Having thus passed in review the predecessors of Zedekiah on the throne of Judah, the prophet proceeded to deal with those who had been responsible for the failure of the people, the false kings and prophets. This first section has to do with the kings.
In the divine economy the king has always been a shepherd, but the men who had held the kingly office had destroyed and scattered the sheep. This is the charge of Jehovah against them, and the prophet declared that Jehovah would visit on them the evil of their doings. Moreover, he announced the purpose of God to gather the remnant of His flock and set up over them shepherds who would feed them. In this connection his vision grew clearer, and he announced the coming of One of David's line, who would "reign as King and deal wisely," and through whom the restoration of the ancient people would be accomplished.
He then turned to the prophets. Of these he spoke out of a broken heart as he contemplated the condition of the land. He ascribed this terrible state of things to the profanation of prophet and priest. The judgment of the prophets was consequent on the falseness of the messages they had delivered. In the very presence of judgment they had spoken the lie of peace, declaring to the people that no evil would come upon them. Moreover, they had spoken without divine authority. They had dreamed their own dreams, rather than delivered the messages of Jehovah. Finally, he uttered the tremendous word of the divine judgment, beginning, "I am against the prophets, saith Jehovah." The consequence of false prophesying is unutterable confusion, and ultimately the loss of the word of authority, so that "every man's word shall be his own burden."
This section clearly reveals the prophet's accurate understanding of the process of the nation's corruption. False kings and prophets had led the people into courses of evil resulting from degraded conceptions of God. In their turn the people had willingly followed and listened, refusing the true messages of God, such as had been spoken by Jeremiah and other of the divinely appointed messengers.
the Second Week after Epiphany