The Scriptorium

An Everlasting Reproach

You who minister God's Word, take care. Jeremiah 23.25-40

Shepherds False and True (6)

Pray Psalm 57.1-3.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
He shall send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches the one who would swallow me up.

Sing Psalm 57.1-3.
(Faben: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him)
Lord, be gracious, gracious to me, for my soul retreats in You.
In Your shadow keep me safely till the storms of life are through.
I will cry to You, the Most High; You do all things well for me.
You will save me when I thus cry, routing all who threaten me.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 23.25-40.

Prepare.
1. What was the problem with the prophets of Judah?

2. What was the effect of their teaching?

Meditate.
Jeremiah continues his message to the false prophets of Jerusalem and Judah. The unforgiveable error of these prophets – and the reason they received “an everlasting reproach” from the Lord – is that they substituted their own visions, good ideas, and promises for the Word and Law of God, and the promises of His covenant (vv. 25-27). By so doing, they turned the affections of the people from God to false gods.

God regarded those vain teachings and prophecies as chaff compared to the wheat of His Word. His Word, like a fire breaking out in chaff, would utterly consume and destroy the false prophets (vv. 28, 29).

God was against them – a terrifying place to be (vv. 30-32). Why? Because “they steal My words every one from his neighbor”. Preachers who find their own ideas or visions more interesting than the plain teaching of Scripture lead the people they serve away from God into fantasies and false hopes. God opposes them, and all their lies, just as He opposed the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day.

The only oracle the prophets and people needed to hear from Jeremiah was the Word that God was forsaking them (vv. 33-39). They wanted to turn away from God, to attach their hearts to other deities – which were no gods at all – and so God gave them what they wanted. He would forsake them to their lying desires, and that would be “a perpetual shame” for them all (v. 40).

Only Jesus saves and sanctifies us, and we can only find Him and His grace and truth in the Scriptures. If we neglect these, preferring instead the vain imaginations of puffed-up teachers and preachers, God will give us just what we want. Which will turn out to be, in the end, not what we want at all.

Reflect.
1. How had the false prophets “perverted the words of the living God”? Is there any danger of this happening in our day? Explain.

2. According to verse 39, what was the most significant thing the people of Jersualem and Judah were about to lose? Why is this so precious (cf. Ps. 16.11)?

3. How would you explain “an everlasting reproach” and “a perpetual shame”? Why should we want to avoid these?

However, there is another kind of false prophet who would say anything to please listeners. They would reassure people, “No calamity will come on you,” and according to the custom of false prophets, they would support this claim in the name of the Lord. They are like those against whom Jeremiah spoke previously, those who mix their false dreams with pronouncements of the Spirit and deceive the people. Ephrem the Syrian (306-373), Commentary on Jeremiah 23.30

Keep me daily in Your Word, Lord, and in the path it describes, so that I…

Pray Psalm 57.4-11.

Commit the day to the Lord, and pray that He will guard you against temptation and through any trials. Praise and thank Him throughout the day.

Sing Psalm 57.4-11.
Psalm 57.4-11 (Faben: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him)
Send Your truth and lovingkindness; raging lions seek my soul.
Threats and sland’rous words without rest they against me fiercely roll.
Be exalted o’er the heavens, let Your glory fill the earth!
To Your Name all praise be given, let all men proclaim Your worth!

Nets and pits they set before me; overwhelmed, my soul bows down.
Let them all in their own works be thrown and scattered on the ground.
Let my heart no more be shaken, I will sing Your praises, Lord!
Harp and glory, now awaken to extol God’s faithful Word!

Praise and thanks among the nations I will sing with all my might!
For Your truth and love are stationed far above the highest height!
Be exalted o’er the heavens, let Your glory fill the earth!
To Your Name all praise be given, let all men proclaim Your worth!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore