Jeremiah 23

A son of David will rule one day. He will rule in the right way.

1 ‘I will cause trouble to the rulers who are destroying my people. They cause them to run away,’ the Lord says. 2 So he says to them, ‘You rulers should care for my people as a shepherd cares for his sheep. I will punish you because you have done this evil thing. You have caused my people to run away to many different places. You have not cared for them,’ says the Lord.

3 ‘I myself will fetch all my people who are still alive. I will fetch them from the countries that they ran to. I will bring them back to their own country. There they will have children and they will grow in number. 4 I will give to them rulers who will take care of them properly. My people will not be afraid. Each one of them will be kept safe,’ says the Lord.

5 ‘The time is coming,’ says the Lord,

‘when I will give a good son to David's descendants.

He will rule in a right way and with understanding.

He will judge fairly in the country.

6 When he is ruling, Judah will be safe.

And Israel will not be afraid then.

People will give this name to him:

“The Lord makes us right and good”.’

7 ‘People will speak in a new way at a future time,’ says the Lord. ‘They will not say again, “I promise you as surely as the Lord lives, the Lord who brought Israel's people out of Egypt.” 8 Instead, they will say, “I promise you as surely as the Lord lives, who brought Israel's descendants out of the countries in the north. And he brought them out of all the countries that he had sent them to.” Then they will live in their own land.’

Prophets who say things that are not true

9 I must speak about the prophets.

My mind is not happy.

My body feels weak and ill.

I am like a man who has drunk too much wine.

The Lord has spoken to me, and his words are holy.

10 The country is full of men who have sex with other men's wives.

Because of that, the country is as dry as dead bones.

And all the plants in the fields are dead.

The prophets are doing things that are wrong.

And they do not use their power in the right way.

11 ‘And the prophets and the priests do not give honour to me.

Even in my temple I see them. And they are doing things that are very wrong,’

says the Lord.

12 ‘Because of that, I will make it difficult for them to do their work.

I will send them away to a dark place where they will fall.

Many bad things will happen to them when I start to punish them,’

says the Lord.

13 ‘I saw a very bad thing that the prophets in Samaria did.

They were speaking the name of the false god, Baal when they were prophesying.

They did not tell my people things that were right.

So they caused them to do wrong things.

14 Some prophets in Jerusalem

were doing wrong things too.

I saw them having sex with other men's wives.

But they let people think that they were good.

They say that it is good for men to do evil things.

So they let them continue to do things that are wrong.

They seem as bad to me as were the people in Sodom.

The people in Jerusalem are as bad as the people in Gomorrah.’

23:14There were not even 10 good men in the cities called Sodom and Gomorrah. So the Lord had destroyed those cities. (See Genesis 18:20-33.) The men there had sex with other men and they wanted to cause male visitors to have sex with them. (See Genesis 19:5-9.)

15 So the great and powerful Lord says this about the prophets:

‘I will cause them to eat food that tastes bad.

And I will cause them to drink water that will make them ill.

That is because of the things that the prophets in Jerusalem have done.

They have caused all the people in the country to turn away from God.’

16 The great and powerful Lord says:

‘Do not listen to the words that the prophets are prophesying to you.

They cause you to believe things that are not true.

They tell you about pictures that they have made in their own minds.

They do not speak the words that come from the Lord's mouth.

17 They continue to think that I am worth nothing.

And they cause other people to think as they think.

They say that the Lord has said to them,

“You will have peace.

Nothing bad will happen to you.”

Some people refuse to change the things that they are doing.

But the prophets say those good things to all those people.

18 But none of them has been with the Lord.

They have not seen him and they have not heard his word.

They have not listened to him.

19 But you will see that the Lord will be very angry.

He will be angry like a storm and a strong wind.

He will knock down people who do wrong things.

20 Nothing will cause the Lord to stop being angry.

He will finish completely everything that he wants to do.

At a future time, you will understand all of this.

21 I did not send these prophets.

But they have still run to tell their message to you.

I did not speak to them,

but they have prophesied.

22 If they had met with me,

they would have spoken my words to the people.

Then my people would have turned away from the things that are wrong.

They would have stopped doing bad things.

23 I can see things that happen a long way away.

I do not see only what is near to me.

24 Nobody can hide in a secret place

so that I cannot see him,’ says the Lord.

‘I am in all the earth and in all the sky,’ says the Lord.

25 ‘I have heard the things that these prophets say. They say things that are not true. They give false messages. They say that they are messages from me. They say, “I had a dream.” 26 They should stop speaking false words. They make pictures in their own minds. And they say that they are prophecies. 27 They tell their dreams to each other. They think that their dreams will cause my people to forget my name. Then they would be like their ancestors who forgot me. They forgot me when they worshipped the false god, Baal. 28 A prophet may have a dream. That prophet can tell people that it is only a dream. But anyone who has heard my words must be sure to give my message to people. The dream and my message are very different. Their dream is nothing but my message is everything good,’ says the Lord. 29 ‘My word is like a fire,’ says the Lord. ‘It is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.’

30 ‘The prophets take each other's words. Then they say that they came from me. That is why I am against them,’ says the Lord. 31 ‘Yes,’ says the Lord, ‘They tell people what they think. But they say, “The Lord says.” ’ 32 ‘Yes, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,’ says the Lord. ‘Those dreams that they tell to the people lead the people away from me. Their stories cause people to believe things that are not true. I did not send them and I did not give my authority to them. They do not help my people,’ the Lord says.

False prophets and their false prophecies

33 ‘These people or a prophet or a priest may ask you, “What is the Lord saying?” Then you must say to them, “ ‘I will leave you,’ he says”. 34 If a prophet or a priest says, “This is a message from the Lord”, I will punish him. I will punish that man and all the people who are in his house. 35 You can ask your friends and families questions. “What is the Lord's answer?” or “What has the Lord said?” you can say. 36 But you must not speak again about the Lord's message. You say that it is a message from the Lord. But you are really speaking your own words. In that way, you change the words of the living God. You change the words of the great powerful Lord, our God. 37 You can ask a prophet, “What is the Lord's answer to you?” or “What did the Lord say?” 38 You might say, “This is the Lord's message.” But the Lord says to you, “You said that your words were my message. You did that. But I had told you not to use the words, ‘This is the Lord's message.’ ” 39 Because of that, I will certainly forget you. I will push you away from me and from this city. You will leave the city that I gave to you and to your ancestors. 40 I will make you ashamed. People will always remember that I made you ashamed. They will not forget.’