Jeremiah 23: False Prophets

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 160

When we think of prophets, we usually think of the President of the Church or great men in the scriptures who taught the Lord’s word. All prophets are teachers. There are also false prophets or teachers, however, who do not teach the truth. Jeremiah 23 tells that the Lord spoke about false prophets among the people. He revealed their false teachings and spoke of how these false prophets led people to sin and to believe false ideas. We also learn from this chapter about some differences between true and false prophets.President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know” (“Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” in 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year [1981], 28). Look for how this statement might apply to Jeremiah’s teachings in this chapter.Jeremiah 23:5–8 is of great importance because Jeremiah prophesied about the Savior.

Understanding the Scriptures

Jeremiah 23

Pastors (vv. 1–2)Literally, “shepherds,” but in this case, “leaders” 
Remnant (v. 3)What is left when everything else is gone 
Folds (v. 3)Safe, fenced areas to keep sheep 
Dismayed (v. 4)Terrified 
Execute, executed (vv. 5, 20)Perform 
Swearing (v. 10)A curse 
Folly (v. 13)Foolish things 
Return (vv. 14, 20)Turn away 
Wormwood (v. 15)Bitterness 
Gall (v. 15)A bitter liquid, poison 
Vain (v. 16)To think you are better than you really are 
Counsel (vv. 18, 22)In Hebrew, “council”—a group gathered together to instruct or make decisions 
Perceived (v. 18)Seen 
Marked (v. 18)Listened to 
At hand (v. 23)Nearby 
Deceit (v. 26)Lies 
Lightness (v. 32)Acting without much thought, reckless 
Burden (vv. 36, 38)Message 
Perverted (v. 36)Changed, overturned 
Reproach (v. 40)Disgrace 
Perpetual (v. 40)Everlasting 

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you study Jeremiah 23.

Activity A iconHow Can You Tell a False Prophet?

  1. 1.

    Read Jeremiah 23:1–2, 9–11, 13–14, 16–27, 29–32 and list what the Lord said false prophets were saying and doing.

  2. 2.

    Choose one item you listed and explain why that action or teaching would make someone a false prophet.

  3. 3.

    Why do you think people follow false prophets?

  4. 4.

    Why is it vital to know and follow a true prophet? How can you discern a false prophet? (see Deuteronomy 18:20–22; D&C 42:11–12; 46:7).

Activity B iconThe Cure for False Prophets

What did the Lord say in Jeremiah 23:3–8 that He would do for those who were led astray by their leaders in Judah? (Note that this prophecy will be fulfilled mostly in the latter days.)