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Jeremiah—The Message and Messenger—Chapter 23

For Jeremiah commentaries chapters 1-17 please link here:

For chapters 18-22 please link here:

Empty Prisons  © Val  J. Lee

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” Declares the LORD!

Strong statement … Yes, but God desires pastors and teachers explain only the truth, never deceiving His people by leading them into pastures of falsehoods. God’s sheep are to be guided into complete accuracy, no tickling of ears, no compromise, and never-changing God’s Word by adding or subtracting, nor redefining.

We note muscular-similar statements recorded in Revelation as well when Christ attacks five churches for not completely staying on task. Tough judgments arise due to contemporary variations and laxness.

Much was uncovered when Christ exposed negligence concerning chastity as well.

When the church does not keep completely on task with the godly separated Word, the believers are scattered as they receive mixed messages.  Discerning believers know the church is contrary to what they read in Scripture in most cases. They see little of what a fellowship is to be all about. There is minute exhortation on learning the Word inductively, though the church truly should resemble an old-fashioned Bible College where everyone is equipped thoroughly for service and in the knowledge of the Holy Word of God. The New Testament addresses believers who were all knowledgeable in Old Testament teachings and Christ’s—being extremely grounded in the Word of Truth.

Simply analyze Acts chapter 7, Stephen’s defense, and note how well he knew his Bible. He could fire Old Testament Scriptures like a fully automatic rifle. And the Word is sharper than any two-edged sword and it does wound those who disobey it.

The church was never intended to be a place of fun and games—there is no exhortation for this. Its responsibility always lay in equipping the saints so they would resemble Stephen and the wholly devoted apostles.  We are commanded to imitate Paul the apostle as he imitated Christ.

If the shepherds were fulfilling their duties, there would be no time for fun and games, just serious equipping for ministry and carrying out the ministry—preaching the Word, evangelism, ministry to the hurting and needy, prayer, etc. The exercising of gifts arises through thorough Biblical equipping.

1 Peter 5:1-4—“The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”

Verse 2 goes on to reveal more of God’s divulging words. The LORD God will rightly deal with the shepherds for scattering His sheep. He is going to attend to the shepherds for the evil of their deeds. These shepherds were not attending to the sheep. They were not discipling the believers in the truths of the Word.

Today, when sincere, desirous believers are not grounded by truth and example, some depart the church. When some notice little difference between the world and the church, they vacate.

The diligent believers who attend church to be spiritually challenged become disillusioned when all they witness is entertainment and socials, outside of the Sunday message. Often times, these Christians never find a fellowship that meets their needs. They learn quickly, it is all about money and how to draw the crowds for increased offerings. Many churches implement elaborate staging, ticket-free, eye and ear-grabbing entertainment, though donations are welcomed. All this to keep the crowds coming to the circuses with a tiny bit of a false Jesus thrown in. Numbers and fame are the main part of the churchy game we witness.

A mother expressed disappointment to me in this true regard. She could not believe it when she learned her teenager went to a Moxie Java coffee house for a time of nothingness fun, instead of attending a youth group filled with pure Bible teaching.

We witness much leniency in society when it comes to moral uprightness and this philosophy now permeates the church. When sin is present in the church, most people choose not to say a word. It is like they walk around with their pointer finger placed upward over the lips. Pastors or shepherds can even make people feel they have gossip on their mind if they desire to expose sin in the church through leadership discipline. Shepherds do not want to deal with the sin in people’s lives nor their own, so if anyone goes to the pastor with a concern, they are made out to be a troublemaker. Jeremiah would be considered a troublemaker in any church today because he shot straight arrows of sin’s presence. And due to this, it is most difficult to locate a fellowship where anyone even dares to teach Jeremiah as I have stated previously.

If believers in the church are living in sin, divorcing, not dressing modestly, flirting, engaging in dishonest business dealings, lying and using others, robbing believers through lawsuits, selling in the church, etc; then the leadership should be confronted with the church’s lack of discipline and correction.

In our area recently, it was exposed that Idaho’s most famed and respected pastor has been living in sin for 14 or more years, having a liaison with a married woman. And only God knows if there were other women as well.

I have a friend who confronted him with his adulterous sins years ago and he simply made fun of her from the pulpit. She saw him in the act when at church one weekday. Many knew and simply did not care, and others in leadership also played around and engaged in satanic sexual behaviors with liaisons. Praise God, our pastor confronted one of these men and he repented.

The adulterous pastor eventually resigned from the pastorate. Though, the reason offered was “He wanted to devote more time to missions and start a second phase of life.” This was a coverup, fleeing excuse. He was in unconfessed lewd sin. Fortunately, God says, make sure your sins will find you out. Almost a year later, his lies, adultery and deceptions were announced. The pastor never, himself, came forward before the church to confess his sin. And other leadership allowed him to lie to the people. It appears some people are still shielding his sin, sweeping it under a pew. Those who attend his former church believe he is now living in Mexico.

Christ addressed many sins in the church in Revelation and believers have a right to address them in proper Biblical ways. Going to leadership is the example.

Open-doored churches lead to open morals since general society has plummeted to the depths of degradation.  2 John commands don’t let anyone in the door who does not hold to the teaching of Christ. Churches are filled with people who do not maintain Biblical exhortations and many of them are in teaching positions.

As we see in Jeremiah, many outside influences had invaded Judah where God wanted all the influences of the world’s culture eliminated and kept far from His holy people. That is why they were to destroy all the surrounding pagan nations when they entered the Holy Land.

Verse 3 pushes us into the time tunnel of future promises and events. God is saying there is hope, being omniscient (all-knowing), He knows His people will be gathered from all the countries from whence He scattered them. A remnant will be saved and a remnant will return. The book of Esther reveals the Jews were in 127 provinces. We know, wise men came from the east to see the Christ child. These more eastern countries obviously had copies of the Scriptures, perhaps left by the Jews during the captivity.  God used the captivity to bring Gentiles unto Himself.  Some Jews stayed in foreign lands as not all chose to return to the Holy Land of Israel.

Intermarriage, unfortunately, became a part of the exile exodus which kept some Jews in foreign territory. We read at the time of Pentecost, Acts 1:5, many Jews came from every foreign land, knowing foreign languages.

When the Jews did return to Israel from Media-Persia—the ruling world kingdom which usurped Babylon, the Jews became fruitful and multiplied; they were no longer a remnant of Jews. Verse 3 assures the Jews would again multiply and no longer be a minuscule remnant.

I believe verse 3 can also refer to the future kingdom as the Jews will be drawn back to Israel and form a large nation under Christ during His millennial rule. As I have stated before, Jews are still returning to the nation from foreign lands and this could be a sign of pending end times of tribulation trials that will once again remove the Jews from their land— Revelation chapters 11 and 12 disclose this. Remember, Israel became a nation again in 1948 when the Jews desired to reside in their own territory experiencing devastation by World War II persecution and even post-WWII persecution.

Verse 4 draws us into the millennial period with great hope and encouragement.  We know this verse refers to Christ’s reign as there will be none missing.  Every Jew will return to his country.  We also recognize this by the fact true shepherds will arise. Godly teachers will lead the people into righteousness. The land of Israel has always possessed false teachers and apostate religious leaders. The Jewry has never been completely free from bogus doctrine.

We read in this verse as well, they will no longer be terrified or afraid. The Hebrews have consistently been subject to oppression, being God’s chosen and an enemy of satan. In this day, Jews still reside in fear in Israel, being surrounded by enemies who would love to crush them. Jews can be seen carrying arms wherever they tread, including children. There is coming a day when they will live in perfect peace, under perfect teaching, and perfect unity as a nation under Christ.

Today Israel does all it can to please satan’s world, wanting to be societally coveted. Jews cannot understand why Israel is not loved since it is a welcoming and hospitable nation of all cultures and all sinful activities. They do not seem to grasp they are hated because they are still God’s chosen nation and they will never find the acceptance they desire till Christ returns to rule in Jerusalem. Satan will seek Israel’s destruction until the day he is cast into the lake of fire. And all Jews who reject their Messiah will be cast into the lake of fire one day.

There is no way one can say verse 5 is not a reference to the Millennial Kingdom. This is a verse directly addressing the Hebrews arriving, reigning Messiah. At the time of Jeremiah, they could only imagine their Messiah’s presence dwelling with them. Today, the orthodox Jews still only imagine a Messiah as they refuse Jesus Christ who was altogether righteous when He walked the streets of Israel.

I have covered how Christ is from the line of David as Matthew chapter 1 details. He is truly our only “righteous Branch!” And this explained in verse 5. He is coming as a sovereign King in a forthcoming era in dominance over the earth. We long for this exalting day.

Though these kings, we have studied, did not reign in righteousness and justice, we see hope offered by God through Christ Jesus.

Completeness and ultimate fulfillment are continued into verse 6.  What hope is contained in this verse, knowing all in Judah will be saved!  None will perish in fiery hell and condemned to outer darkness at this time. Jesus Christ is the only light, our only “Branch,” which can save us from flaming darkness.

There is coming a day when there will be no need for Gospel evangelism for all will be saved. We affirm from other passages that this treks beyond “Judah;” people from around the globe will come to worship the one true God. We see again from this verse, the assurance of security and righteousness. And no one will be allowed to live a sinful lifestyle nor will they desire to.

How reassuring for all believers to know. This ensures there will be no need for prisons since there will be no more bad guys. All will “dwell in safety,” and no vile person will be present on the earth. This holiness will be present in Israel and all the universe. What a blessed relief!

My husband was an administrative lieutenant at a penal institution and this thought brought reassuring pleasure amid the wickedness which surrounded him.

Verses 7 and 8 are statements of a future prophecy—the Jews will forget their deliverance from Egypt under Moses; instead, dwelling on their deliverance from the barbaric Babylonians.

These verses reinforce their reentrance into Israel,  referencing them being led back “from the northland.”  What a hope this was to those who read Jeremiah’s words when in captivity in the north and northeast Babylonia; that they would someday “return to their own soil.”

Remember, nobody heeded Jeremiah’s words at this time; though, as Israel came to her senses, this book was completely received and accepted as truth. All that Jeremiah foretold came to be. They received the fact he was an unfeigned, inspired prophet.

We have read Jeremiah’s own words of woe as he viewed his life and ministry being worthless. But this book has been a blessing to countless numbers since its penning.

In verse 9, we depart from narrative to Hebrew poetry, being witnessed often throughout this book. Jeremiah speaks his heart in this verse. We read of a broken man, a despised man, a persecuted man.  And yes, he hates the people’s sin as God does. Jeremiah is overcome with God’s holy words, procuring him as a drunken man. He hates their adultery, not staying with one mate till death—not holding to the marriage covenant of fidelity.

When one forsakes their spouse for life, “The land mourns because of this curse.”  America mourns due to “No Fault Divorce” which was legalized in the late 1960s and early 70s in the states. Formerly, one could only acquire a divorce for infidelity. Things have changed rapidly. It unlatched “Pandora’s Box” with cohabitation increasing by 80 percent since this legalization. It unfastened the clasp for the unspeakable. When no holes are barred, licentiousness reigns. Even some believers think “No Fault Divorce” is a good thing. Many Christians have seized advantage of it, leaving mates and children graveling in its dust.

We know the Hollywood mentality is bent on sensual agendas of loose living and its promotion through politics as well. Progressives are caught up in all forms of debauchery and they are recruiters. Progressive Hollywood elites want to promote and capture people through the silver screen and aligning publications. They employ star-publicity to promote all immodesty to seduce almost every age into the sensual … Teens today and others dress like prostitutes with short skirts, short shorts, low tops and low pants, and tight clothing. Lust is on most everyone’s agenda, not pure thoughts of chastity; inwardly holding no desire to view others as brothers and sisters in all purity.

When divorce and unfaithfulness hit the land of Judah, it paid the consequences—the pastures of the wilderness dried up; verse 10. God brought drought on the land which led to famine and disease, having been studied in previous chapters.

In verses 11-12 we witness God’s anger with the false prophets, shepherds or teachers, once again, as they didn’t preach against cheating and divorce. They relish in it too.

It’s hard for spiritual leaders to speak against that which they engage in. With 63% of pastors into porn and other vile sexual activities, morals are in a larger degenerated state in our day. Also, a huge amount of so-called Christian women are into porn. Is it any wonder few sermons are preached against immodesty, sensuality, fornication and adultery?

Of course, pastors just have to sit in front of the boob-tube to fantasize, where there are plenty of immodestly dressed whores. They are as close to nudity as you can get in many cases. Sexual acts are part of entertainment so church elders can justify it all before others as simply keeping up on contemporary agendas.

I must add, no one who is involved in porn or other impure behaviors can be in Christian service. A man in God’s service must be pure and so must any woman who is involved in children’s ministries. Christians cannot associate with sexually immoral fellow believers. The unrepentant must be cast out of the church; 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6.

Many years ago, a retired pastor referenced a man who spoke before an assembled people in ancient times. He yelled “freedom” and everyone cheered. Then he yelled “purity” and they drove him out-of-town.

Yes, things are bad and we can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend evil doesn’t exist in our churches. Yes, there are godly pastors who will shut their eyes when evil appears to stop temptation, but they seem to be getting harder and harder to locate. We need to be those who speak persistently against all forms of indecency even if shepherds do not.

A Jeremiah and a John the Prophet/Baptizer we all must be. And we must intercede for purity for fellow believers knowing we are all weak apart from Christ.

Verse 11 testifies to the fact, all Judah’s prophets and priests were polluted, aside from Jeremiah. In other words, all compromised in various areas. Unfortunately today, believers like to state, “Well, everyone compromises.”  That was true in Jeremiah’s day too, but one did not. May we always attempt to locate the one who does not!

We see punishment is on the horizon as verse 12 proclaims. Disobedience manufactures discipline. When we act upon what is right in our own eyes, we bring “calamity” upon ourselves.

We arrive at a history lesson in verse 13. We are ejected back in time to the northern kingdom of Israel, thus viewing their matching sins which led them to exile 136 years previous. They followed false gods as well and prophesied by them.

Verse 14 addresses adultery again knowing preaching against sin brings conviction and repentance. It is a grave concern seen throughout this book. And it is no wonder, God references Sodom and Gomorrah. Let’s take a test. What results when people approve of divorce and remarriage? Yes, you scored 50 points! Promiscuous sex rises on the scene. You have people cohabiting outside of wedlock. And people can choose to have a different partner every day. And if a woman gets pregnant, she has to perform a DNA test to secure who the father is. These kits are available at pharmacies and elsewhere.

What is the next step in depravity? Of course, Homosexuality. Another 50 points awarded! You receive an “A.”

We know it is true, we have witnessed it in our own nation and sin always pursues the same path. GOD SAYS “Marriage is to be held in HONOR among all, and the marriage bed undefiled for fornicators and adulterers He will judge;” Hebrews 13:4.

Judgment upon those who brought and allowed the sin to penetrate the walls of The City of David is on the horizon as we read in verse 15. God is sending judgment like poison. “Wormwood” is a poisonous herb that incites vomiting and convulsions and this will be akin to God’s judgement.

Pollution has been set forth and no one is stopping the large, black cloud of adultery and all else addressed in this book. It has consumed the land and no revival is on the horizon. No serious revival is on the horizon in American churches as well.

When evil hits a certain height, there is no turning back. Since liberal agendas hit America, there has never been a place of turning back. Since the church turned contemporary, it has never turned back to being separated from the world. “Ungodliness” has certainly penetrated throughout our land, as in Judah.

Here in verse 16, we see pastors or shepherds speaking their own doctrine and what they believe. They do not hold to Scripture verse by verse; instead, wanting their own interpretations heard, which are false. Of course, this is today’s church too. Countless pastors are teaching their own theology and it boldly contradicts the Bible. They can get away with it, knowing too many do not study their Bibles and want to be spoon fed rather than be Bereans who check all things in a scholarly way with Scripture.

What is most disheartening are the pastors who poke fun of Bereans—Christians who desire to learn truth! And today it is often the Bereans who are cast out of churches, not defiant sinners. They are too much of a threat to the false pastors and teachers. And if a church has a blog, they do not want the Bereans posting comments of truth and exposure.

Pastors must speak Jehovah’s words, not men’s. Teachings have to be completely in line with the whole council of God.

Verse 17 accompanies this ungodliness, there being no fear of God and the sinners believe they will get away with it. Few believers suffer the immediate consequences of sin, therefore they think they have slid by.  But not so, the awakening day will come and their world will cave in, just as it did in Jeremiah’s day.

Verses 18-25 reaffirm no one succeeds in defaming the Word of God. God sees all. No one forecasting false prophecies will succeed. His comeuppance will arrive. God fills the heaven and the earth and nothing passes His notice.

We note from verse 26, those who lie about God’s Word know exactly what they are doing and no excuse can be assembled for them. It is all about them and not about God. We cannot look at these famed false pastors in our day and say, oh, they are simply misguided poor things. No! It is the plot of their heart to put their teachings above God’s.

Idols are addressed in verse 27. We observe elders and teachers today walking in the ways of idols, uplifting idolatrous Catholicism, and the satanic mysticism or new spirituality which accompanies this and other religions, such as Hinduism with its 33 million gods, which is a huge part of Yoga. Yoga is welcomed into fellowships and church conferences today. And those who question are the old-fashioned fuddy-duddies who need a foot kick out the door.

False doctrine is vanity and simply straw. Where the Word of God is preached without trendy compromise is the actual wheat or food of God as verse 28 reveals.

Verse 29 exposes why popular preachers want to preach falsely. It is because God’s Word is “like fire.” No teacher or preacher wants to make people feel like they are on the hot seat for their sin. Their populous will greatly decrease and so will the monies placed in the offering plate. The rich pastors today are not preaching hell fire and brimstone for the unrepentant ones.

God continues to explain His Words are like a “hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.” Now, who preaches this today? Is it not interesting how even the unsaved will reprove trendy preachers for their all happy messages when they are at times interviewed? The unsaved even note the fact they call themselves Bible-preaching pastors but deviate from unpopular themes that offend tickling ears. It has been the unsaved secular media which has uncovered multi-millionaire pastors who rob the poor, feigning to be in need, this through their investigations. One religious charlatan owns 13 mansions, a 50 million dollar private jet and a 100,000 mobile home for the dogs.

God makes it clear, He is “against” all pastors who teach lies. And this includes false prophesies which run amuck today in charismatic and pentecostal circles. As I have stated in times previous, in the Old Testament if a person made one false move in their prophecy, it landed them under a pile of rocks.

God is going to bring judgment on all the Jewry because they listen and yield to the false interpretations and added doctrines which lead to their own condemnation. They will be cast away from the presence of God Jehovah for saying this is what God says when God spoke no such thing.

I have heard pastors make up things from their own silly minds and thoughts as if they were speaking for God and recently, one of these men, most respected among local church attendees, was brought down to the lowest pit of disrespect.

The following verses can cause us to think we are in a pentecostal and charismatic fellowship, as you have those who want to speak prophesies and those who want to hear. It is like a wild game. They do not care about truth. They desire to believe God is still speaking to them even while in deep stages of sin.

Of course, many run to prophecy for a following. Men making up things to declare so people will come to them as if they are God. We see this running amok through pastors and writers. It is for vanity sake, not truth. It is not to uplift God Almighty and His holy ways.

If a person is not teaching God’s inerrant, holy and immutable Bible, he is in trouble. If he is saying God says this and it cannot be confirmed in Scripture, God’s chastising judgment is upon him.

We must not grant ear to anyone who misuses God’s teachings to make people feel good when they are walking the road of sin. This is sin and God is not a god of confusion.

Verse 32: “Behold, I am against them that prophesy lying dreams, saith Jehovah, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their vain boasting: yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; neither do they profit this people at all, says Jehovah.”

I heard the testimony of a Muslim who supposedly came to Christ. He told of his wild dream or vision that brought him to Christ, supposedly that is, in a video account. It was totally unbiblical and it is my opinion, he simply wanted to get attention so everyone would go, “Wow.” Of course, I will add, many Muslims are sincerely coming to Christ and this is a blessing to all believers. Of course, the LORD is always saving people throughout the world of every race and creed.

Knowing of the countless deceptions thriving today, is it any wonder why strict qualifications for pastors are placed under the New Testament covenant of Christ’s blood? These musts are provided in the books of Timothy and Titus and elsewhere.

Verse 36 warns us, God’s words can never be perverted. No one is allowed to invent an oracle or prophecy of God.

Verse 36: “And the oracle of Jehovah shall you mention no more: for every man`s own word shall be his prophecy; for you have perverted the words of the living God, of Jehovah of hosts our God.”

And here are the consequences of adding or subtracting from the Word of God for these Jews:

Jeremiah verse 39 and 40: “Therefore, behold, I will utterly forget you, and I will cast you off, and the city that I gave unto you and to your fathers, away from my presence and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.”

God never plays games and He never acts according to the selfish and prideful ways of any man and it is by His holy standards men are judged.

So let every one of us heed these warnings to maintain close fellowship with our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

To learn of God’s personal love for you and everyone, please check here:


May 3, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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