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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 23:7-12

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, February 25, 2015

7 Therefore the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it will no longer be said, “As the LORD lives who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,” 8 but, “as the LORD lives who brought up the descendants of the house of Israel and led them out of the land of the north and from all the countries where I had driven them.” Then they will dwell in their own land.

Jeremiah said almost the same thing in 16:14,15. Here as then, the Lord compares what was about to happen in Babylon with the great miracle of the Exodus. In fact, the Lord promises that the Exodus from Egypt will pale in comparison with the rescue from Babylon. Why? Because the rescue from Babylon will be a harbinger of the coming of the Lord our Righteousness. The Messiah would not come immediately with the return from Babylon, but the end of the captivity would be a sign that all of the other prophecies about the coming Christ were going to be fulfilled.

False Prophets
9 Concerning the prophets:
My heart is broken within me.
  All my bones tremble.
I am like a drunken man,
  like a man overcome by wine,
because of the LORD
  and because of his holy words.
10 For the land is full of adulterers.
      Because of the curse, the land mourns.
      The pastures in the wilderness are dried up.
Their way of life is evil,
  and their strength is not right.
11 Both prophet and priest are godless,
even in my house I have found their wickedness, declares the LORD.
12 Therefore their path will be for them
      like slippery places in the darkness.
They will be driven away,
  and they will fall there,
for I will bring disaster on them:
  the year of their punishment,
  declares the LORD.

After such a wonderful flurry of Gospel promises, this prophecy about the downfall of false prophets must have come like a slap in the face. Jeremiah was the true prophet of the Lord, and there were only a few apart from him speaking the truth. His contemporary Zephaniah may already have finished his ministry, and Daniel was at work with the exiles in Babylon. Besides these, the young Ezekiel had just been called into God’s service in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile (Ezekiel 1:1-3).

The other prophets were earning their living by telling people what they wanted to hear instead of the difficult truth. They were saying things like there would be no exile, or God would destroy the Babylonians as he had destroyed the Assyrians in the days of Isaiah.

Jeremiah’s response to this was simple enough: the lying prophets themselves will be the ones who will be destroyed. The year the captivity began would be the year of their punishment.

This is the first of five oracles against false prophets. The others all follow immediately: 23:13-15; 23:16-22; 23:23-32 and 23:33-40. Each time we will see a slightly different emphasis, but each time their falsehood and treachery is condemned. Here, they had permitted a return to mixing pagan Canaanite fertility rites with worship of the Lord, and the mixture brought adultery and fornication into the families of Judah. “Their way of life is evil,” Jeremiah says. And the Lord condemns them: “Even in my house I have found their wickedness.”

Vigilance and faithfulness are not easy, nor do they come automatically. Just because we have been confirmed as believers, it doesn’t mean we will never be misled by false teaching or by our own forgetfulness. Return to God’s word, return to your own Catechism and review what you once learned. You may rediscover things you have forgotten; you may even be led to understand something new.

All this is possible through the word of God—but since it is only possible through that word, isn’t it time to get back into God’s holy, inspired word?

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.