Jeremiah 23

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Editor's Note

Beginning on Palm Sunday we are going to pause our journey through Jeremiah and read through selected New Testament readings that correspond what was happening during the life of Jesus in the days leading up to his arrest, torture, crucifixion, and resurrection. We will pick Jeremiah back up on the day after Easter!

Follow along with us next week as we read about the week that transformed the course of human history! 

Read Jeremiah 23

The Righteous Branch

23 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture,where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherdsover them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
    and do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
    and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.

“So then, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

Lying Prophets

Concerning the prophets:

My heart is broken within me;
    all my bones tremble.
I am like a drunken man,
    like a strong man overcome by wine,
because of the Lord
    and his holy words.
10 The land is full of adulterers;
    because of the curse the land lies parched
    and the pastures in the wilderness are withered.
The prophets follow an evil course
    and use their power unjustly.

11 “Both prophet and priest are godless;
    even in my temple I find their wickedness,”
declares the Lord.
12 “Therefore their path will become slippery;
    they will be banished to darkness
    and there they will fall.
I will bring disaster on them
    in the year they are punished,”
declares the Lord.

13 “Among the prophets of Samaria
    I saw this repulsive thing:
They prophesied by Baal
    and led my people Israel astray.
14 And among the prophets of Jerusalem
    I have seen something horrible:
    They commit adultery and live a lie.
They strengthen the hands of evildoers,
    so that not one of them turns from their wickedness.
They are all like Sodom to me;
    the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah.”

15 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says concerning the prophets:

“I will make them eat bitter food
    and drink poisoned water,
because from the prophets of Jerusalem
    ungodliness has spread throughout the land.”

16 This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
    they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
    not from the mouth of the Lord.
17 They keep saying to those who despise me,
    ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’
And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts
    they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’
18 But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord
    to see or to hear his word?
    Who has listened and heard his word?
19 See, the storm of the Lord
    will burst out in wrath,
a whirlwind swirling down
    on the heads of the wicked.
20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back
    until he fully accomplishes
    the purposes of his heart.
In days to come
    you will understand it clearly.
21 I did not send these prophets,
    yet they have run with their message;
I did not speak to them,
    yet they have prophesied.
22 But if they had stood in my council,
    they would have proclaimed my words to my people
and would have turned them from their evil ways
    and from their evil deeds.

23 “Am I only a God nearby,”
declares the Lord,
    “and not a God far away?
24 Who can hide in secret places
    so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
    “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord.

25 “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ 26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? 27 They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their ancestors forgot my name through Baal worship. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. 29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

30 “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31 Yes,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lorddeclares.’ 32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.

False Prophecy

33 “When these people, or a prophet or a priest, ask you, ‘What is the message from the Lord?’ say to them, ‘What message? I will forsake you, declares the Lord.’ 34 If a prophet or a priest or anyone else claims, ‘This is a message from the Lord,’ I will punish them and their household. 35 This is what each of you keeps saying to your friends and other Israelites: ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 36 But you must not mention ‘a message from the Lord’ again, because each one’s word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God. 37 This is what you keep saying to a prophet: ‘What is the Lord’s answer to you?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 38 Although you claim, ‘This is a message from the Lord,’ this is what the Lord says: You used the words, ‘This is a message from the Lord,’ even though I told you that you must not claim, ‘This is a message from the Lord.’ 39 Therefore, I will surely forget you and cast you out of my presence along with the city I gave to you and your ancestors. 40 I will bring on you everlasting disgrace—everlasting shame that will not be forgotten.”

Go Deeper

The previous chapter in Jeremiah addressed God’s judgment against sinful kings. This was an indictment on Israel’s leadership starting with Jehoahaz, to Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin. Rather than tending for their people like good shepherds, the kings of Judah were neglecting and harming them. During this time, the word shepherd was a metaphor for a king. This chapter points to a future king who would reign as a good shepherd over the people. This chapter is full of Messianic prophecies, which are promises pointing to Jesus, and gives hope for the future in the midst of coming judgment.

The end of Jeremiah 22 states that none of Jehoiachin’s (Coniah’s) sons would rule as kings. The Lord, however, still kept His promise not to cut off the Davidic line. This was stated in the Davidic Covenant when the Lord ensured David a house, or a lasting dynasty through which the Messiah will come, an eternal kingdom to come through His lineage, and a throne to which will have ultimate authority (2 Samuel 7.) A righteous King will one day come and reign. It says, “The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior” (v. 5-6).

The term “branch” is used multiple times in the Old Testament, in a genealogical context to refer to the future Messiah. The “branch of the Lord” is shown in four different ways in Scripture. It is used to describe a king, a servant, a man, and God. In this chapter of Jeremiah, the “branch” is depicted as a king. The Branch of the Lord in this passage and others in the Old Testament is referring to Jesus. Just as the “Branch” is described in various ways, Jesus is shown in different ways in the gospels. In the gospel of Matthew, we see Jesus as the King, in Mark He is portrayed as a suffering servant, He is shown as the perfect man in Luke, and the Savior of the world in John.

Not only will the Lord send a righteous king, but He will regather Israel. It says, “So then, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land” (v. 7-8). This promise is eschatological, meaning it will be fulfilled in the Millenium when Jesus returns.

God is faithful to fulfill His promises. Hundreds of years later, He would send the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He would reign wisely and be our righteous Savior. We can praise God today that He is our shepherd, our righteous King, and His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives.


  1. What is something that stands out to you in this chapter?
  2. Where do you see a shadow of Christ in Jeremiah 23?
  3. How has Jesus been a “good shepherd” to you?

Keep Digging

Interested in learning more about “the Branch of the Lord”? Click here to read this article from

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3 thoughts on “Jeremiah 23”

  1. Tucked in the middle of all the harsh judgments Jeremiah decrees for rebellious Israel is the hope of the world, the coming Messiah. (Did anyone just breathe a sigh of relief?) One of complete perfection, righteous in every way would reign not only over Israel but the entire world. The scattered flock would be gathered and accounted for with not one missing. All who have been separated and segregated would be brought near to experience safety and fruitfulness all because of the righteous Branch who will rule with wisdom and justice. For the Israelites this meant coming home from exile. On a personal level, I’ve experienced forgiveness of my sins and have felt the wonder of landing safely in the arms of my Savior after my chosen exile of wandering in a forbidden wilderness. Have you?

  2. Leaders. We are all called to be apprentices or disciples of Jesus. To follow His way and to make more apprentices. So thus we are leaders as such. If you are married there is leadership If you have children, there is leadership. If you have a job even if you are not “leadership” you are leadership in the way you conduct yourself. Because you are a child of God we have fruit ie leadership in our lives, John 15:5, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” God has called us to lead in such a time as this. Are you letting your fruit hang off the branch of your life?

    God I thank You for my part in these days of these minutes. I pray for the fruit in my life to be a joy for You. Guide me in the leadership You have given me. Thank You for loving on people and see them through Your love goggles. Help my words be Your words in these minutes of this day in Jesus name amen.
    WOOHOO!!!!! HE IS RISEN!!!!!!

  3. 40 “I will bring on you everlasting disgrace—everlasting shame that will not be forgotten.”

    Wow! That’s a “mic drop” ending to the chapter!

    Jeremiah, I think I need to take a break from you . . . will see you again after Holy Week!

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