Jeremiah 23

A righteous King

1 The Lord says, ‘Terrible trouble will come to the rulers of my people. They should have taken care of my people, as shepherds take care of their sheep. Instead, they have caused them to run away.’ 2 So the Lord, Israel's God, says to the leaders who rule over his people, ‘You have not taken care of my people. You have chased them away to other places. So now I will come and punish you, because of the evil things that you have done. I, the Lord, tell you that!

3 I myself will bring back together all my people who are still alive. I will fetch them from the countries where I have sent them. I will bring them back to the land that is their home. They will give birth to many children and they will grow in number. 4 I will choose rulers for them who will truly take care of them. My people will no longer be afraid. They will all be safe.’ That is what the Lord says.

5 The Lord says, ‘The time will come when I do this:

I will cause a descendant of David to be born.

He will be righteous.

He will grow like a branch on the tree of David's family.

He will rule as king in a wise way.

He will do what is right and fair in the land.

6 While he rules, the people of Judah will be safe.

And Israel's people will live in peace.

People will give this name to him:

“The Lord is our righteous Saviour.” ’

7 The Lord says, ‘Yes, a new time will come. When people make a promise, they will not say, “I promise to do this as surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites safely out of Egypt.” 8 Instead they will say, “I promise to do this as surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel safely back from the land in the north. He brought them back from all the places where he had sent them as prisoners.” At that time they will live in their own land.’

A message about the false prophets

9 I am very upset about what the prophets are doing.

My body is shaking.

I move like a man who has become drunk,

someone who has drunk too much wine.

I am afraid because of the Lord

and the holy message that he has spoken.

10 The land is full of people who are not faithful to God.

The prophets live wicked lives.

They use their power in a bad way.

Because of that, God has cursed the land.

The land is as dry as a desert,

and the fields have no grass.

11 The Lord says,

‘The prophets and the priests are all wicked.

I see the evil things that they do,

even in my temple.

12 Because of that, the paths that they travel on will be dark.

They will easily slip and fall to the ground.

I will cause terrible trouble to happen to them.

I will decide the time when I will punish them.’

That is what the Lord says.

13 ‘I saw the disgusting thing that the prophets in Samaria did.

23:13Samaria was the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel.

They used the name of Baal to prophesy.

Their messages deceived my people, Israel.

14 But now some prophets in Jerusalem do even worse things!

They are not faithful to their wives.

23:14‘faithful to their wives’ or ‘faithful to God’.

They always deceive people.

They encourage people to do evil things.

They do not try to stop them.

They are as bad as the people of Sodom long ago.

The people of Jerusalem are as bad as the people of Gomorrah.

23:14There were not even 10 good men in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. So the Lord had destroyed those cities. See Genesis 18:20-33; 19:5-9.

15 So I, the Lord Almighty,

say this about these prophets:

I will cause them to have much pain and trouble.

They will eat bitter food.

They will drink water that is poison.

It is because of Jerusalem's prophets

that people do wicked things everywhere in the land.’

16 The Lord Almighty says to the people,

‘Do not listen to the messages that the prophets are telling you.

They are only deceiving you.

They speak about visions that are their own ideas.

They do not speak a message that comes from the Lord himself.

17 When people refuse to listen to me,

the prophets still encourage them.

They say to them,

“The Lord will give you peace.”

When people refuse to change their wicked way of life,

the prophets tell them,

“Nothing bad will happen to you.”

18 But none of those prophets has met with the Lord.

They have not seen him

and they have not heard his voice.

So none of them has ever listened to him

to know what he is saying.

19 But look! The Lord's anger will come

like a strong storm.

It will blow away the heads of those wicked people.

20 The Lord will not stop being angry,

until he has finished what he has decided to do.

When the time comes,

you will understand this clearly.

21 I did not send those prophets.

But they have still run to speak to you.

I did not tell them what to say,

but they have continued to prophesy.

22 If they had really met with me,

they would have spoken my message to my people.

They would have caused my people to turn away from their wicked way of life.

They would have stopped my people doing evil things.’

23 The Lord says, ‘Am I a God in only one place?

No! I see everything everywhere!

24 Do you think you can hide

in a place where I cannot see you?

You should know that I am everywhere,

in the heavens above and on the earth.’

That is what the Lord says.

25 ‘I have heard the lies that these prophets are saying. They say that they have messages from me. They say, “God has spoken to me in a dream!” 26 But all their words are lies. Their messages are their own ideas. When will they stop deceiving people? 27 They want to make my people forget who I am. They use their dreams to do this. They tell them to each other. They are as bad as their ancestors. They also forgot who I am when they worshipped the false god, Baal.

28 If a prophet has a dream, he should say what it is. If a prophet receives a message from me, he should speak that message faithfully. But dreams are very different from my messages. Straw is not the same as wheat! 29 A message from me is like a fire that burns things. It is like a hammer that breaks a rock into pieces.’ That is what the Lord says.

30 ‘I tell you that I am against those prophets! They say that they speak messages from me. But they are using each other's ideas. 31 They say, “This message is from the Lord,” but it is their own words that they speak. 32 Yes, I am against those who have dreams and use them to deceive people. They are using cruel lies to lead the people away from me. I did not send those prophets to speak on my behalf. They do nothing to help my people.’ That is what the Lord says.

33 The Lord said, ‘Jeremiah, someone may ask you a question. He may be one of these people or a prophet or a priest. He may ask you, “What message of trouble is the Lord telling us now?” Then you must say to him, “You are the trouble! The Lord says that he will go away from you.” 34 If a prophet, a priest, or anyone else says, “I have a message of trouble from the Lord,” I will punish that person. I will punish his whole family too.

35 Instead, each of you should ask your friends, “What is the Lord's answer?” or “What has the Lord said?” 36 But you must not speak any more about “a message of trouble from the Lord”. It is the person's own message that brings the trouble. In that way, you change the true message of our God, the living God who is the Lord Almighty. 37 You should ask the prophet, “What answer did the Lord give to you?” or “What did the Lord say?” 38 You must no longer say, “What is the message of trouble from the Lord?” If you continue to say that when I have told you not to say it, this is what will happen: 39 I will pick you up and I will throw you away! I will send you all a long way away from me. I will chase out all the people of this city that I gave to you and to your ancestors. 40 I will make you very ashamed. People will never forget your great shame.’