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CHAPTER 23 Aug. 2 
Hope for the Future
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! says Yahweh. 2Therefore thus says Yahweh the God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: 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. 3I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4I 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. 5Behold, 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. 6In 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. 7Therefore 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; 8but, 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.
Unfaithful Prophets and their Punishment 
9Concerning 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. 10For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourns; the pastures of the wilderness are dried up. Their way is evil, and their might is not right; 11for both prophet and priest are profane; yes, in My house have I found their wickedness, says Yahweh. 12Therefore 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. 13I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied by Baal, and caused My people Israel to err. 14In 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. 15Therefore thus says Yahweh of Armies concerning the prophets: Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall; for from the prophets of Jerusalem is ungodliness gone forth into all the land.
A Warning from God
16Thus 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. 17They say continually to those who despise Me, Yahweh has said, You shall have peace; and to each one who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart they say, No evil shall come on you. 18For who has stood in the council of Yahweh, that he should perceive and hear His word? Who has noted My word, and heard it? 19Behold, the storm of Yahweh, His wrath, has gone forth. Yes, a whirling storm. It shall burst on the head of the wicked. 20The 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. 21I sent not these prophets, yet they ran: I didn’t speak to them, yet they prophesied. 22But 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. 23Am I a God at hand, says Yahweh, and not a God afar off? 24Can any hide himself in secret places so that I shall not see him? says Yahweh. Don’t I fill heaven and earth? says Yahweh. 25I have heard what the prophets have said, who prophesy lies in My name saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. 26How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, even the prophets of the deceit of their own heart? 27Who 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. 28The 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. 29Isn’t My word like fire? says Yahweh; and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? 30Therefore behold, I am against the prophets, says Yahweh, who steal My words each one from his neighbour. 31Behold, I am against the prophets, says Yahweh, who use their tongues and say, He says. 32Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says Yahweh, and do tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies, and by their vain boasting: yet I didn’t send them, nor commanded them; neither do they profit this people at all, says Yahweh.                                                    
The Burden of God
33When this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask you saying, What is the burden of Yahweh? Then you shall tell them, What burden! I will cast you off, says Yahweh. 34As for the prophet, the priest and the people who shall say, The burden of Yahweh, I will even punish that man and his house. 35You shall say each one to his neighbour and each one to his brother, What has Yahweh answered? and, What has Yahweh spoken? 36You 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. 37You shall say to the prophet, What has Yahweh answered you? and, What has Yahweh spoken? 38But 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; 39therefore, 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: 40and I will bring an everlasting reproach on you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.


23:2 Both God and the pastors of Israel are described as having ‘driven out’ Israel from their land (: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.
23:5 Jesus was the final fulfilment of this “branch”; He was a branch of David in the sense that He had David as His ancestor (Lk. 1:31-35). He therefore didn’t pre-exist as a person before the time of David.
23:6 Yahweh our righteousness- Jesus never sinned, He was as righteous as God in His character. By baptism into Him, that righteousness is counted to us; and thereby He is for us the means to God’s righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). 
23:10 Human “might is not right”; human power is fiercely criticized by the prophets. One of the most striking features of the prophets is their denunciation of human power. Judah were doing what was humanly sensible and smart. To trust in politics, in what seems the usual human response to an issue rather than trust in God, is in fact something which breaks God’s heart. The life of faith in God is simply the very opposite of what seems humanly sensible. To give money we’d surely be better saving; risk our lives and health for another; neglect our business or career for the sake of the Lord’s work. These ought to be the normal decisions we make, if we are walking in step with the spirit; and yet it would appear that they are the exceptions to the rule of far too many of our lives. And the point is, God’s heart broke because His people were and are like this (:9).
23:12 They shall be driven on, and fall- God confirms people in the downward spiral they choose.  
23:18 It is indeed hard to see the world from God’s perspective; but this is what the spirit of prophecy was and is all about. The prophets stood in the presence of God, and partook in His “council” (:22), i.e. His inner circle of trusted friends (see too 15:19). The way God speaks of the prophets as being His “council” suggests He is open to dialogue and even ‘advice’ from men; such is His humility and desire to work with us rather than merely demand our submission.
23:36 The false prophets were judged according to their words; each man’s word was to be his burden at the day of Babylonian judgment . 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. Wrong speech will be condemned at the day of judgment (Tit. 2:8), out of our own mouths we will be judged (Lk. 19:22). The implication seems to be that our words will be quoted back to us during the judgment process. By our words we really will be justified or condemned (Mt. 12:37). How we speak, especially if we claim to bear God’s Name as baptized believers, will be the basis of our judgment.