"). The form of the verse reminds us of Isaiah 55:11. In the latter days; rather, in future days, as Dr. Henderson rightly renders. It seems better to restrict the term "latter days" to the Messianic period ("the coming age," Matthew 12:32), to which, in fact, it is often applied (e.g. Isaiah 2:2; Hosea 3:5). The phrase in itself simply means "in the sequel of the days," i.e. in the future; its Messianic reference, when this exists, is inferred solely from the context. In the passage before us, and in Deuteronomy 4:30, Deuteronomy 4:30 :29, there can be no intention of pointing to the Messianic age. Precisely the same phrase occurs in an Assyrian inscription, where its meaning is clear from the context (aria akhrat yumi irib, "For a sequel of days—i.e; for a future time—I deposited"). In the present case it is no distant period to which the prophet refers, for he continues, Ye shall consider it, etc; or rather, ye shall understand it clearly, viz. that the calamities which will have come upon you are the Divine judgment upon your sins.

Jeremiah 23:21, Jeremiah 23:22

In Jeremiah 23:17-20 Jeremiah has shown that these cannot be true prophets, because their message is diametrically opposed to the true revelation. He now proves it from the absence of any moral effect from their preaching.

Jeremiah 23:23-32

Jehovah has observed and will punish the false pretensions of the prophets.

Jeremiah 23:23, Jeremiah 23:24

Am I a God at hand, etc.? ("At hand" equivalent to "near.") Eliphaz may again assist us with an illustration. "And thou sayest "—he is expostulating with Job—"What doth God know? can he judge through the dark cloud? thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; yea, he walketh upon the vault of heaven" (Job 22:13, Job 22:14). It might seem, from the preponderance of the false prophets ever the true, as if Jehovah were unaware of the mischief. Not so; Jehovah is omnipresent.

Jeremiah 23:25

I have dreamed. Jeremiah mentions it as one of the marks of a false prophet that he appealed to his dreams (comp. Jeremiah 29:8); true prophecy contented itself with less ambiguous media of communication with the unseen world. It may be objected that Abraham (Genesis 15:12), at any rate, and Abimelech (Genesis 20:3) received Divine revelations in dreams; but these were not officially prophets. Nathan and the contemporaries of the author of Job had messages from God by night, but these are called, not dreams, but visions. Deuteronomy (and this is one of its striking points of agreement with Jeremiah) expressly describes a false prophet as "a dreamer of dreams". Two passages in the Old Testament seem inconsistent with this discouragement of dreams as a medium of revelation—Numbers 12:6, where the Lord is said to make himself known to prophets by visions and dreams, and Joel 2:28, where the prophetic dreams of the old men are one of the features of a Messianic description; but it is noteworthy that the first of these refers to the primitive period of Israel's history, and the second to the distant Messianic age. In its classical period prophecy kept itself sedulously aloof from a field on which it had such compromising companionship (comp. Ecclesiastes 5:7).

Jeremiah 23:26

How long shall this be in the heart, etc.? i.e. how long shall this be their purpose, viz. to prophesy lies? But this rendering leaves out of account a second interrogative which in the Hebrew follows "how long." It is better to translate this difficult passage, with De Dieu and many moderns, thus: "How long (quousque durabit haec ipsorum impudentia)? Is it in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies, and the prophets of the deceit of their own heart; are they thinking (I say) to cause my people to forget," etc.? On this view, Jeremiah 23:27 resumes the question interrupted in Jeremiah 23:26.

Jeremiah 23:27

Every man to his neighbor. Not merely one prophet to another prophet, for it is "my people" whom they cause to forget my Name (comp. Jeremiah 23:32), but the prophet to his fellow man. Have forgotten my name for Baal; or, forgot my name through Baal.

Jeremiah 23:28

Let him tell a dream; rather, let him tell it as a dream; let him tell his dreams, if he will, but not intermix them with Divine revelations. Jeremiah, then, does not deny that there is a measure of truth in what these prophets say; he only demands a distinct declaration that their dreams are but dreams, and not equal in authority to the Divine word. For, as he continues, What is the chaff to the wheat? What right have you to mix the worthless chaff with the pure, winnowed grain? How, he implies, can such an adulterated message produce the designed effect of a prophetic revelation? (St. Paul has a somewhat similar figure, 1 Corinthians 3:10-13.) So Naegelsbach. Keil, however, denies that there is any thought of an adulteration of the Divine word by the "false prophets." According to him, the question in this verse is simply meant to emphasize the contrast between the false, dream-born prophecy of Jeremiah's opponents and the true revelations. How can the false prophecy pretend to be the true? They are as different as chaff and wheat. Both views are admissible. Naegelsbach introduces a new element by suggesting the intermixture of false and true in the utterances of the "false prophets;" but his view is not inconsistent with what the prophet has stated before, and it is favored by verse 30 and by the command, Let him speak my word faithfully; i.e. in its genuine form; comp. Jeremiah 2:21, "A faithful or trustworthy [i.e. a genuine] seed;" also, for the general sense, 2 Corinthians 2:17.

Jeremiah 23:29

Is not my word like as a fire? As in Jeremiah 23:19, Jeremiah 23:20, so here, the prophet contrasts the message of the false prophets with that of the true. The former flatter their hearers with promises of peace; the latter speak a stern but potent word, which burns like a fire, and crushes like a hammer. Observe, the prophet does not define the activity of the fire as he does that of the hammer; for the fire has a twofold effect—protection to God's friends and destruction to his enemies. On the figure of the hammer, comp. Jeremiah 1:1-19 :23; Jeremiah 51:20.

Jeremiah 23:30-32

The punishment solemnly introduced by a three times repeated, Behold, I am against, etc; corresponding to three several features of the conduct of the false prophets. First we are told that the prophets steal my words every one from his neighbor. The latter part of the phrase reminds us of Jeremiah 23:27, but the neighbor in this case must mean, at any rate primarily, a fellow-prophet, one who has really received a revelation at first-hand from Jehovah. The "false prophets," not trusting to their "dreams" alone, listen greedily to the discourses of men like Jeremiah, not with a view to spiritual profit, but to making their own utterances more effective. We must remember that they lived by their prophesying (Micah 3:5).

Jeremiah 23:31

That use their tongues; literally, that take their tongue, like a workman's tool—as if prophecy could be turned out to order. And say, He saith. The word rendered "he saith" is one which the prophets habitually used to affirm the revealed character of their teaching. It is the participle of the verb rendered "say." Adopting a Miltonic verb, we might render, and oracle oracles." The "false prophets" adopt the same forms as the true; but they are to them only forms.

Jeremiah 23:32

That prophesy false dreams (see on Jeremiah 23:25). By their lightness. The word is an uncommon one, and implies arrogance or boastfulness (comp. Zephaniah 3:4); the root means "to bubble over." Therefore they shall not profit; rather, and they cannot profit.

Jeremiah 23:33-40

The abuse of a consecrated phrase. The prophets were accustomed to apply the term massa to their prophetic declarations in the sense of "oracle," or "utterance"—a sense derived from the use of the cognate verb for "to lift up the voice," i.e. to pronounce clearly and distinctly. But the word massa was also in common use for "load, burden," and hence the "false prophets" applied the term derisively to Jeremiah's discourses. "Rightly does he call his word a massa; it is not merely a solemn utterance, but a heavy burden; as De Wette puts it, not merely a Weissagung, but a Wehsagung. The passage is important as indicating the sense in which the true prophets understood the term. It should be added that the term mused is prefixed to at least four Biblical passages which, not being of threatening import, do not admit of being entitled "burdens" (Zechariah 9:1; Zechariah 12:1; Proverbs 30:1; Proverbs 31:1; comp. Lamentations 2:14). How remarkable is the line adopted by Jeremiah 1:1-19 He simply abandons the use Of the term massa, consecrated as it was by the practice of inspired men! Better to adopt a new phrase, than to run the risk of misunderstanding or, even worse, profanity.

Jeremiah 23:33

What burden? etc. The Hebrew text, as usually read, is extremely difficult; the Authorized Version is entirely unjustifiable. It is just possible to explain, with Ewald, "As to this question, What is the burden? the true meaning of the word is that," etc. But how harsh and artificial! By a change in the grouping of the consonants (which alone constitute the text), we may read, Ye are the burden. So the Septuagint, Vulgate, Hitzig, Graf, Payne Smith. We must in this case continue, and I will cast you off, as the same verb is to be rendered in Jeremiah 7:29; Jeremiah 12:7. Instead of carrying you with the long-suffering of a father (Deuteronomy 1:31; Isaiah 46:3, Isaiah 46:4; Isaiah 63:9; Psalms 28:9), I will east you off as a troublesome load (Isaiah 1:14).

Jeremiah 23:35

What hath the Lord answered? i.e. a simpler phraseology is to be used, Jehovah hath answered, saying, or, Jehovah hath spoken, according as a definite question had been put before the prophet or not.

Jeremiah 23:36

And the burden of the Lord, etc.; i.e. ye shall no longer use the word massa at all. Every man's word shall be his burden; rather, the burden to every man shall be his word; i.e. his derisive use of the word massa shall be a burden which shall crush him to the ground. Ye have perverted; i.e. have turned them round, and put them into a ridiculous light" (Payne Smith).

Jeremiah 23:38

But since ye say, etc.; rather, But if ye say, etc. In case the false prophets disobey, and persist in using the old expression, the threatening already uttered shall come into operation.

Jeremiah 23:39

I, even I, will utterly forget you; rather, I will even take you up, and east you off. This involves a slight difference in the pronunciation of the text from that adopted by the Massoretes, but is adopted by the Septuagint, Peshito, Vulgate, a few manuscripts, and most critics; it is, in fact, almost required by the figure which fills the verse. And cast you out of my presence. "And cast you" is not in the Hebrew; nor is it necessary to supply the words, if the preceding clauses be rightly translated.

Jeremiah 23:40

With this verse, comp. Jeremiah 20:11.


Jeremiah 23:1-4

The character of leading men.

The character of its leading men is a matter of first importance to a people. Israel had been led astray by his kings; one of the first blessings promised to him on his return is the possession of good leaders. In the most free state there must always be leading men—men exercising influence by reason of their office, their rank and position, or their capacities. Observe this in regard to the various classes of leading men.

I. POLITICAL LEADERS. On their character depends the questions

II. SOCIAL LEADERS. The moral influence of the court is always great and widespread; how important that this should be pure! There are people whom rank or personal attractiveness, or powers of persuasion, endow with power to influence the customs of their age. These need be well advised that their influence may be on the side of truth, purity, and humanity.

III. INTELLECTUAL LEADERS. Shall the reformer be a Luther or a Voltaire? The poet a Wordsworth or a Byron? The historian an Arnold or a Gibbon? The philosopher a Butler or a Hume? Surely for the real welfare of a people the moral tendency of its literature is more important than the intellectual brilliancy.

IV. RELIGIOUS LEADERS. Are these men barren controversialists, or earnest practical guides to their flocks? Are they loyal to truth, or merely bigoted defenders of their own crotchets? Are they spiritual-minded servants of Christ, or ambitious priests? Are they true shepherds, or wolves in sheep's clothing? These questions touch the welfare of a people very closely. Note, the one essential is that the leading men should desire to serve the good of others and not simply to increase their own power and honor; to feed the flock, not to scatter it by reckless indifference, selfish ambition, or tyrannous cruelty. The power of leading men is a great and dangerous gift, only entrusted by Providence to those who possess it for the sake of the good it may be the means of conferring on the community at large. The state is in a healthy condition only when public characters are inspired by public spirit.

Jeremiah 23:5

The Branch of David.

The glorious prophecy of the Messianic future which here bursts forth from Jeremiah, after his denunciation of his nation's sin and lamentation over its approaching calamities, is necessarily clothed in the language of the age, and viewed in an especial relation to contemporary wants. The people are suffering from bad rulers and an unrighteous government. A good king, administering his kingdom happily and justly, is promised for the golden age of the future. Associated with this king is, no doubt, that succession of righteous sovereigns referred to in the fourth verse. It was not given to anticipatory visions to show how unique and solitary and eternal was to be the kingship of the Messiah. Yet even there he stands forth in marked prominence, and towers above his successors, who are only regarded as following his initiative. Regarding the prophecy with the fuller light of Christian times, we may see how it is a true foreshadowing of the nature and work of Christ, though, of course, only partial and limited, as the shadow can only indicate the general form of its object, and that in but one aspect.


1. He comes from a human stock. He is called a "Branch," or, rather, a "Sprout." Christ entered the world by birth; he was "made of a woman." Hence his oneness with us, his human sympathy, true example, and representative character as the High Priest of the race.

2. He comes of the family of David. This historical fact is significant. Christ is a born King, a rightful Sovereign. He realizes the ideal which the kings of the Jews had failed to attain, but which the best of them had aimed at.

3. He comes quietly and gradually. The sprout springs from a bud by slow growth. Christ began his life as an infant, and grew in physical, mental, and spiritual powers (Luke 2:52). He did not astonish the world with a sudden apparition of majesty. His kingship is like his kingdom, a quiet and gradual growth as that of a tree from a seed (Matthew 13:31-32).

4. He comes with close relations to the circumstances of the world. The sprout is vitally connected with the earth and the atmosphere. It grows in the natural season of growth. Christ is associated with all human interests. The ages before his advent were preparing for him. He is the representative of their highest aspirations, the satisfaction of their deepest needs. He comes in the "fullness of time."

5. He comes from a Divine origin. God raises up the righteous Branch. The text tells us no more than that the coming of Christ is providential and through special Divine influences; but we know that God not only raised him, but was in him, as one with his very being.

II. THE OFFICE OF THE MESSIAH. He is to be a King. It was natural that the Jews should anticipate a temporal sovereign, and natural, therefore, that they should have been disappointed at the appearance and conduct of Jesus of Nazareth. Yet was he not, is he not, a King? He professed to be a King (John 18:37). The apostles claimed submission to him as to a King (Acts 17:7). His influence is kingly. The essence of kingship is not seen in the sitting on a material throne and wearing a visible crown, but in the exercise of power over men. Christ is the one true King, because he rules the thoughts and affections and wills of men. Human sovereigns can only command external obedience. While the slave cringes before the throne he may be cursing his master in his heart. Christ is satisfied with no such superficial loyalty. He seeks the allegiance of the heart, and he wins it from all his people. We must, therefore, recognize this great fact—Christ is a King as well as a Savior. While he delivers us from ruin, he expects submission to his authority. He is a Savior partly by being a King, for his royal influence is one means of his deliverance of mankind. Therefore the selfish Christianity which would accept escape from ruin, but would not accord loyal obedience, is a delusion. We cannot even be safe, cannot even escape from the ruin of our sin, except by bowing to the rule of Christ. We can only find rest unto our souls by taking on us his yoke. True faith, therefore, includes trust in the kingship as well as in the redemption of Christ, i.e. active fidelity in addition to passive confidence.


1. He is righteous. This was much in contrast to the unrighteousness of contemporary rulers. Taking the word "righteous" in the largest sense, we have assurance of the truth, justice, holiness, and goodness of Christ. If this righteousness of the Messiah is a ground of rejoicing to the prophet, how much more shall we Christians rejoice in witnessing his gentleness, compassion, and love?

2. He rules righteously. The character of the government is necessarily determined by that of the ruler. The great King comes to live not for himself, but for his people, and not to execute stern judgments upon them, but to secure their highest good. Christ reigns for the good of his people. If we submit to his rule we find our own blessedness secured thereby.

Jeremiah 23:6

The new name.

(See also Jeremiah 33:16.) God's people are to have a new name. In the epistle to the Church at Pergamos, every one "that overcometh" is assured that he will receive "a white stone, and in the stone a new name written" (Revelation 2:17). This is suggestive, not only of a change of character, but of a change of reputation. The redeemed will no longer be thought of in connection with the old associations of their sin and shame. These will be forgotten, and a new name given to them, describing their holier character and happier condition. Consider the significance of this new name—"The Lord our Righteousness."


1. He justifies his people in the face of their maligners by proving the rightness of their cause. For this, like David, they may appeal to him (Psalms 35:23, Psalms 35:24).

2. God's righteousness is the ideal of righteousness for his people. True righteousness is that which is after God's mind. Men have their notions of right, which are often perverted by passion and prejudice. But the redeemed have a vision of a higher law and a purer type of goodness. God is righteousness to them. He is the Good, the only true Good (Mark 10:18).

3. God is the Source of righteousness to his people. None can make himself righteous; righteousness is an inspiration. This idea is suggested by Plato in the 'Meno,' where he represents Socrates as saying, "To sum up our inquiry—the result seems to be, if we are at all right in our view, that virtue is neither natural nor acquired, but an instinct given by God to the virtuous;" and again, "Then, Meno, the conclusion is that virtue comes to the virtuous by the gift of God." How singularly near is this to St. Paul's teaching about the righteousness of God without the Law (Romans 3:21-26)!

II. RIGHTEOUSNESS IS COEXTENSIVE WITH SALVATION. When the people are saved, they receive the new name. We are not delivered on account of our righteousness, but in our sin and need and ill desert. Nevertheless, salvation brings righteousness, includes the gift of righteousness—is, indeed, essentially a restoration of righteousness, a deliverance from sin to a state of holiness. The two ideas may be separated in thought; they cannot be separated in experience. It would be unjust and unholy for God to deliver a man from the penalties of his sin while he remained in the practice of it. But when deliverance comes, no part of it is more full of joy and blessedness to the redeemed, and none reflects more glory on the Redeemer than the salvation from the power of sin and the creation of a new nature of holiness.

III. THE DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS IS CONFERRED THROUGH CHRIST. The giving of the new name follows the advent of the Messiah and the exercise of his kingly rule. Here we are carried beyond the vague and apparently casual Platonic notion of the inspiration of virtue to the definite Christian doctrine of righteousness through Christ.

1. Christ secures redemption for us by his life work and his sacrificial death, and with this comes righteousness.

2. Christ is the incarnation of the Divine righteousness, and breathes that into us by his vital contact with his people.

3. Christ rules in righteousness over a people whom he teaches to follow and obey him with righteousness. Therefore, if we crave the honor and the blessedness of the new name, let us yield our souls in trust and obedience to the claims and grace of Christ.

Jeremiah 23:16

Uninspired prophecy.

The Jews were warned not to listen to the prophets, because they were not inspired by God. This fact was considered to be a sufficient proof of their inefficiency, and necessarily so, since the prophets professed to be acting as the oracles of God, and not merely indulging in their own speculations and conjectures. Herein lay the danger of their position. They held official rank as religious teachers, their claims were backed by venerated tradition, they boldly professed to speak with Divine authority; yet they were not sent by God. The same danger accompanies the pretensions of men in our own day, who claim a right to be heard without question by reason of their high office in the Church, and yet have no Divine commission. The appearance of this uninspired prophecy in Jeremiah's age may, therefore, be a warning to modern times.

I. THE ORIGIN OF THIS PROPHECY WAS PRIVATE SPECULATION. The prophets spoke "a vision of their own heart." Such a vision could only be a revelation of themselves. This is what uninspired religious speculation amounts to. It is a revelation of man, not a revelation of God. Attempts are made to arrive at truth in three ways.

1. By observation. But observation cannot reveal

2. By reasoning. This must be based on experience, and can bear no more strain than its basis. It is not found that we have sufficient data in normal experience to warrant important predictions of history and conclusions on vexed theological questions.

3. By intuition. Intuition does reveal truth, but only the truth of our own nature. We have no reason for supposing that this is always a counterpart to the facts of the larger world.

II. PRIVATE SPECULATION WAS ESPECIALLY LIKELY TO IMPORT ERROR INTO THIS PROPHECY. It was always fallible, but in the present instance it was peculiarly likely to err.

1. It was attempting too great a task. The prophets were venturing to predict the future of their nation under the most difficult circumstances.

2. It was biased by prejudice, passion, and interest. The prophets were swayed by their own inclination. In religious questions personal considerations blind men to pure truth.


1. It was recommended by the official teachers.

2. It was recommended by the majority of the prophets. Jeremiah stood almost alone; his opponents were numerous.

3. It was flattering to the people; it represented them as less guilty, as deserving less punishment than was threatened by Jeremiah.

4. It was pleasant. The prophets spoke smooth words and promised comfortable things. Such teaching is only too popular.

IV. NO PROPHECY IS RELIABLE WHICH IS NOT INSPIRED BY GOD. The prophecy is condemned simply for want of this one fundamental condition. The history of religions speculation proves the helplessness of all attempts to solve the great problems of the future and of the spiritual by bare human intelligence. If, therefore, we believe that the Bible is inspired, weight should be given to its teaching as to an authority. In our own thought, and our meditation on the Scriptures, we need those lesser degrees of inspiration by which all Christians may be led into truth (John 16:13).

Jeremiah 23:23, Jeremiah 23:24

The omnipresence of God.

I. THE FACT. God must he thought of as fully present everywhere; not as a great Being who fills a great space with, however, only distinct parts in each section of space. The whole of God is present everywhere. He is as much present in every separate locality as if he existed nowhere else. All his infinite attributes of knowledge, power, and goodness are present, to be brought to bear on each individual of the infinite variety of things in the universe. God is as much present in the less seemly places as in those that are recognized as fitting temples for him to dwell in. He is in the earth as well as in heaven. Heaven is described as his throne, earth as his footstool. He is present with the godless as well as with the godly, in the heathen world as well as in Christendom. More particularly:

1. God is present with those who do not recognize him. The sunlight is not limited by man's vision; it shines as clearly about the blind man as about one with keen eyesight. So, though we may not think of God's presence, it is not the less near to us.

2. God is present with those who refuse to obey him. We cannot remove ourselves from the observation and control of God by forsaking all allegiance to him. Jonah could flee from his mission, but he could not flee from his God. God's eyes are on the evil as well as on the good.

3. God is present with those who are far from enjoying the blessedness of the full manifestation of his presence. God is present with the Christian all through his earthly pilgrimage. Though God appears to hide himself for a season, though thick clouds intervene between the soul and that beatific vision which is reserved for the future state, God is as truly with his people on earth as he will be in heaven.


1. It is foolish to expect to escape from the judgment of God. God never abdicates his right to be the Judge of all his creatures. There is no possibility of hiding from him. God searches us and knows our deepest heart-secret. Will it not, then, be best for us to be true and open and frank with him?

2. We must not ascribe the confusion of the world to God's indifference. If he knows all and does not set it right, this must be

3. No change of place will bring us nearer to God. "He is not far from every one of us" (Acts 17:27). Therefore

4. Christians need fear no harm. They must meet with troubles and temptations, but God is present to uphold them. They must go through the valley of the shadow of death, but God is there. They must enter the strange land of departed souls, but he is there also. And wherever God is it must be well with his faithful children.

Jeremiah 23:33, Jeremiah 23:34

The abuse of a word.

This is not a mere play upon a word, but a mocking abuse of the meaning of it, designed to convey a sinister insinuation. It illustrates what a dangerous and uncertain weapon language is. We are all inclined to attach too much importance to words, forgetting that they are not rigid landmarks of thought, but variable in meaning with the variations of the ideas we import into them.

I. THE WORDS OF TRUTH MAY BE USED IN THE SERVICE OF FALSEHOOD. The Jews repeated the phrase of Jeremiah, but with a new and false signification. The "burden" as an utterance, was entirely distinct from the "burden" as a weight to be borne. Of course, mendacity belongs to our thought and intention, not to our mere language. We may tell a lie by using true words in such a way as to infuse into them a false meaning. Such conduct is peculiarly mean and dishonorable. It is robbing the armory of truth to turn its weapons against itself. No condemnation can be too strong for the treachery and dishonesty of those persons who appropriate the consecrated phrases of Christianity as a subterfuge under which to attack its spiritual truths. Let us be careful in using the Bible, not to read our own thoughts into the text, but to search simply for the original meaning of it.

II. CONTROVERSY BECOMES DISHONEST WHEN IT IS MAINTAINED BY THE CONFUSION OF WORDS. This is the essence of sophistry. A word is spoken with one meaning; it is replied to with another. Often and often this is done unconsciously. Indeed, a large part of our contentions rest on nothing but "misunderstandings." Under such circumstances we may deplore the error, but we cannot severely condemn the moral conduct of the misguided disputants. But it may be done deliberately, to throw dust in the eyes of an opponent, to raise a laugh without justification, to gain a point by mere word-fencing. When this is the case it is untruthful and ungenerous. If we must dispute, let us be frank and fair, using every effort to understand our opponent, carefully guarding against misrepresenting him. So long as a word is used as the embodiment of a thought, it is a sacred thing to tamper with which may be to murder a truth.

III. NO VERBAL BULWARKS WILL PRESERVE THE INTEGRITY OF TRUTH. This is just a corollary on what precedes. But it is sufficiently important to claim distinct and emphatic notice. Truth must find its expression in words, and to be intelligible these should be clear and definite. Hence the need of formulae. But nothing is more unreliable than a formula. Since it may be used against truth with all the force of its prestige if a new false meaning is foisted into it, we need to be constantly considering it afresh in the light of facts. Creeds may be useful as the expression of "views" of truth, but history proves that they are of little good as defenders of the faith.

IV. WHEN A WORD HAS GIVEN TROUBLE IN CONTROVERSY IT MAY BE WELL TO ABANDON IT. Jeremiah is bidden no longer to use the word "burden." We are too jealous of words. There is a superstition of phrases. It is foolish to fight for a word. Anxiety about words is generally a sign of the loss of hold upon truth. If we are sure of possessing the truth and feel the living reality of it, we can afford to abandon any form of language, and can soon find other words in which to clothe it. Truth will not suffer. If it loses the aid of old associations, it loses also the hindrance of misunderstandings and antagonisms, and it gains the freshness of new suggestions. Let us be careful not to be the slaves of a vocabulary. We shall often find it wise to melt down our theological phrases and cast them in a new form, or rather to bury the old ones and let new ones naturally spring up as the embodiment of fresh living thoughts. Remember, "the letter killeth."

Jeremiah 23:33-40

The burden

I. IT IS A MISTAKE TO REGARD THE REVELATION OF TRUTH AS A BURDEN. It comes to lighten our burdens. At first it may seem to increase them by making us conscious of them. It opens our eyes to our own condition. The very light may serve to reveal the existence of the deep mystery all around us, which was not felt while the soul slumbered in darkness. Yet the light does not make the darkness that fringes its radiance. Revelation does not create the burdens of which it makes us conscious. It has rather the opposite effect.

1. All truth clears away some of the burden of superstition. Men people the unknown with horrors. Midnight shadows shroud dread nightmares. Daylight dispels the shadows, and the evil dreams melt away.

2. Divine truth is expressly designed to liberate the soul from spiritual burdens. It is a light of blessing, not a message of death; an evangel promising consolation to the weary. Even the darker elements of truth have this object to attain, since the evil that they reveal is only made manifest that we may see how to escape it, or be prepared to endure it, or receive it so as to profit by it. On the whole and in the end the truth of God is revealed for the loosening of the weary weight of men's greatest burdens, the burden of unforgiven sin, the burden of impossible duty, the burden of unendurable sorrow, the burden of unintelligible mystery.

II. MEN WHO DO NOT RECEIVE THE REVELATION OF TRUTH MAY REGARD IT AS A BURDEN. Thus these Jews derided Jeremiah by mocking his language with words, however, which expressed their own sentiments if not their deeper convictions. To them his word was a weariness, a very burden. Is it not so regarded by many? We should note the causes of this sad mistake.

1. Ignorance. The word is heard, but it is not understood. On the outside it is harsh. This is the characteristic of much Divine truth. Far off it sounds like grating thunder, terrific and repellant. We must be near to hear its sweet but hidden music.

2. Want of sympathy. All truth is burdensome to those who have not sympathy with it. Spiritual truth is a weariness to the unspiritual.

3. Partial faith. Jeremiah's words produced enough conviction to rouse fear, but not enough to lead to confidence in the wisdom, righteousness, and goodness of God in his acts of discipline and chastisement. A weak faith always makes truth a burden. To be joyous and exultant we must be trustful.

III. THE REJECTION OF TRUTH WILL BRING A BURDEN, The revelation is not a burden, but the neglect of it will make one (verse 36). Men turn from God's truth for the trouble they think it threatens. They will find that this very act will bring the greatest trouble upon their heads.

1. This involves the loss of the blessing that truth is designed to bestow upon us. If we reject the truth we must bear the inevitable which the acceptance of it would have lightened. We then go our own way to meet unaided the crosses and toils of life.

2. This involves the addition of a new burden of guilt for the sin of rejecting truth. A willful rejection of light is, of course, wicked and most culpable in the sight of God. It must bring trouble.


Jeremiah 23:1-4

False shepherds and the true.

The reference here is to the kings of the house of David, as the leaders of a theocratic people; and secondarily, to the spiritual purpose of all true kingship.

I. THE MISCHIEF OF FALSE SHEPHERDING. This is twofold, viz. scattering and destroying. The false shepherd has no real interest in the sheep; being but a hireling, his chief consideration is a selfish one. The kings of Judah had sought to realize their own ambitions and to indulge their own lusts. The moral and spiritual advancement of the people—the foundation of all real material prosperity—was not sought. The royal example which ought to have been influential for righteousness was directly opposed to this, and all classes of the people were infected with the licentiousness of prince and noble. The results appeared in crime, idolatry, and banishment.

II. ITS JUDGMENT. The calamity was to come chiefly upon those who had been unfaithful stewards of great responsibilities. Office which is thus abused will soon be taken away. According to responsibility will be punishment. He who causes to offend is worse than the offender, and will meet with corresponding severity of judgment. The nation outlives the dynasty. Unfaithful shepherds of the theocracy sink in ignominy and ruin, but God preserves a seed to serve him, and a generation to call him blessed.

III. ITS CORRECTION. The deceived of God's people, being distinguished from the deceivers, will undergo a kindlier discipline. The shepherd's care, as the symbol of royal responsibility, is intended as an ideal corrective. It teaches the principle that the king exists for the people, and not vice versa. It is under Christianity that popular liberties, national development, and social purity have become the aims of rulers. In modern times there have been many who have illustrated this ideal of royalty; but Christ alone is the Head of redeemed humanity—the good Shepherd that lays down his life for his flock. In him the throne of David is eternally restored. Not yet do we see all things put under him, but the time draws nigh when he shall reign from shore to shore, and from the river even unto the ends of the earth. Ancient Israel depended for its very existence upon spiritual obedience to God's Law. The Church of Christ in all its offices must respect his authority and be actuated by love to him. Its character and influence must be purely spiritual, or its message will be neutralized and soon perverted to unholy ends.—M.

Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah 23:6

The Lord our Righteousness.

I. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD WOULD RULE IN THE MIDST OF HIS PEOPLE. The question of the singular or plural interpretation of the word "scion" need not trouble us. To the prophet it was enough to declare that the offspring of David would yet reign in righteousness. All lesser fulfillments of this prophecy are thrown into insignificance by the great Son of David, who so grandly fulfilled the essential conditions of the prediction.

1. Righteousness would yet become the law of human life.

2. This would be achieved through a personal influence. The King of men will wield a spiritual scepter, but his influence will be the more real. Righteousness will be manifested as a life and vindicated in sacrificial death.

3. The house of David would be restored in him as its offspring.

II. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD WOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO HIS PEOPLE. "The Lord our Righteousness," be it the title of Prince or people, is sufficiently significant to explain its own essential meaning. There would be a transfer of the righteous character of the Ruler to the ruled; their spirit and aims would be identical with his; and he would embody their ideal life and present it to God. Through him the Divine righteousness would be the possession of the least saint. This evidently could only be perfectly accomplished in Christ. Nothing less than a unity of spirit and life with Jesus Christ, through faith, could achieve such a result.


1. The power of this righteousness.

2. Its desirability.

3. Its attainableness. The ideal future of Israel and the Church.—M.

Jeremiah 23:16-18, Jeremiah 23:22

Trying the spirits.

In Jeremiah 23:18 read, "For who hath stood in the counsel of Jehovah? Let him see and hear his word: who hath marked his word? Let him proclaim it."

I. HEARERS ARE TO DISCRIMINATE BETWEEN FALSE PROPHETS AND TRUE. A very serious permission. But not for an occasion only: to be exercised whenever the witnesses conflict. The essential principle of Protestantism. The prophet is one who speaks in God's Name and reveals his will. The question, therefore, is of interest for all time; is exceedingly important, but not morally difficult.

1. The effect of false prophecy is disastrous.

2. Earnest and prayerful discrimination is the best safeguard against religious indifference.

II. A DISTINGUISHING TEST IS FURNISHED. It is a moral one. By their relation to the Law of Moses were the different prophets to be judged of.

1. The marks of the false prophet. His influence is an unrighteous one. He encourages evildoers, either by directly unrighteous teaching or through the indirect influence which he exercises.

2. The marks of the true prophet. He is as unmistakably in favor of morality and religion. He is distinguished:

Jeremiah 23:21

Unauthorized ministry.

The credentials of the ministers of God are ever a matter of consequence. Exceptional service in the Church demands exceptional qualifications, and amongst these a direct Divine call is imperative. The wickedness of those who usurp sacred office is that they ignore the necessity for such a call, and, adding deliberate falsehood to impiety, they speak in the Name of God without having heard his voice.


1. Those who minister in his Name must be appointed by himself. "I have not sent them." For the sake of order an outward and conventional human recognition of office may be requisite. But that is not the essential thing. The minister of God—prophet, priest, Christian minister—must be sent and set apart in the first instance by God. This is an immediate spiritual, Divine act. It may be performed variously, as we find in Scripture it actually was; but the original impulse and impression of obligation are from the Spirit of God. It may be impossible to define the mode, yet the fact and the nature of it cannot be mistaken. So as to the degree of intensity with which the "call" should be attended difference of opinion may exist; but the greatest ministers of God have been those who waited until the Divine ordination was certain and confirmed. A feeble impulse at the outset is less likely to result in a grand consecrated ministry. And yet there is a sense in which the "calling" cannot be made sure until after it has been acted upon. So little is it a mechanical act that sinks into historical background,—the individual must ever have it present to his consciousness and crescent through active fulfillment of it. And the "call" is ever a differentiated one, having regard to special service. It is not enough for one to assume the minister's office merely because he is fired with the general spirit of Christian enthusiasm.

2. Only as he reveals it to men can they declare his truth. "I have not spoken to them." The prophecies of the Old Testament were the outcome of special and particular inspirations, as a reference to the descriptions of prophets themselves will prove. With some the period of active inspired utterance was comparatively brief; others were visited by the inspirations of God all through life. But even the (generally) inspired prophet might be destitute of inspiration on particular occasions, or might outlive it. In such cases silence is highest duty and truest wisdom. "The Word of God" on special occasions, as generally, is a finely organized spiritual emanation, a delicate creation or outbirth of the infinite Spirit, and may be misrepresented by unsympathetic, unenthusiastic reception. He must first be a reverent, believing "hearer" who would worthily prophesy or preach (the modern phase of the same essential work). It is only as the Spirit takes the "things of Christ" and shows them to us that we can understand, appreciate, and livingly present them to others. This necessary experience is finely expressed in the old phrase, "It was laid upon me," or, as Jeremiah has it, "But his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones" (Jeremiah 25:9).

II. HE WHO USURPS THE SACRED OFFICE IS GUILTY OF THE GRAVEST SIN. It is instructive to observe that that which, when worthily fulfilled, is pleasing to God, is altogether otherwise if illegitimately performed. Because:

1. True prophets are thereby discredited.

2. Divine truth is misrepresented. By bald unsympathetic literalism, etc.

3. Divine truth is actually contradicted.

III. GOD WILL REPUDIATE AND DISCREDIT ALL SUCH. Through genuine revelations. In the event. By the results attendant upon faithful preaching. In the great day of account.—M.

Jeremiah 23:23, Jeremiah 23:24

The omnipresence of God.


1. Infinitely near to all his creatures.

2. All-seeing.

3. Filling all in all.

II. A MORAL INFLUENCE. The question is asked. Every conscience confesses it. The dispensation of the Spirit which convinces the world "of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment" is the latest expression of this.

1. Deterrent.

2. Intensifying.

3. Encouraging.—M.

Jeremiah 23:25-27

Dreams that make the Name of God to be forgotten.

This is a very difficult passage, but its general sense is plain. It seems to be this: The false prophets whom Jehovah can not sent imitated the form of inspired utterance—the dream as distinct from the vision—which could most easily and with least chance of detection be fabricated. This vehicle of communicating their false doctrines they strongly affected. "I have dreamed, I have dreamed." Although delivering these utterances in the Name of Jehovah, they thereby sought to alienate the people from him, and to cause his Name to be forgotten.

I. PERSONS MAY SPEAK IN GOD'S NAME WHO ARE REALLY HIS ENEMIES. These false prophets used the Name of God to commend their own deceitful doctrines and practices. The latter would have no permanent influence apart from this association. It is a favorite device of Satan to appear as an angel of light. There is nothing more diabolical, and the pretence should ever be regarded with critical suspicion, and exposed without hesitation when discovered. "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my Name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:5).

II. IT IS EASY TO IMPART A RELIGIOUS ASPECT TO THAT WHICH IS OPPOSED TO TRUE RELIGION. Here one of the chief vehicles of inspiration is employed for quite another purpose than the revelation of God's truth. Its mystery, vagueness, etc; imposed upon the people; and detection was rendered difficult, as no one could be sure whether the prophet dreamt or not. The real message they delivered was one of personal ambition, lust, etc. So men baptize their carnal dreams and desires with Christian names. It is very necessary to discriminate and to be sincere. Now it is a dream, an ordinance, at another time a doctrine.


1. Because it is essentially unaltered. By saying this is truth, it is really no more so than at first, but it gets the character of it.

2. The association thus created greatly increases its power. The sanctions of religion are given to ungodly and sinful practices. Delusion is most inveterate when it blends with superstition.

3. It destroys those whom it professes to bless. The mental habit is thereby corrupted, and the spiritual nature rendered unfit for real Divine communications. The danger is not discovered until it has made fearful advances and worked irrevocable mischief.

IV. IT SPECIALLY PROVOKES THE ANGER OF GOD. It is blasphemy; mocks him; and arrogates his place and functions, becoming more daring with apparent impunity.—M.

Jeremiah 23:28, Jeremiah 23:29

The faithful utterance of Divine revelation.

If God in very deed reveals his will to men, it is essential that it be simply and truthfully conveyed.

I. HUMAN INTERMIXTURES WITH DIVINE TRUTH ARE HURTFUL AND WEAKENING IN THEIR INFLUENCE. The word of human origin is placed on the same level with the Divine. When the former is proved fallible or untrue, the latter is discredited. Efforts after novelty and strangeness generally ensue; and these are condemned by the Word of God (Jeremiah 23:30, Jeremiah 23:31).

II. THESE ARE WHOLLY UNNECESSARY, AS THE WORD OF GOD IS SUFFICIENT FOR ITS PURPOSE. "God's Word shall not return unto him void" (Isaiah 55:11). It is the truth, and must prevail.

III. THE SPURIOUS INTERMIXTURE WILL BE REVEALED BY THE DIFFERENCE OF ITS EFFECTS. "What has the straw to do with the grain?"—a question sure to arise in those who receive such messages. The connection of the one element with the other is evidently incongruous. The stalk sustains the ear which develops from it whilst growing; but when the field has been harvested the two are separated, and have to be used apart. To mix up the chopped straw with the grain would only be to spoil the latter. And so it is when human ideas are mixed with Divine revelations: the mixture fails to edify or satisfy. And in its effect upon the moral nature the true message distinguishes itself from the false. "Fire," in its scorching, consuming power, cannot well be counterfeited; but such is the effect of the Word of God. The "hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces" demonstrates its legitimacy as an instrument of grace by its power upon the hard and impenitent heart (Hebrews 4:12).—M.

Jeremiah 23:33-40

Despising prophesyings.


1. It expresses his character. A careful, gradual unfolding of himself in his attributes and personal relations.

2. It declares his will.

The prophecies of God with his promises and appeals.

3. In its loftiest embodiment—Jesus Christ—it is identified with himself. (John 1:1.)

II. HE WILL NOT SUFFER IT TO BE TREATED LIGHTLY. To do so would be to court contempt, if not to condone the offence. As a sign of his displeasure:

1. He will give the false prophets another message to deliver. This is said satirically (Jeremiah 23:33); their circumstances will prove that the true message is not one of acceptance but of rejection. The whole nation will be thrust out of covenant relationship.

2. Special penalties will be inflicted upon particular offenders. (Jeremiah 23:34.) Handling the Word of God deceitfully will bring upon a man evident tokens of the Divine displeasure.

3. The word "burden" itself will have a new and fearful significance. It was a spiritual offence to talk about "burdens" so lightly. People to whom the true message of God had no awful impressiveness would be taught reverence and fear by that which he would inflict upon them. It would be a true "burden," not so readily got rid of (Jeremiah 23:39, Jeremiah 23:40).—M.


Jeremiah 23:6

The Lord our Righteousness.

How pleasant it is, after a traveler has for long days of travel been occupied in passing through a dreary, monotonous country, to come to a region where Nature puts on her loveliest and most attractive aspect; where, instead of fiat plains, unrelieved by hill or dale, or any object on which the wearied eye can fasten with delight, you find yourself in a land of noble rivers and rushing torrents, lofty mountains and exquisite valleys, flourishing cities and noble buildings! With what pleasure does the traveler enter such region after the far different and far less delightful scenes he has been fatigued with for so long! Now, akin to such pleasure is that of the persevering student of these prophecies of Jeremiah, when at length, quitting the monotonous and painful recitals of Israel's sins, and the distressing records of the dread judgments of God which were to come upon them in consequence, with which the foregoing chapters have been mainly filled, he enters, in these verses which belong to our text, on a portion of the prophet's writings which tells, not of sin, but of righteousness; not of the Lord the Avenger, but of the Lord the Redeemer and Savior; the Restorer because the Righteousness of his people. It is like an oasis in the desert; like what Elim must have been to the Israelites after their weary journey to Marah, where burning heat and thirst and much distress had been their continued lot. And no doubt Jeremiah and the faithful few who adhered to him were wont to solace their saddened minds by turning their thoughts, as they do here, away from the dark and terrible present to the bright and happy future when Israel should dwell safely under the rule of the Lord their Righteousness. That was a bright onlook, by means of which the heavy burden of the days in which the prophet actually lived and labored became more endurable, and their spirits were kept from being utterly overwhelmed. Now, concerning this glorious name of Jehovah, "the Lord our Righteousness," we will first show that—

I. THIS NAME BELONGS TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. It is impossible to conceive of any devout Jew ascribing the name of Jehovah to an ordinary earthly monarch, however great or famous he might be. Every Israelite would count it blasphemy so to speak of him. Moreover, the extravagance of the assertions here made, if regarded as descriptive of an earthly monarch, preclude the possibility of their having been so intended. How could any such be called the righteousness of his people? Zerubbabel was undoubtedly a noble prince, and in such measure as was possible to him answered to the prophetic description. He was a branch of the house of David, and nothing is known against him. But his power was very limited, and in no sense did he fill up the portraiture that is given here. Jew and Christian alike agree that neither he nor any of his obscure descendants could possibly answer to this name of "the Lord our Righteousness." Both alike affirm that the promised Messiah is meant, and to him along can it belong. And that our Lord Jesus was that Messiah the Scriptures constantly assert. He was "the Root and the Offspring of David," was born "of the house and lineage of David" according to the flesh. He was the tender Shoot, the Sprout that sprang from the original root when all the stock and branches of the stately tree that had once grown on that root had died down, decayed, and disappeared. But he was more than the Branch of Jesse: he was the Lord from heaven, the Son of God. Therefore to speak of him as Jehovah is consistent with all the Scripture representations of his Divine dignity. And although the day of his complete triumph has not yet come, nor is his kingdom fully set up, still we clearly see its beginnings, its advance, and its continual growth, so that it is not hard to believe in all those coming glories of his reign on which the ancient prophets, as Jeremiah here, loved to dwell. On all these grounds, therefore, we claim this high and sacred title for the Lord Jesus Christ. He the Church has held all along is "the Lord our Righteousness" whom the inspired prophet foretold. And—

II. THIS NAME IS ALTOGETHER APPROPRIATE TO HIM. Not because of the righteousness of his character alone, nor either because of the happy condition to which he would one day bring the Jewish people. We believe that he will do for them all that is here said. We see no objection to the taking of the promises made concerning them in their literal meaning. But if this were all that is contained in this name, then St. Paul could not be justified in claiming, as he perpetually does, the righteousness of Christ to be to and upon all them that believe. This view is limited to no one age, no one country, no one people, but reaches out to all everywhere and of every age. But the true justification of this glorious title lies in such facts as these:

1. The Lord Jesus makes us righteous in God's esteem. God ever demands righteousness. It is his incessant appeal here in all these prophecies. But it is here that men have ever failed. They have evaded this Divine demand, and have endeavored to substitute all manner of things in its place, and so to compensate for it. They have refused nothing so long as they might be let off this. Hence the word of the Lord, "There is none righteous, no, not one." It is in this emergency that "the Lord our Righteousness" comes forward, takes up our case, and causes us to be esteemed righteous before God—causes us to be looked upon as what we really are not; as righteous when there is much unrighteousness in us all, and scarce aught else in some. Of course this is objected to and caviled at not a little, and many fail to see how it can righteously be. But all the while the like is occurring every day. Does not the government of a land continually do things which involve the whole people of the land, although many of them may entirely disapprove? Still it is the whole country that is regarded as acting by and through its government. And yet we assent to this arrangement, this principle of representation, as equitable, just, and necessary. And not merely in dealings between man and man, but in those between God and man, this same principle of representation may be seen perpetually at work. Assuredly the whole human race was represented in its first parents, and God held it to be so, so that the consequences of their actions have passed over to their posterity right down to the present day. And in each family the head of it involves all the members, so that there are many innocent victims of their fathers' sin, and more, we trust, who are recipients of favors won by their fathers' virtues and obedience to God's will rather than their own. It is the principle of representation again. Is it, then, a thing to wonder at that a good and gracious God should devise another system of representation to meet and counteract that which has wrought so much ill? That is, is it to be wondered at that the Lord Jesus Christ should be constituted as much the Head and Representative of his people as Adam was constituted the head and representative of all who have descended from him; that there should be a second Adam as well as a first, and that Christ should be that second Adam, as St. Paul declares he is? Surely there is nothing unreasonable in all this. It is in harmony with what we perpetually see. And if he who is our Representative desired so to be, as our Lord did—for he yearned to draw all men unto and into him—surely this, his own desire, makes his being constituted our Representative more reasonable still. And because he qualified himself for this office so perfectly. He came and was one of us, lived our life, bore our burdens, submitted to our sorrows, bore the penalty of our sins, "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin; Now, if the principle of representation be just at all, surely it is still more so that the Lord Jesus should be that Representative. But if he be, then, because he is altogether righteous, acceptable, and well pleasing before God, we must be so too; yea, we are so, for he is "the Lord our Righteousness." God looks not upon us, but he beholds Christ, who is "our Shield;" he looks on "the face of his Anointed." "We are accepted in the Beloved." "Christ is made unto us righteousness."

2. And he makes us to be as the righteous in our conditions. So only can the paramount and predominant features of God's dealing with us now be accounted for. Man being what he is, why should he be dealt with so mercifully as he is? The answer is, because it is the Lord who is our Righteousness. I see a number of poor destitute people taken, and clothed, and fed, and dealt with in all kind and beautiful ways, and I ask the explanation, I am at once pointed to some one who has secured all this favor for them, and by whose kindness it has become theirs. And when I see man, despising God, prayerless, sinning daringly day by day, ungrateful, evil, disobedient continually, destitute of all goodness, and yet treated with all kindness and love, must I not conclude that the righteousness of another is the secret of his mercies, and the real cause of the goodly portion he enjoys?

3. But Christ is "the Lord our Righteousness" because he makes us righteous in ourselves. If it were possible that God could forever esteem and deal with as righteous, not only those who were not righteous, but who never could become so, we should find it difficult to maintain the truth taught us by this name. But God's counting us righteous in Christ is reasonable and right, because we are in the sure way to become so. For when any come to the Lord Jesus Christ in living faith, a new will is given them. They are, as our Lord says, "born again." It is as on a railway, where by one movement of the points the whole train is turned on to another line, and proceeds afterwards in quite a different direction. So by this coming to Christ the man is placed on another line, started in a new direction; a new will is his, and he is a new man. When the turbid stream of the Rhone falls into the Lake of Geneva it loses its old character, and its waters assimilate themselves to the exquisite clearness and color of that lake, so that when they flow out at the other end they are as a new river altogether—" old things have passed away, and all things are become new." So is it in the great change when a man comes to Christ. And when we remember that whilst man looketh at the outward appearance, God looketh at the heart, it is easy to see that God may count a man to be righteous whom we should not think so at all. If the will, the heart, be Christ's, though it may be once and again overborne by the fierce rush of temptation, as David's was, yet, because the heart is right, God counts that man righteous still. And this new will, the new heart, ever tends to embody and express itself in act. It will be like a hidden fire, struggling and struggling on till it can find vent and work its good desire. And it shall do this in due time. Meanwhile God but anticipates; looks on to the harvest as the husbandman does even when the blade has not shown itself as yet above the ground. But he imputes the righteousness of the harvest to those fields though not a blade appears. The parent imputes the righteousness of the intelligent, loving youth to the little infant just born, not because it has it, but because he believes it will have it. And God counts us as righteous, not alone because Christ is our Representative, but because he will restore our souls. He will make us righteous in ourselves as well as before God. And he does this by setting before us in his own life the perfect example, and attracting us thereto by an ever-increasing attraction; and by imparting to us his own Spirit, who nourishes us in all goodness; and by bringing to bear upon us the mightiest motives which can ever control or influence the human heart—love, gratitude, holy fear, bright, blessed hope,—all these and yet others; so day by day does he strengthen and confirm the good will which, when we first came to him, he gave us as his first gift. Thus does he make those righteous whom God for his sake now counts to be so. And now—

III. CAN WE SAY THAT THE LORD IS "OUR" RIGHTEOUSNESS? We may have correct views on this great doctrine, we may believe in a general and abstract way that the Lord is the Righteousness of his people, but all this is far short of being able to say that the Lord is our Righteousness. We can only say this as we daily and habitually trust him—as we "keep touch" with him, as it were, continually looking to him and. relying upon him. For faith, it is which vitalizes our connection with him. The wires of the electric cable may stretch all the way beneath the ocean, and each shore of the Atlantic be joined together by them; but there is no communication until the electric current is sent along that cable, and then the circuit is complete. And so the channel along which our faith may pass is provided; but until faith goes from our heart—that electric force of faith—the connecting bond may almost as well not be. Until then Christ is a Representative of-man before God, but he is not our Representative. It is faith that vitalizes that connection, and he is not our Righteousness until we believe. Faith brings us into real union with him, reproduces in us the mind which was in him, lays hold on the grace which he holds out to us, leads us to repent, to love, to obey, to follow him in the daily walk and conversation. Remember, the Lord demands righteousness. We have it not in ourselves. In this our destitution the Lord comes to us and offers to be our Righteousness. We have but to appropriate and claim that which he offers. Shall we be so sinful, so mad, as to refuse? The great day when the banquet for God's saints shall be spread is hastening on, and we shall all of us be eager to crowd in and take our place there with the blessed. But what if, when the King comes in to view his guests, we have not on the wedding-garment, but are dressed in some robe of our own, which we think will answer as well? You know how he was dealt with who presumed so to do. Oh, then, that such may not be our doom, let us hasten unto Christ, and pray him now and forever to be "the Lord our Righteousness."—C.

Jeremiah 23:25

What is the chaff to, etc.

One seems to see the flash of the prophet's eye, the tremulous emotion, the indignant scorn, with which he bursts out with this scathing question; one can almost hear his loud, vehement tones as he taunts with it the false prophets, against whose wickedness he had been protesting throughout the greater part of this chapter. What sternness, what biting severity, characterize it! As one has said, "It cuts like the edge of a razor. As a saber flashing over one's head; a sword gleaming to the very point; a fire lurid with coals of juniper;—we are appalled as we glance at it. It strikes with implacable resentment. There is no word of mercy toward the chaff; not a thought of clemency or forbearance. He bloweth at it as though it were a worthless thing, not to be accounted of—a nothing, that vanishes with a puff." It reminds us, as so much in Jeremiah's character and experience does, of our Lord's indignation against the false teachers of his day. What terrible, burning words were those which he uttered against the "scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites," who swarmed around him! Where there is deep love of God and of man, there cannot but be such holy hatred of such as are what those were whom our Lord and the prophet denounced. Jeremiah in this chapter, from the ninth verse downwards, has been pouring out his soul against them. He declares himself broken-hearted because of them—by their conduct and the woes it was bringing upon his people. He laments the grievous wickedness of the nation, but charges it all upon these faithless prophets, who taught men to sin by their bad example, and encouraged them therein by their false teachings. And as he thinks of the worthlessness of the men and of their prophesyings, his sacred anger and scorn mount up and burst forth in these terrible words, "What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" Yes, these are terrible words; but how applicable, how necessary they are to be insisted upon, even now! For, monstrous almost as it may appear, men are, as they have ever been, most prone to care more for the chaff than for the wheat; to spend themselves on securing that which is worthless, whilst that which is most precious they despise. And the danger is increased because those things which are as the chaff to the wheat are often, as the chaff and wheat themselves, closely associated together, have grown up together, are very difficult to separate, and are mutually dependent one upon another. It is easy enough, when we see the wind driving the chaff away, to discern the difference between it and the wheat, and the inferiority of the one to the other; but it is not so easy whilst the two are together, and seeming so much as if they were all of one nature and value. Now, apply all this in regard to sundry matters in which this discrimination needs sorely to be made. And—

I. TO THE PROPHESYING OF THE PRESENT DAY. The occasion and connection of the words we are considering at once suggest this application. And let us be grateful to God that, amid the much prophesying of our own day, we have much of that" sure Word" to which St. Peter bids us give heed, as to a light shining in a dark place. Yes, there are faithful ministries, blessed be God for them; and that they are like the precious wheat, in contrast to the worthless chaff, has been proved over and over again by the testimony God himself has given to them. For, like the pure grain, they nourish the souls that are fed upon the Word they minister. The instruction that builds up, consolidates, and strengthens the spiritual frame is shown by that very fact to be not as chaff, but as wheat. And he would not only be ungrateful, but untruthful, who should deny that God has given and is maintaining many who minister to his people, whether young or old, in the congregation, the family, or the school, the pure Word of God. And the other striking characteristics of the true Word of God which are here spoken of are also found in their prophesyings. The Word of God which they minister is as a fire. How it enlightens, how it cheers, as on a cold wintry day. How it consumes the dross of the evil nature, burning on until all the evil in us be burnt out! Ah, yes, the pure Word of God—which still, thank God, is preached—is as a fire consuming the miserable pretences of self-righteousness in which the souls whom it touches have hitherto been trusting, and compelling them to hasten for shelter to him who is" the Lord our Righteousness." And it is a hammer, which, smiting the obdurate heart, causes the tears of true repentance to flow forth and refresh those who long have been thirsting to see such living waters. As at Pentecost the hammer of that Word fell upon those hearts which had been hard enough to crucify the Lord, and it so smote them as to break them, rock-like though they were, and they cried out, "What shall we do?" These are the signs of the Word of God, and they are not wanting still. But yet there is much of instruction given that is far different from this—as unlike it as chaff is unlike wheat. It may be the ministry of eloquence, or of ritual, or of philosophy, or of human learning, or of taste, or of fashion; and not a little of such ministry there is in the present day. It is brilliant, attractive, followed by crowds, admired, applauded; it is associated with all that art, culture, music, and ritual pomp can supply; it is very fashionable; for the sake of it humbler worship is abandoned, though that which is abandoned may be purer and more wholesome by far. But because in connection with all this ministry so pleasing to human likings there may be lacking that which alone nourishes the soul, and which has upon it the sure tokens of the Word of God, therefore, when there is this lack, God calls it chaff, and despises it accordingly. Do not think that all these things are in themselves to be despised. No; we would fain have the ministry of the Word of God surrounded with all that can serve to win attention, command reverence, and excite interest; we should be alert to look out for such things, and to secure them so far as we may; but let us see to it that they be but subordinate, that they all are used as aids to what is far higher and more important than themselves—that within this husk the pure grain of God's Word is enshrined and preserved. What is the good of any preaching or instruction, however pleasing or attractive it may be, that does not set the pure wheat of God's Word before hungry souls? Souls must live, and they cannot live on chaff. Oh that all those who preach and teach may more and more hear ever sounding in their ears this startling word, "What is the chaff," etc.! Apply this word—

II. TO OUR OWN INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER—what we, each one, are. If we are the children of God, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and humbly striving day by day to do his will and to be well pleasing to him, then there is much that is wheat-like in us. That repentance, that faith, that regenerating grace, that law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, its meekness, patience, zeal, love,—all these things are as the wheat, and blessed be God they are to he found in some measure—would that it were larger—in us all. But there is so much of a contrary nature, so chaff-like, as well. Yes, verily, as chaff lying close by the side of our heart, wrapping it round, long associated with it, grown up with it, hard, hard indeed, to be parted from it; so is the evil of our hearts, the fleshly nature, the carnal mind, which yet clings to us as the husk does to the grain. And often we are at a complete loss to tell whether there is more of wheat or chaff about us—whether our destiny is to be stored in the garner, or to be as the chaff which the wind driveth away. But do we think about the chaff and the wheat as God thinks about them? Are we willing—yea, longing—to be utterly rid of the chaff? Are we content to bear "the bruising flails of God's corrections "until they have "threshed off from us our vain affections?" Do we desire that every portion of this chaff may be got rid of, and "that we, wholesome grain and pure may be," and that only? Perhaps God's flails are laid upon us now, or his winnowing work is stripping off much from us, and making "our very spirit poor." Oh, if it be but to rid us of this chaff, let us not complain. Death itself is but God's chief flail" to purge the husk of this our flesh away, and leave the soul uncovered." Complain not, for "what is the chaff," etc.? And not only the sin in us, but much that looks and is reckoned as far other than sin, may be, after all, only chaff. Much of that feeling and conduct which is associated with our religious life may be of itself of a very worthless sort. Those tears which flow so freely when the preacher is in a pathetic mood—what are they all worth if they never lead to a genuine repentance, a real turning of the soul to Christ? And that open profession of religion, coming to the table of the Lord and partaking of the sacred bread and wine, what is that if it be not the index and outward sign of a heart that trusts, that loves, that is consecrated to Christ? And that correct and orthodox creed for which we are so ready to show fight, and the deniers or doubters of which we so eagerly condemn, what is the good of it if it be not the guardian of a God-fearing and righteous life? And that giving of money—for it is to the amount kept back after we have given, and to the motive which prompts the gift, that God looks to determine which is wheat and which is chaff. And that eager activity in many forms of Christian work which some show, unless it be the outcome of a heart aglow with love to Christ, counts for very little with him who here asks, "What is the chaff," etc.? Again we say we do not despise these things—we would that there were more of them; but if at the heart of them there be not faith and love towards Christ, which alone are the wheat which these things are intended to serve and minister to, then they are but as the chaff which the wind driveth away. We are apt to think a great deal of them, and to rely upon them not a little for ourselves and for others. But they are not the wheat, only its husk, and" what … Lord." Apply this question—

III. TO THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE CHURCH. And without doubt it may be alarmed that if the pure wheat of God's garner be not to be found in the fellowship of the Church, it is to be found nowhere. What our Lord said of his Church at the beginning," Ye are the salt of the earth.; ye are the light of the world," is true still. Oh, how many, thank God, of meek, pure, devout, consecrated souls has the Church ever numbered in her fellowship, and does so even yet! But still, even on the best threshing-floors the chaff is mingled with the wheat. Even those Churches which claim to be most careful over admission to their fellowship, and demand valid evidence to be given that there has been a real change of heart, a true conversion to God—even those can no more keep out the chaff than others who throw the responsibility of religious profession entirely on those who make it. But the presence of the chaff along with the wheat could be better borne if the two were always estimated as they should be. But it is not so. Let an unspiritual, worldly minded, hard, and unloving man find his way into a Church—and many such do—and if he be rich, or hold a good position in the world, he will at once be allowed an influence and an authority which he ought not to have—no, not for an hour. And if a Church can get hold of a number of such people, if wealth, and social influence, and education, and fashion flock to their doors, there you have the Church of Laodicea reproduced in most exact form. They will count themselves, and others also will count them, to be "rich, and increased with goods, and to have need of nothing." But what will the Lord say when he cometh with his winnowing fan to thoroughly purge his floor? We are sorely tempted, all of us, to crave with a great craving the presence amongst us of persons of influence, wealth, and power. And all well and good if they be earnest, godly men at the same time. But we are in danger of welcoming them even if this great qualification be largely absent. And that we do too often find this sad intermixture of the worthless with God's wheat, is seen in the quick falling off of some of those who once were gathered with the Church of God. A little persecution, loss of worldly advantage, desire to stand well with those around,—these have all served as pretexts for not a few to break away altogether. Like "the nautilus, which is often seen sailing in tiny fleets in the Mediterranean Sea, upon the smooth surface of the water. It is a beautiful sight, but as soon as ever the tempest begins to blow, and the first ripple appears upon the surface of the sea, the little mariners draw in their sails and betake themselves to the bottom of the sea, and you see them no more. How many are like that! When all goes well with Christianity many go sailing along fairly in the summer tide, but no sooner does trouble, or affliction, or persecution arise, than where are they? Ah, where are they? They have gone." Let us see to it that we esteem the wheat, however poor its surroundings, above all chaff, however richly it may be endowed. And above all, let us by our own loyalty to God, our sympathy with Christ, our love to our brethren, our cheerful self-sacrifice, our daily obedience, show that we are of those whom the Lord will own at the last, and not as the chaff which he will despise and destroy.

IV. TO GOD'S FINAL ESTIMATE OF US ALL. For the great question which concerns every man who reads or hears these words is—Which am I, chaff or wheat? And that question is to be decided, not according to man's estimate, but God's. It is what he will judge, not what we may. Here in this world we are all mingled together, in every Church, family, town, village, society, or community whatsoever. In all places, under all circumstances and in all ways in this world, this commingling of the evil and the good is found; the chaff is ever closely associated with the wheat. "Let both grow together until the harvest," is our Lord's command, and no endeavor of ours can sever the two completely. But the very word" until" which our Savior employs shows that there shall be a separating time; the two shall not forever be conjoined as they are now. "Then two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left." In the same church, sitting side by side in the same pew, there may be found both chaff and wheat. Anticipate that awful separating time. It will come upon us as it came upon those ten virgins, five of whom were wise and five were foolish, but which was which none knew until the cry was heard, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh!" And so, though now none of us can tell what those are who gather with us, and join in the same holy service, listen to the same gospel, and unite in the same prayers, praises, and confessions, though outwardly we are all as the wheat of God, yet whether we be so or no God alone can tell. But do any ask—How can I, though consciously worthless as the chaff, yet become as the wheat? Blessed be God, such a great change is possible. Go to the Lord Jesus Christ; tell him how poor, wretched, evil, you know yourself to be. Cast yourself down at his feet. Call upon him for his aid. Thou shalt become a new creature in Christ, old things shall pass away, all things shall become new. The chaff shall be changed into the wheat, death shall be exchanged for life, and now, worthless once, thou art in Christ precious forever, and the garner of the Lord shall be thine everlasting home. Come unto Christ in faith and love, for the heart so yielded is alone God's wheat; but if when the great separating day comes thou seekest to find safety in aught else, however precious you and others may deem it, he will spurn both it and you. For "what is … Lord."—C.


Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah 23:6


It is in his kingly character that the uprising of the Messiah is here predicted. The shepherds that destroyed and scattered the flock of God were the corrupt rulers of the line of David. God was visiting upon them one after another "the evil of their doings;" and after them he would raise up men of a nobler sort—men like Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Maccabees, who should be true leaders and commanders of the people (verse 4). But these, again, would but prepare the way for One far greater. Beyond all these changes the eye of the prophet is fixed on the time when out of the seemingly withered root of David a sapling shall arise, "the righteous Branch;" One who shall perfectly realize the Divine idea of "a ruler of men" (2 Samuel 23:3, 2 Samuel 23:4) rather King who shall "reign in righteousness," and of the "increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end" (Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:1-6; Isaiah 32:1; Zechariah 9:9). Towards him the hopes of loyal, hearts, through, every previous age reached forth in him the "desire of all nations finds its glorious fulfillment. "And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." In unfolding the full significance of this name, consider

I. HIS PERSONAL RIGHTEOUSNESS. He is emphatically "Jesus Christ the Righteous," the one only absolutely righteous being ever born into the world. Our human nature, the beauty and harmony of which, in the person of Adam, the father of oar race, the touch of moral evil had defaced and destroyed, appeared again in him, the "second Adam," in all its sinless, faultless perfection, absolutely free from the taint of evil. And this not as a development, but as a new Divine revelation; not as the consummate product of moral forces inherent in our nature, but as a supernatural phenomenon, a miracle, in the sphere of man's moral life. In him the "righteousness of God" appeared, embodied and illustrated in human form. Our faith in this historic fact rests on different grounds.

1. The angelic testimony (Luke 1:35).

2. The direct testimony of the Father (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5).

3. His declarations respecting himself (John 8:29, John 8:46; John 14:1-31, 30; John 15:10; John 17:4).

4. The witness of his enemies (Judas, Herod, Pilate and his wife, the Roman centurion).

5. The apostolic testimony (Acts 3:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 3:5).

6. The profound impression left on our spirits by a careful study of the Gospel records. The absolute sinlessness of Jesus is one of the foundation stones in the fabric of Christian doctrine, and to doubt or deny it is to undermine and destroy the whole. But his righteousness means more than faultless personal character. It includes the positive fulfillment of the Father's purposes and of the work the Father had given him to do. "I have glorified thee on the earth," etc. (John 17:4). "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering," etc. (Hebrews 10:5-10). His was a righteousness wrought out through all the patient obedience of a blameless life, consummated in the vicarious shame and sorrow of the cross. As the sunbeam receives no contamination from the foulest thing on which it may chance to fall, so did he pass triumphantly through all the evil of the world and go back to the bosom of the Father with a purity as unsullied as that in which he came. "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4).


1. As the ground of our forgiveness. Faith in him as our righteous "Advocate with the Father" delivers us from condemnation. We believe in no "transference of a moral quality." As a man's sins are his own and not another's, so whatever of virtue there may be in him belongs to himself alone. But is it incredible that God should deal with sinful men in the way of mercy because of the perfect righteousness of "the man Christ Jesus?" "He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). There is an instinctive witness in our souls to the fact that if "grace reigns" towards us it must be through righteousness. This is God's answer to that instruct: "By the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Romans 5:18).

2. As the inspiring cause of our personal sanctification. The gospel is God's method of making men righteous, not a scheme by virtue of which he reckons them to be so when they are not. Faith in Christ's mediatorial work as the ground of forgiveness draws the soul irresistibly into living sympathy with himself. It is impossible to dwell in fellowship with him without sharing his spirit and becoming "righteous even as he is righteous." Not more surely does the prepared surface receive the picture the sun's rays paint upon it, than does the reverent, trustful, loving soul reflect his image. "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass," etc. (2 Corinthians 3:18). Thus does his righteousness become ours.

3. As the rectifying power in the general life of the world. "A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of his kingdom," and wherever he reigns the discords of the world are resolved into a blessed harmony. He is the Creator of "the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."—W.

Jeremiah 23:23, Jeremiah 23:24

The omnipresent God.

It is an essentially heathen conception of the Deity against which these grand words bear witness. There were two false tendencies of the heathen mind to which the Hebrew faith was a perpetual rebuke—one was that of thinking of the Deity as dwelling remote from the ways of men, "throned in sequestered sanctity," too lofty to take any interest in the affairs of earth; the other that of localizing and limiting the Deity, conceiving of him as exercising a partial jurisdiction, as belonging to a particular place and people. The God of the Jews was no mere distant abstraction, but an ever-present, ever-active power; not the God of one nation only, but of the "whole earth." Consider—

I. THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD HERE INDICATED. Two attributes—omnipresence and omniscience—are asserted. But they are so mutually dependent and so inseparable as to be virtually one. By the very necessity of his Being as the infinite Spirit, God is not more in one place or sphere of existence than another, but alike in all, "afar off" as well as "at hand," filling heaven and earth; and wherever he is, there he is in all the fullness of his perfect intelligence, not observant or cognizant of some things or beings more than others, but having infallible knowledge of all. Note respecting this divine attribute:

1. Its mystery. The being of One who is thus superior to the limitations of space and time and to all our finite conditions—to whom there is no nearness and no distance, neither past nor future, nothing new and nothing old, to whom "all things are naked and opened,"—must needs be inscrutable to us. Our boldest images are but the veil of our ignorance, and even the sublimest representations of the inspired Word leave the problem as insoluble as ever. The celebrated dictum, "His center is everywhere and his circumference nowhere," in no way helps us to any real comprehension of infinity; and such grand poetic utterances as those of the hundred and thirty-ninth psalm, however much they may find their echo in the depths of our spiritual consciousness, only call forth the confession, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it."

2. Its moral significance. The moral conditions involved, the moral attributes associated with it, and their direct relation to ourselves, clothe it with profound interest and solemn importance. If God were at an impassable distance, it might little signify to us what his moral attributes were. But now that he is thus near—a presence from which we cannot escape, an eye that is always searching us through and through, a hand that is always laid upon us—the question as to what his dispositions towards us are is one of unspeakable moment. ]is absolute knowledge of us is connected with a present secret act of judgment, prophetic of the open judgment to come. And it is his perfection that is thus coming into perpetual contact with our imperfect thoughts and ways. His holy love is the light that searches into us, the fire that tries us. This attribute of omniscience derives tremendous importance from the fact that "our God is a consuming fire."

3. The individuality of its application. "Can any hide himself?" Like all other Divine truths, this is nothing to us until we bring it to bear on our own personal condition and doings. The fact itself is independent of all our thoughts about it, and even of our very existence. But for it to have any real influence over us we must reduce it from its vague generality to the narrow compass of our own being, and concentrate the force of it upon the single line of our own daily history—"Thou God seest me." We apprehend the universal truth aright only so far as that cry of Hagar expresses our soul's deepest consciousness—as if the whole world of accountable beings around us were annihilated, and we stood, as in the solitudes of a desert, alone with God.

II. THE PRACTICAL EFFECT THAT TRUTH MAY BE EXPECTED TO PRODUCE. We cannot imagine one more fitted to have a salutary influence in every way upon us. Let God be to you only a distant object of contemplation, as he is to the mere theological disputant, and with whatever attributes you may clothe him, they touch no part of your being with any living power. Conceive of him, in a dreamy pantheistic way, as a mere impersonal, all-pervading force, and there is nothing in your belief to elevate your moral character and ennoble your life. But believe in the God of the Bible, whose voice is heard in the text, and you embrace the grandest and most influential truth the human soul is capable of entertaining. The truth, rather, will touch you, as no other truth can, molding and governing your whole nature, and adapting itself in an infinite variety of ways to every aspect of your being and life.

Chiefly two lessons are enforced:

1. Self-scrutiny. We shall be concerned to become acquainted with ourselves that we may know how far the spirit and tenor of our moral life is in harmony with the will and the life of God. Not that a mere curious and anxious habit of testing the quality of one's own feelings, and weighing and measuring one's motives, has necessarily any healthy moral effect. It may be the reverse. But the sense of God will naturally awaken a desire that the relation in which we stand towards him may be a right and happy one. "If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart," etc. (1 John 3:23, 1 John 3:24). The loyalty of the heart to God is the essential principle of a religious life. The sin of these false prophets was the loosening of the bond of their spiritual allegiance to him. "They stood not in the counsel of the Lord." In the case of the Pharisees, their external proprieties were but the veil of internal hollowness and corruption and death; and Christ said to them," Ye are they that approve yourselves unto men, but God knoweth your hearts." Let our hearts be right with God, let the main stream of our inner life be flowing heavenwards, and we need not tremble to know that "all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

2. Earnest preparation for the future and final judgment. "He hath appointed a day," etc. (Acts 17:31); "We must all appear," etc. (2 Corinthians 5:10). Your personal alienation from God may give you little trouble now, but "what will you do when he riseth up? when he visiteth, what will you answer him?' (Job 31:14). There is no way of preparation for the solemn judgment of the future but in that personal forgiveness and reconciliation, that moral cleansing and righteousness of life, that comes through fellowship with the Savior (Philippians 3:9).

"Low at his cross we view the day

When heaven and earth shall pass away,

And thus prepare to meet him."



Jeremiah 23:1-4

Shepherds, bad and good.

I. THE SENTENCE ON THE UNFAITHFUL, SHEPHERDS. This is perhaps the most special and emphatic of all Jeremiah's references to the unfaithful shepherds. Nowhere does he go into such detail as Ezekiel does (Jeremiah 34:1-22.). But whatever may be lacking in illustrative detail, the essential facts are mentioned. Here are men upon whom is laid a charge such as is laid on a shepherd by the owner of the pasture and the flock. The business of such a man is to provide food for the flock, defend it from beasts of prey, prevent as far as he can any of the flock from wandering; and if any should wander do his best to restore them. This might be a task of no small difficulty to the literal shepherd of the literal sheep. It required courage, watchfulness, patience, promptitude, and above all, fidelity. And yet even a shepherd enriched by these virtues might have many losses and failures. God knew, indeed, that for kings and persons in authority to guide those under them was a task more arduous far than that of shepherding sheep; and it was not mere failure that he complained of. He complained because there had been no serious attempt to attain success. The very men who should have ruled firmly and righteously and with fidelity to Jehovah had been spoilers of the sheep, using them to serve their own ends, and leaving every one to do what was right in his own eyes. The rulers had thus rejected the authority and service of Jehovah and set up self in his place. Self was to rule, self was to be served. The sentence upon this traitorous conduct is given in very general terms, but was nonetheless real and effective. God did visit on these rulers the evil of their doings. It was necessary to give a hint of this in passing, to show that, while God delights in mercy, he must also always be just. The great matter to be spoken of here is the restoring and securing of the scattered flock, and if the judgment on those who have helped to make the mischief is simply mentioned in passing, it is enough. Besides, we must remember that the sheep also had their share of the shame. The rulers could not have done so much harm if under them there had been a people of a widely different spirit.

II. THE RESTORATION OF THE SCATTERED. The pastors are spoken of as those who have destroyed and scattered the sheep. The mischief they do is therefore not confined to a simple scattering. That which is destroyed cannot be restored. But the part that has been scattered, God has in his keeping; and in due time he will bring it together again. Note how Jehovah, Who announces punishment to the unfaithful shepherds because they have scattered and dispersed his flock, goes on to say that his own hand has been concerned in this same dispersion. Here is a beautiful illustration of how God overrules calamities. Though it is the recklessness of evil men that has scattered Israel, yet the good hand of God is stronger than any hand of man; and the dispersion has been into such directions as God saw to be best. Though these remnants of the duck were far from their proper pasturage, they were nevertheless in safe places, where they would be exercised in a truly profitable discipline. They were perhaps but a very feeble remnant as man counts feebleness, and yet in God's hands a small part may be more effectual for his purposes than the incongruous whole from which it has been separated. There may be in it a peculiar coherency and submissiveness, and a peculiar energy of growth; so that the promise of fruitfulness and increase will be amply fulfilled. The Divine course of action with this remnant seems to be much the same as that followed with Noah and his family in the re-peopling of the world after the Deluge.

III. THE SUFFICIENCY OF PASTORAL OVERSIGHT PROMISED FOR THE FUTURE. Of bad shepherds there have been only too many, and of good shepherds none have been so good but what they might have been a great deal better. The cause of all these hitter experiences has, however, lain with the people themselves. Wanting to be like nations round about, they desired kings; and God gave them these desires to the full, to show what the end would be. Then when the folly of the sheep, in trying to choose shepherds of their own devising, has been illustrated sufficiently, God sends shepherds who shall be true shepherds. He alone is able, as he alone has fight, to appoint such shepherds as will be equal to all the serious charge put into their hands. No pastors will be able to do anything for God's flock save those who are indubitably of God's appointment. Our wisdom is to allow God to provide out of his knowledge, rather than try ourselves to provide, seeing how ignorant we are. The acceptance of God's true teachers and guides has to come at the last, and many disappointments and vexations would be spared if this acceptance were allowed to come at the first.—Y.

Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah 23:6

The righteous Scion of David.

What is general in Jeremiah 23:3 and Jeremiah 23:4 now becomes exceedingly definite. Attention is directed to one particular person in whom shall center all the blessings that can come through a king worthy of the name. The days are coming in which he will rule in the midst of a kingdom worthy of him. Jehovah sees these days coming as a watchman might observe people approaching in the far distance and moving steadily in the right direction. These days are on the way, and the actual experience of them is only a matter of time. In these days will appear—

I. A SCION OF DAVID. "Branch" is a somewhat misleading word here, especially considering the use which is made of the branch in the New Testament. The branch is properly taken in relation to the trunk, both being parts of a living whole. "I am the Vine, ye are the branches." Instead of the Christ being spoken of as a Branch from David, David is rather to be spoken of, by virtue of his faith in the coming One, as a branch of the Christ. The real meaning, of course, is that, at some time in the future, one of the lineal descendants of David will fulfill these purposes of God and the consequent hopes of devout men. Hence the importance which belongs to the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. The more the Gospels are looked into, the more it will be seen how they are constructed on certain lines indicated in the prophecies. The two Gospel genealogies become additionally credible when we reflect what a motive there was to preserve the record of lineal succession from David. Considering how uncertain it is that any man will have lineal descendants centuries after his own times, it is a peculiarly noticeable miracle that he who appeared something like a thousand years after David to do such great works, should have been unquestionably David's descendant, born at Bethlehem and named as Son of David by the common people.

II. A RIGHTEOUS SCION OF DAVID. In a not unreasonable sense of the word, David was himself a righteous man. We cannot say anything for him, any more than for ourselves, if we contrast him with the righteous God. But we have also to look at him over against the vile men with whom he was so often in conflict, men who appear not to have had one generous feeling or upward aspiration. Especially we must contrast him with some of his own descendants. When we look down the line as far as history gives the opportunity, we see first good men and then bad men. And it is a great mystery in the Christ's human nature that he should have been a Scion of the bad as well as the good in this line. We are, therefore, obliged to recollect:

1. That David, who was righteous in a modified sense, was in due time followed by a descendant who was completely righteous. He who was ever reaching forward, trying to approximate more and more to the will of God, was followed by One who revealed that will in all the conduct of his life on earth.

2. That even as a bad father had a good son (or take, as a very striking illustration, the bad grandfather Manasseh and the good grandson Josiah), so all these bad kings had in due time a successor in Jesus of Nazareth, who was undefiled by any taint that might reasonably be supposed to have come down from them. As we think of the contrasts thus furnished, the use of all these deplorable records in the Books of Kings and Chronicles comes manifestly out. The mischief and misery which wicked kings can work must be seen in all their hideousness, so that all the more a disposition may be excited to attend to the blessings which Jesus will secure and multiply when he comes to reign as King.

III. THE PROSPERITY OF THIS RIGHTEOUS KING. It must be made clear in some great and everlastingly conspicuous instance that practical righteousness is followed by prosperity, and that nowhere is the connection more sure between a cause allowed fully to operate and its full effect. The most hurtful kind of wickedness, the men who commit it do not. delight in for its own sake. Their aim is outward prosperity, to secure riches in the easiest, and most rapid way; and this may necessitate a degree of wickedness of which oftentimes they seem not in the least conscious. Then, of course, in the end the prosperity proves corrupt and ruins the man who risked everything for it. But now turn to the individual experience of Jesus. His course in this world had nothing in it of prosperity as some count prosperity. He lived in poverty; he did not live long; and he died as criminals die. All these experiences, however, only bring out the real prosperity. After the cross the manifestation of his glory and power bedaub, in the acceptance of him by hearts that he had completely subdued. There never has been such a king as Jesus of Nazareth; never any one who has elicited such whole-hearted homage, such complete, faithful, self-denying service. He prospers and he makes his servants prosper. The more his glory shines, the more their lives are brightened. This surely is indeed a royal prosperity.


1. By the king's own action in judgment and righteousness, or, as we might otherwise put it, in righteous judgment. As one in authority and power, he has to give decisions, and these decisions are always righteous. Human kings were arbitrary and capricious; their likes and dislikes, their political necessities, had much to do with the decisions they gave. But with this righteous Scion of David it is very different. He lays down great principles which, if men would only attend to them and take in the spirit of them, would stop all disputings and litigations.

2. By the security of the people. The subjects of Jesus have true safety. They are safe in themselves and safe in their spiritual possessions. He who enables them to acquire the true riches shows also how to hold them fast; else the riches would not be true riches at all. And it is not the least boon that he gives them the power, if only they have faith to exercise it, of living without anxiety and distraction. It is very dishonoring to our great King not to believe that all our best interests are perfectly safe in his charge.—Y.

Jeremiah 23:14

Prophets strengthening the hands of evildoers.

Jeremiah had much to say at different times on the unfaithfulness of the prophets—how flatly opposed they were in all their conduct to that required by the duties of their office, how utterly negligent they were of the great opportunities of rebuke which were peculiarly their own. And there stands in this verse an expression which gives a climax to their evil-doings. A prophet shows himself most of all an evildoer when he upholds the hands of evildoers.

I. THE PROPHET IS REQUIRED IN A SPECIAL MANNER TO DO WHAT HE CAN TO WEAKEN THE HANDS OF EVILDOERS. All who respect the will of God, and feel sympathy with what is right and trim and Divine, are bound to hinder bad men in their actions; but he who held the office of a prophet among the people of God was looked to as speaking with an authority higher than that of a private person. Officialism, with all its drawbacks and perils, with all its risk of self-assertion, has been of great advantage to practical religion. It is true, on the one hand, that to put a bad man into a holy office is to bring that office into contempt, but surely it is also true, on the other hand, that a good man in a holy office has his power for good much increased. Here in Israel at this time there was a multitude of evildoers, doing evil with both hands earnestly. At the same time, there were doubtless those who did evil with weak and uncertain hands. It is matter of thankfulness that evildoers are so often practically restrained in this way. Disposition is willing, but resolution is weak. There is the desire to do very bad things, but the courage is lacking. We have an instance of this in those enemies of our Lord who were so often hindered in their designs because they feared the people. If all the evil could be done that is desired to be done, society would become intolerable. Now, the peculiar mischief that these prophets did was in strengthening the hands of wicked men who were also weak. They spoke encouragingly, and perhaps drew them on by example. Hence evil was done openly that otherwise might have been done secretly. Conspiracies and alliances became more practicable. Evil was made to put on the aspect of good, and men did energetically with perverted consciences what otherwise they might have done with much hesitation, and therefore with diminished force. There are certain men always to whom evil doing becomes easy when it becomes respectable. Thus we see how great were the responsibilities and opportunities of the old Hebrew prophets.

II. Hence we see something of what A DUTY AND OPPORTUNITY BELONG TO ALL CHRISTIAN PEOPLE. Are not all the Lord's people prophets, if only they choose to regard their opportunities? With regard to evil men, it is especially laid on us to hinder their action by all wise and rightful means. The formation of their designs we cannot hinder; we cannot see beneath the surface, and prevent the germination of the poisonous growth; but when it appears above the surface, we may do our best to pluck it out. Under the specious guise of love for individual liberty we may tolerate the greatest evils till they grow beyond our control. The man who took a tiger's cub for a pet found it become perilous long before he expected. We should do all we can to strengthen those who are the modern equivalents to the Hebrew prophets. Such men appear from time to time, and we should pray for insight that we may discern their mission and claims. Such men are sent to weaken, and ultimately to paralyze, the strong hands of the wicked. They are the representatives of great causes; and if through cowardice, self-indulgence, and fear of being thought peculiar, we neglect them, then we may do much harm.

III. THE GREAT IMPORTANCE OF STRENGTHENING THE HANDS OF ALL WHO WANT TO BE GOOD. They are so often weak in action. "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." They are hindered by strong temptations which come in their way, when they are striving to get nearer God's ideal for them. They are in need of sympathy. They have to be helped in reaching encouraging views of Divine truth. They need to be remembered in prayer, and generally to have more heart and spirit put into them; then, having abundant life within, they will not lack force, steadiness, and persistency of hand. If we are actively engaged in strengthening the hands of the good, we are to this extent weakening the hands of the evil And, finally, it is very consoling to recollect that when those who profess to be good are found strengthening the hands of evildoers, this is precisely the time when God's indignation is aroused and his opposition. most effective. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"—Y.

Jeremiah 23:16

Speaking the vision of one's own heart.


I. THERE IS THE PUTTING OF ONE'S OWN IMAGINATION IN THE PLACE OF GOD'S TRUTH. A prophet, divinely sent, expresses the words which God has put into his mouth, or reports the vision which God has made to rise before him. If, then, it was true that these prophets, as prophets, were speaking only the vision of their own hear% it was quite enough to condemn them. It is very possible that they had' brought themselves to believe that they were speaking the truth. In the days when prophetic vision was vouchsafed to man nothing was easier than for a heated imagination to see whatever it wanted to see; and then the subject of this vision would persuade himself that the vision was of God. How, then, was a prophet to know that what he had seen was truly of God? The answer is very largely to be found in considering the sense of burden and responsibility which evidently rested on true prophets. About a true prophet there was nothing egotistic, conceited, or impetuous. Generally, too, he had to say things which were painful for a sensitive man to speak, and humiliating for self willed people to hear; whereas these prophets against whom Jeremiah warns the people managed to say things very agreeable. We read that they proclaimed peace and prosperity to the evildoer. Now, whatever peculiarity there was in the visions given to the prophets, it is plain that there could be nothing contradictory to God's holiness and his laws, so clearly expressed, for human life. When prophets came with visions contradicting human self-will and human expectations, there was in this a presumption that they were sent of God. David desired to build a house for God in place of the old tabernacle, and doubtless the desire seemed to be one to which there could be no possible objection. Nathan, however, bad a vision by which David was forbidden to build. It would have been pleasanter to go to the king with a message more accordant to his wishes, but he could only speak what God had shown him—a word requiring submission of the human will to a higher and a wiser one. So, turning to the New Testament, we find Ananias at Damascus and Peter at Joppa receiving visions which seemed to them full of incredibility, going right in the face of all their previous experiences and convictions. Furthermore, it must not be forgotten that some, at least, of these lying prophecies were purchased with money. People paid the diviners to hear pleasant things, and pleasant things must be told them even if they were false.

II. THERE WERE EFFECTIVE TESTS FOR THESE VAIN IMAGINATIONS FOR ANY WHO CARED TO EMPLOY THEM. Honest minds know how to receive a true prophet. There is a subtle sympathy between speakers of the right sort and hearers of the right sort. God, who sent so many prophets to Israel, was not likely to leave Israel without a sure way of testing them. So if the prophet or dreamer of dreams gave the people a sign or wonder, and then told them to go after other gods, they might thereby know that he was a deceiver. No sign, however specious and wonderful it be, can make that a truth today which yesterday was a lie. Every fresh prophet must be in harmony with the tried and approved prophets who have gone before him, There is, indeed, no greater peril than to turn away from any true messenger of God; and happily there is no need to do so, through uncertainty as to his credentials, Any one who points out a present wrong in our lives that needs to be put right immediately, is to that extent a prophet of God; and if, in addition, he ventures on certain predictions, then all we can do is to wait. Gamaliel's shrewd advice cannot be too constantly kept in mind. What we cannot be certain about while a thing is in the seed will be made clear when it comes to the fruit. The most important matters are ever those on which we have to decide at once; and God never fails to send forth his light and truth so as to make the decision right.—Y.

Jeremiah 23:23-32

The giving forth of the word of man as the word of God.

I. GOD'S UNFAILING OBSERVATION. All the reasonings within the minds of these false prophets are open to God. They themselves, audacious, and to some extent self-deluded, reckon on not being detected. They speak what the people wish to believe, and are thus pretty certain of finding acceptance from them. But they forget, or rather they have never properly understood, the omnipresence of God. If this attribute of God had been a reality to their minds, they would not have come so much under idolatrous influences. The possibility of lying or in any way distorting and manipulating the truth seems to depend on an utter forgetfulness of the fact that God is indeed everywhere, filling all space, so that his eye and ear are everywhere. When we read of God appearing to men in different places, we know that the men traveled from one place to another; but God, even when he appeared to them in the new place, was not a whit the less remaining in the old. That God is everywhere is a truth meant to have a most confirming and cheering influence upon the mind of man; but because this truth is not apprehended man both loses what he was meant to enjoy, and becomes presumptuous and reckless in his practical denial of God's authority. God, therefore, makes his assurance through the true prophet that his eye is upon every movement of the false ones. Those who assure themselves that God is ignorant would be far wiser in reckoning on the ignorance of the most vigilant and penetrating mind among their fellow men.

II. God's observation being such, THE PROCEEDINGS OF THESE PROPHETS CAN BE EXACTLY KNOWN. What is here said of the false representations of these prophets is given forth, not as the result of human inquiry, but of a divinely perfect observation. Not all that God thus saw was here described, but only such things as the needs of the times demanded to be made known. Far more might have been told that was true, but there was no need to tell it. God does not publish the wickedness of these prophets for any delight that he has in exposing them, but that he may be justified in the sight of the people for the things that he is about to do. In their hearts, the prophets must have known that the thoughts of those hearts ware discovered. How important it is to bear in mind that many of the indications as to the wickedness of wicked men in the Scriptures come from him who is the omnipresent and omniscient One, who sees everything exactly as it is, and who puts into the mouth of those speaking his Word just those expressions which will describe the things essential to be known! God published the deeds and character of these false prophets that those who were true to him might guard against them. So Jesus warned his disciples against the time-honored, time-consecrated pretensions of the Pharisees. God puts into the hearts of those who keep near him a feeling which guards them against all who for their own selfish ends make a pretence of being interested in holy things.

III. There is in this passage a special charge against the prophets, to which the preliminary and more general accusations lead up. The prophets are charged with making a CONFUSION BETWEEN THE HUMAN AND THE DIVINE IN THEIR UTTERANCES. This charge is summed up in the question, "What is the chaff to the wheat?" or, as it is more nearly rendered, "What has the straw to do with the grain?" The straw and the grain, close together as they may be for a while, are separated at last; and one will by no means serve the purpose of the other. Grain is meant for man's support, and straw will not take its place. Straw has its own place, and may be very useful, so long as it is kept in it. But if straw and grain are to be all mixed up together, the result will be very unsatisfactory. We all need to bear in mind this illustration, for we may all have, to some extent, the duty and opportunity of being prophets of God. He is a rare man who can tell forth things exactly as they are. It is not for man, by a plausible eclecticism, to take something of human experience and something of Divine revelation and mix them up into what he trusts may somehow prove acceptable to men. Human experiences and conjectures have their part. When a man honestly tells us what he thinks and feels, we know how to estimate his statement; and when he comes professedly with a Divine message we have some notion how to test him. But what shall we do with him who claims to limit and modify Divine revelation, so that it may fit into what he is pleased to call the inexorable molds of human reason? We must ever make the distinction between the straw and the grain in our search for truth. Some truth is discoverable by observation, experiment, deduction; other truth only by the spiritual intuitions of a devout and humble mind placing itself before the statements of Divine revelation. So with regard to human and Divine government. There is no possibility of acting so as to please both God and men. There is no possibility of building up a perfect society out of such elements as we have at present. On one hand, we have to bear in mind the limitations of society in the actual existence of it. What we make a law to ourselves, in our own individual relations to God, we cannot impose on others. On the other hand, we must not allow the low conceptions which others may have of God's claims to drag us down to their level. Let God's Law stand out distinct and authoritative before our minds to guide us in our individual life. That Law must not be in any way modified, under a notion that compliance with it is impossible of attainment. If we persevere in receiving God's Word and persevere in repeating it, we shall find that it will make its way mightily, not as by brute force, but because it is the Word of truth, the Word that has abiding fitness for the deepest needs of men.—Y.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
in the
5:30,31; 14:14; 23:32; Ezekiel 13:2-4,16; 22:25; Isaiah 41:6,7; Micah 3:11; Zephaniah 3:4; 2 Peter 2:1,2
an horrible thing
or, filthiness.
they commit
29:23; 2 Peter 2:14-19
17,25,26,32; 14:14; Ezekiel 22:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; 1 Timothy 4:2; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 21:8; 22:15
Ezekiel 13:22,23
Genesis 13:13; 18:20; Deuteronomy 32:32; Isaiah 1:9,10; Ezekiel 16:46-52; Malachi 1:1; Matthew 11:24; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 1:7; Revelation 11:8
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 13:18 - But;  1 Kings 22:6 - Go up;  2 Chronicles 18:5 - Go up;  Ezra 10:18 - the sons;  Psalm 55:9 - I have;  Isaiah 5:18 - draw;  Isaiah 9:15 - the prophet;  Isaiah 56:10 - they are all dumb;  Jeremiah 5:12 - have belied;  Jeremiah 6:13 - and;  Jeremiah 7:8 - ye trust;  Jeremiah 8:4 - turn;  Jeremiah 14:15 - Sword and famine shall not;  Jeremiah 20:6 - thy friends;  Jeremiah 32:31 - this city;  Jeremiah 36:2 - against Israel;  Jeremiah 36:3 - they may;  Lamentations 1:5 - for;  Lamentations 2:14 - false;  Ezekiel 12:24 - GeneralEzekiel 13:19 - to save;  Hosea 6:10 - GeneralAmos 4:8 - yet;  Micah 2:11 - a man;  Zechariah 13:2 - cause;  Acts 13:6 - a false;  2 Corinthians 11:15 - whose;  Ephesians 5:6 - vain

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

13, 14.Prophets of Samaria — Here introduced to set off the greater folly of the prophets of Jerusalem. These last are represented as having come to the very climax of wickedness, even as Sodom and Gomorrah.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.