Are You Still In Prison?

Prison

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 51 – 52 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 28)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

Read the “0828 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the firstyear of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison,” (Jeremiah 52:31)

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king of Judah and he reigned for only eight years when he was taken into captivity by the Babylonians. The Bible records that he was an evil king while he reigned. God caused the captivity to happen because of the evil kings of Judah which led the nation into a downward spiral of immorality and idolatry. Jehoiachin remained in prison in Babylon for 37 years, thus making his age 63 at the time of his release. He had spent most of his life in prison. In our passage today we see that he was released out of prison and given a place of great honor in the kingdom.

I am not sure that my assessment is accurate here, but bear with me as I share my thoughts. Jehoiachin was an evil guy; the Scripture is clear about that. Jehoiachin spent a lot of time in prison thinking about his life. Jehoiachin was finally released from his prison. Could it be, though the Scriptures do not clearly reveal this, that Jehoiachin repented in prison and turned back to God? God judged him with his nation during the captivity; and now God was releasing him with the nation. Is this not a picture of forgiveness? Isn’t living in sin a prison? Does the Bible not say that we were in bondage to sin? The Bible even records that his prison garments were put off of him. Doesn’t God give us a robe of righteousness when we become His child? I think that this passage is a marvelous picture of salvation. When the sinner trusts Christ as his Savior he is released from the bondage (prison) of sin; he is given a robe of righteousness; and is positioned in a place of blessing and honor in the King’s House. Note also that this all takes place when he is in his sixties which tells me it is never too late to be forgiven.

Have you been released from the prison of sin and unbelief? God wants to take you out; give you some new clothes, and set a place for you at his table. Why don’t you take him up on his offer? Trust Christ, get changed, and come to the table.


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Forgiveness

forgiveness

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 46 – 48 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 9 – 12; Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 26)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “0826 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished.” (Jeremiah 46 – 48)

The Book of Jeremiah is a book of judgment, most of it dealing with the coming captivity for the people of Judah in the land of Babylon. However, these three chapters that we have read today deal with the judgment that God had prepared for three nations: Egypt, the land of the Philistines, and Moab. All three of these nations have had a bad history with God’s people, Israel. For much of Israel’s Bible history these nations have been bitter enemies of the people of God. God would not spare these nations when he judged them, they would not receive the mercy that Judah would receive. Notice in the above verse that God says regarding His people that He would correct them “in measure,” but he would not make a full end. Israel was God’s chosen nation, they were His children, and even though they were at times no better than any other nation, they were in a covenant relationship with God.

Fast forward now to today. Individuals who have received the Lord Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation are also children of God:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12)

I thank God that He loves me unconditionally and that, even though there are times when He needs to correct me and chasten me, He never stops loving me. We know that there is a principle throughout the Bible of reaping and sowing, but I know that God has not caused me to reap in judgment to the same degree what I sowed in disobedience. On the other hand, I have reaped far more blessing than I deserve. God has been very good to me. He loves me, and I am not very lovable most of the time. I am His child. I came in through the door, Jesus Christ, and God will never kick me out of the house. It’s mind boggling but I am not complaining. People who do not know God misunderstand this unconditional love. They claim that it sounds like a license to sin. However, his unconditional love for me has constrained me, and His grace is teaching me to deny ungodliness. When I think about His love, I want to sin less and serve Him more.

I thank God for His loving correction, but even more, I thank God that no matter how bad I get, He never stops loving me!


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Bible Burning

Bible-Burning1

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 33 – 36 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 25 – 28; Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “0823 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.” (Jeremiah 36:22-23)

“Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.” (Jeremiah 36:32)

When Jeremiah the prophet wrote down the words that God had given him to deliver to the people to Judah, it was ultimately given to Jehudi to be read before King Jehoiakim. The king did not like was written about him by God through Jeremiah, so he took out a knife and cut the book in little pieces, and then threw it into the fire. However, this did not stop God, or Jeremiah. He just wrote another copy of what was previously written, and then added a few more things regarding the judgment that God intended upon the nation and particularly King Jehoiakim. The king tried to get rid of the judgment by removing the Word of God, but he could not eliminate the Word or what it says by burning it.

I find this is what many in our world are doing today. They attempt to hide from the Word of God by removing it from their sight. They figure that if they could just get rid of the Bible, and those that preach it, they could somehow escape the revealed judgment that God has declared against those who live in rebellion to Him. However, their attempt to remove the Word is futile because the minute you try to destroy it in one place, God will just raise it back up again from somewhere else. The communists in Russia, China, and other places have attempted to suppress the Word of God; but have failed miserably. In fact, in China where the Bible has been outlawed, there are millions of copies of the Word being circulated underground, which God is using to bring an incredible revival.

There also some, who having realized the futility of eliminating the Word, have attempted to alter the Word, changing it to meet their agenda. Their claim was that the words needed to be updated and modernized in order to continue to be relevant in an ever-changing culture. When I was saved back in 1990, I went to the Christian book store to buy a Bible. I had no idea what to buy. The clerk tried to sell me one of the modern versions, but for some reason I was drawn to a beautiful, leather-bound copy of the King James Bible. I am thrilled that God led me to the old King James. It has been a tremendous blessing to me and my family through the years. I have never doubted that the Book that I carried was an accurate copy of the very words of God. Stick with the Book!

There are also some preachers and churches that have essentially done the same thing that Jehoiakim did. No, they did not burn the Bible, but they did stop preaching it. Their worship services may include part of an altered verse, or two; but, for the most part, they gather together infrequently to watch movies, and listen to ear-tickling homilies about the love of God, without a word being preached against sin. Churches that once had vibrant Sunday Schools, and Bible studies throughout the week are now barely meeting together at all, and when they do, there is very little of the Bible being preached.

Let’s not be like King Jehoiakim: let’s revere the Word of God, and let’s read the Word of God; and then let us submit ourselves to what it says.

 


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Investing for the Future

investing in the future

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 30 – 32 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 22 – 24; Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “0822 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read another post from this passage – “No More Soulwinning?

So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.” – (Jeremiah 32:8)

“Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:” – (Jeremiah 32:37)

In chapter 32 of the Book of Jeremiah there is a very interesting story. Jeremiah the prophet is in jail, the nation of Israel is in a complete mess, the Babylonians have already taken a good number of the citizens of Israel into captivity; and, the final invasion by Nebuchadnezzar into the land is imminent. You would not think that this would be a good time to be purchasing real estate in the land of Israel. However, God told Jeremiah, who in turn told the people, that though things were going to be horrible for a number of years, God was going to give the people of Israel their land back, and He was going to prosper them once again. Of course, this is one of those dual purpose prophecies: it was fulfilled back in this Old Testament period, but it will ultimately be fulfilled when Christ returns.

The bottom line is that Jeremiah had enough faith in the Word of God to invest his money in a piece of land that was at that time worthless. He knew that God would do what He said that he would do, and that someday the property would be very valuable. I don’t know how much land is worth in Israel today, but I know this: someday it will be priceless because Christ will make Israel the capital of His World government. I am putting my money on Israel, and on God. He will do what He says He will do. You can bank on it.

We also need to be investing more into eternity. The Bible is clear that the investments that we make into the Lord’s work here on earth will yield a great deal of interest someday in eternity, not to mention the temporal blessings that also come while we are still here. We need to believe the Word of God as Jeremiah did in this passage, and God says that our investments in Him are very secure. We really cannot depend on the fact that our earthly retirement accounts, or social security, will be there for us in the future, but we can trust that God will always be there to take care of our every need.


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Keep Looking

Keep Looking

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 26 – 29 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 19 – 21; Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “0821 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Make the Best of It” and “Who Can You Trust

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Jeremiah 29 is written to the captives that had been taken away from Jerusalem in the first wave to Babylon. Jeremiah is writing to them from Jerusalem, and is encouraging them to not lose heart; and to not quit following the Lord. No doubt, they were a discouraged people: they had been uprooted from the place that God had given their fathers; and they had been carried away into a strange land with strange gods and peculiar customs. They probably thought that God was finished with them; and that it was all over for them. Jeremiah reminds them that God is not done with them, and that their time spent in Babylon is only for a season. He exhorts them to make the best of it in the land of captivity: to marry, build houses, and plant orchards and vineyards so that they would not decrease during their stay there.

I have gone through seasons where it seems that God has abandoned me: times when it feels like I am miles away from God. I am encouraged by passages like this that remind me that God will never leave me nor forsake me; and even though it seems like He doesn’t care at times, I know He does. I will try to follow the exhortation of God through Jeremiah: keep searching for me with your whole heart, and eventually, I will find Him. I know that God hasn’t moved away. It is my heart that has positioned itself elsewhere; but when I search for God with all my heart, bringing my heart back to Him, He will once again reveal Himself to me and place me in that spiritual land of Canaan known as the will of God.


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Who Can Change a Leopard’s Spots? God Can!

Leopard prowling, approaching its prey, Namibia. Scan from Velvia slide, XXXL

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 10 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 7 – 9; Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 27:15

Read the “0817 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23)

The context of this passage, and the Book of Jeremiah as a whole, is the impending judgment that is facing Judah and Jerusalem because of their sin. They had gotten totally out of control: God had sent prophets to them; God had sent judgment to them; but they did not get the message. They were too far gone. God was about to do something very big in and to Jerusalem. The Babylonians were about to invade. It would be perhaps the worst calamity to hit the people of God. However, the good news is that the judgment that would come would be the very thing that would cause the people of God to repent: to change their spots. The people seemed powerless to change on their own; but through the loving hand of judgment from God, the leopard would indeed have his spots changed.

Sometimes, I get so very frustrated with myself, particularly my inability to get victory over some of the recurring sins in my life. I am utterly powerless, it seems, to win the battle. However, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”; and through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and through the loving correction of my Heavenly Father, my spots can also be removed. I can’t change my spots, but God can. Do you need a spot remover? God can do it. Yield to Him. Open your heart up and be willing to allow God to make the necessary changes in your life.

God can and will remove our spots, but there are some things that we can do to help God as He cleanses away the stain of sin from our life:

1 We first must acknowledge the fact that we have spots. We need to allow God to completely examine us and show us where the spots are in our life. We cannot withhold any area of our life. He must be able to thoroughly inspect us, and we must agree with His assessment. If He sees a spot, we must agree that it is indeed a spot.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – (1 John 1:9)

2 We must next be willing to submit ourselves to God’s cure for our spot problem. God may bring us through an uncomfortable process in order to accomplish His will. Trust Him. He knows what He is doing. He is the Great Physician. He knows just how deep to cut. He knows just how much we can handle. He may bring in some people to help Him. He may use a pastor or other counselor to help you as He works on you.

3 We must also be willing to continue down a prescribed path that will keep the spots from coming back in the future. We must stay in fellowship with God. We must daily spend time with Him through His Word and through prayer. He will keep His eye on us, and He will be able to quickly “spot” any new blemishes that may be coming to the surface.

Note – I must be careful to add that, if we are saved, God already sees us positionally as spotless, because He views us through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” – (Psalm 103:12)

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” – (Isaiah 1:18)

“Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” – (Romans 4:7 & 8 )


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Circumcision of the Heart

Circumcised Heart

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 4 – 6; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Read the “0816 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Closed Eyes, Closed Mouths, Closed Ears“; and “To God Be The Glory

“Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:9 & 10)

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” (Jeremiah 9:25-26)

In this passage God is rebuking the people of Judah for their hypocrisy. Apparently they felt that they could do whatever they wanted to do, live anyway they wanted to live; and then go down to the Temple and participate in some type of religious ceremony or ritual that would make everything OK. These people were far away from God’s principles and commands, but they were trusting in their religion to save them. As I read these verses this morning, I could not help but think about the state of religion today in America. People commit all sorts of sin; ignore the clear teaching of the Word of God, and then come to church thinking that their participation in a ritual will save them. Now don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that going to church is a bad thing for anyone; but I am saying that it is hypocritical to ignore God 99% of the time and then claim Him as your Lord on Sunday. I am also not trying to make the case that there is anyone out there, including myself, that is without sin (and lots of it). We are all sinners, and we all need God’s mercy; but to live completely in rebellion to the will of God without any conviction about it is another thing altogether.

The New Testament speaks about this as well:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1 – 5)

True religion, genuine faith will make a difference in your life. The Scripture is clear, “faith without works is dead”; “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature”. If you are truly a child of God on the inside, it will work its way out to your life on the outside. Too many in our churches today are Christians outwardly, but inwardly are very carnal and worldly. They are no different from the Israelites mentioned in Jeremiah: they were circumcised physically, but were uncircumcised in the heart.

“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:28-29)


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The Old Paths

old-paths-dan-etpr

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 1 – 3; Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121

Read the “0815 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Catching Men” and “Fallow Ground

“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” – (Jeremiah 6:16)

Independent Baptist preachers can often be heard using the phrase “old-fashioned”. We refer to our churches, our congregational singing, our method of soul winning, and even our King James Bible as being old-fashioned. We consider it a complement to be considered old-fashioned in many aspects of our worship and service for the Lord. But I want to clarify a few things about the why I like being old-fashioned about a lot of things. First of all, I do not believe that just because something is old that it is necessarily good, and I do not think that all new things are necessarily bad. I enjoy using all of the latest technological gizmos that make our lives easier and more enjoyable today. When I refer to something being old-fashioned I am usually referring to the wholesome, Biblical traditions and methods of our past that do not need to be changed. I like our old-fashioned Bible. I enjoy singing the old-fashioned hymns from the hymnbook. I have seen many people get saved through the old-fashioned method of soul winning. I am glad my wife and daughters are old-fashioned in their modest dress. The old paths didn’t need to be changed. I have often said, “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it”.

In our passage, God is telling the people of Judah, through the prophet Jeremiah, to return to a time when they were closer to the Lord. In the old days they were a nation that refused the evil that surrounded them on every side, and they stood for the truth of the Word of God. They worshipped the Lord in spirit and in truth, and they obeyed the precepts of the Law. As a result of their relationship with God they were a greatly blessed nation, and God prospered them mightily, and protected them against any nation that would seek to harm them. But the prosperity that they enjoyed caused them to stray away from their God. They had become a very idolatrous and immoral nation. God wanted them back on the old paths.

The same thing can be said about our nation. We were once a nation that stood for the Truth. Our culture was filled with people that worshipped and served the Lord. God blessed our nation with a prosperity unequalled in the history of the world; but as it was with Israel, so it is with us. Our prosperity has spoiled us, and we have become an ungrateful people who have bitten the Hand that was feeding us. We need to get back on the old paths.


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Turn Around

U-Turn

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – John 21; Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105

Read the “0814 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Before I share the my main thought from the Scripture this morning, I just wanted to point out from the passage that the writer, Jeremiah, was a hand made child of God that was uniquely designed by Him to be a prophet to Israel and Judah. (see Jeremiah 1:4 – 6) God has also made you and and I, and wants to use us in a special way to fellowship with Him, glorify Him, and fulfill His plan for the ages. We are not here by accident. We were specially created the way we are on purpose, and for a purpose.

Now for today’s main thought:

“They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:1)

Throughout the history of Israel, the people of God have gone through periods where they would fall away from God. Here in this passage the word “backsliding” is used seven times. Here in this passage Jeremiah is pleading with the backsliding people of Israel to come back to the Lord. Our God is awesome! Who else but God would love these people and keep taking them back, even though they would turn against Him over and over. He never gives up on His children. I must confess that I have a tough time forgiving people in the same way that God has forgiven me. I want to write people off; but God is not like me. He continues to reach out to those who have forsaken Him. Notice what God required of the people in order for them to come back into a right relationship with Him:

“Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:13)

“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:” (Jeremiah 3:14)

God says that if the people would acknowledge their sin, and then turn, He would take them back. Turning means that they would put away all of the things that they were doing that God was displeased with. This is a pretty good definition of repentance, which involves more than just acknowledging.

The people of God today could follow this same simple formula in order to come back to their God. We must acknowledge where we have gone wrong. It may not be some deep sin or rebellion. It may be just apathy, coldness, or laziness. Then we have to confess it to God and turn away from it. God loves us deeply and wants more than anything for us to be in love with Him. If you have “slidden” away from God, return again to the Lord.


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A Word to the Shepherds

Shepherds

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)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 13 – 16; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

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.


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