Jeremiah 23 -24 - Outline of Jeremiah (MENU page)
A Bright Light in a Very Dark Day (ch. 23) -
The future coming of the Righteous Branch, in contrast to the present false shepherds.
I. Woe to the pastors (ie., shepherds) that destroy and scatter (v.1,2) - cp. Eze 34:1-10
Ch. 23 and 24 are properly regarded as the continuation of the Lord's answer to Zedekiah, in ch. 21 and 22.
As in ch. 22, the "pastors" are the kings of Judah (specifically, the last four) who led their people away from the Lord, and therefore, into the judgment which would destroy and scatter them.
II. Foreview of the Shepherd who gathers and restores (v.3-8) -
  1. This Shepherd is the LORD Himself (v.3,4)- I will gather... I will set up shepherds... (cp. Eze 34:11-16)
    • The near view refers to the restoration under Ezra and Nehemiah, who, in company with Joshua and Zerubbabel, fed God's flock (cp. Zechariah ch. 3 - 6; eg. 3:6,7; 4:6-10). The ministries of these men were types (pictures) of Christ.
    • The far view refers to the restoration of Israel during Christ's millennial Kingdom.
    • "They shall fear no more..." (v.4) - By the time of Jesus' birth and earthly ministry, Israel had again fallen away from the Lord, was again in subservience to gentile rulers, and was again about to be scattered. Jerusalem and her people will not have true and lasting peace until Christ's reign. Psa 122:6; Isa 9:6,7
  2. This Shepherd is a King (v.6-8) -
    • the righteous Branch of David (v.5, in contrast to the corrupt branch, which was cut off, at Jeconiah).
      See the Book Notes comments at Jer 22:24-30.
      cp. Isa 11:1 {The "stem" refers to the "stump" remaining after the tree was cut off.}; Jer 33:15-17
    • who executes judgment {ie., justice} and justice {ie., righteousness} (in contrast to the present kings, 21:12; 22:3).
      Therefore, His reign "prospers" (cf. 22:4). The word for "prosper" also has the meaning of wisdom and prudence. This King will reign circumspectly.
    • who is the salvation and security of Judah and Israel (23:6); cp. Eze 37:21-23
    • whose Name is "The LORD our Righteousness" {Jehovah-tsidkenu}
      • King Zedekiah's name refers to "the righteousness of Jehovah," but his life did not reflect it.
      • This King is not only righteous, but by His righteousness His people are made righteous. cp. Zech 13:1
    • whose deliverance will surpass and supersede the deliverance from Egypt, remembered annually at the Passover (v.7,8).
      Everyone will know that "the LORD liveth..." (cp. 16:21).
      This is the thundering theme of Ezekiel: "ye... they... shall know that I am the LORD."
      Here are just a few references: Eze 20:12,26,38,42,44; 36:11,23,38; 38:23; 39:6,7,22,28. Also see Zech 14:9.
III. Woe to the false prophets (23:9-40)
  1. The Sorrow due to neglect of God's Word (v.9-15)
    • Jeremiah was overcome with sorrow, because God's Word is disregarded and distorted,
      by those who claim to teach it, but who have no appetite for it. cp. Jer 15:16; Deu 8:3; Mat 4:4
    • The sorrowful effects upon the Land (v.10-14)-
      • prophet and priest are profane {ie., defiled, polluted},
      • the Lord's house is corrupted with wickedness,
      • the Land is made waste: The judgment that befell Samaria will overtake Jerusalem, for the nation is polluted with sin, like Sodom and Gomorrah on the eve of their destruction.
    • The impending sorrow of the false prophets, whose words...
      had poisoned the nation, and would turn back upon them to their own bitterness (v.15).
  2. The Error of their False Message (v.16-22)
    • Their message is not from the LORD, but rooted in their own deceitful hearts (v.16,17).
    • Their promise of peace is a false hope. Isa 48:22; 57:21; 2Pet 2:17-22
    • They have not sought the Lord's counsel (v.18).
      This verse, arranged as questions, could also be read as the words of false prophets ridiculing the inspired Word of God (as written and spoken by prophets who truly knew the LORD).
    • Their words will not prevail against the Word of the Lord (v.19,20).
      Even they will see this for themselves, in the latter days, when His prophetic Word comes to fruition.
    • Their lost opportunity (v.21,22)-
      If they had heard and spoken God's Word, they would have turned the people to repentance.
      (Here we see the responsibility of teachers for their students, and their accountability before God. cp. James 3:1)
  3. False Authority claimed by the False Prophets (v.23-40)
    1. Hidden, secret things...(v.23,24)-
      They claimed to have a depth of spiritual understanding, which surpassed God's revealed Word.
      But there is nothing hidden from God. cp. Deu 29:29; Rev 2:24-26; 1Cor 2:9-11
    2. Special revelation (v.25-32) -
      1. I have dreamed... - Lies and the deceit of the heart contrary to God's Word (v.25-29).
        It is true that God sometimes speaks through dreams (eg., Gen 37:5,9; Num 12:6; Mat 1:20). But dreams can arise from other sources (eg., Eccl 5:2,3). Any dream must be tested by God's Word (Deu 13:1-5). Any message which is not in agreement with God's Word will come to nothing. God's Word will prevail against it.
      2. He saith... (v.30-32) - The prophets claimed to be hearing from God,
        but in reality they were robbing each other of "My words" (v.30) and leading the people into error (v.32),
        by their lies and "lightness" (ie., their reckless disregard of truth, cp. Zeph 3:4).
        "Behold, I am against you..."- This was God's true message to the false prophets.
        Though He repeats it three times, they remain unreceptive to His revealed Word. cp. Eze 13:8; 1Pet 3:12)
    3. Special messages {burdens}, as though committed to them by the Lord (v.33-40).
      • The word "burden" is HB "massa," meaning "that which is taken up."
        The word can be used of a weight taken up on one's shoulders (eg., Jer 17:27), or of a heavy message taken up on one's lips (eg. Eze 12:10). In the latter sense, a true prophet would take up an oracle from God (cp. 1Pet 4:11). But regarding the false prophets, who falsely claimed to bear a burden from the Lord, the Lord replies with a play on words: "What burden? {alternately: 'You are the burden.'} I will cast you off." (v.33)
      • What hath the LORD answered thee? What hath the LORD spoken? (v.34-38) -
        Rather than regarding the false messages on the lips of false prophets (who claimed their messages were important 'burdens' from God, even as they spoke with lightness {ie., recklessness, frivolity} from their deceptive imaginations, v.32), the people should be seeking the LORD according to the Word which He has spoken (Isa 8:20).
      • But because the prophets persist in giving, and the people in heeding, false "burdens," the Lord will cast them off perpetually (v.38-40).
Two Baskets of Figs (ch. 24) -
I. The vision described (24:1-3)
II. The vision explained (v.4-10)
  1. The good figs (v.4-7) - represent the believing remnant, who would be...
    • sent out of this place for their own good (v.5)
      The good figs would include Daniel, Shadrach, Meshech, Abednego, Mordecai, Esther, Ezekiel...
    • brought back and restored... planted and built up (v.6) -
      The restoration under Ezra and Nehemiah was a partial fulfillment. But Israel was again "plucked up" after that restoration. The final fulfillment awaits the establishment of Christ's millennial Kingdom. It is to that time that the next verse applies...
    • given hearts to serve the Lord (v.7) cp. 30:22; 31:33
      Note that, in v.5-7, the LORD says "I will..." do each of these things.
  2. The bad figs (v.8-10) -
    • represent Zedekiah and the false prophets and priests associated with him,
      and all those who placed their trust in them, remaining in the city in disobedience and unbelief (cp. 21:8,9).
    • to be scattered "for their hurt."
    • to be a proverb, taunt and curse wherever they found themselves.
    • to be consumed from off the land... cp. Deu 28:25,37; Jer 29:17,18
      Here also, in the judgment of 'the bad figs,' the LORD is the active agent, repeatedly saying, "I will..." (cp. Jer 44:27).
      This concludes the LORD's answer to Zedekiah's enquiry (ch. 21-24).

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