Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 24 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32
Read the “0907 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men. So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded. … Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” – (Ezekiel 24:16-18, 24)
This morning’s passage contains a very heart-breaking story. Ezekiel is prophesying against Jerusalem. God is telling them that because of their rejection of Him, He is going to pour out His wrath upon the city – without mercy. He then uses Ezekiel as a personal illustration. Ezekiel prophesied to the people in the morning, and his wife died later that day, but he was commanded not to take any time off to mourn for his wife. The next day, he was in his place prophesying again to the people. Wow! That is certainly a lot to ask from any man. God’s reasoning for this illustration was to show Judah that they were about to lose what was very dear to them: their city, and their temple. But, God tells Ezekiel and Judah that they were not to mourn when that horrible day of destruction came. Because the people were not at all concerned about their city before the judgment fell, they were not permitted to mourn afterward. The time for weeping was over.
But what about Ezekiel? God actually took his wife away from him in death to illustrate this prophecy to the people of Jerusalem. Ezekiel didn’t skip a beat, either. He did exactly what was commanded of him. I am sure that Ezekiel loved his wife, but he obviously loved God more; and I am sure that he also knew that his wife was taken by God to be with Him in Heaven. The bottom line to all of this is that we must understand that we all belong to God. He can do with us whatever He chooses. His plan is much bigger than any of our individual desires. We must trust Him. Too many of God’s people collapse when tragedies like this one come into their life, but it ought not be so. God is good, and He always does good, even when it may seem bad to us. We must trust that God knows what is best, not only for us, but for our loved ones, and for His overall plan.
I doubt very seriously that God will ask us to not mourn over the death of a loved one, but He may take home to Heaven somone that is very dear to us; or, He may allow some unpleasant circumstances to enter our lives. We must remember when these days come that God is working all things together for His glory, and our ultimate good. We must trust Him. Not easy sometimes, but possible through His grace and our faith.
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51
Read the “0906 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30)
Today’s reading is much the same in context as the passages that we have already read in Ezekiel and in Jeremiah. The people of God have seriously abandoned the will of God; and have turned to other gods. They have forsaken the One who gave them their land, and all of their prosperity. God has already judged to no avail; but He promises that more judgment is coming because the people simply refuse to turn back to Him. The saddest verse in this passage is found in verse 30 of chapter 22. God sought for a man…and found none. God could not find one man who was willing to make a difference in Judah. He couldn’t find one that would stand in the gap, filling in the hedge, so that judgment could be spared. Where were the men who could have made a difference?
Where are the men today who are willing to make a difference for the Lord? Could God find a man today that would be willing to stand in the gap. R.A. Torrey recounts a story told regarding D.L. Moody:
Henry Varley, a very intimate friend of Mr. Moody in the earlier days of his work, loved to tell how he once said to him: “It remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him.” I am told that when Mr. Henry Varley said that, Mr. Moody said to himself: “Well, I will be that man.” And I, for my part, do not think “it remains to be seen” what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him. I think it has been seen already in D. L. Moody.
Where are the men today that are wholly devoted to God? Where are the men today who will sell out completely for the cause of Christ? Where are the men today that will make a difference? Could God spare America today because you (or I) are standing in the gap? God is looking for some men today who are willing to live for Him: to stand boldly in the midst of a wicked generation, that will stand for the Truth and shine the Light of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Will you be that man?
There is a song on one of the Clark Family CD’s that I enjoy called, “A Few Good Men”. I think the song was written by the Gaithers, but I am not positive. The lyrics of the song express what Ezekiel was saying in our passage today:
A Few Good Men (Audio)What this dying world could use is a willing Man of God
Who dares to go against the grain and works without applause;
A man who’ll raise the shield of Faith, protecting what is pure;
Whose love is tough and gentle; a man whose word is sure. God doesn’t need an Orator who knows what just to say;
He doesn’t need authorities to reason Him away;
He doesn’t need an army to guarantee a win;
He just needs a Few Good Men. Men full of Compassion, who Laugh and Love and Cry-
Men who’ll face Eternity and aren’t afraid to die-
Men who’ll fight for Freedom and Honor once again-
He just needs a Few Good Men.
He calls the broken derelict whose life has been renewed;
He calls the one who has the strength to stand up for the Truth.
Enlistment lines are open and He wants you to come in-
He just needs a Few Good Men.
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 20 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 48:1 & 2
Read the “0905 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.” – (Ezekiel 20:43)
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” – (Romans 7:24)
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” – (John 16:7-8)
Just a quick thought from the Scripture this morning. Here in chapter 20 & 21, God is delivering a stern rebuke upon the people of Israel for their rebellion against Him. However, there is one place in these two chapters where I see hope for the children of Israel, and it comes here in v 43. This is the place where the people finally recognize their sin against God, and actually feel what would be to us the convicting power of the Holy Spirit of God. I cannot say that I enjoy the feeling of being pronounced guilty from within my own spirit; but I am very glad that God loves me enough to let me know when I am guilty. Incidentally, one of the best assurances that you are a child of God is the presence of the Holy Spirit of God within you.
Notice an important truth about this loathing that people of Israel would feel about themselves. It comes after God gathers them back into the land of Israel, and after He begins to bless them again. He says in verse 44 that the people would realize that God did not deal with them according to their wickedness; He blessed them inspite of the fact that they had turned against Him. They deserved judgment, yet God dealt with them in mercy and grace. The New Testament tells us that it is the love of Christ that constrains us. That verse is referring to His love for us, not our love for Him. When we realize the unmerited and unconditional love that God has for us, it causes us to realize how undeserving of that love we really are, and it brings about the conviction, the self-loathing that Ezekiel speaks about in this passage.
Paul felt the same way about himself in the Book of Romans. He called himself a wretched man. He recognized the sin that was within him. The Holy Spirit of God pointed it out to him, and he didn’t attempt to cover it, hide it, or defend it. He came clean with God. We need to do the same thing. When our Heavenly Father points out to us the things in our lives that displease Him, the best thing that we can do is agree with Him, confess them, and then forsake them. The whole process starts, however, with conviction.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:6
Read the “0903 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)
I find it very interesting what God said regarding “the sin of thy sister Sodom”. When we think of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, we usually would put homosexuality at the top of the list. However, God says that the sin of Sodom was a combination of pride, gluttony, and laziness. These sins obviously led to the immorality that became rampant in Sodom. Homosexuality was the outcome, or the fruit, of the root sins mentioned in verse 49.
When I consider this verse I can’t help but think that Sodom bears a striking resemblance to America today. The vile lewdness that permeates our society is clearly evidence of the fact that we have long ago abandoned the moral principles found in the Word of God. But what caused this condition? I believe that we can see the same root sins in our culture today: pride, gluttony, and laziness. We are a pleasure seeking, self-centered society that is constantly trying to create more ways to satisfy the lusts of her flesh.
We know what the problem is, but what is the solution? Well, of course it begins with a genuine relationship with God through the new birth available through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But then we must add to our faith the opposites of the sins of Sodom. By that I mean if Sodom was prideful we must be humble. Humility means that we recognize who we are in relation to an omnipotent God. It also means that we elevate others above ourselves through serving them. Instead of being self-centered, we must become God centered, and God would have us to put others before ourselves.
Gluttony was also one of the problems of Sodom. We must be willing to sacrifice. We don’t have to have everything that this world has to offer. Too many Christians are satisfying every appetite of their flesh. It is OK to do without every now and again. We don’t have to eat at the Golden Corral every night. Maybe we should give a little more of the excess that we have been spending on ourselves, and use it for the glory of God.
Finally, we see that Sodom was lazy. They had too much time on their hands. You have heard the expression “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. I think that’s accurate. Too many Christians are sitting around, watching things on the T.V. or the Internet that they should not be watching. We need to be busy. I find that my life works better when I have a lot on my plate. There is certainly a time for scheduled rest and recreation, but there is no place for laziness. We have many people in our church who are currently out of work. My recommendation to them is that they first spend a lot of time looking for work, but then look for ways to stay busy, being productive. There are a million things that need to be done. They can work on their homes, do things down at the church, find a way to help somebody else, anything; but stay busy.
Let’s not get caught up in all of the self-centered, pleasure seeking that is replete in our culture today. Let’s stay busy serving and sacrificing for the Lord.
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 4 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:1 – 4
Read the “0902 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.” – (Ezekiel 13:4-6)
In Ezekiel 13, God tells the prophet Ezekiel to prophesy against the prophets. At this time in Israel’s history there were many false prophets that were telling the people that everything is going to be OK, and that there is no need to fear. The Bible calls them prophets of peace. The problem was that they were wrong; they were deceiving the people into a false sense of security. They preached much on the love and mercy of God, without speaking of God’s holiness and justice. The truth of the matter is that judgment was on it’s way, and God wanted the people to be warned of that judgment so that they would have an opportunity to repent and turn back to him. The reason for the judgment was because the people of Israel had forsaken the Lord, and had become idolatrous as well as immoral.
We have many prophets of peace today also. They preach about a god that doesn’t seem to care about sin when the truth of the matter is that our God hates the sin that is running rampant in our land today. America has thrown God and the Bible under the bus, and He cannot possibly be pleased. I am not a prophet. I have no special revelation from God, but I do know what the Bible teaches. Yes, God loves people, and He wants to see them saved. He sent His only Son to die on the cross for their sins. But, in order for people to be spared the coming judgment, they must turn to God in repentance and faith. As a nation, America has almost completely turned her back on God, but that does not mean that I have to join in. I stand for God. I will preach the message of God’s love for sinners like me, but I will also declare God’s hatred for their sin. Judgment is coming to all who reject God and His message of salvation through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you trusted Christ as your Saviour? If you haven’t I beg you to trust Him today before it is eternally too late. For more information about salvation read “Are You Saved?”
Be careful who you listen to regarding what God says:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” – (Matthew 7:15)
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” – (Jude 1:3-4)
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” – (2 Peter 2:1)
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” – (1 John 4:1)
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 5 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25
Read the “0901 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.” (Ezekiel 8:12)
“Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.” – (Ezekiel 9:9)
In our passage today Ezekiel is sitting in his house in Babylon along with the elders of Israel, when suddenly God appears to Him and reveals to him the extent of the idolatry among the people of God. God shows Ezekiel what the people were doing when they thought that no one else was looking. The people didn’t think that even God could see them when they were in their own little wicked world.
There were two phrases from today’s reading that caught my attention. The first one is found in Ezekiel 8:12, “hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark“. The second is also found in that verse, and is found again in Ezekiel 9:9, “the Lord seeth not“. Man sometimes convinces himself that if his sin is done in private (“in the dark”), that God somehow is unable to see it. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is nothing that can be hidden from the eyes of God: He sees all that we do, and hears all that we say; and He even knows our thoughts. Scary.
Did you ever think about how much of our sin is done “in the dark”. To be sure there is also a lot of sin that is done in the open, especially among those who are not in the family of God. The lost world does not seem to care as much if their sin is exposed, and they would certainly not even consider much of what they do as sin in the first place. However, my thought this morning does not concern unbelievers. I am thinking today about Christians. People who go to church every week. People who look sparkly clean on the outside. People who appear to have their spiritual house in order. People like you and me. We wouldn’t dare take our sins into the public arena, out there for everybody to see; but how much sin is going on “in the dark”? What do we talk about privately? What are we participating in with one other person, or perhaps even a discreet few other people? What do we look at, listen to, or think about when nobody is watching? Oh, but there is Someone watching, isn’t there? God sees it all. Christians somehow think that because their sin is hidden from most people, that it doesn’t really matter; but it does matter to God.
I think it is time for us within the church to be honest with ourselves. There is an awful lot of junk going on “in the dark”. You can’t see it at our services. You won’t spot too much of it when we all get together for fellowship, but it’s there. Most people can’t see it, but God does. The public doesn’t get wind of it until the sin finally blows up our lives. When will we learn?
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Today’s Passage – Ezekiel 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 18:3 & 46
Read the “0831 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” – (Ezekiel 3:17-19)
The Book of Ezekiel is a very fascinating portion of Scripture, containing many mysterious creatures and visions. I must confess that there is much about this particular potion of the Bible that I do not understand; but the verses that are given above are pretty clear to me. God made Ezekiel a watchman to the house of Israel. The watchman’s job is not difficult. He must stay alert, keeping his eyes open to any possible dangers, and if any do appear he is then to sound the alarm in order to warn the people. Ezekiel’s job was to warn the people of Israel regarding the judgment that will come if they continue in their rebellion to God. God reassured Ezekiel that he was not responsible for what the people did with the warning. God was only going to hold Ezekiel accountable if he didn’t warn the people.
We can certainly make application of this passage to our lives today. As Christians, we possess the greatest Truth that the world has ever known. We have the knowledge of the Saviour, and we have the ability, through our words as well as our lives, to share the wonderful news of redemption and salvation to the world around us. As it was with Ezekiel, we are not responsible for what people do with the message; we are only commanded to deliver the warning. We are to warn people about the impending judgment that awaits them if they do not repent and believe the gospel. Whether they accept that truth or reject it is on them. Of course, we should not be like Jonah who reluctantly delivered the message to the Ninevites. We should be eager to do all that we can do in order to adorn the gospel, and convince people of the wonderful love of the Saviour.
We can also make application of this passage of Scripture to those of us who have been given the special responsibility of preaching or teaching the Truth of the Word of God. Sometimes I get very frustrated when saved people do not apply the clear teaching of Scripture to their lives; but I must remember that my responsibility is only to be the right example before them, pray for them, and then teach them. It is their decision whether or not they will apply the principles or heed the warnings from the Scripture. Again, I hope that they will but the truth is that many will not, at least not all the time. In fact, if I could be perfectly honest with myself, I would have to admit that there are many times that I do not listen to my own advice very well. But that does not change the Truth. The Truth is still the Truth whether I follow it or not, and it is still right to preach and teach the Truth even though, in the flesh, we all fall short of it at times.
I guess the conclusion of the matter is that we are all watchman in some respects. We all have the obligation to warn the world around us of the judgment that is surely coming, and share with them the salvation that can only come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, we must realize that we also should be heeding the warnings and applying the life principles that we receive from the watchman that God has placed in our lives to bless and protect us.
Posted in Thoughts from Ezekiel by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8
Read the “0830 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “Hitting Rock Bottom“
“Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked. The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.” (Lamentations 4:21)
I do not know for sure if I am interpreting these verses correctly; but it seems to me, without having studied the passage, that the Edomites were rejoicing because of all the judgment that was being afflicted on God’s people. They were ecstatic that their enemy, Judah, was being taken in such a cruel way into captivity into Babylon. However, God says that their rejoicing would be short lived because their day of judgment was coming as well. And remember, God promised His people that He would not make “a full end” of them. I do not think the same promise applies to the Edomites.
God is not pleased when people rejoice when their enemies are falling (Proverbs 24:17). We expect this kind of behavior from the lost world, but are we guilty of the same thing? Have you ever rejoiced (maybe even just a little) when you received word that someone who has hurt you in the past has had some kind of bad thing happen to them. I hate to admit it but I know that I have done it on occasion. Worse yet, I know that my flesh wants to do it every time. God despises that kind of attitude. To think that we who are sinners deserving of judgment, rejoice when another sinner, no more deserving than we, receives it. God must get weary with us and our wicked attitude. Next time you hear about somebody you don’t like (or doesn’t like you) going through a tough time, why not pray for them; why not thank God that you are not facing the same or equally painful situation. Maybe if you will sow a little mercy and compassion, you just might reap a little of the same back when you need it.
By the way, the Calvinists all like to quote the passage from Malachi that says that God loved Jacob (Israel), but hated Esau (Edom). They attempt to prove that God arbitrarily sends some people to Heaven and some people to Hell, without any opportunity for repentance. However, we must remember that when God referred to Esau in Malachi, he was speaking about Edom as a nation, and when he referred to Jacob, he was speaking about Israel. It is also important to consider that God did not say he hated Esau in the Book of Genesis, He said it at the end of the Old Testament, after the history of the Edomites had already been established. According to Malachi, God hated (or rejected) the Edomites. Why? Partially, it was because they rejoiced when the Babylonians were destroying the people of God.
Posted in Thoughts from Lamentations by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Today’s Passage – Lamentations 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Deuteronomy 32:4
Read the “0829 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” – (Lamentations 3:21-24)
I love the Biblical significance of the rainbow. God showed Noah the rainbow and told him that it would be there in the sky at the end of the rainstorm to remind God’s people that the rain is coming to an end. For Noah it was a precious reminder, as he had just experienced the destruction of every living creature on the earth through a deluge of water. To us, the rainbow is still a symbol of hope. In our passage in Lamentations today, we do not see an actual rainbow but we do see the hope that all of God’s children can see even when they feel like it’s all over. In these chapters we read about Israel after the destruction that came through the hands of the Babylonians. It was a horrible time for God’s people – possibly the lowest point in their history. Jeremiah had warned the people for many years that judgment was imminent because the people of God had forsaken the Lord. Well, here in Lamentations, there are no more warnings, just the account of the total humiliation and destruction of Jerusalem, Israel, and the people of God.
The first two chapters of this book are very sad indeed; and chapter three starts out as bleakly as the first two; but when we get to verse 21, we can finally get a glimpse of hope. Jeremiah recalls that God is merciful and compassionate, and as he wrote in The Book Of Jeremiah, “he will not make a full end” of them. You see, Jeremiah remembers here that God loves His people, even though He had to correct them. God’s correction would not last forever. In fact, Jeremiah reminds the people that God’s compassion is new every morning. I love that statement. Aren’t you glad that God never runs out of compassion?
Christian, you may be experiencing in your life right now the correcting hand of God. I know that I have had my share of correction through the years. It is certainly not pleasant. However, there are two things that we need to remember about God’s correction. First, we must remember that God does not correct us to get even. He disciplines us for our own good, purely out of love for us. He is trying to bring us back to where we need to be – for our own good. Secondly, we need to keep in mind that God’s correction will not last forever. I remember as a child, I sometimes thought the punishments that I had received at the hands of my parents would never end; but they always did. The sun always came up, and the rainbow eventually appeared to signify the end of the storm. If you are experiencing the loving correction of our Heavenly Father today, take heart: there is hope, His compassions are new every morning.
Posted in Thoughts from Lamentations by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 49 – 50 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8
Read the “0827 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.” – (Jeremiah 50:6)
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. … Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.” – (Ezekiel 34:2-4, 10)
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” – (1 Peter 5:1-4)
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” – (John 10:11)
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” – (John 10:14)
In our Bible reading passage today from the Book of Jeremiah, God is sending His warning of judgment to the nation of Babylon because of their treatment of the nation of Israel. The interesting thing about this is that God actually allowed the Babylonians to conquer His people because the Israelites had turned their backs on Him. Notice the statement in Jeremiah 50:6: “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray”. Notice that God states very clearly here that the reason His people had gone astray was because the shepherds were not doing their jobs. The shepherds of Israel were the spiritual and political leaders who had lead the people of God into apostasy and immorality.
Our nation today is also failing due to the fact that the shepherds are not doing their jobs. Our political leaders are leading people in a godless path, and the spiritual leaders are not much better. There is little that I can do to influence the political direction of our country, but as one of God’s “under-shepherds”, I can do my part to see that the flock that God has entrusted to my care is healthy. But, what is the job of the “under-shepherd” (pastor) of a New Testament church?
1 Provide for the flock – “feed the flock of God which is among you” – It is the job of the pastor to make sure the people of the church are getting the whole counsel of the Word of God. The pastor should be making sure that the people are getting a healthy diet of sound Bible doctrine. Too many churches are limiting the tie that is spent in teaching and preaching, and are replacing it with forms of entertainment. I am not opposed to some of the other things that we do in our church services, but they should not replace the time spent in the Word. The further away our nation gets from God, the more we will need to be strengthened by the Word.
2 Protect the flock – There are a lot of things out there that will hurt God’s people. It is the job of the pastor to warn the people against false teachers who lead them astray doctrinally. We also have the obligation to stand strong and hold the line in the area of morality. The world, the flesh, and the devil are all pushing our churches into immodesty and immorality. It is the pastor’s job to see to it that carnality and worldliness are kept as far away from the church as possible. The pastor should also be the first one to offer help to the hurting and even the straying Christian.
3 Pattern for the flock – This is perhaps the area where we fail the most. Many times we do not practice what we preach. We are to be “enamples” to the flock. It seems that there has been a tsunami lately of moral failure in the pulpits of many of America’s leading churches. This both grieves me, and scares me. It grieves me because it has cause some of “the enemies of God to blaspheme”. In other words it has given strength to the crowd that opposes God. It scares me because I know that some of these men were far better Christians than I. I don’t want to fall. I must do whatever I can to stay humble, because moral destruction cannot come unless there is pride because pride always precedes destruction.
America is failing today. God’s people, for the most part are failing today, and it is all my fault because I am one of those “under-shepherds” that have been entrusted by God to watch out for the flock. Pray for the shepherds.
Posted in Thoughts from Jeremiah by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.