Sunday, October 02, 2005


Jeremiah preached at the end of the period of Kings. He preached the Gospel of God’s Free Sovereign Grace in Christ; he preached God’s love and care for his chosen elect. He declared the impending destruction of Judah and the temple, the coming 70 years of captivity in Babylon, and the certain restoration for the elect. Here he exposes all those who undermine his preaching, all those who preach free-will works-religion.
Christ alone, all sufficient in salvation, is the message of the Bible. Christ saved God’s elect to himself by himself for his glory. Only Christ is righteous. God’s elect have no righteousness of their own; they have Christ’s righteousness imputed to them freely, his gift of Grace (receiving Grace is to get what you do not deserve). Christ cares for his loved ones by gathering them to the Gospel preachers he provides to care for them. God is absolutely Holy, in wrath he will justly punish all sin, as a loving father he will chastise his loved ones.

Outline of Chapter 23

23:1-2 - False preachers condemned
23:3-9 - The elect rely on Christ
23:10-15 - Condemnation of false prophets and false priests
23:16-22 - Their false message is that man deserves to be loved by God
23:23-30 - Their false message is self-contrived not God’s Word
23:31-32 - Christ’s care ensures false prophets can not pervert God’s elect
23:33-38 - The reprobate demand that their works save them
23:39-40 - Christ will personally destroy all false preachers

23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
23:2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.

These ”sheep“ are God’s elect. These are the people sovereignly chosen by God before time began to receive his Mercy. They are weak simple needy creatures, unable to care for themselves, unable to save themselves. They are the only people loved by God; they are “the sheep of his pasture“; they are the ones he has committed to care for. Christ is their true shepherd; he has the responsibility to provide total care for them, to feed them his Gospel, to save them from the temptation of this world’s self-righteousness, to bring them into eternal glory with him. False pastors injure God’s loved ones. Pastors, like shepherds, are responsible for feeding their flock; they are to feed the Gospel to the church. The evil activity of these false pastors is shown clearly in the verses below. While claiming to be from God they preach man’s self-worth rather than man’s depravity. They attempt to eliminate man’s need for Christ. Christ condemns them (woe be unto) for their efforts, for damaging his people, for driving them apart, for ruining their unity, for separating them from Free-Grace, for “scattering” them. Christ will punish in wrath all of those who afflict the elect.

By Ray Bennetts

Jeremiah 23:3-9 - THE ELECT RELY ON CHRIST

23:3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.

23:4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.

Foiling the efforts of false pastors, Christ gathers God’s elect (his flock) to his faithful Gospel preachers (shepherds) where they are fed the true Gospel. They have no fear to stand before God. They know they are justified by Christ’s righteousness not their own. They have everything they need (not lacking) in Christ.

23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

This King is Christ; he came on earth and lived perfectly righteous, obeying and fulfilling all of God’s Law. He is the sovereign King ruling over all. He is on the throne saving God’s elect (represented here by David, Judah, and Israel). They are saved because he imputes his righteousness to them. They do not trust in their own meritorious works; they trust in his perfect obedience of God’s Law. The elect do not rely on their righteousness, they claim his righteousness to themselves.

Jer 33:15-16 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.

23:7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 23:8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

The spiritual seed freed from Law AND fully gathered to Christ (the seed of the house of Israel). This seed includes everyone who places all of their trust in Christ. They are delivered from the Law and gathered to Christ by Christ.

23:9 Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.

God’s elect hear of Christ through the preaching of his Gospel out of his Word the Bible. Christ’s faithful preachers declare Christ using every book in the Bible. At the time of Jeremiah’s writing this Chapter, they had the writings of the Old Testament prophets only. The elect in Jeremiah’s day heard of Christ through the writings of those prophets, “because of the prophets“. They heard of God’s Holiness, of his impossibly high standard which they can not reach, of their need for salvation, of Christ’s perfect righteousness, of Christ’s substitutionary atonement, of Christ’s offer of salvation to all who trust in his name (in his holy nature). The heard the Gospel of the righteousness of Jesus Christ; they heard “the words of his holiness”.

By Ray Bennetts


23:10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.

23:11 For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.

23:12 Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.

23:13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.

23:14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

23:15 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.

God’s enemies gather together around the horrible evil of false gospels. They preach it everywhere throughout the whole world as well as directly inside churches (in my house). It has “gone forth into all the land“. The pleasant places of the world (the whole world) are perverted distorted ruined into corruption (evil) by those who disrespect (profane) God, who commit adultery loving false gods rather than Christ.

The phrase “in my house” refers directly in his churches both in the Northern Kingdom of Israel (typified by its main city Samaria) and the Southern Kingdom of Judah (typified by its main city Jerusalem).

These false prophets are correctly and appropriately referred to as “prophets of Jerusalem“; they have absolutely no connection with Christ; they are intimately and permanently associated with the perverted religion of man invented on this world; they are not Gospel preachers. They live and preach in darkness; they do not have Christ; they do not have the light of the Gospel. There is no partial value in these false prophets; they are totally corrupt. God’s elect are specifically instructed to not listen to them, to not hearken to them. Their behaviour, their walk is corrupt - all can see it. They are as corrupted as were Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 18).

Endless eternal suffering is proclaimed for them because of their profaneness (their disrespect for God’s character). God ordained that their preaching, their path, their way will cause them to fall, to slip, into darkness (completely removed for God) forever. Christ commits to “feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall“. Wormwood (also called Absinthe) is a plant that yields a bitter extract used to flavor absinthe and formerly as a medicine for intestinal worms. The point here is that Christ will punish them severely for their offenses.

By Ray Bennetts


23:16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.

False preachers preach something they have seen in themselves, a vision of their own heart. They say God sent them, they say they bring his message. But God here declares the reality; they do not speak his Gospel, they do not declare Christ.

False preachers declare meaningless fluff (prophesy false dreams), not the Gospel. Their message is perverted useless man-made nonsense. They declare that man’s self-righteousness is relevant to God, that it has meaning, significance, or merit before God. These people know nothing about Christ. Do not waste time trying to salvage something useful out of their words. Christ instructs all to not listen to false preachers (hearken not). Those who do listen literally become “vain” in every sense. Man (whether smart or dim, wealthy or poor, moral or immoral) is totally corrupt, is guilty of sin against God. He deserves to receive, and can not save himself from, God’s wrath. His wisdom is worthless; his works are useless; everything in his life is worthless frustration - vanity.

Eccl 1:2-3 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

Eccl 2:11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Eccl 2:14 The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

There is a thing of infinite value in this worthless corrupted void universe - it is God’s gift of the knowledge of Christ. This wisdom excels all other things - it gives eternal life.

Eccl 2:13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.

Eccl 7:12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

23:17 They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.

WOW! This is the plain declaration of exactly what these false preachers preach.

False preachers do not declare the corruption of man. They do not declare that God’s wrath is justly deserved by all. Instead, they declare that man deserves to be treated well by God, that God loves man because man has earned God’s love through meritorious works. They say “ye shall have peace” and “no evil shall come upon you” as if to declare publicly that God is merely a god of love rather than a God who is Holy, absolutely unchangeably Holy, thrice Holy.

False preachers preach for and to them that despise God. They preach to them that live according to their own contrived view of what is happening in this world (after the imagination of his own heart), this world which was created by Christ and is completely under his control. Those who hate Christ walk through this world, live through their lives on this earth as if they were in control and they had no need of Christ. They have vile un-regenerated hearts which do not know Christ.

23:18 For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? 23:19 Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.

23:20 The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.

God is not such a one as man. He is Holy and Just. He will maintain his Holiness and punish all sin. Wrath is due to all men - not peace. God’s righteousness is farther above man than the stars are above the earth. God is not swayed by man’s imaginations of how God should deal with man. No one counsels him (who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD). God is completely sovereign, free from external influence. God will in wrath punish any and all sin ever committed (in fury...upon the head of the wicked). The “wicked” ones referred to here includes every person who ever committed even one single sin - this includes every single person.

God patiently delays pouring out his wrath on all until his purpose has been completed, until Christ has fully secured all of the elect (performed the thoughts of his heart).

These latter days are today, Christ has come and won the victory and we preach all of his Gospel publicly. The whole Gospel is now revealed plainly to the elect (in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly).

23:21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.

23:22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

No one has been, is being, or will ever be saved from God’s wrath as a result of hearing the preaching of false preachers. They preach to those who hate God; they preach to the reprobates, those who were predestined to damnation. And the reprobates remain condemned after hearing the false Gospel.

The Gospel is preached by Christ’s preachers who know him (stood in my counsel); they preach Christ to God’s elect and it is effective to them. The elect repent of their self-confidence, turn from the evil of trusting in their righteousness works / doings; they turn to the Free Sovereign Grace of Christ; they rely fully on the imputed righteousness of Christ.

By Ray Bennetts


23:23 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? 23:24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

God is everywhere; he is ”at hand“. He is with us not far off. Nothing is hidden from him, all sin is exposed to him, and he will punish every bit of it. He sees what his enemies do. God says, I am against the prophets who attempt to defeat the advance of his Gospel.

23:25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.

False preachers preach their heart not God’s. They preach the imaginary gospel of men, the deceit of their own heart. They preach that man can make himself acceptable to God through meritorious works. They are taken in a lie - they spread that lie to others using false credentials - claiming they speak for God. But God clearly declares here that they “prophesy lies in my name“.

23:26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; 23:27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.

WOW! Here we are shown exactly what false preachers hope to achieve.

False preachers strive to have the elect forget God’s name, to forget God’s character, to forget his perfect Holiness, to forget that he will punish every sin to maintain his Holiness. Their goal is to make the elect think that they have no need for Christ, that they can save themselves by their own works. False preachers seek to have God’s elect forsake God’s Grace, seek to have God’s elect work for salvation, seek to have God’s elect honor man’s imaginary God (Baal) rather than Christ.

23:28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.

23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? 23:30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

What is the chaff to the wheat? Chaff is insignificant waste that is carried away on the slightest breeze never to be seen again. False preaching (preaching of free-will works-religion) is as chaff in comparison to the Gospel of Free Sovereign Grace in Christ (the wheat). God’s elect reject all teaching of free-will works-religion, reject any teaching or claim that the works of man have any merit before God, reject any teaching that God owes anything to man.

Gospel preachers preach all of Christ’s character (speak my word faithfully) leaving nothing out and mixing nothing in. Only God’s word can break the stony heart (rock) of a sinner and turn them to Christ. The preaching of God’s Word is effective to his saints. It is a fire purifying his elect and consuming his enemies. False prophets are trivial they will not deter Christ from saving the elect.

By Ray Bennetts


23:31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.

23:32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

Christ himself personally declares condemnation for false preachers, for all who falsely claim to speak for God (and say, He saith). In truth God sent them not nor commanded them. True Gospel preachers are sent and commanded to preach by Christ. They speak for Christ. They declare exactly what Christ gives them, exactly what every one of Christ’s prophets preached from the beginning - they preach Christ. The preaching of the Gospel is effective to God’s elect. The elect hear, turn away from / abandon all self-confidence, and put all their trust (their faith) in Christ’s righteousness.

The false preachers declare meaningless fluff (prophesy false dreams), rather than the Gospel. Their message is perverted useless man-made nonsense. They declare that man’s self-righteousness is relevant to God, that it has meaning, significance, or merit before God. These people know nothing about Christ. Do not waste time trying to salvage something useful out of their speeches - “hearken not unto their words”.

Christ guards his people from false gospels. The elect persevere in Grace because Christ keeps them. The lies of false prophets will not affect the elect (they shall not profit this people). The liars will not gain traction amoung the elect. They can not and will not lose hold of Christ. His Grace, his free undeserved gift, is their only hope. Christ protects his sheep from the lies of works-religionists.

By Ray Bennetts


23:33 And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.

23:34 And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house.

Those who ask, who desire, to have the responsibility of performing some work for God in order to gain favor from God are asking what God requires of, or will accept from, them. They are asking what standard they must achieve (What is the burden of the Lord). They want to work to achieve reconciliation with God, to save themselves. All who seek self-justification with God will be forsaken by God. He can only accept perfect righteousness. He will not accept their deeds (their works) and he will not accept them.

23:35 Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the LORD answered? and, What hath the LORD spoken? 23:36 And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man's word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.

God’s people, his sovereignly chosen elect, are all humbled by him. They bow to Christ. They do not seek any way to exalt themselves; they know that there is absolutely no goodness in themselves. They seek to know what God’s will is, what he has ordained. They seek to know Christ. They seek the truth directly in God’s Word, asking “what hath the LORD spoken“, asking what God has ordained, what has he purposed, what God has established regarding salvation. God’s elect understand that Christ has done all the work in their salvation. The elect know that they have no burden, no work to do. They rest in Christ’s completed Work.

God holds each person directly responsible for their actions (for every man's word shall be his burden). The elect declare Christ directly as he is revealed in God’s Word (the Bible). All those who pervert God’s Word are condemned for denying Christ.

23:37 Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? and, What hath the LORD spoken? 23:38 But since ye say, The burden of the LORD; therefore thus saith the LORD; Because ye say this word, The burden of the LORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD;

The reprobates are stuck on, dwell on, and are fascinated by the concept of working for their salvation, of showing God that they are good. All those who do not speak the words of the Gospel of Free Grace (what the Lord has spoken) are condemned for speaking works (the burden of the Lord). Remember Cain and Abel - Cain told God that his works made his soul acceptable while Abel offered up Christ’s soul substituted for his own corrupted soul.

God does not accept the works of man because God is perfectly Holy and can not accept anything un-Holy. As such, Salvation is all of Christ’s Grace and not at all of anyone’s works. Christ is the only one who satisfied and fulfilled all of God’s Law. Christ is the only one God has judged to be perfectly righteous. God imparted the sin debt of all of his sovereignly chosen elect onto Christ at the cross on Calvary. Christ suffered under God’s wrath to redeem the elect. Christ imputed his righteousness to each and every one of the elect. Their salvation is only and entirely as a result of Christ’s work for them.

By Ray Bennetts


Jer 23:39 Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence: 23:40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

God’s elect and all of his Gospel preachers declare the freedom in Christ exactly as the Bible reveals it!! All those who declare bondage under Law are condemned!! Christ is very specific and clear about the fate of all those who preach free-will works-religion. Christ declares and repeats it for emphasis that he, yes he himself, will personally take action against these liars (I, even I, will).

Christ makes seven specific statements about what he will do to all those who preach or declare the merit of man’s works. He will.....

1) utterly forget you -

2) forsake you -

3) [forsake] the city -

4) cast you out of my presence -

5) bring an everlasting reproach upon you -

6) [bring] a perpetual shame [upon you] -

7) [all of which] shall not be forgotten -

By Ray Bennetts