The True and Rightful Branch 23 1“How terrible it will be for the shepherds who lead my people down the wrong path!” announces the Lord. “They are destroying and scattering the sheep that belong to my flock.” 2So the Lord, the God of Israel, speaks to the shepherds who take care of my people. He tells them, “You have scattered my sheep. You have driven them away. You have not taken good care of them. So I will punish you for the evil things you have done,” announces the Lord. 3“I myself will gather together those who are left alive in my flock. I will gather them out of all of the countries where I have driven them. And I will bring them back to their own land. There my sheep will have many lambs. Their numbers will increase. 4“I will place shepherds over them who will take good care of them. My sheep will not be afraid or terrified anymore. And none of them will be missing,” announces the Lord.   5“A new day is coming,” announces the Lord. “At that time I will raise up from David’s royal line a true and rightful Branch. He will be a King who will rule wisely. He will do what is fair and right in the land. 6In his days Judah will be saved. Israel will live in safety. And the Branch will be called The Lord Who Makes Us Right With Himself.   7“Other days are also coming,” announces the Lord. “At that time people will no longer say, ‘The Lord brought the people of Israel up out of Egypt. And that’s just as sure as he is alive.’ 8“Instead, they will say, ‘The Lord brought the people of Israel up out of the land of the north. He gathered them out of all of the countries where he had forced them to go. And that’s just as sure as he is alive.’ Then they will live in their own land.” Prophets Who Tell Lies   9Here is my message about the prophets.   My heart is broken inside me. All of my bones tremble with fear. I am like a man who is drunk. I am like someone who has had too much wine. That’s what the Lord’s holy words have done to me. 10The land is full of people who aren’t faithful to the Lord. Now the land is under his curse. And that’s why it is thirsty for water. That’s why the grasslands in the desert are dry. The prophets are leading sinful lives. They don’t use their power in the right way.   11“Prophets and priests alike are ungodly,” {flushright}announces the Lord. “Even in my temple I find them sinning. 12So their path will become slippery. They will be thrown out into darkness. There they will fall. I will bring trouble on them when the time to punish them comes,” {flushright}announces the Lord.   13“Among the prophets of Samaria I saw something I can’t stand. They were prophesying in the name of Baal. They were leading my people Israel down the wrong path. 14I have also seen something horrible among Jerusalem’s prophets. They are not faithful to me. They are not living by the truth. They strengthen the hands of those who do evil. So the people do not turn from their sinful ways. All of them are like the people of Sodom to me. They are just like the people of Gomorrah.”   15So the Lord who rules over all speaks about the prophets. He says,   “I will make them eat bitter food. I will make them drink poisoned water. The prophets of Jerusalem have spread their ungodly ways all through the land.”   16The Lord who rules over all says to the people of Judah,   “Do not listen to what the prophets are saying to you. They fill you with false hopes. They talk about visions that come from their own minds. What they say does not come from my mouth. 17They keep speaking to those who hate me. They say, ‘The Lord says you will have peace.’ They speak to all those who do what their stubborn hearts want them to do. They tell them, ‘No harm will come to you.’ 18But which of them has ever stood in my courts? Have they been there to see a vision or hear my message? Who has listened and heard my message there? 19A storm will burst out because of my burning anger. A windstorm will sweep down on the heads of sinful people. 20My anger will not turn back. I will accomplish everything I plan to do. In days to come you will understand it clearly. 21I did not send those prophets. But they have run to tell you their message anyway. I did not speak to them. But they have still prophesied. 22Suppose they had stood in my courts. Then they would have announced my message to my people. They would have turned my people from their evil ways. They would have turned them away from their sins.   23“Am I only a God who is nearby?” {flushright}announces the Lord. “Am I not a God who is also far away? 24Can anyone hide in secret places so that I can’t see him?” {flushright}announces the Lord. “Don’t I fill heaven and earth?” {flushright}announces the Lord.   25“I have heard what the prophets are saying. They prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! The Lord has given me a dream!’ 26How long will that continue in the hearts of those prophets who tell lies? They try to get others to believe their own mistaken ideas. 27They tell one another their dreams. They think that will make my people forget my name. In the same way, their people of long ago forgot my name when they worshiped Baal. 28“Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream. But let the one who has my message speak it faithfully. Your prophets have given you straw to eat instead of grain,” announces the Lord. 29“My message is like fire,” announces the Lord. “It is like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces. 30“So I am against those prophets,” announces the Lord. “I am against those who steal messages from one another. They claim that the messages come from me. 31“Yes,” announces the Lord. “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues but still say, ‘Here is what the Lord says.’ 32I am against prophets who talk about dreams that did not come from me,” announces the Lord. “They tell foolish lies. Their lies lead my people down the wrong path. “But I did not send those prophets. I did not appoint them. They do not help my people in the least,” announces the Lord. Prophets Who Give Messages That Are Not From the Lord 33“Jeremiah, those people might ask you a question. Or a prophet or priest might do it. They might ask, ‘What message have you received from the Lord?’ “Then tell them, ‘You ask, “What message?” Here it is. “I will desert you,” announces the Lord.’ 34“A prophet or priest might make a claim. Or someone else might do it. He might claim, ‘I have received a message from the Lord.’ Then I will punish him and his family. 35“Here is what each of you people keeps on saying to your friend or relative. You ask, ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ Or you ask, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 36But you must not talk about ‘a message from the Lord’ again. That is because your message becomes your own message. And so you twist my words. I am the living God. I am the Lord who rules over all. And I am your God. 37“Here is what you keep saying to a prophet. You ask, ‘What is the Lord’s answer to you?’ Or you ask, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 38You claim, ‘I have received a message from the Lord.’ But I really say, ‘You used the words, “I have received a message from the Lord.” But I told you that you must not claim, “I have received a message from the Lord.” ’ 39“So you can be sure I will forget you. I will throw you out of my sight. I will also destroy the city I gave you and your people. 40I will bring shame on you that will last forever. It will never be forgotten.”
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