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Jeremiah 23:1 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! says Yahweh- Jeremiah was himself a priest, and this prophecy is particularly against them, his own people and family. No wonder it was they who wished to destroy him. Time and again the Lord Jesus reapplies the language of the restoration from Babylon to what He is doing to all men and women who heed His call to come out from the world and follow Him. The ideas of bringing His sheep, "other sheep of mine", who will hear His voice and form one flock under one shepherd (Jn. 10:16)- all these are rooted in the restoration prophecies (Ez. 34; Ez. 37:21-28; Jer. 23:1-8; Jer. 31:1-10).

Jeremiah 23:2 Therefore thus says Yahweh the God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people-
They did feed the people; the issue is therefore that they fed them wrongly, with false prophecies. It was the duty of the priests to teach the people, as represented by the figure of feeding.

You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold, I will visit on you the evil of your doings, says Yahweh- They had not "visited them" with true Divine comfort, they had not manifested / revealed God to them, and so God would manifest / reveal Himself in judgment upon them.

Jeremiah 23:3 I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries-
The exile of Judah into the nations comprising the Babylonian empire was considered as certain to happen, even though there was the possibility of repentance. This would be orchestrated by the Angels- the Angel of Israel is likened to a shepherd in Ps. 80:1; Is. 63:9-11 etc.

Where I have driven them- Both God and the pastors of Israel are described as having ‘driven out’ Israel from their land (Jer. 23:2,3,8); the pastors’ sin resulted in all the people sinning and deserving judgment, and God worked with this system, confirming His people in the evil way they had taken. There is no doubt that we can be counted responsible for making another brother sin, even though he too bears responsibility for that sin. A personally ‘righteous’ believer may well be excluded from the Kingdom for the effect he has had on others.

And will bring them again to their folds- The "them" is defined in :6 as both Judah and the ten tribes. It was potentially possible, and was the Divine intention, that both groups would return from captivity at the same time and come to "their folds", perhaps an intensive plural for the one great fold, in Jerusalem. The same word is translated "holy habitation" with reference to Zion (Ex. 15:3; 2 Sam. 15:25; Is. 27:10; 33:20; Jer. 31:23).

And they shall be fruitful and multiply- They would then experience the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, and would be part of a new creation, fulfilling the command to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. They would enter a new covenant based upon the promises to Abraham, seeing they had broken the old covenant which was based upon the Mosaic law.

Jeremiah 23:4 I will set up shepherds over them who shall feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be lacking, says Yahweh-
"I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them"- rulers who would  genuinely care for Israel like the master shepherd, the Angel, did (see on :3). Jeremiah was frequently moved to lament the false shepherds of Israel, which is understandable if the Angel shepherd of Israel inspired Jeremiah. He would have been deeply hurt at his flock being left to ruin by those to whom He had delegated His shepherding role (cp. how in Is. 63:9-11 both the Angel and Moses appear to be the shepherd that led Israel). But this potential didn't happen, and so the prophecy was reapplied to the great shepherd, the Lord Jesus.

The great restoration prophecies of Jer. 23:1-8 and Ez. 34:1-31 speak of the flock of Israel going astray due to bad shepherds, being saved by the good shepherd, being delivered / gathered, and then returning to the land. The Hebrew word shub means both 'to return' in the sense of returning to the land, and 'turning' in the sense of repentance. But these restoration prophecies are packed with allusion to the great shepherd Psalm 23. Here, David says that the good shepherd 'causes me to repent' (Ps. 23:3 Heb.). This is matched in Ez. 36 by the idea of God giving Israel a new heart. And the Lord's amazing parable of the good shepherd (Lk. 15:1-7) brings together Ps. 23 and also these restoration passages, in speaking of how He goes out and finds the lost sheep and brings it back home. The sheep is found, and accepts being found- there is no actual mention of repentance. Thus the 'return' of Judah to their land was intended as a work of God- He would make them return, He would give them repentance [note how Acts 11:18 speaks of God granting men repentance]. This is all such wonderful grace.

Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come says Yahweh, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land-
In contrast to the king at the time of Jeremiah who did not act like this but the opposite (Jer. 22:16,17). I suggested on Jer. 22:24 that the king in view was potentially Zerubbabel, "the branch of God from Babylon". Zech. 6:12 interprets this as a reference to Zerubbabel: "the man whose name is the branch... shall  build  the  temple of the  Lord". Zerubbabel being a king-priest was in the kingly line, and thus can correctly be called a king in the line of David (Mt. 1:12; Lk. 3:7; 'Sheshbazzar' of Ezra 1:8 is the Babylonian equivalent of 'Zerubbabel'; Ezra 3:8 describes his brothers as "priests and Levites"). Great prince Nehemiah humbly entered Jerusalem incognito on an ass (Neh. 2:11-15)- it is a wild speculation that Zerubbabel did the same, and thus provided a primary basis for Zech. 9:9 "Thy king cometh unto thee (also unrecognized, in the case of Jesus entering spiritually ruined Jerusalem)... lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass".

The majestic prophecy of Jer. 23:5-7 had prophesied that when Israel returned from Babylon, “the branch” would rise and save them “and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth”, i.e. establish the Messianic Kingdom (cp. Ps. 72:2; Is. 9:7). But Zerubbabel, the “branch-from-Babylon”, lead the people back from Babylon, half heartedly built a temple- which faithful men wept at, when they saw how feeble it was compared to that which should have been (Ezra 3:12). And then he beat it back to Babylon. Nelson’s Bible Dictionary comments: “For some mysterious reason, Zerubbabel is not mentioned in connection with the Temple dedication. Neither is he mentioned after this time”. The reason seems to be that he returned to Babylon. R.K. Harrison in the Zondervan Encyclopedia mentions that “a 6th century AD Jewish chronicle preserved the tradition that Zerubbabel returned to Babylonia after 515 BC and succeeded his father Shealtiel as the prince of the exiled remnant there”. He chose to be a prince in Babylon’s Kingdom, the kingdoms of men, rather than in the Kingdom of God. And so many have followed his decision in the centuries since, thus frustrating what could have been for them and many others within their influence. Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 11.3) records that “Zorobabel, who had been made governor of the Jews that had been in captivity, came to Darius from Jerusalem, for there had been an old friendship between him and the king”. He was friendly with the King of Babylon, and chose to follow where this lead rather than friendship with the Almighty. Compare this with how the ‘friendliness’ of a boss or worldly friend has lead so many into promotions or situations where they simply cannot do the work which God intended for them. See on Jer. 30:21.

Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name by which he shall be called: Yahweh our righteousness-
Jer. 33:16; 23:6 etc. outline God's intention that after the restoration, the rebuilt Zion would be named "The Lord our righteous one" because Jerusalem would be the habitation of the righteous one (Jer. 31:23; 50:7). This is similar language to the restoration prophecies of Isaiah- the surrounding Gentile world would see / perceive / believe in "the righteous one" who would reign in the rebuilt Zion (Is. 62:2). The idea of imputed righteousness developed by Paul in Rom. 1-8 is here foreseen. Israel had sinned grievously, and were largely impenitent. The only way they could be right with God was through the imputed righteousness of a "branch" of David (:5) who was completely righteous.

Jeremiah 23:7 Therefore behold, the days come says Yahweh, that they shall no more say, As Yahweh lives, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt-
The form of swearing in covenant relationship was to be changed. The same verses occur in Jer. 16:14,15 in the context of Judah being offered a new covenant, seeing they had broken the old covenant. That new covenant was to be made when the exiles left Babylon and the various nations within her empire where they had been scattered. But this didn't work out; because Judah refused it.

Jeremiah 23:8 but, As Yahweh lives, who brought up and who led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries where I had driven them. They shall dwell in their own land-
The new covenant was to be made once they left Babylon and the subject nations, just as the old covenant was made once they had left Egypt. There was intended to be some even more dramatic and powerful source of exodus in leaving Babylon than there had been in leaving Egypt. But in reality. nothing like the parting of the Red Sea or the plagues upon Egypt happened. The decree of Cyrus was clearly overruled by God, but other prophecies make it clear that the exodus of the exile was to be associated with the fall of Babylon. Indeed they were to flee Babylon so that they didn't share in her fall. And it was this dramatic action which was to convert the remnants of the Babylonian empire to Israel's God. But this didn't happen; instead this prophetic theme has been reapplied and rescheduled to the events of the last days.

Jeremiah 23:9 Concerning the prophets. My heart within me is broken, all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine has overcome, because of Yahweh, and because of His holy words-
Faced with the wonderful potential future of :1-8, Jeremiah felt utterly overcome by the reality of the fact that the false prophets were teaching quite otherwise and were being eagerly believed, with resultant immoral behaviour (:10). We see here his sensitivity to the tragedy of the future and spiritual possibilities which God's people were missing. The "holy words" in view are the promise of imputed holiness or righteousness. We too should be deeply affected by the spurning of God's grace by His people.

Jeremiah 23:10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourns; the pastures of the wilderness are dried up-
See on :9. The widespread adultery and swearing to other gods was a result of the false prophets of :9, who were eagerly believed rather than the amazing grace of Yahweh offered in :1-8. And already the drought of Jer. 14 had come. The book of Jeremiah isn't chronological.

 Their way is evil, and their might is not right- Human power is fiercely criticized by the prophets. “One of the most striking and one of the most pervasive features of the prophetic polemic is the denunciation and distrust of power in all its forms and guises”. “Not by might, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6; Mic. 7:16).

Jeremiah 23:11 for both prophet and priest are profane; yes, in My house have I found their wickedness, says Yahweh-
Yahweh still referred to the temple as "My house", and according to Ezekiel the shekinah glory was there until the very end. Prophet and priest were related in that it was the duty of the priests to teach God's word, but they were instead teaching the word of the false prophets.

Jeremiah 23:12 Therefore their way shall be to them as slippery places in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein; for I will bring evil on them, even the year of their visitation, says Yahweh-
This describes the downward spiral, an evil spirit from the Lord, which is the counterpart to the work of the holy Spirit from Him. God deceived prophets to speak things in His Name which were actually false (1 Kings 22:20-22; Ez. 14:9). He chose Israel's delusions by making their idols answer them (Is. 66:3,4). God laid a stumbling block before the righteous man who turned to sin (Ez. 3:20), driving him along "slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them" (Jer. 23:12). Jeremiah feared God had deceived him (Jer. 20:7)- showing he knew such a thing was possible.

Jeremiah 23:13 I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied by Baal, and caused My people Israel to err-
Samaria was already in captivity because of their false prophets. But they are paralleled with the false prophets of Judah (:14). Judah was persuaded that they were spiritually superior to the ten tribes because the temple was with them, and there were therefore inviolate. But this was not the case, and we noted on :6 that it was God's intention that Israel and Judah were to be united by the experience of repentance and acceptance of His grace.

Jeremiah 23:14 In the prophets of Jerusalem also I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies; and they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that none does return from his wickedness: they are all of them become to Me as Sodom, and its inhabitants as Gomorrah-
See on :13. The widespread adultery amongst the people of :10 was therefore directly related to their being taught to do this by the Jerusalem prophets, who likewise were adulterers. This adultery was not so much a case of having affairs with neighbours as of sleeping with local women at the idol shrines. Repentance / returning from wickedness was so critical at this stage, and yet the spiritual leadership were encouraging impenitence.

Jeremiah 23:15 Therefore thus says Yahweh of Armies concerning the prophets: Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall-
Maybe the Lord realized as He had the cup of gall on His lips that they were giving this to Him in the spirit of Jer. 23:15: to show that He was a false prophet. In this case, for the sake of His respect for the implications of Holy Scripture, He endured a far higher degree of pain. This judgment was taken by Him on the cross, who was there "the servant of Yahweh", which Israel had been intended to be. Wormwood and gall were what would be the result of false teachers encouraging the people to commit idolatry (Dt. 29:18). So they had fed themselves with these things, and their judgment to drink them was therefore God's confirmation of people in what they themselves had chosen. And that is how all His judgments operate. God’s judgment is likened to drinking wormwood. But homeopathy has discovered that wormwood is a cure for some forms of breast cancer and malaria- on the homeopathic principle that the actual trace elements of the illness can be the elements of the cure. God knew this of course when He describes His condemnation of men as a drinking of wormwood. There is something healing and therapeutic about judgment, even if it doesn’t save the individual judged.

For from the prophets of Jerusalem is ungodliness gone forth into all the land- As noted on :10,14, the immoral teaching and example of the false prophets had spread into all the land because the priests chose to teach their false word to the people rather than God's true word which Jeremiah was preaching.

Jeremiah 23:16 Thus says Yahweh of Armies, Don’t listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you: they teach you vanity; they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of Yahweh-
This of course sounded like Jeremiah asking people to believe him and not the other prophets. Indeed that was the requirement made by "Yahweh of Armies", the God whose Angelic armies were controlling the armies of the Babylonians. The word of God is contrasted to words which come from our own heart. Man's natural imagination is not to be the source of truth, but rather it is God's word which is to be our authority. This is a warning required today, when human imagination and vision has been elevated to Divine proportions.

Jeremiah 23:17 They say continually to those who despise Me, Yahweh has said, You shall have peace-
Those who despised Jeremiah were his own priestly relatives (Jer. 11:21,23). Those priests taught the word of the false prophets, who obviously hated Jeremiah. "Despise" is usually translated "provoke". Jeremiah was really hurt and provoked by the opposition of his family; and in that again he manifested Yahweh, who was likewise provoked by Israel (s.w. Dt. 31:20; 32:19).

And to each one who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart they say, No evil shall come on you- The choice was between walking after God's word, or walking after their own hearts. This is where God's word is not like any other literature. It is to take a grip upon the human heart and to inculcate a way of thought which is contrary to our own natural heart or thinking. This points up the danger of using the Bible simply to reinforce our own natural ideas, whilst disregarding the rest. "Stubbornness" also can mean "imagination". Dt. 29:19 speaks directly of Judah at this time- when they heard the words of the curses for disobedience, they would think they would still have peace because they walked in the imaginations [s.w. "stubbornness"] of their own hearts. The false prophets were preaching exactly such "peace" (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). The heart [mind] is a fountain of imagination, of fantasy, and it is this which can be redirected by the influence of God's word and Spirit upon the human heart. But the sense of "stubbornness" in the Hebrew word for "imagination" shows that by exercising our own imaginations without the influence of God's word, we become set in those ways of thought, until they come to define us.

Jeremiah 23:18 For who has stood in the council of Yahweh, that he should perceive and hear His word? Who has noted My word, and heard it?-
It was Jeremiah and not the false prophets who had done this. The first half of the verse is Jeremiah's thoughts; the second half is Yahweh speaking in response, confirming Jeremiah's thoughts. The true prophets stood in the presence of God, and partook in His “council” (see on :22), i.e. His inner circle of trusted friends (Jer. 15:19; 23:18), of which we see a glimpse in the vision of the court of Heaven in 1 Kings 22:20-22. God’s doctrines are described as a secret, a mystery; the Hebrew word used in this connection means ‘A confidential plan revealed to intimate friends’; and yet they are revealed to the true believers (Am. 3:7,8; Jer. 23:18,22 AV mg.; Ps. 25:14; Eph. 3:3-6). Therefore the congregation of true believers is called “the secret assembly of the saints” (Ps. 89:7 Heb.). There are many Bibles around, but God’s doctrines are to some extent a secret, and not understood by many of those who possess and read the Bible. It therefore follows that the Bible must be written in such a way as to conceal Truth from the majority of readers,  because they don’t wish to enter God’s secret.

Jeremiah 23:19 Behold, the storm of Yahweh, His wrath, has gone forth. Yes, a whirling storm. It shall burst on the head of the wicked-
This is the same idea as the cherubim storm being used by Ezekiel to represent how the armies of Babylon had already "gone forth" and were about to burst over the wicked in Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 23:20 The anger of Yahweh shall not return, until He has executed, and until He has performed the intents of His heart: in the latter days you shall understand it perfectly-
There is a gap between God's statements and their execution, and in that gap there can be human repentance which means that the initial intentions or statements of God do not come about. But there had been no take up of that opportunity, and so the intents of God's heart concerning judgment were to come true. In repentance, "in the latter days", this would be completely, clearly understood.

Jeremiah 23:21 I sent not these prophets, yet they ran: I didn’t speak to them, yet they prophesied-
'Running' is an idiom for receiving God's word (see on Hab. 2:2). If we receive God's word we are to run with it, to distribute it to others; that is axiomatic to truly receiving it. The false prophets 'ran' with their word, but it was their word and not Yahweh's.

Jeremiah 23:22 But if they had stood in My council, then had they caused My people to hear My words, and had turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings-
See on :18. To truly receive God's word means to turn from evil. The word creates a response in those whom it impacts. But if people are caused to hear a false word, then they will not repent. Here in Jer. 23:18,22 we find prophets standing in the “council of the Lord” (RV) to receive His word; and yet this sounds very much like Angels standing in the court of Heaven to receive God’s word of command. Likewise note the parallel between an Angel sitting under an oak and a prophetess sitting under an oak (Jud. 4:5 RVmg.; 6:11). “The God of the spirits [Angels] of the prophets sent his Angel” to the prophet John (Rev. 22:6 RV); implying that as God had sent His Angel-Spirits to inspire the prophets, so now He did to John. Ps. 147:15,18 speak of the sending out of God’s word to melt snow and send rain; this must surely refer to the Angels being sent out from the court of Heaven to do these things. The way the “watcher and holy one” came down from Heaven is paralleled with the word of Divine command likewise coming down from Heaven (Dan. 4:23,31). The universe is not just ticking away on clockwork; the Angels are actively being sent out from Heaven to perform what may appear the most mundane and repetitious of things. Thus God sends out His Angels; He sends out His word; and He also sent out His prophets (Haggai- Hag. 1:12; Ezekiel- Ez. 3:5,6). God rose up and sent out His prophets (2 Kings 17:13; Jer. 7:25 and many others). He is described as doing this because those prophets likewise identified with the word and became part of their own message. See on Is. 9:7; Ez. 10:5.

Jeremiah 23:23 Am I a God at hand, says Yahweh, and not a God afar off?-
This is a rhetorical question. The words for "near" (NEV "at hand") and "far" are as in Jer. 12:2 "You are near in their mouth, and far from their heart". This can be translated as them saying "You are near" with their mouths, when in fact they were far from God in their heart. This statement "You are near" was based on the much loved Dt. 4:7, which states that no God has Israel so "near" them (s.w.). Indeed Yahweh was near them- but they had to come near to Him in their hearts. He was "near" in that His word was to be near in their hearts and not far off from their hearts (Dt. 30:11,14 s.w.), but they were refusing His word through Jeremiah. The nearness of God is therefore potential, for man in response must also draw near unto Him (Ez. 42:13; 43:19 s.w.). But the grace of God was such that He would save them even from "far off" (Jer. 30:10 s.w.). Even from that situation, God's grace could work on their hearts. They were taken "far [off]" to captivity because they had Him far from their hearts.

Jeremiah 23:24 Can any hide himself in secret places so that I shall not see him? says Yahweh. Don’t I fill heaven and earth? says Yahweh-
This appears to be a quotation from or allusion to the words of the false prophets; or perhaps these words were never said, but they were the implied subconscious position of the people.  We would all claim to believe that God sees and knows all things, and yet our behaviour and thinking at times implies we think there are "secret places" hidden from His view. Edom had the same mentality (Jer. 49:10). God had specifically warned them that their ways were not "hid" from His eyes (Jer. 16:17 s.w.). And yet Israel thought they could hide from Him (Jer. 23:24 s.w.).

Jeremiah 23:25 I have heard what the prophets have said, who prophesy lies in My name saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed-
"I have heard..." is the equivalent of God saying that they could not hide their ways from Him (:24). He heard every word they said, as He does to this day. And judgment is according to our words.

Jeremiah 23:26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, even the prophets of the deceit of their own heart?-
Again, the heart is the essential issue. We would likely have simply focused upon the fact that these people were liars, falsely claiming things convenient for them, in the name of God. But God's comment is that the lies were in their hearts, they were self deceived deep within their own self-talk, and were sharing that deceit with others.

Jeremiah 23:27 Who think to cause My people to forget My name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal-
They fiercely guarded the pronunciation of His Covenant Name; but in reality, they forgot that Name. And so with the temple; they so loved it, it was the apple of their eye; but in real principle, they desecrated all that it stood for. The Gentile destruction and desecration of it was only a material reflection of what they in principle had done; and the invasions were doubtless intended to teach Israel this. To forget Yahweh's Name is understood as worshipping other gods (Ps. 44:20 s.w.). The message of the false prophets was given in the name of Yahweh, and it was effectively saying that Yahweh was asking Judah to serve other gods in His Name. But by this they were forgetting His Name, for His Name as revealed to Moses expresses His character and the unique claim He thereby has upon His people. See on :39.

Jeremiah 23:28 The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the straw to the wheat? says Yahweh-
This could simply be saying that the true prophet was to faithfully speak the word received. But there could also be the implication that in such an environment as described in :27, the true prophets (and there were others apart from Jeremiah, at least Ezekiel we know was contemporary with him) were tempted to not tell or speak forth the word they had received. And so they are encouraged that the true prophecies were as wheat to the straw of the false prophecies- the difference was evident. Another possibility is that the false prophet who had a dream should tell it just as it was, a dream he had had; whereas the true prophet should speak God's word faithfully. See on :30.

Jeremiah 23:29 Isn’t My word like fire? says Yahweh; and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?-
The false prophets were speaking of "peace" coming as a result of worshipping idols, sanctioned by Yahweh (see on :27). The true word of God was by its nature more powerful in that it spoke of judgment to come; the hammer of Babylon (Jer. 51:20) was to crush Judah and burn Jerusalem and the temple with fire. The very demand of God indicated that it was His word. Peter understood this when He asks the Lord to invite him to walk on the water towards Him- He knew that such demands are typical of the true word of God. 

Jeremiah 23:30 Therefore behold, I am against the prophets, says Yahweh, who steal My words each one from his neighbour-
It could be that the false prophets were stealing some of Yahweh's true words from the true prophets who were their "neighbours", considered as prophets too; see on :33,36. And so there was a mixture of true and false words from Yahweh in their message; hence the idea of the true and false prophecies being divided like straw and wheat (:28). This has always been the attraction of false teaching- in that it is a mixture of the true and the false. Just as in our own failures and temporal apostasies we mix truth and error, flesh and spirit within our own reasoning and self-justification. For example, we may gossip whilst justifying ourselves as doing so because we have love for the recipient of our gossip.

Jeremiah 23:31 Behold, I am against the prophets, says Yahweh, who use their tongues and say, He says-
The idea is that they used their tongues, or words, and yet said "He [God] says this...". They were exhibiting the same mentality which today claims that our own native thoughts and ideas are in fact God's; the pastor who claims he has had a word from the Lord asking him to get a new expensive car or watch...

Jeremiah 23:32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says Yahweh, and do tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies-
As noted on :26, the heart was the essential issue. Their dreams arose from their own self deception deep within their own psychology, and yet they claimed these thoughts as those of God. We would likely have simply focused upon the fact that these people were liars, falsely claiming things convenient for them, in the name of God. But God's comment is that the lies were in their hearts, they were self deceived deep within their own self-talk, and were sharing that deceit with others.

And by their vain boasting- Of victory against the Babylonians.

Yet I didn’t send them, nor commanded them; neither do they profit this people at all, says Yahweh- The attraction to them of the false prophets was that they offered "profit". It was materialism and a chronic coveting of instant wealth which led them to idolatry, which the prophets taught. This was because those idols were fertility cults offering good harvests and prosperity in return for worshipping them. It was idolatry which "can't profit" (s.w. 1 Sam. 12:21; Is. 44:9,10; Jer. 2:8), and this was what the "lying words" were all about.

Jeremiah 23:33 When this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask you saying, What is the burden of Yahweh?-
The conscience of the false prophets and the priests who taught their false words was not clear. Otherwise they would not have come to Jeremiah asking him what Yahweh's word really was. Perhaps they did so in order to steal some of his words of true prophecy and mix them with their own false prophecies (see on :30,36).

Then you shall tell them, What burden! I will cast you off, says Yahweh- Yahweh 'cast off' Judah (Jer. 12:7; 23:33) but only because they had cast Him off (Jer. 15:6 s.w.). And yet God did not cast off His people (Jer. 33:26); Jeremiah personally was persuaded that God would not cast off His people for ever (Lam. 3:31). He will show them mercy as if He had not cast them off (Zech. 10:6); this reversal of their casting off was to be through the repentance of the exiled community (Lev. 26:44). But even this didn't happen, and yet God still did not cast them away (Rom. 11:2). His love and grace was such that He holds on to them. This desperate holding on to His people is seen in the experience of every person who joins God's people through baptism into Christ. They may indeed be cast off ultimately, but that is because they cast Him off, and wrestled against His insistent desire to keep hold of them eternally.

Jeremiah 23:34 As for the prophet, the priest and the people who shall say, The burden of Yahweh, I will even punish that man and his house-
Prophet, priest and people were all to be sharing God's word; all society was to be involved. The false prophets gave their words to the priests, whose duty it was to teach their words; and then the people spread those words further. This was how Israel should have been, with the ordinary people spreading the knowledge of God's word; and indeed this is the ideal situation of the Kingdom age (Jer. 31:34).

Jeremiah 23:35 You shall say each one to his neighbour and each one to his brother, What has Yahweh answered? and, What has Yahweh spoken?-
The judgment upon them was that God's word would not be given to them in future. Instead of telling each other what they claimed was God's word, they would instead be asking each other if they had heard a word from God- and the answer would be in the negative, because the sun would go down over the prophets and His revelation would stop (Am. 8:12; Mic. 3:6). And yet this was a judgment which was deferred; because Ezekiel continued speaking God's word to the exiles, and the restoration prophets did so for another few generations. Yet here we have the impression that God was so angry with the false prophets and the eager belief of them, that He threatens to withdraw all true revelation. And yet He didn't at that time, although this word did come true in later generations.

Jeremiah 23:36 You shall mention the burden of Yahweh no more: for every man’s own word shall be his burden; for you have perverted the words of the living God, of Yahweh of Armies our God-
See on :35. Their perverting of God's word was through mixing His true words (which they stole from Jeremiah, see on :30,33) with their false words. By our words we will be justified or condemned. The false prophets were judged according to their words: "Every man's word shall be his burden" at the day of Babylonian judgment (Jer. 23:36). Gal. 6:5 alludes here in saying that at the judgment, every man shall bear his own burden- i.e., that of his own words.

Jeremiah 23:37 You shall say to the prophet, What has Yahweh answered you? and, What has Yahweh spoken?-
This was a commandment; instead of claiming to have God's word in the form of the false prophecies, they were to instead be seeking it from the true prophets. See on :35.

Jeremiah 23:38 But if you say, The burden of Yahweh; therefore thus says Yahweh: Because you say this word, The burden of Yahweh, and I have sent to you saying, You shall not say, The burden of Yahweh-
Instead of seeking to learn God's word as commanded in :37, they claimed that the burden or prophecies of Yahweh were with them. They had just been soberly warned not to do this; if they continued, there would be extreme punishment.

Jeremiah 23:39 therefore, behold, I will utterly forget you, and I will cast you off, and the city that I gave to you and to your fathers, away from My presence-
Here and in :40, God speaks in the fire of His wrath. For to twist His words to the very opposite of their intention was terrible, and incited His anger, as it does today. By doing so, they had forgotten His Name (:27). And so God in response would forget them. But He says in Is. 49:18 that His love was such that He could not forget them even if they forgot Him. And has God cast away His people, as here threatened? Rom. 11:2 says that He has not.

Jeremiah 23:40 and I will bring an everlasting reproach on you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten
- I explained on :39 that the twisting of Yahweh's words deeply provoked His anger, and He speaks here in that wrath. Hence He speaks of Judah being perpetually shamed; although He would "forget you" as His people (:39), He would never forget what they had done to Him. But we know that in that wrath He remembered mercy, and actually did not carry this out. For in the restoration of His people which He envisaged, their shame would be removed (Ez. 36:15). They would "bear their shame" for a limited period only (Is. 61:7; Ez. 39:26). This is the God of such passionate love that He can change His stated purposes about His people, because the pole of His saving pity is greater than that of His judgment.