“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord." Jeremiah 23:1-2
It was happening during the day of Jeremiah, the prophet of God, and it happens today, too. In all times there have been those who profess to be proclaiming the message of God, when in fact they are leading and encouraging people in a direction away from God.
According to Jeremiah, some religious leaders were destroying and scattering the sheep of God's pasture. In addition, because of this, God's people have not been cared for properly, and God pronounces punishment on those who inflict the damage.
Jeremiah 23 gives us some specific details about the workings of these evil prophets. Read just a part of the things which pointed to their wicked ways:
The land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land lies parched.
The prophets follow an evil course and use their power unjustly.
Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness.
They prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray.
They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that not one of them turns from their wickedness.
We can imagine the difficult task of a faithful prophet like Jeremiah, who not only had the responsibility of speaking and teaching the ways of God, while also confronting these so-called prophets who were evil.
Here is what God said, "I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied."
Then in verses 23 and 24, God reveals his truth in the matter. "Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
He is our God, near and far. His majesty fills heaven and earth. We do not have a God that is so remote to his people they can never talk to him, know his presence, and feel his love. In spite of those evil workers, we can be brought into relationship with the Heavenly Father, through the blood of Jesus on the cross. He forgives our sin. He desires our faithful service.