Tending to the Flock
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. Jeremiah 23:4
Several years ago as my bus was quickly traveling down a mountain road in Israel, I noticed just a few miles from Jerusalem several wide open places and sheep walking around, un-fenced, and on their own. But they were not on their own. There were men, shepherds, and their sheep dogs, guiding the sheep and leading them, from grassy fields to clean refreshing water.
The Lord promised to Jeremiah and the people of Judah to send pastors (shepherds) who would feed and protect the people. In the context of Jeremiah 23, the Lord is speaking of governmental leaders; the people who were given responsibility and a charge to take care of the “flock” of God.” This is a good passage to learn about the responsibility the government has – to care for its people in restoring peace for prosperity and protection from harm. The promise even includes that people would not go missing (due to crime) because of the good leadership of the governmental leaders.
Interestingly enough, the word for “pastor” and the word for “which shall feed them” is the same Hebrew word. It means “To provide pasture.” In other words, one of the responsibilities of the government is to provide the means to conduct prosperous business ventures. It does not mean “to spoon feed;” but to provide a place for growth and sustenance. The government is called to provide a field in which industrious people can safely work, toil, and grow in business. Like sheep freely roaming a field.
The government is also to provide basic safety. Not only is there the possibility of wolves harming the sheep, like predators from foreign places that are not part of the field, but sometimes there are already wolves in the field. We all were probably taught to “Not talk to strangers.”
Jeremiah 23 goes on to describe the return of Jesus and how once He comes back to earth, He will set up His Millennial Kingdom and will rule with splendor and majesty.
In contrast, check out how the previous leaders of Israel had failed in Jeremiah 10:21. “For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.” Because of a lack of godly leadership the nation of Israel and Judah suffered terrible. “Brutish” is a Hebrew term which means to “kindle a flame or to consume with fire.” Instead of looking out for the best of the people – the leadership was looking out for… itself. Everything they touched, like a fire, they tried to consume. Taxes, regulations, tolls, and more could be examples today. Have you noticed much the same pattern in modern politics. Many governmental leaders are successful at accumulating large amounts of money for themselves or for their pet projects. I guess, some have even become rich by being full time politicians.
But one day. One day, following the rapture, the 7 years of tribulation, and the battle of Armageddon, King Jesus will return. He is the Perfect Shepherd this world desperately needs. In the mean-time, praise the Lord for Jesus, the Great Shepherd Who is daily watching after His own sheep. In this church age we are living in, the sheep are not confined to Israel, but to all those who are born again by faith in Jesus. Take a moment to read Psalm 23 for more shepherding insight. Be encouraged in Jesus today.