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Now why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth who is prophesying to you?

Jeremiah 29:27 (ESV)

Playing a Role Out of Position

Reading the rebuke of Shemaiah from the Lord sounds like a laundry list of misgivings and mistaken moves on Shemaiah’s part. When God has to go on a roll to run down all of your transgressions, He is not just having a tie to vent. Believe in all honesty that He is setting up things to take you down and set you straight.

What do we know about Shemaiah?

Shemaiah the Nehelamite, a false prophet who went with the captives to Babylon and who opposed Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:24, 31-32). Shemaiah means “God heard” in Hebrew. Nehelamite, according to topical Bible research, means “dweller of Nehela.” However, “no such place-name is found in the Old Testament.”

He sounds like a self-appointed prophet among the Babylonian captives who took offense to the letters sent by Jeremiah. His words call for such a madman to be restrained and confined “in the stocks and neck irons,” according to verse 26. He challenges Zephaniah to answer why he has not rebuked and handled Jeremiah as of yet, especially after he said for the Babylonian captives to settle in and make the most of their time in captivity since it would last 70 years.

Not only was this man out of position, but he was totally taking on a man called by God to share His message, not a madman with a message of his own.

Leave It to God to Handle False Prophets

We’ve seen God do it before. We should not be surprised to see God do it again. He uses His servants the prophets to deliver His message to the people, while He handles false prophets with swift justice. He did so with Hananiah, the prophet dying within the same year of his false prophecy in the previous chapter.

Did you really think Shemaiah was going to get away with such an outlandish move as putting Jeremiah on blast like he was the false prophet?

Not one bit.

God sets things straight by making it plain. “Behold, I will punish Shemaiah of Nehelam and his descendants. He shall not have anyone living among this people, and he shall not see the good that I will do to my people, declares the Lord, for he has spoken rebellion against the Lord” (v. 32, ESV). Despite what the false prophet believes and says, he is dealt with by God in a way that shuts down his own message.

The best part of it all comes at the tail end of the verse and chapter where God says “for he has spoken rebellion against the Lord.” It is what it is. It is God having to rectify what some fool says another one believes without even comparing it with what God has said already. It is pure foolishness passed around and taken in like bad medicine. People are warned that they reap what they sow. Such is the case with Shemaiah. You think somebody needs to be corrected? Okay, let’s let God handle that and see who gets handled for pushing falsehood and rebellion among God’s people.

Jeremiah 29 is the foundation for this week’s livestream Wednesday at 11 AM PST

Let the lesson of Shemaiah help you learn more about how God deals with falsehood. He does not spend a lot of time on it. He does not offer many words for it. He speaks on it and against, and then it is handled by Him. In fact the Lord has warned us about these false prophets. I think most of us who know the Lord can live with that rather than trying to figure out what God is doing to make things right.

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For the shepherds have become dull-hearted,

And have not sought the Lord

Jeremiah 10:21 (NKJV)

I want to circle back to Jeremiah 3:15 and help someone understand the complexity of what God says there in comparison to what we see here. Look at this week’s Bible study outline and see how it fits in, too. When we were in chapter 3 of Jeremiah, much of our attention was placed on the whoredom of Israel and Judah. However, it is in that same chapter where God promises to provided shepherds “according to My own heart.” But what is this that we’re seeing here where God is calling His own shepherds “senseless?”

God points out the lack of responsibility among the shepherds of God’s people. He even says: “The shepherds are senseless.” God shows that the shepherds lack of leadership left Him with no choice but to remove these shepherds and recover His sheep as in Jeremiah 31:10.

But He said that He would provide us shepherds, right?

When comparing Jeremiah 10:21 and Jeremiah 3:15, the problem that emerges comes in the form of contextual confusion. Keep in mind that Jeremiah 3:15 is a providential promise of God to Israel based on the conditional repentance of the “faithless children” in verse 14. Think in terms of prophecy. He says it in chapter 3, but that does not mean that He will fulfill that prophetic promise immediately. Failing to connect the dots right here will have you left with your mental wheels spinning out of control trying to figure out why God failed His flock. Like I said, think in terms of prophecy rather than immediate actions by God. Jeremiah 3:15 is an eventuality, while Jeremiah 10:21 is the status of the conditions as they stand at that moment. That’s the difference. That’s where we see the prophecy in comparison to the revelation of the current circumstances.

We’ll cover more about this on Wednesday at 11 AM as we dig into chapter 10.

You will find plenty of debate on the topic of shepherding God’s flock. Some will deem that it is the whole counsel of God or nothing at all except a compromised message. Countless interpretations use the contents in various contexts and plenty of communication has left numerous congregations in confusion. In essence, consider the role of the shepherd. Modern day Christians tend to mix and match many of the roles in the Old and New Testaments. We need to end the confusion and work with some sense of clarity on these concepts in order to clearly hear and accept God’s message through His Word with confidence.

I pray that you grasp the fact that we can mistakenly mislead others with our own misinterpretations.

#JeremiahJourney

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