Jeremiah

Jeremiah Index

Jeremiah Chapter 23

 

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

Apparently those that were appointed to watch for the souls and well-being of the people were not doing so. This shows the complete lack of concern and love for those they were to watch over. They may have been available to perform weddings and religious rites but did not do the real work of the pastor such as getting back into the fold those that are lost, visiting the sick and those in trouble.

I have witnessed in recent weeks one pastor that in my mind has surpassed any other pastor I've ever met before. In fact I think this beloved man sometimes spreads himself too thin. He will travel great distances and go out of his way to try to win one soul to Christ if he thinks that person in dying and may die without Christ.

He will leave his church service and go to the hospital if someone calls in and there is an emergency. I've never seen such compassion and willingness to obey the call of God on his life as this man. I didn't think there were any unselfish people like this in the world. He has such a burden for the lost. Yet there is such a joy in his countenance when he greets people.

I also recall David Wilkerson who at one point in his life left his church and family to go to New York to help some gang members find Jesus Christ. He actually risked his life to help those kids in trouble. That is how Teen Challenge got started.

I'm not saying everyone has to be like these two people but whatever are calling is, we need to be faithful in it. I recall one of my favorite parables about the seed of the word.

I believe we may be in danger of this third type of ground among thorns:

  • Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 
  • 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 
  • 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 
  • 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 
  • 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

This is why we must take heed to how we respond to God's word once we hear it.

  1. We see the first group of people hear the word but half-heartedly. The word they heard did not bring forth fruit.
  2. The second heard and rejoiced but when they began to meet others who did not believe and even suffered persecution for the word they received, they began to become offended. If the life wasn't easy then they didn't want it.
  3. The third is where pastors also can get caught up in it. Being so busy and caught up in activities that the word is neglected in them. If it is neglected in their own lives, surely they will not be able to minister it to their congregations. We also can get so caught up in our daily activities that the word we received at one time becomes choked and crowded out by the things of this life that it becomes unfruitful. We can get so busy doing necessary things, not necessarily bad things but we forget the great number of souls departing from this life into eternity without God, we forget that we are a dependent people who need daily refreshing and fellowship with God and His word, we fall away from our first love that we once had for the Lord and become wrapped up in other things that take priority over God.
  4. Let us seek to become representative of the good ground that yields fruit hundredfold. This is not speaking of getting rich with this worlds goods. This refers to the word of God bringing forth fruit not only in our lives but the lives of others and the results will be eternal. True riches are spiritual things not the things in this life.
  • Jeremiah 23:2 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.

It is one thing for people to get offended if a faithful pastor is preaching the truth of the word but it is quite another if they scatter because the pastor is unconcerned, callous, and neglects to preach of word of God. Such a person should not be a pastor. A person who is holding a pastor's job just to draw a salary, is not a pastor. A true pastor has to be called of God and have a heart of compassion for people. The job is too difficult without this. They have to love what they are doing and be walking with God in order to be able to have the wisdom to lead and endure the trials that come with this position.

  • Jeremiah 23:3 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.

God will one day gather the outcasts of Israel back to Him.

  • Jeremiah 23:4 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.

It sounds like the pastors over them were ones that used their position to oppress rather than serve the people. He sounds like they were Lording over them in a cruel manner rather than lovingly guiding them in truth. The bible is not to be used as a hammer to bang on someone's head so that they do what the pastor wants. The bible is to instruct us in the way of truth and righteousness leading us to the one who will bring us eternal life.

Here God promises to appoint trustworthy pastors to watch over them. They will not be cruel taskmasters but gentle loving shepherds.

  • 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.

This prophecy foretells the wonderful reign of the Messiah. This is none other than Jesus Christ who was of the lineage of David but also the very Son of God. Jesus was crucified and rejected of men but was risen from the dead and waits at His Father's right hand until the day He will return and sets up His literal kingdom on earth. This is when scattered Israel will be gathered one final time and finally recognize that the one their ancestors rejected is the very Christ, Messiah promised by the Moses years before.

  • Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

The Messiah, savior, Lord, Son of God future king was prophesied back in Deuteronomy. In fact the book of Genesis also foretold the promised one when Adam and Eve fell into sin.

  • 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.

No more will any nation, group of people to terrorist ever be able to hurt them or anyone else. Jesus Christ Himself will be their protector.

  • Jeremiah 23:7 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;
  • 8 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.

This deliverance will surpass any other time in history for its greatness. After great tribulation Israel is delivered and saved by the coming of Jesus Christ and the power of God. Nothing can stop this, it will come to pass. The deliverance will surpass in greatness their deliverance from Egypt and deliverance from bondage in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

  • Jeremiah 23:9 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.

Here is a faithful servant of God in anguish because of the false prophets, unfaithful pastors and sins of the people. He is aware of the awesome holiness of God and His coming judgment that this prophet feels overcome. True faithful followers of God will always be grieved over sin.

  • Jeremiah 23:10 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.

This describes the Israel of that day. Nations of this world should take heed and fear God for we too are full of adulterers. We are full of evil and we are not right.

  • Jeremiah 23:11 For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.

We never should forsake the preaching of the word and instead offer entertainment to please the crowds and keep the money rolling in. We need to seek God fervently that our churches are places for people to find God, and then grow closer to God being filled with the word of truth so that they will never desire to return to sin. Once they find the Lord, they need to be discipled so that they began to follow the Lord wherever He calls them. Some of us may not be called to stay in one place, others will...someone has to take care of the children and guide the household. 

Instead of the world influencing us, we need to learn to influence the world for the truth in Jesus Christ. The word of God should be a priority in our churches. Without the word, people will drift back into sin.

  • Psalms 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

The word of God is so refreshing and beautiful. To neglect it is to rob our own souls.

  • Jeremiah 23:12 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.

Pastors will have to answer to God for any neglect and unfaithfulness on their part. Being a pastor is a high calling. Their first calling is speaking the truth and not just what they think people want to hear.

Perhaps some pastors may mistakenly assume people want to hear a watered down gospel but the kind of people I am acquainted with actually would rather hear a pastor who speaks the truth. I've met people lately that are actually hungry for the truth.

  • Jeremiah 23:13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.

This is sad indeed if the prophets lead people away from God instead of toward Him. These false gods and religions bring no hope, no salvation and no eternal life.

  • 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.

The state that they had fallen into was that they:

  • Commit adultery - We need to pray that husbands love their own wives and wives love their own husbands. There is too much divorce among us.
  • Walk in lies - Making people feel good about them selves if they are living in sin just one example of lying.
  • Strengthening the hands of evil doers - Supporting and encouraging those that do evil instead of reproving them.
  • That none return from their wickedness - If we fail to preach repentance, we are allowing wickedness to go unchecked.
  • They became as Sodom and Gomorrah. Sexual immorality is one of the traits of those that forsake the truth of the word of God and do not repent of sin. After that, killing of the innocent prevails. People don't see abortion as killing the innocent but it is and nations that allow that  may have already become as Sodom and Gomorrah.

Oh my, if only we could see what God has prepared for those that love and keep His word.

  • Jeremiah 23:15 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.

It is one thing for people to do these things but when the pastors do them, we are in big trouble. Pastors should set the example. If they are not living right, how can they expect the people of the nations to live right.

  • 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: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.

A warning to all. Check out what is spoken, taught and preached with the word of God. If it doesn't line up, reject it. Desire to hear from God and understand God and He will bring it to pass. If you read God's word with a seeking heart, God will reward you with understanding. If you read God's word in order to get by with sin or to discredit the word, you will not get that understanding unless God has mercy on you and reveals it to you in spite of your purpose. The reason most do not understand the bible is because it is a spiritual book. It takes the Holy Spirit to give you understanding. You have to ask God for this and seek Him. It will not come with human understanding.

I've heard it said that it takes one of higher education to understand the King James Version of the bible. I do not agree with that statement. I have known people who have only been to the sixth grade and they can understand that book better than a college graduate that does not have the Holy Spirit. It takes the Holy Spirit to understand the King James Version, not man's education. I really believe that it takes the Holy Spirit or one that is teaching under the anointing of the Holy Spirit to give us proper understanding of the word of God. There is no other way to get the correct understanding.

  • 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 what the prophet Jeremiah is trying to tell them. The false prophets were saying that no evil was coming and that the people would have peace. They were going opposite of what Jeremiah was saying.

That is a good message if it were true. We can't preach peace to people if they are living in sin and are apart or outside of the will of God. Its never God's will that anyone sins so if we see a group of people that have fallen away from God and are not living according to his word, we can't preach good things and peace, they need the message of repentance and getting right with God.

This is what Jeremiah was trying to tell them and he was getting no help from the false prophets. He was saying hey, bad is coming, judgment is coming if you don't change. They were saying, "Nah, God loves you, you are not bad, Peace be with you." We have both kinds of preachers today.

You might wonder, how are they to know who needs to repent and who needs comfort? That is where a dear precious pastor has to seek the Lord first for himself for wisdom and direction from the Holy Spirit and then give the word to others. If he gets so busy that he can't do this then they will have to preach whatever comes to their minds and if its from the Holy Spirit, great but if its from their own imagination, the people suffer. We need the mind of the Lord also, not just the pastors. We are not to just depend on the pastors to receive the word of God. Read it for yourselves.

  • Jeremiah 23:18 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.

If God has not called or even if God has called one to prophesy and preach, they must not utter a word claiming it is God's word unless they are sure it is from God.

  • Jeremiah 23:22 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.

The biggest job of a prophet or preacher is to turn people away from evil and toward God. I don't hear as much messages on repentance as I use to and yet sin is greater and the need for repentance is greater. The worse thing a pastor can begin to do is worry about whether or not the people will like them. God will give them faithful helpers if they just preach the truth.

  • Jeremiah 23:23 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.

We think God is far away but actually He is closer than we think.

  • Jeremiah 23:25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.

If a dream or vision does not line up with God's word, then it is a lie. There are those that actually will tell those that sin that he is okay and does not need to change. That does not line up with the word of God. God did not create us to sin against His word thereby destroying ourselves in the process.

Unnatural sex of any kind apart from the way God created will cause damage to the body and disease that will eventually cause an early death long before the person would have died naturally. This is one of those sins that steal, kill and destroy. To not warn them of the consequences of this type of lifestyle is not love.

I really think population control is behind the reasoning not to warn those that practice that which is unnatural and against how God created us. They don't really care that it will kill people eventually. If we love them we will tell them the truth. The truth is that unnatural sex that God did not create or ordain, or anything that deviates from the way God created us causes great harm to both soul and body. It is a sin that starts when we deny our creator and use so call science to find alternative reasons for the existence of mankind. 

Our minds become reprobate and we begin to believe lies instead of the truth. As a result we are deceived into thinking anything we desire is good and those that oppose this is evil. This anti God thinking destroys both the body in this life and the soul for eternity. It is a sin that kills, steals and destroys and it is a sin that actually slaps God in the face and defies the way He created man and woman. This happens when we do not retain God in our knowledge as Romans chapter 1 explains.

Today we have gotten so far away from God that kids are confused about their gender identity.

Sin including sexual immorality of all kinds can be gotten rid of by coming to Jesus Christ, repenting and asking God for His power to save and deliver Him from this sin. People may get mad at me but I care enough to risk that and tell them how they can be saved and not spend eternity in hell. Hell is a hard message to speak of.  It was created as a place of no return that will eventually stop evil from spreading any further. 

We hate to talk about it but it originally was created for the devil and his angels that departed from God's original purpose and plan. Naturally those that follow the devil will end up where he ends up. Choose God and choose life. 

  • Jeremiah 23:26 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;

If you listen to the feel good speakers and the political correct climate of this world today, you will listen to lies that will not bring repentance and everlasting life to the listener. Evolution is a lie from the pits of hell. Satan does not want you to be saved and have eternal life. He is the one behind evolution.

Listen. As soon as we are born, we begin to die. The old body decays and rots. It is impossible to evolve into something better. The only way to get a new body that cannot die is to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation and turn from sin. After this body dies or if Jesus comes before that event, you will receive a new body that cannot die and will last forever. That is the only way. If you wait until you evolve into something better, you body will decay in the grave and your soul will spend eternity in hell.

  • Jeremiah 23:27 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.

No other religion, false god, creed, offers what the real God offers us. Eternal life with no suffering, evil or pain forever.

  • Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 
  • 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 
  • 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 
  • 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

When we turn from God and worship idols it is dangerous and will lead us into deception even believing that this type of worship is of God and we may even get a religious feeling of some kind but when God says no, He means no. We are actually worshiping devils when we bow down to an idol. 

  • 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 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?

The word is powerful.

  • Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Nothing is hid from God. He sees all. His word searches and desires to make us right. We can be right through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Jeremiah 23:30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

For a pastor to withhold the word of God is equal to stealing.

  • Jeremiah 23:31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.

If we say something like that, we better make sure that the Lord really said it. I fear for this. I've heard many say, "The Lord showed me this and the Lord told me that." If that is so, make sure it really is before saying it to someone else. Ask for discernment. Be zealous for the truth and check out everything by the Word of God. If it is opposite of the word, reject it as flesh or imagination and not the Spirit of God.

  • 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.

I think if we search deep into our hearts we will know who speaks the truth. If we realize that God is against lying and is against those that speak in His name if they do not speak the truth. What a great responsibility we have to speak the truth.

  • Jeremiah 23:33 And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.

Some of the messages I've heard in these latter days is, "God wants you to be rich, God wants you to have the best, God wants you to be happy, God loves you the way you are." This is speaking of earthly things.

God does want us to be rich in the word and in His Spirit. God does want us to have the best which is a relationship with Him that lasts for eternity. God does want us to have the joy of salvation and the joy of the Lord but not forget the lost who do not yet have that joy. God loves us in spite of our sins but does not want us to stay in our sins. He sent Jesus to save us from that sin.

  • Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

A better way, a peaceful way, a pure way, the right way and the only way is through Jesus.

  • Jeremiah 23:34 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.

The people seemed to be mocking Jeremiah. He would preach about repenting and forsaking idolatry. He would warn and preach that God's judgment was coming. He would preach the word of God and they seemed to be saying in mockery, "The Burden of the Lord??"

I hear that today. Fire and brimstone type of preaching or any preaching that warns against sin is mocked. I've even heard, not seen because I refuse to watch the stuff, like movies that are made to mock preachers of the gospel who preach against sin. They make them look like charlatans and fakes. I admit there may be charlatans and fakes that are just after money but remember that whenever there is a real, the devil makes a counterfeit. Just because there is the counterfeit does not mean that there are not real preachers preaching the truth. I know of at least two that I mentioned previously in this study that are preaching truth. I will add to that here. I know many faithful preachers of the word. 

Remember there are fake diamonds but there are also real ones.

  • Jeremiah 23:35 Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the LORD answered? and, What hath the LORD spoken?
  • 36 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.

God help us to love the word and not pervert it with our own philosophies and imaginations.

  • Jeremiah 23:37 Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? and, What hath the LORD spoken?
  • 38 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;
  • 39 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 youout of my presence:
  • 40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

Its very serious to speak in the name of the Lord and speak falsely. It would be better for a preacher to quit preaching and go back to a being a laborer or some other occupation rather than stay in the pulpit and preach false doctrine or change the word in any way to accommodate the desires of the flesh. Just because we don't like one scripture, we don't have the right to change it to mean something else so that we can get by with sin.

Some teach that you can receive Christ one time and that is sufficient for eternity even if you go back into open sin. I'm not talking about sin in which you do without thinking and repent of right away. I'm talking about someone who has once received Christ and deceives himself into thinking he can live in sin and still be a saved, born again Christian. Sin is what Jesus came to save us from because sin will take us to hell. He came to deliver us from sin, fill us with His Spirit and change our lives. We are not to go back into the filth that He delivers us from. If we do sin we need to go back to Him and ask forgiveness and not continue in the stuff Jesus died on the cross for to save us from.

  • 1John 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 
  • 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 
  • 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 
  • 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 
  • 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 
  • 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
  • 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 

John also writes:

  • John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 
  • 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 
  • 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 
  • 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 
  • 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 
  • 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

We don't have to be a slave to sin, we can be free.


Study of Jeremiah 24

 

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