Jeremiah chapter 23

The LORD God will raise up a righteous branch to lead his people. Jeremiah rebukes the prophets. They promised peace but were false prophets.





VERSE 1. “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says the LORD.

the shepherds. That is, the religious leaders.

destroy. Instead of building up the spiritual life of their people, the religious leaders were destroying spiritual lives.

scattering. Instead of uniting people together, the religious leaders were divided people. They were agents of disunity.

the sheep of my pasture. The religious leaders were destroying God’s very own people.


VERSE 2. Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, says against the shepherds who feed my people: “You have scattered my flock, driven them away, and have not visited them. Behold, I will visit on you the evil of your doings,” says the LORD.


VERSE 3. “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they will be fruitful and multiply.

HCSB translation. I will gather the remnant of My flock from all the lands where I have banished them, and I will return them to their grazing land. They will become fruitful and numerous.

I myself will gather. God is a unifier. He gathers people together. He is the opposite of religious leaders. They are agents of disunity.

the remnant of My flock. Religious denominations eventually become so corrupt that they cannot be reformed. The only way for God to rescue his people is for him to deliver them to a new setting. He regathers them within a new denomination. That is what the Protestant Reformation achieved.

become fruitful and numerous. The effect of corrupt spiritual leadership is to stunt the spiritual fruitfulness of the people. But after the people are liberated from those corrupt leaders, they finally have a chance to spiritually flourish.


VERSE 4. I will set up shepherds over them, who will feed them. They will no longer be afraid or dismayed, neither will any be lacking,” says the LORD.

NLT translation. Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken!

shepherds who will care for them. Sometimes God must enact a regime change. He transplants people from a corrupted setting to a good one. Then they can flourish.


VERSE 5. “Behold, the days come,” says the LORD, “that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and he will reign as king and deal wisely, and will execute justice and righteousness in the land.

a righteous Branch. This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.


VERSE 6. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely. This is his name by which he will be called: The LORD our righteousness.


VERSE 7. “Therefore behold, the days come,” says the LORD, “that they will no more say, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;’

they will no more say. Th is new restoration will be so dramatic that the people will no longer look back to the time when God brought them up out of Egypt. The first Exodus will pale in comparison with this new Exodus.


VERSE 8. but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up and who led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will dwell in their own land.”




VERSE 9. Concerning the prophets: My heart within me is broken. All my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the LORD, and because of his holy words.

Concerning the prophets. Jeremiah addresses the prophets. They opposed his declaration of doom. Instead, they promised an era of peace.

They were false prophets.


VERSE 10. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of the curse the land mourns. The pastures of the wilderness have dried up. Their course is evil, and their might is not right;

the land is full of adulterers. Instead of worshipping the LORD God, everyone was worshipping other gods.


VERSE 11. for both prophet and priest are profane. Yes, in my house I have found their wickedness,” says the LORD.

NIV translation. “Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness,” declares the LORD.

Both prophet and priest are godless. Just because a person is an official minister does no guarantee that they are a godly person. That was true back then, and it is true today.


VERSE 12. Therefore their way will be to them as slippery places in the darkness. They will be driven on, and fall therein; for I will bring evil on them, even the year of their visitation,” says the LORD.

their way will be to them as slippery places. Their way will become slippery for them. The very things upon which they stand will cause them to trip and fall. They will reap what they have sown.

There is a law of “sowing and reaping” throughout the Bible. We don’t know how to fully reconcile it with grace and mercy. Here are the verses we’ve found »


VERSE 13. “I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria. They prophesied by Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.


VERSE 14. In the prophets of Jerusalem I have also seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one returns from his wickedness. They have all become to me as Sodom, and its inhabitants as Gomorrah.”

In the prophets of Jerusalem. The prophets were the most corrupt people of all.


VERSE 15. Therefore the LORD of Hosts says concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink poisoned water; for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.”


Deuteronomy 29:18. lest there should be among you man, woman, family, or tribe whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; lest there should be among you a root that produces bitter poison;

Proverbs 5:4. but in the end she is as bitter as wormwood, and as sharp as a two-edged sword.

Jeremiah 9:15. Therefore the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says, “Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.

Jeremiah 23:15. Therefore the LORD of Hosts says 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 has gone out into all the land.”

Lamentations 3:15. He has filled me with bitterness. He has stuffed me with wormwood.

Lamentations 3:19. Remember my affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the bitterness.

Amos 5:7. You who turn justice to wormwood, and cast down righteousness to the earth

Revelation 8:11. The name of the star is called “Wormwood.” One third of the waters became wormwood. Many people died from the waters, because they were made bitter.


VERSE 16. The LORD of Hosts says, “Don’t listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They teach you vanity. They speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.

Don’t listen to the words of the prophets. When a religious leader is corrupt, the people must NOT listen to him.

Mark 13:32. But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.


VERSE 17. They say continually to those who despise me, ‘The LORD has said, “You will have peace;” ’ and to everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart they say, ‘No evil will come on you.’

You will have peace. Many preachers have a message of peace and security. However, they are almost always wrong. They are almost always false prophets:

Jeremiah 5:12. They have denied the LORD, and said, “It is not he. Evil will won’t come on us. We won’t see sword or famine.

Jeremiah 6:14. They have healed also the hurt of my people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace.

Jeremiah 23:17. They say continually to those who despise me, ‘The LORD has said, “You will have peace;” ’ and to everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart they say, ‘No evil will come on you.’

Matthew 24:29. But immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken

1 Thessalonians 5:3. When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.” (NLT translation)


VERSE 18. For who has stood in the council of the LORD, that he should perceive and hear his word? Who has listened to my word, and heard it?


VERSE 19. Behold, the LORD’s storm, his wrath, has gone out. Yes, a whirling storm: It will burst on the head of the wicked.


VERSE 20. The LORD’s anger 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.


VERSE 21. I didn’t send these prophets, yet they ran. I didn’t speak to them, yet they prophesied.


VERSE 22. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have caused my people to hear my words, and would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.


VERSE 23. “Am I a God at hand,” says the LORD, “and not a God afar off?


VERSE 24. Can anyone hide himself in secret places so that I can’t see him?” says the LORD. “Don’t I fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.


VERSE 25. “I have heard what the prophets have said, who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’


VERSE 26. How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, even the prophets of the deceit of their own heart?


VERSE 27. They intend to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they each tell his neighbor, as their fathers forgot my name because of Baal.


VERSE 28. The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the straw to the wheat?” says the LORD.


VERSE 29. “Isn’t my word like fire?” says the LORD; “and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

NIV translation. “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Book of Jeremiah and from the entire Bible.

word. The Hebrew word is “dabar.” It means word, words, speech. In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ is called the Word.

Is not my word like fire. This phenomenon is echoed in other places in the Bible:

Daniel 7:9. I watched until thrones were placed, and one who was ancient of days sat. His clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool. His throne was fiery flames, and its wheels burning fire.

Jeremiah 23:29. “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (NIV translation)

Matthew 17:2. He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light.

Matthew 28:3. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.

Revelation 1:14. His head and his hair were white as white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire.

rock. The Hebrew word is “sela.”. It means a crag, a cliff, a Rock, a rock.

In this verse, the Word smashes the rock.


VERSE 30. “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who each steal my words from his neighbor.


VERSE 31. Behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who use their tongues, and say, ‘He says.’


VERSE 32. Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams,” says the LORD, “who tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their vain boasting; yet I didn’t send them or command them. They don’t profit this people at all,” says the LORD.


VERSE 33. “When this people, or the prophet, or a priest, asks you, saying, ‘What is the message from the LORD?’ Then you shall tell them, ‘ “What message? I will cast you off,” says the LORD.’


VERSE 34. As for the prophet, the priest, and the people, who say, ‘The message from the LORD,’ I will even punish that man and his household.


VERSE 35. You will say everyone to his neighbor, and everyone to his brother, ‘What has the LORD answered?’ and, ‘What has the LORD said?’


VERSE 36. You will mention the message from the LORD no more: for every man’s own word has become his message; for you have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of Hosts, our God.


VERSE 37. You will say to the prophet, ‘What has the LORD answered you?’ and, ‘What has the LORD spoken?’


VERSE 38. Although you say, ‘The message from the LORD;’ therefore the LORD says: ‘Because you say this word, “The message from the LORD,” and I have sent to you, telling you not to say, “The message from the LORD;”


VERSE 39. therefore, behold, I will utterly forget you, and I will cast you off, and the city that I gave to you and to your fathers, away from my presence.


VERSE 40. I will bring an everlasting reproach on you, and a perpetual shame, which will not be forgotten.’ ”


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.