Why Me?

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord. Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 23:1-4 (ESV) The shepherds spoken of here are those in charge of teaching Isra’el Yah’s Way. By teaching the people things contrary to Yah’s will, causes the flock to scatter because they have been taught falsehood, lies. Yah promises that the sheep will be gathered again from the lands were they have been driven because of their sin. He will also raise up shepherds over them that will instruct them in the truth and that discouragement will no longer be their possession.

“Look, days are coming,” declares Yahweh, “when I will raise up for David a righteous branch, and he will reign as king, and he will achieve success, and he will do justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell in safety, and this is his name by which he will be called: ‘Yahweh is our righteousness.’ “Therefore look, days are coming,” declares Yahweh, “when they will no longer say, ‘As Yahweh lives, who led up the Israelites from the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As Yahweh lives, who led up, and who brought the offspring of the house of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where he had driven them.’ Then they will live in their land.” Yirmeyahu 23:5-8 (LEB) Restoration is promised through a branch from David who will be a righteous ruler and will see the salvation of Y’hudah and Isra’el once again dwelling in safety. The major promise contained in these four verses is that the journey that the forefathers took part in as they left Egypt will be surpassed in magnitude by the next Exodus. And this travel will comprise the scattered of Isra’el which occurred through the conquerors from the north, especially Assyria. Part of the exile will be Y’hudah taken by Babylon who will return to the land 70 years later. This captivity begins during the lifetime of Yirmeyahu.

My heart within me is broken concerning the prophets; all my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man overcome by wine, because of YAHWEH, and because of the Words of His holiness. For the land is full of adulterers. For the land mourns because of a curse. The pastures of the wilderness are dried up. And their course is evil, and their might is not right. For both prophet and priest are wicked; yea, I have found their evil in My house, says YAHWEH. So their way shall be to them as slippery places in the darkness; they shall be driven out and fall by it. For I will bring evil on them, the year of their judgment, says YAHWEH.
Yirmeyahu 23:9-12 (HRB)
The prophets are the source of the lament in this section, as they are the cause of the wandering of Yah’s people. Cohens/Priests are the other factor involved in isra’el’s backsliding. Adultery is not just sexual immoral activity, but idolatry in general which causes the people to bow to another authority. Therefore Yah declares that he brings evil upon them as their punishment. There wickedness is compared to a drunken man who staggers and slips as the spirit that guides him is corrupt, which causes them to stumble.

“I have seen inappropriate conduct in the prophets of Shomron — they prophesied by Ba‘al and led my people Isra’el astray. But in the prophets of Yerushalayim I have seen a horrible thing — they commit adultery, live in lies, so encouraging evildoers that none returns from his sin. For me they have all become like S’dom, its inhabitants like ‘Amora.” Therefore, this is what Adonai-Tzva’ot says concerning the prophets: “I will feed them bitter wormwood and make them drink poisonous water, for ungodliness has spread through all the land from the prophets of Yerushalayim.” Adonai-Tzva’ot says: “Don’t listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are making you act foolishly, telling you visions from their own minds and not from the mouth of Adonai. Yirmeyahu 23:13-16 (CJB) Obviously the prophet is going back in time to address Yah’s rebuke and Northern Kingdom which occurred about about 150 years prior to the time he is speaking here. This once again proves that Elohim was not finished with the work he is doing still, on behalf of all 12 tribes. If the 10 tribes were forever forsaken, then all the prophets were being told something that would be a waste of time, if Yah did not mean what he said. Prophesying by baal actually means to tell the people there is a different form of government that they can adhere to, what a prophet says is what laws need to be obeyed. Yerushalayim likewise had to deal with false prophets and the people were told by Yah not to listen to these deceivers. As listening to the false prophets only brought destruction and woe.

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.’ 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? See, the storm of the Lord will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked. 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. Yirmeyahu 23:17-20 (NIV) Contempt for Yah and His Way perverts the hearts of those stubborn to hear that they will have peace and no evil will overtake them. El even asks disingenuously if any have heard his counsel or listen to his Word and obeyed it, as the question is insincere as He knows the answer is no. A warning of a coming storm alludes to the kingdom’s who come from the north and deliver judgment on Yah’s behalf against Isra’el. Punishment, unfortunately, will not be understood until the latter days when it is made perfectly clear to those who wish to see the truth.

“I did not send these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, then they would have let My people hear My Words, and they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds. Am I an Elohim close by,” declares יהוה, “and not an Elohim afar off? If anyone is hidden in secret places, would I not see him?” declares יהוה. “Do I not fill the heavens and earth?” declares יהוה.”
Yirmeyahu 23:21-24 (ISR98) I did not send them is the warning given here by Yah to the people, informing them that those who claim to speak in his name are liars. They make up dreams and other deceptions to mislead Isra’el into following a broad path. Proclaiming that they speak for the king and the kingdom, of these individuals, tell the people that they’re doing nothing wrong; don’t worry about it, everything will be all right. If these individuals actually represented Elohim and spoke the truth the people would have listened and heeded their words and turned away from evil. As Yah informs us; He is close by, not far away.

“I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal. Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain!” Yirmeyahu 23:25-28 (NLT) A prophet is only a conduit for whatever authority they represent, thereby the messages they deliver should be examined and compared to the kingdom message already known by the citizens. False prophets essentially are politicians, deceiving those they wish to influence by using flattery and any other man that will hold the ear of the public. Whatever method will achieve the goal of a false prophet is what will be used to achieve the agenda they have in mind. Yah tells us that the Northern Kingdom had forgotten his name and had substituted baal instead. In Yirma’yahu’s time this was also occurring in Y’hudah and continues in both houses to this day. How much sense does it make if we were to say literally blessed is he who comes in the name of the name? Or any other name anyone wishes to put in its place.

“Is not my word even like a fire, saith the Lord? and like an hammer, that breaketh the stone? Therefore behold, I will come against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my word every one from his neighbor. Behold, I will come against the prophets, saith the Lord, which have sweet tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I will come against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their flatteries, and I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they bring no profit unto this people, saith the Lord.” Yirmeyahu 23:29-32 (GNV) His Word is like a fire, it consumes what needs to be burned. Like a hammer that breaks stone, He will come down against the prophets who declare lies in His name hijacking His Word from the people. Their smooth tongues whisper sweet nothings in the ears of those who are deceived. There is no profit to those who have bought into the message which misleads them.

“So when these people or the prophet or the priest ask you, saying, ‘What is the oracle of the Lord?’ you shall then say to them, ‘What oracle?’ I will even forsake you,” says the Lord. “And as for the prophet and the priest and the people who say, ‘The oracle of the Lord!’ I will even punish that man and his house. Thus every one of you shall say to his neighbor, and every one to his brother, ‘What has the Lord answered?’ and, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ And the oracle of the Lord you shall mention no more. For every man’s word will be his oracle, for you have perverted the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God. Yirmeyahu 23:33-36 (NKJV) Message? What message are you talking about? They will no longer speak to you the lies and deceit which have been their profession. No longer will they declare to speak the words of Yah. How nice that will be when this finally is the way things are. Remembering no more each their own message as they’ve changed the words of the living Elohim so that the people no longer trust Yah.

“But you should no longer remember ‘the burden of Adonai’—for to each one, his own word is becoming ‘the burden’! So you have perverted the words of the living God, of Adonai-Tzva’ot our God. So you are to say to such a prophet, ‘What has Adonai answered you?’ and ‘What has Adonai spoken?’ But if you say, ‘The burden of Adonai,’” then surely Adonai says, “because you keep saying this word: ‘The burden of Adonai,’ when I sent this word to you, you are not to say ‘The burden of Adonai’— therefore, I will surely forget you when I will cast you off, along with the city that I gave to you and to your fathers, away from My presence. Then I will bring everlasting disgrace on you and everlasting shame that will not be forgotten.” Yirmeyahu 23:37-40 (TLV) “Stop declaring My message is a burden” is the warning from Yah to the false prophets. How devastating this final section of the 23rd chapter is concerning the deceivers and those who believe them, as their fate is not described as something pleasant. This terminology is the same as when Moshe instructed Isra’el in the wilderness as certain actions by the people would be cause for cutting them off … also referred to as being put outside the camp. Yah declares being separated from the commonwealth of Isra’el is a punishment with the goal that the ones put out would change their ways and be able to return.

In summary Yirmeyahu, who is not only a Prophet but also Cohen, is delivering a rebuke from Elohim concerning those individuals of whom he holds the same status. Yirmeyahu also, like Moshe, is not gung-ho to deliver the message he has been charged with. Understandably charging someone else with the serious offence of being a false prophet would not be something anyone would desire to carry out. In the Torah any one who leads Isra’el astray by telling them they can pursue another way was to be put to death if found guilty. As human beings we do not prefer such a fate for anyone as our compassion sometimes interferes with justice, as we do not always understand how devastating deception can be. How many times in history has something that probably seems so trivial at the time, been seen by later generations as something so devastating and destructive? Actions not taken many times compound the results that were thought to be so minor by the perpetrators of those acts and those who could have prevented them from occurring. Not one of us hopes to ever be put in this position but hopefully if we must make a very difficult choice we will have the strength and trust in Yah to do so.

Shalom Aleichem!

With the help of the Ruach HaKodesh, written by Rabbi Danny Palmer

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