Jeremiah 23

1“It will be very bad for the shepherds ˻(leaders)˼ of the people of Judah. Those shepherds are destroying the sheep. They are making the sheep run from my pasture in all directions.” This message is from the Lord. 2Those shepherds ˻(leaders)˼ are responsible for my people. And the Lord, the God of Israel, says these things to those shepherds: “You shepherds ˻(leaders)˼ have made my sheep run away in all directions. You have forced them to go away. And you have not taken care of them. But I will take care of you—I will punish you for the bad things you did.” This message is from the Lord: 3“I sent my sheep ˻(people)˼ to other countries. But I will gather together my sheep that are left. And I will bring them back to their pasture ˻(country)˼. When my sheep are back in their pasture, they will have many children and grow in number. 4I will place new shepherds ˻(leaders)˼ over my sheep. Those shepherds will take care of my sheep. And my sheep will not be scared or afraid. None of my sheep will be lost.” This message is from the Lord. 5This message is from the Lord, ”The time is coming,” ”when I will raise up a good 'sprout.’ He will be a king who will rule in a wise way. He will do what is fair and right in the land. 6In the time of that good 'sprout,’ the people of Judah will be saved. And Israel will live in safety. This will be his name: The Lord is our Goodness. 7“So the time is coming,” this message is from the Lord, “when people won’t say the old promise by the Lord any more. The old promise is: 'As surely as the Lord lives, the Lord is the One who brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.’ 8But people will say something new. They will say, 'As surely as the Lord lives, the Lord is the One who brought the people of Israel out of the land of the north. He brought them out of all the countries where he had sent them.’ Then the people of Israel will live in their own land.” 9A message to the prophets: I am very sad—my heart is broken. All my bones are shaking. I ˻(Jeremiah)˼ am like a man that is drunk. Why? Because of the Lord and his holy words. 10The land of Judah is full of people that do the sin of adultery. They are unfaithful in many ways. The Lord cursed the land, and it became very dry. The plants are dried and dying in the pastures. The fields have become like the desert. The prophets are evil. Those prophets use their influence and power in the wrong way. 11“The prophets and even the priests are evil. I have seen them doing evil things in my own temple.” This message is from the Lord. 12“˻I will stop giving my messages to them.˼ It will be like they must walk in darkness. It will be like the road is slippery for those prophets and priests. And they will fall in that darkness. I will bring disaster on them. I will punish those prophets and priests.” This message is from the Lord. 13“I saw the prophets of Samaria doing wrong things. I saw those prophets prophesy in the name of the false god Baal. Those prophets led the people of Israel away from the Lord. 14Now I have seen the prophets of Judah do those terrible things in Jerusalem. These prophets do the sin of adultery. They listened to lies—and they obeyed those false teachings. They encourage wicked people to continue doing evil things. So the people did not stop sinning. They are like the people of Sodom. Now Jerusalem is like Gomorrah to me.” 15So, this is what the Lord All-Powerful says about the prophets: “I will punish those prophets. The punishment will be like eating poisoned food and water. The prophets started a spiritual sickness. And that sickness spread through the whole country. So I will punish those prophets. That sickness came from the prophets in Jerusalem.” 16The Lord All-Powerful says these things: “Don’t pay attention to the things that those prophets are saying to you. They are trying to fool you. Those prophets talk about visions. But they did not get their visions from me. Their visions come from their own minds. 17Some of the people hate the real messages from the Lord. So those prophets give a different message to those people. They say, 'You will have peace.’ Some of the people are very stubborn. They do only the things they want to do. So those prophets say, 'Nothing bad will happen to you!’ 18But none of those prophets has stood in the heavenly council. None of them has seen or heard the message of the Lord. None of them has paid close attention to the Lord’s message. 19Now the punishment from the Lord will come like a storm. The Lord’s anger will be like a tornado. It will come crashing down on the heads of those wicked people. 20The Lord’s anger will not stop until he finishes what he plans to do. When that day is over, you will understand this clearly. 21I did not send those prophets. But they ran ˻to tell their messages˼. I did not speak to them. But they preached in my name. 22If they had stood in my heavenly council, then they would have told my messages to the people of Judah. They would have stopped the people from doing bad things. They would have stopped them from doing evil.” 23“I am God, and I am always near!” This message is from the Lord. ”I am not far away! 24A person might try to hide from me in some hiding place. But it is easy for me to see him. Why? Because I am everywhere in heaven and earth!” The Lord said these things. 25“There are prophets that preach lies in my name. They say, 'I have had a dream! I have had a dream!’ I heard them say those things. 26How long will this continue? Those prophets think up lies. And then they teach those lies to the people. 27These prophets are trying to make the people of Judah forget my name. They are doing this by telling each other these false dreams. They are trying to make my people forget me in the same way that their ancestors forgot me. Their ancestors forgot me and worshiped the false god Baal. 28Straw is not the same thing as wheat! In the same way, those prophets’ dreams are not messages from me. If a person wants to tell about his dreams, then let him. But let the man that hears my message speak my message truthfully. 29My message is like a fire.” This message is from the Lord. “It is like a hammer that smashes a rock. 30“So I am against the false prophets.” This message is from the Lord. “These prophets keep stealing my words from one another. 31I am against the false prophets.” This message is from the Lord. “They use their own words and pretend that it is a message from me. 32I am against the false prophets that preach fake dreams.” This message is from the Lord. “They mislead my people with their lies and false teachings. I did not send those prophets to teach the people. I never commanded them to do anything for me. They can’t help the people of Judah at all.” This message is from the Lord. 33“The people of Judah, or a prophet, or a priest may ask you, 'Jeremiah, what is the announcement of the Lord?’ You will answer them and say, 'You are a heavy load to the Lord. And I will throw down this heavy load.’ This message is from the Lord. 34“A prophet, or a priest, or maybe one of the people might say, 'This is an announcement from the Lord ...’ ˻That person lied,˼ so I will punish that person and his whole family. 35This is what you will say to one another: 'What did the Lord answer?’ or 'What did the Lord say?’ 36But you will never again use the expression, 'The announcement ˻(heavy load)˼ of the Lord.’ This is because the Lord’s message should not be a heavy load for anyone. But you changed the words of our God. He is the living God, the Lord All-Powerful! 37“If you want to learn about God’s message, then ask a prophet, 'What answer did the Lord give you?’ or 'What did the Lord say?’ 38But don’t say, 'What was the announcement ˻(heavy load)˼ from the Lord?’ If you use these words, then the Lord will say these things to you: 'You should not have called my message an 'announcement ˻(heavy load)˼ from the Lord.’ I told you not to use those words. 39But you called my message a heavy load, so I will pick you up like a heavy load and throw you away from me. I gave the city of Jerusalem to your ancestors. But I will throw you and that city away from me. 40And I will make you a disgrace forever. You will never forget your embarrassment.’”

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