My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.
I am currently studying and teaching through the book of Jeremiah. There is not a book of the Bible that I have ever dug into that the Spirit has not grabbed my heart by the throat and caused my insides to churn over all that I learn… and it churns even more as I wonder how many have not learned what I have learned and I want to grab every one I see by the face and speak His Words straight into their heart and I want to wade with them through the shallow and even false teachings that are so often proclaimed and beg them to keep going deeper with me… to open the Book not just books about the Book.
It’s a true ache of the soul. That’s why I love the book of Jeremiah… because I feel him. I feel him when he says,
Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.
and when he says,
But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.
I understand what he means… I have never experienced the type of persecution that he endured. However, I do not doubt that one day I might.
Jeremiah began his ministry in a time of peace, but God was preparing him for a time of persecution. He would not just simply be rejected and mocked by those who sat in the house of the Lord, by those who professed to be priests and prophets of God, but he would be beaten, imprisoned, thrown in a pit, and these are just a few of the things we have recorded.
His ministry lasted through the reign of five kings of Judah within a fifty-three year time period with only one of those five kings being a godly reign. There is no telling the hurt that Jeremiah experienced at the hands of those who were supposed to be his brethren. Hurt that came as the result of just doing and saying what God had commanded him to do and say.
Here in our nation we are living in the seventh year of the reign of an ungodly President. Have you considered how much has changed within the walls of our churches during this seven year reign. Have you considered how much has changed within our schools, within our government, within our foreign policy, and with how the world views our nation?
This seven year reign has seen a lot of firsts in our nation. This President was the first in American history to speak at a Planned Parenthood conference where he ends his speech with the words, “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.” He is, from my viewpoint, the first President to use sarcasm and belittling as a part of his quip in every professional speech I have ever heard him give. The first President that I have never heard take personal responsibility for anything… granted I don’t stay plugged into the political scene as much as I used to and perhaps I have missed something, but I doubt it. I often wonder how he speaks to his children? When he is just “Dad” who is he?
There is a reason that our nation is filled with this idea that rights come before (or regardless of) responsibility. There is a proven fact… a nation, a church, a family, they all are being lived out in direct correlation with the one that leads them.
And after the wrong leader has been there long enough, the infection of the people under them becomes so ingrained that no matter if a good leader comes in for a time… the majority of the people are not changed… because generations have been affected. We see this clearly in the book of Jeremiah.
There is a key phrase buried in the book of 2 Kings found right after the death of Josiah, the last godly earthly king to sit on the throne of David… it reads,
Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king…
2 Kings 23:30
The people of the land made him king. They didn’t seek their God. They didn’t look for another godly leader to carry on the revival that Josiah had ignited… they chose Jehoahaz who was convenient, young, and evil. However Pharaoh Neco took him captive within three months and then he placed Eliakim on the throne. Pharaoh Neco changed his name to Jehoiakim and controlled him his entire reign, until they both were removed from power by Nebuchadnezzer.
I am not giving up on our nation. I find it sad that our President is where he is. I see him as a man who never had guidance. He never experienced stability of any kind. His family is scattered from Kenya to Hawaii. I believe he is a grown man who has never had a shepherd and I personally do not believe he knows the Good Shepherd at all. I pray someday that he does. I personally have only heard him speak words that have been put into his mouth by someone else. I am not sure if he has ever really spoken for himself publicly concerning anything. He reminds me of Eliakim, whose name was changed and whose reign was controlled by Neco.
But this post is not supposed to be about our nation or our President, but about our churches. However, the condition of our nation, due to its leadership, does relate.
How have we gotten so off track in our churches? I believe the key is right here in Jeremiah 23:30,
Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who steal My words from each other.
As a Christian reading this right now… do you spend more time listening to and reading the writings and teachings of what others have to say that God said rather than opening His Word and listening to God yourself? How often do you open His Word for yourself and walk in what you read? Or do you just brush aside His truths and instead lean on the words of others and maybe even your own feelings? Honestly consider this…
How many of us have no clue what God really has to say about anything because…
For both prophet and priest are polluted;
Even in My house I have found their wickedness,” declares the Lord.
How many today in the house of God have those who proclaim to be pastors, prophets, priests, and teachers who stand over them and claim to be speaking for God yet they lead people astray from the Word of God by manipulating and twisting the Scriptures and people remain enslaved to their sin because they choose to listen to them… even though their lives be in open disobedience to the law of God.
The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood;
And they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
So that no one has turned back from his wickedness.
But if they had stood in My council,
Then they would have announced My words to My people,
And would have turned them back from their evil way
And from the evil of their deeds.
Then there are those who have shepherds that they trust in… who preach the Word but don’t want to get their hands dirty by actually using the Word to minister to their sheep. Instead they just sit back and feed themselves. Leaving the sheep with the idea that their God is far from them when He is not. Leaving them to fend this life for themselves. Leaving them to struggle with failing marriages and wayward children and sick loved ones alone as if they had no shepherd at all. Teaching them the Word but not taking the time or opportunity to show them how the Word is fleshed out in real hurting lives.
Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off?
Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.
There are very few these days who are willing to invest in the lives of individuals. Very few who are willing to do more than cordially visit the helpless. Very few who are willing to do more than just go to church. Very few who are willing to disciple. Which leaves many sheep still looking for a shepherd and in their pain they become easy prey…
I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another…
There are many who proclaim the name of Christ, but they really could care less if you know the name of Jesus, the One True God, or His Word. They just want to be sure that you know them… and… well… send them money.
In this day it can be easy to become discouraged. Yet, what we see today in our nation is still at least a little of a stretch from that of Judah. I can’t imagine the weight that Jeremiah carried on his heart. For when he looked for a man to stand faithful and declare justice there was no one… NO ONE.
Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
And look now and take note.
And seek in her open squares,
If you can find a man,
If there is one who does justice, who seeks truth,
Then I will pardon her.
“And although they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’
Surely they swear falsely.
Then I said, “They are only the poor,
They are foolish;
For they do not know the way of the Lord
Or the ordinance of their God.
“I will go to the great
And will speak to them,
For they know the way of the Lord
And the ordinance of their God.”
But they too, with one accord, have broken the yoke
And burst the bonds.
The prophets are as wind,
And the word is not in them
Jeremiah 5:1-2, 4-5, 13
Jeremiah had no one. If I can feel the weight of the darkness on our nation when I know how many who are of the Light remain… I can’t imagine the perception of Jeremiah as he stood in the house of the Lord and in the streets of Jerusalem and proclaimed the truth of God on deaf ears and dead hearts.
Yet still he proclaimed.
You know it only took twelve who were willing to be obedient to their Master’s call to bring the gospel around the world to me some 2000 years later… so even if there is very few… very few is enough. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for our nation, but I do believe it will be determined by the obedience or disobedience of His people and nothing or no one else.
So dear shepherd… where are your sheep?
And let us not forget that you don’t have to be a pastor to be a “shepherd”. If you are a father… a mother… a Sunday School teacher… if you profess the name of Christ then you are a priest (1 Peter 2:9)… you are a shepherd… If you love Him then tend His sheep (John 21:17).
Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the Lord. “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.