But if they had stood in my council Then might they have announced my words unto my people, And have turned them from their wicked way and from the wickedness of their doings.” (Jeremiah 23:22, EMPH)

They “they” here are prophets to Judah who are doing the work of prophecy, but they are not ordained by God to do this work.  They are false prophets.  The verse previous to this one reads:

“I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.” (Jeremiah 23:21, ESV)

Our verse describes the problem with these false prophets: if they had stood in my council.  They were false prophets because they were not listening to or learning from God, they were prophesying without a relationship with God, without standing in his council, without subjecting themselves to His word and His authority.  They are severely condemned for this.

I draw a couple of lessons from this for us:

  1. If we are truly followers of God, then we will listen to him and sit under his authority.  God’s word will judge us, we will not judge God’s word.
  2. If God has called us to a leadership position or a teaching position, we have extra responsibility! We must not take God’s word lightly or twist it around to fit our own sensibilities or the sensibilities of the culture around us.  This is exactly what the false prophets were doing and they were wrong and it was sin and it led the people astray from the truth.  God forbid we do that if we are leading others or teaching others God’s word.