Jeremiah 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.
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.
Jeremiah was a prophet chosen by God. He was a prophet with a different attitude than that of Jonah. Jeremiah was called of God to be a prophet at a young age. He began his prophetic ministry in the time of Josiah, one of the more godly kings of Judah. He witnessed the fall of Judah during his lifetime. He was taken, against his will, into Egypt at the hands of Johanan, a corrupt leader who usurped the leadership of Judah from the hands of Gedaliah. Jeremiah continued to seek to turn the hearts of the people back to God, but few listened to his message. We are not told where he died. It is suggested that he must have been in his 90’s when he died. He had many years of ministry, but he did not see much good fruit from his labour in the LORD. This was not his fault. It was the hardness of the hearts of the people that was the problem.
God raises up men to speak to the people and both warn and teach His Word. It is important that the men that He calls be faithful to His call on them. He does not promise an easy life for those who serve Him. He does promise to sustain His servants for the duration of their ministry. He also provides a home in heaven for His servants and eternal rewards for those who serve Him faithfully.
In the passage we are looking at, God directed Jeremiah to address the problem of false prophets. They were a big problem then and they still are now. In Jeremiah’s day, true prophets had the ability to foretell the future as God would direct them. They also had the responsibility to preach the Word of God faithfully.
Today, there are no true prophets whom God has called to foretell the future. He has completed His Word to man with the end of the book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are men and women who claim to be prophets today, but they are frauds. Jeremiah was given words of warning to the false prophets of his day and those words are also applicable to the false prophets of our day.
There were also those in Jeremiah’s day who preached a false message to the people. These false prophets publicly contradicted the Word of the Lord. They were like politicians who wanted to speak nice words to the people in order to gain their confidence and their support. God directed Jeremiah to expose these people. We need to be aware of the deceptive nature of these types of people in our day as well. Again, there are both men and women today who assume to be speaking on behalf of the Lord, but He has not chosen them. Many people never bother to check this out. In fact, many people take offence to having their “favourite” person exposed as a fraud. They assume that we have no right to expose false teachers. They believe it is unloving to expose false teachers.
Jeremiah began this portion of Scripture speaking of the false prophets of his day. Jeremiah’s heart was broken because of what he was seeing and hearing. He saw the effect these false prophets were having and it concerned him greatly. Any true man of God will be concerned about the deception that is being promoted and believed.
Jeremiah was directed to explain his concern by describing the impact this corruption was having on his physical life. His bones shook as he was called to deal with this issue. Jeremiah was just a man. This was a great task. It was a necessary task but it was not an easy task. It was taxing on his body.
He further stated that this concern made him like a drunken man who was overcome with wine. The drunken man behaves in a strange way. He is overcome with his wine. Jeremiah was overcome with the task at hand. He was not out of control as a drunken man often is. However, this task was a great challenge for him. It was a task he could never undertake on his own. He needed the LORD to direct him in this difficult task. Jeremiah was a prophet who was greatly persecuted for his faithfulness to the LORD. He wanted to be silent, but he knew the importance of the Word of the LORD and he could not be silent. He knew he would suffer at the hands of evil men but the message he was given by the LORD was of greater importance to him than the suffering he would endure. That is the nature of a true man of God. He cares more about the people than he does about his own comforts. He knows that in the end he has a home in heaven, but he also knows that those who oppose the truth will not have a good end.
Jeremiah also stated here that the LORD’s words were words of holiness. They were infallible. There was no corruption in God’s Word. They were pure and they were right. He was not ashamed of speaking God’s Word. As we mentioned, he took a much different approach to God’s Word than Jonah did. Jeremiah knew the power of God’s Word and he desired for the people to listen to God’s Word. It is true that his immediate audience was the people of Judah and Israel.
In verse 10 God directed Jeremiah to declare that the land was full of adulterers. He would further state that the prophets were committing adultery. This was spiritual adultery. Physical adultery is a sin that God said was punishable by death in the Old Testament. God has not changed His position on adultery. In the New Testament we are not told to stone the adulterer. We are told to preach and warn against this sin. True saints cannot condone this sin. Spiritual adultery is also sin. It is wrong to claim to be a child of the LORD and yet run around with the world’s philosophies.
Jeremiah further spoke of the swearing that had polluted the land. There was blasphemy against the LORD in both prophet and the common people. I spoke with a man recently who suggested that swearing was not really a bad thing. He suggested that it was just slang. This man was trying to justify sin. I showed him from the Bible that what he was trying to justify had no justification. In our text the LORD was condemning this common practice of that time.
God stated that the land was in mourning because of the corruption of the people. God could not bless the land of Judah due to their rampant sin. God cannot bless any land that is so corrupted by sin.
Even those places that were known as pleasant places were dried up. In our day of false gods, the government is trying to “protect” certain places from people traffic, that used to be visited by people. The government wants to protect “mother nature” because she is so fragile. The wickedness is on full display.
Jeremiah was directed to point out the dire situation in Judah and Israel . It is not surprising that wicked people would take offence to what he was directed to say. It was a necessary message. God did not want to continue to judge the land and the people. He would rather have them repent and get right with Him. Jeremiah was called upon to proclaim the truth.
We need men like Jeremiah today who will choose to speak God’s truth even though it is not popular. God’s truth will set the captive free. It will deliver the lost from the judgment of the LORD. The loving saint will care more about seeing lost and deceived people know the truth than he will concern himself with being liked by all people. His desire is to be a faithful servant of the LORD. That is what Jeremiah was and that is what we need today.
Today is the Lord’s Day. It is the day that God has blessed us with so that we can go to a good church to hear the Word of the LORD. Good churches are a rare thing today and they are becoming rarer all the time. This is sad, but true. There is much religion today as there always has been. Let me encourage each reader to go to a good church today. Ask God to guide you to a church that upholds His Word. You need that. I know that some of those reading this understand that. Others do not. Each one needs to ask God to give you understanding of the importance of the truth. It is the truth that will make you free.