Jeremiah 23-25: Listen to God’s Word
October 10, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jeremiah begins this section by exposing the immorality, hypocrisy, and downright laziness of the false shepherds and false prophets at the time. “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! (23:1). Instead, he will, in the future, set over them “shepherds who will care for them” (23:4), and will raise up for them “David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely” (23:5). And “he will be called: the LORD is our righteousness” (23:6). Looking ahead, through the clouds, across the mountain range, Jeremiah spies the coming of the LORD, the great David’s Greater Son.
But, the prophets and priests are then “ungodly” (23:11). So “do not listen to them” (23:16). “They speak visions of their own minds.” God “did not send the prophets” (23:21).
Instead, “Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully” (23:28). Instead of making up “visions” and “ideas” and “dreams” out of their own minds, God’s faithful messengers are to speak his word with faithfulness. Listen to those who teach the Bible, not to those who fantasize about what God might be seeing in their own imaginations. For “Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces” (23:29).
Then, after this discourse against the false prophets, Jeremiah is given a true vision of two baskets of figs (24:1). One has good figs, the other very bad figs. This parable is to show that God will treat those who have gone into exile well; he will “set his eyes upon them for good” (24:6). But those who remain, or who dwell in Egypt, will be like the bad figs. Though going into exile is God’s discipline on his people, those who follow that discipline will still be under the shadow of his protection there in Babylon. Not so those who refuse to be disciplined. If you must be disciplined, then accept it as good from God: “kiss the rod,” the Puritans used to say.
Then comes Jeremiah’s famous prophecy about the length of exile: seventy years (25:12). After which his people will return, and there will be punishment for the nations who refuse to follow God (25:17).
God’s Word is not to be trifled with. It is easy to accept an easier word, and more pleasant to accept a pleasant word; but God’s Word is like fire, and his Word—as it is—is to be read, believed, and preached. Listen to God’s Word.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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