Even as Israel was facing invasion by a cruel nation, the religious leaders were deceiving the people by prophesying peace and prosperity. It was not unlike the days foretold by the Apostle Paul which are coming soon. The Apostle warned Christ-followers, “Concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” [1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-3].
Tragically, the shepherds whom Jeremiah described had enriched themselves at the expense of the people they were to serve. Because of their focus on their own interests rather than the LORD’s will, they had destroyed the LORD’s flock, scattering them through deliberate distortion of the Word of God. Prophets of the northern kingdom had turned to outright idolatry, bringing God’s judgement upon the nation. However, religious leaders of the southern kingdom had committed an even greater sin, if such was possible; they had excused evil through their failure to warn of the consequences of sin. Even the religious leaders had begun to participate in wickedness. In short, they had become idolaters, worshipping their own fallen desires.