Devotional Commentary on Jeremiah 23


From bad elders in chapter 20 and bad kings in chapter 22 we now follow the Lord through Jeremiah to bad pastors. It is bad when people are bad but when the Anointed of the Lord goes sour, it is tragic. “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flocks of My pasture” (verse 1).


God has a word to these shepherds or pastors of the flock: “You have scattered My flocks”; “you have driven them away”; You have not taken care of them. The evil of their deeds will be upon them (verse 2).


Special is the situation of the scattered flock: “[Emphasized “I”], I will gather them; I will restore them; “they shall be fruitful and multiply” (verse 3). This may be a reference to the Latter Rain gathering since this is the great harvest of the Lord like there never was. The reason this is the eschaton event and not in Jeremiah’s life or later, is the words “no longer” [`od welo] appears in verse 4. “I will set up shepherds over them; and they shall pasture them; and they shall no longer fear nor shall they be dismayed; nor shall any of them be missing.” This paragraph was referring to the Latter Rain period which is almost in our nearest future. We almost touch it already if not already. The next verse is not in the eschaton but back in Jeremiah’s time.


A promise of Christ’s coming is made saying “days are coming [in 4 BCE when Christ was born] when I will set up of David a righteous shoot”. This is the Messiah long expected. “And He shall reign a King [of grace at 31 CE and King of Glory at His Second Coming] and prosper”. He “shall perform judgment [since 1844 in the anti-typical function of High Priest and advocate mediating atonement for saints]”. After the Hell event extinguishing evil and creating a new earth and heaven again “[He shall perform] righteousness on the [new] earth” (verse 5).

“In His days” [the days of the King of Glory who created a new earth and heaven] “Judah shall be saved and [spiritual] Israel shall dwell safe, and this is His name that He shall be called: The Lord is our righteousness” (verse 6).


“Behold days are coming…” [at the Second Coming] “when they shall no longer say: ‘As the Lord lives’ Who brought people out of Egypt (verse 7) but Who brought people out from exile (verse 8). They shall “dwell on their [promised eternal] land”.


Because of the prophets Jeremiah was shaken and in agony and almost fainted, because of the Lord and because of His holy words (verse 9). That is what happen if people study the Word of God deeply like Jeremiah did. Not every pastor is Christlike, not every prophet expounder kosher on interpretation. They use culture and own-time assignment to interpret the prophets and sidestep God’s serious messages.


The land is full of adulterers and false oaths and punishment was mourning, dried out dwellings in the wilderness. Their eagerness was not for God but evil and their power was not right (verse 10). The seriousness of the Asherah and Baal cult cultural accommodation and recognition jurisprudence was at play here. A jurisprudence of absolute equality of evil with good, of Yahwish with Asherah religions are at stake here. People were forced not to discriminate or decide between either but to accommodate both.


The result had an effect on the prophet and priest in the land (verse 11). The Lord said that in the Temple He found their problems. They loved to write graffiti on the Temple walls and other walls like at Kuntillet `Ajrud in the Negev and also at Khirbet el-Kom near that hill and Deir `Alla in Transjordan (verse 12).


What does God do with people that do not follow His way? “Their way shall be for them like slippery places in the dark” and they will fall and “I will bring evil upon them” “in the year of their visitation”. This is a definite time like the Hell event after the millennium. When Christ comes we know it is 1000 years to this date. Very specific (verse 12).


In Samaria Baal prophets prophesied to the people about Baal and misled the people (verse 13). “Spiritual” Israel was misled.


In Jerusalem the prophets committed adultery and going with falseness and encouraged evildoers so that none return from evil. All of them were LGBTQH or as Sodom and her inhabitants as Gemorrah (verse 14).


Punishment? They will eat wormwood and poisonous water to drink for falseness came from the prophets of Jerusalem and from the whole land (verse 15). Let me give some examples from archaeology exactly proving what God is complaining about here: about the building at Kuntillet `Ajrud (Naͻaman 2011: 317). If our hypothesis is correct, the buildings primary purpose was to serve as a storage space for the holy trappings of worship of Asherat, for the gifts brought to her by her believers, and to accommodate the cultic personnel. About the textiles there: (Naͻaman 2011: 317-318.) This and other examples would account for the unusual abundance of textiles found at the site, which were possibly sold to believers to hang upon the sacred tree (Naͻaman/Lissovsky, 2008, 198–199; also Ackerman, 2008).Describing the situation between 591-588 when his wife died (Ezechiel 24:1) he said in 16:16-19: And of your garments you took, and decked your high places with divers colors, and played the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. You have also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made to yourself images of men, and did commit whoredom with them, And took your broidered garments, and covered them: and you have set mine oil and mine incense before them. My meat also which I gave you, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed you, you have even set it before them for a sweet savor: and thus it was, said the Lord God Inscriptions:  (Kajr3.1 = Pithos/storage jar A) Said his A[she]r[ta]: W[al]k. Said to Yahēl[yō], and to Yōācśā, and to [...]. I have blessed you to YHWH of Samaria and to his [3rd person listed supras statue] Asherah. Another inscription there: Kajr3.6 = Pithos/storage jar B) “Message of ͻAmaryō: Say to my lord. Are you well? I have blessed you to YHWH of Teman and his Asherah. May He bless you and may He keep you, and may He be with the lord of your house”. Still another inscription: (Kajr3.9 = Pithos B [3]) “May he [functionary] bless you to Yahweh of Teman and to his [functionarys] Asherah. All that he asked from a man, favored one of the father and quiver. Also to him Yahweh will give according to his heart.All these were found in the Negev and dated to between 630-597 BCE.


Is Jeremiah making things up? Is Yahweh speaking the truth? Yahweh will not give according to their evil hearts accommodating Asherah with ecumenism jurisprudence focus on equality of religions. If the country has this trend, the faithful believer should not have it but separate from these narratives.  


“They say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has spoken, you shall have peace’ and to everyone who follows the view of his heart they say: ‘no evil shall befall you’” (verse 17). This is exactly what is stated here in the last inscription above. There is an example of the same words appearing on a Letter from Lachish (586 BCE) discovered at the gate but a later closer look may suffice.


Who is entitled to speak for the Lord? “He who hearken to His word and listened” (verse 18). This is the test of a prophet. The Word of God gives counsel for the future. The Lord is a Revealer of future events.


A message for us who are closer to the End of Time is provided here in verse 20:

“The Lord’s anger shall not return until He executes it and until He fulfills the plans of His heart. At the end of days you shall consider it perfectly.” The premium of study of the Word of God is to be higher near the End of Time.  


God did not send the prophet yet they run and He did not give the message yet they speak (verse 21). If they stood in God’s council properly, they would have let the people hear the words and bring them back from the evil deeds and evil ways (verse 22). Is God a Deistic God Who is absent after Creation like a clock which is wounded up to run by itself or near almost like Pantheism where the gods are in everything? (verse 23). Can anyone hide from the Lord like Adam and Eve? (verse 24). God fills the heavens and the earth and the Holy Spirit is everywhere (verse 24). God does not say believe now in pantheism that God is in everything. Pantheism originated when Indians and others discovered the spirals of nature in the 6th century and later in the 12th century Fibonacci in his “book of calculations” or Liber Abaci displayed the uniformity in nature that have the exact same spiral in sunflowers, pine cones, the petals of flowering plants, and the list just goes on even in modern times weather patterns. This fact caused the Hindus to be pantheists since humanly such is impossible unless god is inside nature. But that is not what God says to Jeremiah here.


The prophets are falsely saying that they have dreamed (verse 25). Their first problem is that they are self-deceived “prophets of the deceit of their hearts” (verse 26). The meaning of this is that they think/plan/purpose/contemplate the remnant to forget His name with dreams that they tell one another similar to their forefathers who through Baal forgot the name of the Lord (verse 27).

Like Ellen G. White and her dreams the Lord is in favor that if a prophet has a dream “let him/her tell a dream and who has My Word, let him tell My Word as truth” (verse 28). To the Scripture is the test of the true prophet. Jeremiah cannot speak things contrary to what earlier prophets predicted by the Word of God [what Moses said, what Isaiah said, what David in Psalms said] otherwise they are false and a fake. That is the test of a prophet. It must not conflict with the Bible. What if the prophet says some things not in her own time but in the distant future like dairy products and meat will be contaminated with pesticides not good for human consumption, like eggs? Then you have to wait for that time to come to see if the prophet was true in the prediction.


The Lord asked what the difference is between straw and wheat? (verse 29). The Word of God is like fire and like a hammer that shatters rocks [of ignorance and prejudice and hang-ups and rebellion]. Even the rebellion against anti-Women Ordination stances of the Word of God found by the General Conference the third time in a row.


The second problem with the prophets is, the prophets steal their words from one another “those who steal My words from one another” (verse 30). Blatant plagiarism claimed to be their own word from the Lord when it was just a stealing of thoughts from earlier prophets and patched up as their own. If the prophet is false, in the long run the theology will catch the person out since falsehood is unable to keep speaking truth. That is why falsehood is falsehood. It speaks truth with patches of falsehood and is very dogmatic about it overriding truth eventually. An evangelist in 1997 was scheduled to finish his last sermon of his series in a church when an important senior pastor visited and the elders swop the sermons and he could not preach. Now, this year in 2017, the pastor who was kicked out took the other pastor to court saying: “you stole my pulpit”. Friction is still going on about it. What do we do with accusations that Ellen White copied Farrar and other Books to write Desire of Ages (1898) without citation? Some phraseology seemed very similar written in a style of a pietistic preacher and yet academically very detailed. This led M. L. Andreasen to spent 90 days with her watching her if she is a fake (his testimony on YOUTUBE). Shortly after Frederick Farrar wrote in 1874 and Alfred Edersheim wrote in 1883, her book appeared. Farrar and Edersheim are thin in pastoral messages. Ellen White brings pastoral messages and harmonization as a key point. She does not work with a polarizing agenda for the Word of God. Plagiarism? A few paragraphs seem to use similar jargon but that the paragraph was exactly the same is doubtful. One can find it for a line or two but then the writing is off again. Let us look at an example: In comparing John 8:1-11 with Ellen White in 1898 in Desire of Ages page 405 with Frederick Farrar (1874): 71 footnote 1 and 62; also with Alfred Edersheim in 1883 Volume II Book iv chapter 7; there is a phrase in Ellen White’s Desire of Ages in 1898 that is not in Farrar nor in Edersheim. This is how I wrote to prof. dr. Craig Evans, the famous non-SDA emeritus professor in New Testament that was my wife’s external examiner at Andrews for her Phd.

It reads: “There, traced before them, were the guilty secrets of their own lives”.

I could not find this in the biblical text of John 8, nor in Farrar nor in Edersheim. Where did this Victorian period writer got this idea from? I asked dr. Evans.

She could not read Greek, but, listen to this, I found it listed in Metzger’s Greek edition of the New Testament on page 414 in a Greek manuscript in Greek. If I translated it, it reads “ground, each and everyone of their sins”. It was in Codex Nanianus in the Marciana Library in Venice dating from the 10th century CE (Metzger’s U). Take note: it is in Greek, in a 12th century Codex in the British Museum also in a manuscript in the archives called (Metzger’s 700) which is also in Greek. These two manuscripts.

I am wondering: Ellen White could not read Greek so, did the Holy Spirit direct her to an understanding of a language that she was not familiar with, from a manuscript that are thousands of miles from her own location, locked up in a building inaccessible to the ordinary public dating centuries before her own? [16 November 2007 Koot van Wyk to Craig Evans].

I remember reading hemerological cuneiform texts and comparing them. Hemero means day and it was “daily predictions for a period of 360 days in advance to the ruler” of what will happen to him, what he should not eat, or go to, or avoid, to stay alive or not get sick. One of them dated to the time of Nazimarrutash the Kassite king famous during the entry into Canaan. It is in the Istanbul Museum and is almost 99% complete with 30 days every month and one year 360 years. This was divine time predictions by fortunetellers (false prophets) to the king. Then I compared similar hemerological texts from the time of Jeremiah, I the court of neo-Babylon, the days of Nebuchadnezzar with these earlier texts. They guy plagiarized and copied the earlier predictions and here and there added or changed the outcome slightly. One can see it in the errors of copying he did! The king did not know he got prophecy “warmed-up all over” as Ma Moses, the cook (Alabama, USA) from the Jerusalem Center used to say.  


The third problem with the prophets is that they prophecy false dreams “against those who prophecy with false dreams” (verse 32). They said the Lord told them but He did not. If they say the burden of the Lord told me then Jeremiah should ask them what burden and give them the message that the Lord will forsake them (verse 33). Jesus said: “not everyone who says to Me Lord, Lord will enter into heaven.” These will suffer retribution upon that household (verse 34).


The Lord did not want them to say “the burden of the Lord”. They should just ask: “What did the Lord say” (verse 35).


The burden was supposed to be for people like Jeremiah and other true prophets “shall be to the man of His word” (verse 36). Word people will receive from the Lord burdens but others not. These prophets pervert the Word of God, the Word of the Lord of Hosts.


Punishment? “Here I am” and the Great I am is going to exile them, forsake them and the city (verse 39). When the Lord bring final punishment at the Hell event with the extermination of all evil: “I will place upon you everlasting shame and everlasting embarrassment that shall not be forgotten” (verse 40).


Dear God

We all say Lord, but help us to be not forsaken in the End-Time as people You do not know. Accept us in Your Kingdom come. In Jesus name, Amen.