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Lowell Brueckner

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Shepherds Lead a Flock Astray



Chapter 23, Part I

  A King of Righteousness is coming

1.      "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!" says the LORD. 

2.      Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: "You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings," says the LORD. 

       3.      "But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 

4.      I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking," says the LORD. 

 5.      "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 

 6.      In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 

 7.      "Therefore, behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that they shall no longer say, 'As the LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,' 

 8.      but, 'As the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.' And they shall dwell in their own land." 

The Lord has always seen Israel as a flock of sheep in need of care and those, who are charged with their wellbeing, are called shepherds. We have the same terminology in the New Testament and they are also called elders and overseers (which is the meaning of bishops) in the church and Peter, himself an elder, urges them to fulfill their office: “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 lord over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 P.5:2-3). 

 In verse 4, Peter terms Christ the Chief Shepherd. He is the good Shepherd with a heart for the flock. As He went through the towns and cities, ministering to multitudes, “He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Mt.9:36).

 God naturally pronounced woe upon the four kings that we studied in chapters 21 and 22, Shallum, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah. Some were scattered through the practice of idolatry and others were taken to Egypt and destroyed. The chapter begins by exposing these, who took advantage of their positions to gain power over the citizens. The people were not the possession of any earthly king, but belonged to God. They did not attend to the good of the flock, therefore God would  attend (the same word as before) to them with retribution for their evil leadership (2). Because they neglected to attend to the good of the flock, God would attend to them with repercussions

 Many were destroyed and expatriated to Babylon, and in 70 A.D., the flock, for which Christ grieved, experienced an even more dismal fate, being scattered to the ends of the earth by an invading Roman army. There they remained for almost 19 centuries, but God is addressing the latter in the following verses. He gathered those who remained of His flock out of every continent, in the old world and the new. They were drawn back to the land of Palestine, before the turn of the 20th Century until the end of World War II. It was under English control at the time, and returned, by them, to Israel for a homeland (3). The Lord favored them with wise, compassionate rulers at that time and they formed a sovereign nation for the first time since the days of Ezekiel. It obtained a wonderfully prosperous economy, the land survived several attacks, and today stands strong, protected by the “Iron dome”, which electronically wards off missiles from hostile neighbors, an effective intelligence system, and a well-trained army.

 Still in the future, the Lord will raise up a Branch of righteousness from the royal line of King David… a Son of David. He will reign prosperously as King, not only in Israel, but from Israel will execute judgment and righteousness in the earth… that is, over the entire earth (5). This is a prophecy of the second coming of the Messiah, who came first in spiritual power to save and transform the hearts of the Jew first, but also of the Gentiles. He will return to reign physically over the world from Jerusalem.

 A mighty revival will occur, in which Judah and all Israel will be saved and live in peace. The apostle Paul informed us that, in his day, there was a Jewish remnant saved, “according to the election of grace”, and he looked ahead to a time in which, “all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Ro.11:5,26, according to many prophecies, including Isaiah 59:20, 45:17). To the Jew and the Gentile, He will be the source of our righteousness (6, 1 Co.1:30).

 The Israelite commonly referred to the marvelous salvation from Egyptian slavery and recounted the story throughout the Old Testament and in the New (7). A greater deliverance would take place in the future, it has taken place and is still taking place, in which the people will swear by Him, who drew the house of Israel from the north country first, Babylon and Persia. However, the Jews were scattered throughout the entire earth and from all the countries where I had driven them. And they shall dwell in their own land. It is being fulfilled, as I write (8).  


Retribution upon lying prophets

 9.      My heart within me is broken Because of the prophets; 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. 

 10.  For the land is full of adulterers; For because of a curse the land mourns. The pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up. Their course of life is evil, And their might is not right. 

 11.  "For both prophet and priest are profane; Yes, in My house I have found their wickedness," says the LORD. 

 12.  "Therefore their way shall be to them Like slippery ways; In the darkness they shall be driven on And fall in them; For I will bring disaster on them, The year of their punishment," says the LORD. 

 13.  "And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: They prophesied by Baal And caused My people Israel to err. 

 14.  Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; They also strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah. 

 15.  "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: 'Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, And make them drink the water of gall; For from the prophets of Jerusalem Profaneness has gone out into all the land.

 16.  Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the LORD. 

 17.  They continually say to those who despise Me, 'The LORD has said, "You shall have peace" '; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, 'No evil shall come upon you.' " 

 18.  For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, And has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? 

 19.  Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD has gone forth in fury—A violent whirlwind! It will fall violently on the head of the wicked. 

 20.  The anger of the LORD will not turn back Until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly. 

 See that the effect of lying prophecy even causes physical shaking and stumbling, as though Jeremiah were drunk with wine. The oppressive disturbance that Jeremiah feels within him comes from the false prophets’ corruption of the holy words of the Lord. They are words of the highest value, far purer and above the greatest literature of men. They carry an awesome authority and bless and favor His people with the greatest good. (9).

 Wicked lands lie around Israel, exuding hatred and taking every opportunity to harm and defeat them. They are not the ones, who sadden the heart of Jeremiah. He reflects the grief found in the Lord’s heart, because of the danger from within, which is a spiritual danger that threatens the soul. There is an unfaithfulness among the people, which brings a curse upon their land, It stems from those who claim Jewish blood and divine calling, but they deceive and bring the people down to lower levels than that, where physical persecution can cast them. Promoting evil is the motivating force of false prophets and they use all the might that they can muster to advance their agenda (10).

 The servant of the Lord must stand in His holy presence and receive instruction from a higher realm. The prophets and priests of Israel are worldly and profane. They pervert the sanctuary that God established on earth among His people, the one place that should reflect heaven’s glory (11).    

 The people become unfaithful and bring a curse upon nature. Every pleasant place turns into a dry desert. The Lord brings repercussions upon evil doings, described in verse 12 as slippery, dark places in the pathway of the false prophets and priests, which cause their disastrous fall. God executes His judgment with precise timing, when He deems best (12).   

 The perversions began in the northern kingdom’s capital of Samaria, where Baal worship dominated and deceived God’s people. He calls it foolishness or folly (13). By the time Jeremiah became prophet, a more horrible desecration took place in Jerusalem. Here the Lord gives a fiercer description; it is spiritual adultery, lies, promotion of evildoers, living in wickedness, provoking the Lord, as did Sodom and Gomorrah (14).

 Repercussions will come; the curse will fall. Two poisonous plants are used to illustrate the divine sentences that God will issue, because they have deceived and poisoned the soul of the people… wormwood and gall (15).

The Lord gives a warning and instruction to those, who will listen. The instruction is to turn a deaf ear to false prophecy. The warning is that the false prophecy will erase their usefulness, as His servants. The vision of the prophets comes from their own hearts, inventions of men, and does not proceed from the Father of lights (16).  Those who will listen to them, are not under divine lordship. They despise the Lord and do not search for His truth, but a word that will comfort their carnality. It is a message of false peace and proclaims no consequences for sin and a self-governing lifestyle. The message is just as popular in our times, when people walk according to their  own opinions, which is another way to describe the dictates of his own heart. They want to hear words that conform to their ways, and that principle will lead them into idolatry. With this mindset, they will form a god, who accepts them as they are… a false god (17).

 Like the spiritual atmosphere of Jeremiah’s Jerusalem, we walk and breathe in a similar environment today, so that we must ask the questions offered in verse 18: Who is the man of God, who has heard from heaven?  Who “pricks up his ears” (the meaning of marked) and gives full attention, when the Lord speaks? We could add, “Who seeks and loves, above all, the truth, puts his own opinions aside, and clings to God’s word?”

 The Lord counters false peace with a furious, violent whirlwind, which will swoop up and carry away the wicked (19). It will happen again in the last days as Jesus said, when one woman grinding at the mill, a man standing in the field, as well as one sleeping in his bed, will be taken away (Lk.17:34/37). The Lord will move in anger until He has fully finished the just performance of His righteousness (20). Jesus sternly warned the one, to whom God will come as an adversary: “I tell you, you shall not depart from there till you have paid the very last mite” (Lk.12:59). Be sure that you have made your peace with Him, before that day comes.













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