THE QUESTION (No. 61)
What do you think of the Old Testament prophecy, Jeremiah 23:3, about the coming Messiah. It mentions multiple shepherds sent by God.
Jeremiah's prophecy reads (RSV):
 "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!" says the LORD.
 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: "You have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD.
 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.
 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the LORD.
 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: `The LORD is our righteousness.'
We must first come to terms with the limitations of Jeremiah and the other prophets of the Old Testament. This means that we must acknowledge that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God. Then we can begin to accurately evaluate the prophets.
The true prophets, including Jeremiah, were all servants (slaves) of God. They were not sons of God. Jesus, the Son, set their limitations with the following utterance:
John.15As the Son of God, Jesus knows (knew) what the Father is doing, and he made it known to his disciples, who relayed it to us by means of the gospels. We can depend on it. Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc., are not sons but slaves (servants) of God. Concerning these prophets (prophetic scriptures), Jesus said, it is they that bear witness of me.
So I see the prophets as serving a function similar to that of the large signs over the Interstate highways, which direct us to our destinations. They are not the destination, nor do they give accurate details about what we will find there. So the prophets direct us toward Jesus, our one Good Shepherd. They cannot tell us Truth because, as they were servants and not sons, the Father has not confided in them. It follows that when they attempt to lay out the details in prophecy, they often err, as in this case.
One can find my further evaluation of the prophets in this paper, part of a series dedicated to the Promise.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Father's promises to Israel, including the promise of a king from David's line that would restore the kingdom by means of a king on the throne of David. Jeremiah points to Jesus as the successor to David's throne. Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy but he, although a descendent of David in his flesh, renounced the relation. It is not David's throne that he occupies, but his own throne in heaven, beside the Father. Explanation of this difference is beyond the scope of this answer.
The prophecy speaks of gathering his flock from wherever "I have driven them." This can only apply to the children of Israel, but we learn from Jesus that all promises to them are canceled because of their rejection of himself. The kingdom was taken away from them and given to the Little Flock (Lk. 12:32) that is from all nations, while the nation of Israel receives this final statement from the Lord:
Matt.23The poor house of Israel (and Judah) has never accepted this judgment, but history reveals its validity. The unfruitful fig tree was cut down and is no more. So, when Jeremiah wrote:
In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.It was a prophecy that was not and will not be fulfilled. Look at modern Israel. Do they dwell in Palestine in safety? Are they secure?
And when he wrote:
For the time is coming, says the LORD, when I will place a righteous Branch on King David's throne.He prophesied that the nation would be reconstituted in Palestine with a Branch of David on his throne. But Jesus, the Son of man, renounced his relation to David. He does not occupy the throne of David but the throne of God. How do we know?
Luke 20 But he said to them, "How can they say that the Christ is David's son?So I see no reason to believe in multiple shepherds (according to a slave), when the Son has said there is but one. Jesus alone, the Son and not a servant or slave, knows the Truth and declares it to all who can hear him. Here, then, is the final word on the number of shepherds sent from the Father to tend his Flock:
Jn.10:14 FNT I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, 15 just as the father knows me, and I know the father, and I lay-down my psyche-life in behalf of the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this sheep-pen, and I must lead [these], and they will hear my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.