August 18, 2007
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- Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
- Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
- And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
- And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
- Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
- In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
- Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
- But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
- Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.
- For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.
- For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.
- Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.
- And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.
- I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
- Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.
- Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.
- They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.
- For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?
- Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.
- The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.
- I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
- But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
- Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?
- Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.
- I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.
- How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;
- Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.
- The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
- Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
- Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
- Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
- Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
- And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.
- And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house.
- Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the LORD answered? and, What hath the LORD spoken?
- And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man's word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.
- Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? and, What hath the LORD spoken?
- But since ye say, The burden of the LORD; therefore thus saith the LORD; Because ye say this word, The burden of the LORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD;
- Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence:
- And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.
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- The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.
- One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.
- Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
- Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
- Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.
- For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.
- And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.
- And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the LORD, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt:
- And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them.
- And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers.
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- The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon;
- The which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying,
- From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.
- And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.
- They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever:
- And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.
- Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.
- Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words,
- Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.
- Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.
- And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
- And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
- And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations.
- For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.
- For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.
- And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them.
- Then took I the cup at the LORD'S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me:
- To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day;
- Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people;
- And all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod,
- Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon,
- And all the kings of Tyrus, and all the kings of Zidon, and the kings of the isles which are beyond the sea,
- Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that are in the utmost corners,
- And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the desert,
- And all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes,
- And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.
- Therefore thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.
- And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ye shall certainly drink.
- For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts.
- Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.
- A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD.
- Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.
- And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.
- Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel.
- And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape.
- A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock, shall be heard: for the LORD hath spoiled their pasture.
- And the peaceable habitations are cut down because of the fierce anger of the LORD.
- He hath forsaken his covert, as the lion: for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger.
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Thought for the day:
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Today's reading opens with a strong indictment against the leadership of Judah. Because of the use of the word "pastor" in verses 1-2, it is very easy to make application of this verse to the New Testament local church. The word "pastor", both in the Old and New Testaments, as well as in modern English, carries with it the idea of being a shepherd. This idea is pointed out in our text with the use of terms like "sheep", "flock", folds", and "shepherds". The pastor has been designated by God to lead His people to the place where they need to be, and feed them along the way. Israel's pastors were failing in their responsibilities, and unfortunately, many who claim that title today are failing as well.
Look at the problems that these false pastors were causing. First of all, they were destroying and scattering the sheep. I believe that this can happen in several ways. First of all, sheep can be scattered in their search for nutritious food. God commands pastors in the book of I Peter to "feed the flock of God" (I Peter 5:2). Yet many pastors fail to give their people the milk and meat of the Word of God. These substitute current events, social activities, amusing anecdotes, and personal opinions for Biblical truth, and one of two things happens. Either the sheep take in this "junk food" (easy and fun to eat, but of no benefit) and die from spiritual starvation, or they scatter to the winds in search of something that will feed their souls. Clearly this is taking place in our churches today - even those which claim to be "Bible-preaching". Some believers are making terrible, un-Scriptural decisions based upon the woeful spiritual food that they are being fed. They may be having great amounts of fun, and the food they are being fed may be enjoyable to eat, and it may go down easy, but they are not growing and maturing into Christians who can make sound decisions. Eventually a crisis comes along, and because of their malnutrition they faint away and disappear from the service of the Lord. Others are seeing the lack of food being presented to them, and are leaving their churches in order to find something of spiritual value. While this seems like a good idea, it has been my experience that these people often wind up in churches that have a great teaching ministry, but do not do much of a job putting the teaching into practice. Pastors will be held accountable for destroying and scattering their people through limited spiritual diets.
Another way this happens is through neglect. Verse 2 condemns these pastors for not "visiting" their flock. Again, there are several ways that this unconcern can manifest itself. People who are hurting can be ignored. People who are wandering in need of direction can be overlooked. Warnings may not be given about false teachers who would spoil the flock. Steps are not taken to protect the integrity of the sheep fold from sin. The one who is hurting may quit serving the Lord because he is unable to deal with the pain, or he may find someone else who is willing to care, regardless of his Biblical position. People who are looking for direction, yet receiving none from their pastor, may either blindly stumble off a cliff into destruction, or perhaps will follow the invalid leadership of a false shepherd. Of course, failure to warn about sin and the subsequent failure to remove it from the church will ultimately destroy all those associated with the congregation. We who serve as shepherds must constantly be on our guard that we not surrender our responsibilities, but rather actively feed, lead, and protect the sheep that God has given to us.
God says in this passage that those shepherds who don't visit their sheep will be visited by God in judgment (3). If I am to be an acceptable pastor before my God, I must see to it that I take every step that I can to properly provide for the needs of the flock that He has given me.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery