The Sheep Who’ve Been Scattered

Jeremiah 23:1-3 ESV

“’Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: ‘You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.’”

Woe to the Shepherds

Not everyone who calls himself a pastor, an elder, or a Bible teacher is genuinely a follower of Jesus Christ. They don’t all truly shepherd their sheep, either. Not all are operating under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. Many are still operating according to their own flesh. And many are all caught up in the whole marketing of the church to the world in order to attract the world to their gatherings, which has nothing to do with shepherding God’s sheep but everything to do with pleasing the flesh.

Many of these shepherds are following more after the teachings of other humans and after the thinking of the world than they are following after the teachings of Christ and of the Scriptures. They are still very fleshly, making decisions about the sheep based off their own experiences or their own personalities, or off of things they have read or been taught in seminars and such. And so they go a lot by their own flesh rather than letting the Holy Spirit guide them in what to do and in how to lead.

Many of them today are literally enemies of Christ and his cross and they work for Satan, not God, and they are only masquerading themselves as servants of righteousness while truly they are messengers of Satan. They are charlatans, wolves in sheep’s clothing, out to steal, kill, and destroy the church and Christ and his gospel and his messengers. So they are teaching an adulterated gospel which is leading people away from Jesus. And they are destroying and scattering the sheep in two main ways.

First of all, by altering the gospel message to make it more acceptable to human flesh, they have largely done away with God’s requirements for repentance (forsaking our sins), for obedience to Christ, and for submission to the Lordship of Christ over our lives. And thus they are giving all who will make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ carte blanche to continue in deliberate and habitual sin which is sending them straight to hell but on the promise of forgiveness of sins and of eternal life with God.

Secondly, since they are trying to appease the people of the world and human flesh, and they don’t want to offend anyone with the truth of the gospel or to make them uncomfortable or to feel judged in any way, they are going against those who are still holding fast to the truths of the Scriptures and who are still teaching the whole counsel of God, and they are pushing them away or inviting them to leave or kicking them out of their gatherings so that they don’t upset anyone with the truth.

God has judged, he is judging, and he will judge these false shepherds of the people and these weak-willed shepherds who care more for themselves than they do for the flock, and who are destroying and scattering God’s sheep. He will attend to them for their evil deeds unless they repent of their wicked ways and they turn to the Lord to follow him in obedience to his ways. He will judge them for adulterating his gospel and for lying to the people and for sending away his true servants and messengers.

The Scattered Sheep

Now, not everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ is a true sheep. For the Lord’s sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow him in obedience. Nonetheless, since our salvation is a process of sanctification which will not be complete until Jesus returns for us, his bride, the hope of salvation and eternal life with God is conditional on us following our Lord in obedience and on us walking in his ways and in his truth and on us forsaking our sins and us honoring him as Lord of our lives.

We must walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, and we must no longer live in slavery to sin but now as slaves of God and of his righteousness. Sin must not be our practice, but righteousness is to be what we practice. And we must walk in obedience to his commands or we don’t know him and he doesn’t know us and we will not inherit eternal life with him. For many will hear one day, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity! I never knew you!” But they thought he did.

So, when these false shepherds remove from the gospel God’s requirements for submission, repentance, and obedience, they are giving a death wish to all who follow after their lies whether or not they ever genuinely believed in Jesus, for faith in Jesus requires that we continue to repent, and we continue to obey, and that we continue in Christ and in obedience to him until the very end in order for us to have salvation from sin and eternal life with God. For if we do not, we will not inherit eternal life with God.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

And then those who are genuinely following Jesus Christ with their lives, who are listening to the Lord, and who are following him in obedience, and who are teaching the true gospel, they are being cast aside, rejected, persecuted, mistreated, forsaken and forgotten. And this is because not many want to hear their messages anymore, for they want to hear the messages which tickle their itching ears and which appease their flesh and which give them freedom to continue walking in sin. And so God’s true servants are forsaken.

Fruitful and Multiply

But all this can be overcome! Not one of us has to succumb to this! We can conquer. We do not have to be devastated by it or to be defeated, for our future is not dependent on any human and what he or she might think of us or say about us or do to us, for that matter. For our God is fully sovereign over all that he has made, and he made us, and for those of us who are following him, he has called us, and he will make a way where there seems to be no way, for he works in ways we cannot see.

Also, the fact that so many of these shepherds are teaching lies can be overcome, too. Not one of us has to believe their lies. We all have a choice to believe the truth or the lies. God has put within each one of us the knowledge of him so that we are all without excuse. So, it isn’t that we don’t know right from wrong, but many choose to do wrong and to ignore the Lord, and now they are being given permission to do so, and so those who are leaning that direction will be easy targets for the lies.

So, just saying here that, even though these shepherds have let us down in one way or another, and they have not fulfilled their God-given roles, or they have made a pretense of being of God when they are not, it does not remove our responsibility before God to be who he has called us to be. We can choose to say “No” to them and “Yes” to God and to go with God and not with man, and to let the Lord lead us, and to not let man influence the decisions we make for our lives.

The Prayer

Written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager,
Alberto Testa and Tony Renis

I pray you’ll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don’t know

Let this be our prayer
When we lose our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

I pray we’ll find your light
And hold it in our hearts
When the stars go out each night
Remind us where you are.

Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

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P.S. This is not an endorsement of the singers other than as musicians

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