Jeremiah’s Prophecy Against the False Prophets
The prophet Jeremiah gave a prophecy against the false prophets or the civil rulers of Judah as well as the priests (Jer. 23; 2:8). He pointed to the evil of these religious leaders of the northern kingdom of Israel and emphasized the greater judgement upon those of the southern kingdom of Judah for their sinful condition (Jer. 3:6–10). It is noteworthy that about this same period, in the land of exile, Ezekiel also contrasted the false shepherds with the true ones (Eze. 34).
These false leaders were like self-appointed speakers who, without the ruler’s permission, declared to the people in his name what they wanted to say (2 Sam. 18:22–29). They used in their false messages the same language of Gods prophets to deceive the people. These evil shepherds “fed themselves, and fed not the flock” (Eze. 34:8).
So, wicked had these priests and prophets become that they did their sins in the Temple, the “house of the Lord” (Jer. 7:8–11; 32:31–34; Eze. 8:3–16). The hypocritical nature of the false prophets made them speak in the Lord’s name while they broke His very law. This was more “terrible” to Jeremiah than their public adoration of Baal. These spiritual leaders were so corrupt that Isaiah and Jeremiah likened them to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Is. 1:10).
The prophet Jeremiah presented (ch. 23:1–8) the contrast between these false shepherds and the true ones that God will raise up. He showed the difference between the true and the false prophets. The true prophet first rebuked the people for their sins, declaring upon them God’s judgments if they did not forsake their evil ways. And they carried on their work with the belief that the Lord was with them (Ps. 73:23–26; 139:7–12). But the false prophets calmed the people with false messages of security, which did not come “out of the mouth of the Lord” (Jer. 14:13). And they acted as if the Lord was far and uncaring (Ps. 10:11; 73:11; 94:7).
As a result of the neglect of giving God’s messages, the false prophets caused the Israelites to be overcome and taken captive to Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, etc. If only the priests gave the right message, the Lord would have led His flock to green pastures (Ps. 23; 79:13; 100:3; John 10:11–15). “He would have ruled them with “judgment and justice” (Is. 9:6, 7; Dan. 7:13, 14; Rev. 11:15). He would have allowed His shepherds to lead them following the example of the “chief Shepherd” (1 Pet. 5:2–4). Therefore, God’s judgements will destroy the false religious leaders and consume as chaff the words of the false prophets (Jer. 5:14; 20:9; Ps. 39:3; 1 Corin. 3:12, 13).
Though final judgement will fall upon the “false prophets,” there was hope for “the remnant” of the flock. The prophet gave messages of hope to Judah at the very time when the besieging soldiers of Babylon were surrounding Jerusalem, probably at the time Jehoiachin in 597 b.c. (Jer. 23: 1). And thus, the promise of restoration to those who were obedient to God was given to all the people, both the house of Judah and the house of Israel (Jer. 3:18).
In His service,